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Radio Luxembourg

"Shh - I think I found ze knob! [CLICK]"ONCE ALL-CONQUERING only realistic rival to the BBC (barring the Pirates, which weren’t exactly state-approved, and kind of fall just outside the three mile exclusion zone-esque limits of the Radio Cream era anyway). The Duchy-centric UK-targeted All Pop And Nothing But service employed washed-up ex-pirates, up and coming new stars and big names who’d got into ‘trouble’ (ie Kenny Everett) to play a mixture of hits and ads, some of the latter – notably Horace Batchelor and his pools-cheating ‘K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M’-heavy plugs – becoming almost as well known as the pop platters. Fortunes took a nosedive after the launch of Radio 1, and where the station was once big enough to command its own weekly magazine, by the eighties it was struggling to be heard at all (occasioning a series of embarrassing ‘please listen to us’ cinema ads with excruciating “shhh – I think I found ze knob!” punchline), and the 1992 closedown as grimly chronicled for a TV documentary could only muster about three former ‘names’ into the studio to say goodbye. Still, it once formed a pivotal part of the pop firmament, so much so that people get all misty-eyed even when talking about its prone-ness to signal fade.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Adrian

    August 27, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I suspect stereo was the final nail in the coffin for the station – as far as I know it never broadcast on FM.

  2. Dave Nightingale

    August 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    RTL put it on Astra as an audio channel on RTL4 but it ground to a halt in the early 90’s.DJ’s there at the time it closed included Wendy Lloyd (Virgin 1215),Jeff Graham,Shaun Tilley,and a young kid sacked by Signal – Chris Moyles. I wonder what happened to him……

    However,the owners of Luxy,CTL,did get involved in another station based in Ireland which frankly,carried on where Luxy ended.It’s name..Atlantic 252.

  3. Glenn A

    September 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    No Adrian, it only ever broadcast on a weak wavelength form Luxembourg and this proved to be its undoing. Radio 1 started broadcasting between 7 and 10 pm at night, which killed most of its audience after 1978, most ILR stations were on stereo FM, so who by the start of the eighties wanted to listen to a radio station where the music was strangled by interference and the domestic alternatives were better. I wouldn’t be surprised by about 1982 if its listenership were the same sort of people, like a friend at school, who adorned his bedroom with Radio Sweden and Swiss Radio International stickers,

  4. Peter

    November 10, 2009 at 11:08 am

    As a kid growing up in the 80’s it really was the best radio out there by far .

    Times move on but i still think that todays radio stations and their dj’s are well under par compared with the GREAT 208!

  5. Robert MInto

    November 25, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    What happened to the DJs. Although the signal kept fading and coming back this was one of the best stations around in the 70s.

  6. Des

    December 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Peter said,
    As a kid growing up in the 80’s it really was the best radio out there by far .

    Same here, every night i wasn’t out with my mates, it was 208 on the radio.

  7. B Latham

    March 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Yes I remeber it well

    Radio Luxemburg top twenty songs were played every Sunday night between 11-00pm and

    12-00 Listened to it regularly

  8. Lee James Turnock

    May 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Fun fact – the early Charisma Monty Python albums were recorded at Radio Luxembourg’s London studios. And the naughty kids at school always called it ‘Radio Fucksomebird’.

  9. Richard Davies

    July 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    My Dad remembers it as being the only place to hear any pop that the Light Programme wouldn’t play, apart from the pirate stations.

  10. TGOBE

    January 8, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Radio Luxembourg was a kind of exotic fix for me in the late ’80s, what with all that Long Wave early evening signal distortion.

  11. Anthony

    January 24, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I listened to Radio Luxembourg on Shortwave 6090kHz(49.26m) and reception wasn’t quite as bad as 1440kHz/208m MW.

  12. Thunderbird5

    March 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I well remember tuning in to 208 in early 1984 – about 6 years after I’d stopped doing so regularly/religiously – and the decline in their audience/influence and consequent revenues was shockingly evident. That they weren’t attracting advertisers was the most obvious sign: between January and April it seemed that between every record was played the same bouncy Jordache Jeans ad. They apparently had no others. It must have starting tipping vulnerable listeners to the point of insanity. I endured it for as long as I could as the 208 playlists still beat the competition into the dustbin.

  13. Mark Johnson

    June 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    What was the music played on the organ, Hammond?, that closed the programme down each evening?

