Thomas Odoard Marshall Lodge – Umi
Tom Lodge was born in England but brought up in America during WWII, after which he returned to the UK with his parents. He emigrated to Canada at the age of eighteen 'to become a cowboy', but instead he ended up as a fisherman. Tom's radio career began when he moved to Yellowknife and took an announcer's job on CFYK.
Back in England in 1964, he joined the newly-launched Radio Caroline. When arriving and being shown around the Fredericia by Simon Dee, he realised that this was where he wanted to be. He wrote in his book, "In that first moment as my feet hit the steel deck with a ring, the smell of the ship, of new paint, diesel oil and salt flooded through me. ...This was the ocean. This was freedom. This was where there was no end to the water, the horizon melted into the sky and the air tinged my lungs. This was the release from all of society's confinements."
Tom was aboard the Fredericia when she sailed to the Isle of Man, broadcasting all the way. By 1966 he had migrated south again to the Mi Amigo and shared with fellow DJs the hair-raising experience of being brought ashore by breeches buoy, when she ran aground off Frinton in a gale.
In the 1990s, Tom was in England for both the London Docklands and Clacton-on-Sea Radio Caroline RSL broadcasts and has since presented a number of shows on the current Caroline. In recent years his son, Tom Jnr had taken helm of the shows. A blue plaque commemorates Tom Snr's opening of the National Vintage Wireless and Television Museum at The High Lighthouse in Harwich.
When Tom began practising Zen in California, his Master changed his name to Umi. Umi became a Zen Master and founded an ashram, the Stillpoint Zen Community, near Santa Cruz.
In 2010 Umi Tom published 'The Ship That Rocked The World', subtitled, 'How Radio Caroline Defied the Establishment, Launched the British Invasion and Made the Planet Safe for Rock and Roll'. Speakeasy Films L.L.C. has bought the rights and has recently commenced filming.
In 2011, he launched a campaign to have August 14th designated World Radio Day and not solely because of the date's significance to Radio Caroline. Although disputed by some historians as the first radio transmission, on that date in 1894, Umi Tom's grandfather, Sir Oliver Lodge, sent radio waves between two buildings in Oxford during a physics lecture.
Zen philosophy clearly sustained Umi Tom during his last months, when he announced on his Facebook page that he was terminally ill. "My whole life is an adventure. Wow! I have done so much in this life. Cowboy, arctic ice fisherman, author, gold miner, broadcaster, radio corespondent, deejay, festival organizer, drop-in center manager, teaching the exploration between creativity and technology, professor, seeker, real estate salesman, pilot, author again and Zen master. I am full, I am content. What a gift. Thank you."
A celebration of Umi Tom's 's life will be held on Sunday, April 1, 1100, at Stillpoint Zen Community, Santa Cruz. All are welcome and donations to Stillpoint are requested in lieu of flowers.
Canada's Cashbox Magazine recently made Tom its cover star.
Cashbox "Will be creating The Tom Lodge Award, with a yearly recipient receiving a monetary gift as well as the honour of receiving the award. The recipient will be judged by the criteria of the spirit by which Tom Lodge lived; an up-and -coming band that needs a ‘leg up’, a future broadcaster, a legacy artist that might need re-branding – they will all be considered for this award.
Mary Payne, Radio London Webmaster
Unlike many of the marine broadcasters who suffered from terrible seasickness, Umi Tom relished being shipbound in a storm. In October 2010, I sent him a link to a Youtube clip of a vessel being tossed by a raging storm, remarking how tough life must have been for those on the pirate ships. He replied: "Actually, it was never like that. Everything on a ship is bolted down. All is designed for extreme rolling. But you, and the people, are vulnerable to being thrown about. So you have to be very aware with all your movements. But if you go unconsciousness and leave a coffee cup, a book, a record lying around, then that will go flying. So you learn very quickly to be conscious of all actions. In fact it is wonderful being in a storm and being at one with the rolling ocean. Only the landlubbers have a difficult time.
Or as in the song:
And the raging seas did roar,
And the stormy winds did blow,
But we jolly sailor boys were up and up aloft,
While the landlubbers lying down below, below, below.
While the landlubbers lying down below.
Umi Tom was very disappointed that he was never able to attend any of the offshore reunions we organised, but enjoyed looking at the photos and said, "My heart was there."
He became especially concerned when Mike Ahern was fighting for his life in hospital in 2009. Mike, who died soon after, had been one of Umi Tom's closest friends on both Caroline North and South. We hope they are now reunited and truly "at one with the rolling ocean".
Steve Young, Caroline South
My first dealings with Tom were over the phone. At the suggestion of my good friend Keith Hampshire, he had called me with an invitation to become a deejay, doing the overnight show.
Tom's demeanour was always polite and encouraging, he was a gentleman in every sense of the word and, when I first boarded the Mi Amigo on that fateful day in 1966, he was one of the first people to meet and greet me.
Tom was, at that time, the Senior Disc Jockey on Radio Caroline South and, as such, it was his job to 'rule the other disc jockeys with a gentle hand' and I think I can safely say this was not an easy task, considering we were all very independent of thought and action.
My contact with Tom was, unfortunately, of short duration as he was soon to transfer off the ship to pursue other opportunities within the Radio Caroline organization. However, what these were was never revealed to me. The last time I saw him 'in-person' was in the Fall of 1966 as he sailed away on the Offshore 1 tender, bound for Felixstowe and then on to London.
Over the years I had little further contact with Tom, but did talk to him on the phone on a couple of occasions about his life. At the time he was very much involved in supporting his son in his musical career as a member of an up-and-coming band. Shortly thereafter, Tom moved to California and took up residence in a Spiritual Community where he pursued a life of quietude, growth and peace. While he certainly didn't cut off contact with the outside world, he became more focused on his spiritual well-being and on becoming a better human being.
Tom was one of the founding members of the Radio Caroline organization and he was a skilled communicator who 'led the charge' of Pirate Radio in the early Sixties. I can honestly say he had a profound influence on me and his invitation to join the Radio Caroline crew changed my life forever. I will miss him."
What a shame Tom never got further at the Beeb than one of those awful lunchtime band shows – ‘Radio One O’clock'.
(The day that Umi Tom died was the 46th anniversary of the day he recorded the Beatles interview, March 26th 1966. The recording has been posted on Youtube)
The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame (with audio clips); London Free Press, Ontario; Metropol;
Many thanks to John Sales for his help and to Cashbox and the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame for the use of some of these images.
Roland Beaney interview