    Just put it in my Desert Island Disc selection but, could not name it…

  14. Anthony

    June 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    The RTL-V/RTL4 astra feed on the Astra1A satellite at 19.2degE via channel 13 gave perfect stereo quality reception all over Europe with better sound quality than 1440kHz MW,and should have been kept going.

  15. Harald / Norway

    September 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I really miss Radio Luxembourg ! None of the today’s music / hit list- based programs even come close to it. To me the fading and atmosphere disturbances was a part of it, so when Radio Luxy went satellite it became less exotic to me.

    In my life this station played a very special kind of an important role, as my Spanish – Norwegian twin daughters came to this world as a result of listening to Radio Luxembourg 🙂

    Last Saturday, after 38 years of searching, I finally found again my above all favorite song played again and again on Radio Luxembourg in 1974: “The man who turned on the world” with The Friends of St Francis.
    I will never forget the evening when DJ Mike Hollis(?), brought the Bible and sat down and red the first part of The Creation of the World from The First Book of Moses, while “The man who turned on the world” started up in the background. A beautiful Radio Luxembourg- memory !

  16. Anthony

    March 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Although the picture on RTL4 was scrambled, it was relatively easy to listen to Luxy;

    connect the stereo phono outputs of the satellite receiver to the AUX in socket on your hifi system with a stereo phono lead, select Stereo 2 7.38/7.56Mhz with the receiver remote control, select AUX on your hifi and there you had it Luxy in superb quality stereo thru your hifi system.

  17. Anthony

    April 23, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Radio Luxembourg on 208m MW/1440kHz AM also went out across the whole of continental Europe with a two aerial set up at Marnach in Luxembourg that combined in the evenings gave an omnidirectional power of 1,200,000watts! During the day the tended to transmit at 600kW via both aerials until they upped the power to 1,200,000watts around 18.00UK/19.00CET for a dutch/international programme, Italian news and current affairs at 18.30UK/19.30CET, German religeon at 18.45UK/19.45CET and the startup of the English Service at 19.00UK/20.00CET.

  18. Anthony

    July 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Radio Luxembourg has tried a revival and return in 2005 with a classic rock version of the station using a new fangled digital radio transmission technology that piggyback digital radio signals onto AM called Digital Radio Mondiale or DRM for short.

    This technology gives near FM quality sound over mediumwave/shortwave and longwave bands and can (with AM propagation) cover large areas or continents using directional transmitters or with a paneuropean reach using omnidirectional transmitters.

    R.Lux used two frequencies in the 41m band shortwave usually 7295kHz from 9.00UK-15.45UK(10.00-16.45CET)then on 7145kHz from 15.45UK-17.00UK(16.45CET-18.00CET) from various SW transmitters in Germany on directional beams to the United Kingdom, but reception was often dogged with dropouts and occasional deadair moments caused by variable ionospheric conditions on SW. There was also a very low power 0.15kW transmission on 25795kHz SW to Luxembourg City only 24h a day. It was a bit of a folly because there was hardly any special DRM portable radios on the market to receive it;there was only one receiver and that was poor, the Morphy Richards while Roberts MP40 although much better that was supposed to be released never appeared.

  19. Glenn A

    April 4, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    They hired two DJs with the coolest names on the radio, Emperor Rosko and Tony Prince. I do vaguely remember the Rosko in Exile shows.

  20. Anthony

    September 11, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Luxy’s problem wasn’t a weak wavelength at all-it had a massive 1,200,0000 watts=1200kW in old money which was 600kW individually from each set of aerials (these were combined at night to give a massive reach), and gave a good reach across the whole of Europe and the United Kingdom after dark. The the two aerials were fitted with directional triangular passive reflectors that gave a slightly directional bias to the signal.

    The omnidirectional AM transmitter on the northern side of Marnach had a single passive reflector which focussed the majority of the signal at the United Kingdom in a west-north-west directional pattern and gave slight attenuation in all other directions while the other omnidirectional transmitter on the southern side of Marnach had 2xpassive reflectors fitted which focussed the majority of the signal in an east-south-east directional pattern at Germany and slight attenuation in other directions.

    The inverted take-off angle of 1440kHz/208m from the night aerial on the side of the hill on the northern side of the transmitter site tended to skip Luxembourg City and South East England until nightfall but always came through in winter from late afternoons onward as it got dark early whereas the day aerial had a flat even transmission area.

    I would have left the transmitters omnidirectional with both aerials beaming out equal levels of signal to the United Kingdom and Continental Europe-perhaps the fade wouldnt have been quite as pronounced or as bad if left omnidirectional.

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