Memories of 'Your station on the stairs'
Former TTDC Member #39516, Mary Wingert, still 'Digs Pop'
(many thanks to Hans Knot and Raoul Verolleman for the pictures)

I was around eleven years old (circa 1961) when I discovered Radio Luxembourg. It was on a school camping trip, and the coach driver had the vehicle's radio tuned in to the station. Only ever having listened to the BBC, I was fascinated to hear something completely new to me - commercials on the radio! Already a keen pop fan, I was thrilled at the idea of being able to tune in to Luxembourg and hear the music I craved every single evening, instead of waiting for the sparse offerings of current music reluctantly supplied by the Beeb. As soon as I returned home from camp, I commandeered my parents' ancient wireless set, installed it in my room and twiddled the dial till I found 208m.

Every evening, I would be glued to the set, awaiting the resounding 'BONGGGGG!' of the station gong and the Luxembourg Waltz (not even a remote cousin to the Sonowaltz) that heralded the start of the evening's transmissions, when we were welcomed to 'Your Station of the Stars'. Before long, I begged, and subsequently obtained, parental permission to withdraw money from a bank account that my folks had set up for me, in order to purchase a reel-to-reel tape machine, so I could record all the hits played on Luxy. A trannie was also on my list as an essential buy, but I believe the tape recorder came first. A neighbour had promised to come and show me how to connect the radio and the tape machine for direct recording, but he never did, and there was nobody technically-minded in our house. I was doomed for ever to record via the crummy little microphone that came with the reel-to-reel machine, propped-up in front of the radio speaker.

(Programme schedule March 1965,
Courtesy of Hans Knot)

Most of the Luxy shows were sponsored by the major record companies, and in order to cram as many records into as short a time-slot as possible, the station never played anything all the way through. Just when you were really getting to like a record, they would fade it. Either that or a combination of poor medium wave reception and 'The Luxembourg Effect', would fade it for you. It was very frustrating, and must have worked as an excellent record-selling ploy on those who could afford to buy singles. For youngsters like me, who could only purchase a single after weeks of saving-up pocket money, the hotch-potch of snatches of current fave tunes on my reel of tape was wonderful. (I did have only one reel for some time, recording tape being very expensive.)

The other important thing in my room, besides my parents' radio, was a scruffy, moth-eaten giant notebook, in which I recorded what I considered to be vital information.
"Wild Wind is round about number 3 on the tape – Oct 8th 1961," I noted. I also faithfully listed various Luxy charts and compared them to the official Pick of the Pops one, broadcast weekly on the Light Programme. Luxy aired an assortment of charts with names like Transatlantic Tops, Pop Pools Top Twenty, England's Top Three, America's Top Three and America's Decca Group Top Ten. It was hard to keep up! I would also note other essential info, such as how many times I heard certain records played. For anyone interested, the first record I heard 100 times (without ever buying it) was played at "about 8.55, Dec 1st, 1961" and was Frankie Vaughan's Tower of Strength. (Luxy did play the Gene McDaniels version too. Never having encountered a man called Gene before, I thought the name was spelt 'Jean'.) I endured Charlie Drake's My Boomerang Won't Come Back on 46 memorable occasions, still being young enough to appreciate novelty records.

I signed up for Jimmy Savile's Teen and Twenty Disc Club, and as member 39516, received a bracelet with a charm in the shape of a record, engraved with the words 'TTDC' on one side and 'Dig Pop' on the other. I was so proud of it that I secretly wore it to school to show my friends, jewellery being forbidden. Few people are likely to forget that Elvis was TTDC member number 11321, as Jimmy Savile mentioned this as often as possible.

Elvis's Fan Club Secretary, Todd Slaughter, recalls that his membership number was 45204, so I must have joined well after him. In 2011, I asked Todd if Elvis ever knew that he was TTDC member #311321. He replied:

"Jimmy Savile met up with Elvis on the film set in LA a couple of times. On the first occasion, he gave Elvis a gold record for 'It's Now or Never' and his TTDC bracelet, and on the second one, he got a recording of the 1964 NME Poll Winners' concert. I was there backstage and everyone who you could think of appeared on that stage including the Beatles and the Stones. It really was amazing – I will never forget it. I knew Jimmy very well in the 60s and early 70s. He still keeps in touch - I get a phone call about once a year - to see if I'm not dead!"

I doubt if Elvis was as overwhelmed as me to receive his TTDC bracelet. As far as I can recall, it was made of plastic and very quickly fell to bits! The manufacturers must have been quite pleased to have shifted over 45,000 of them.

Once a trannie had been acquired, it was obligatory for my friend and me to wander around in the evenings, radio on the arm. We were only young kids, but thought we were the bees' knees with our trannies (sometimes one each) turned up to full volume. We would twist and turn them in every direction, desperately trying to find the right spot to catch the ever-shifting signal. On the one occasion in my teens that I got to visit the Grand Duchy, in 1965, I was bowled over to discover that, after years of struggling, at last I could get the Luxembourg reception of my dreams. The signal there was so strong that you could practically receive the station without the aid of a trannie.

After the pirates arrived, Luxy suddenly seemed rather old hat, the DJs a bit staid and old-fashioned. Once Big L came on the scene, I would rarely listen to anything else. However, we lived a long way inland, and the signal from the offshore stations was frequently obliterated by foreign broadcasts and heterodyne whistles in the evenings. When this happened I would twiddle the dial back from 266 to 208, but my interest was waning. The advent of the offshore stations and the change they affected on UK broadcasting, spelt the beginning of the gradual demise of what 'short-term Luxy employee', Kenny Everett dubbed "Little L' and "Your station on the stairs".

When Radio One arrived in 1967, followed a few years later by new FM commercial stations, people were less likely to struggle in order to capture a fading mediumwave signal and the once-captive Luxy audience began disappearing. On December 30th 1991, the mediumwave service on 208 was replaced by a satellite transmission. As has been the case with so many satellite stations, it was not successful, and Luxembourg closed for good on Dec 31 1992.

David 'Kid' Jensen (Raoul)
Bill Hearne (Hans)
Tony Christian (Raoul)
Chris Denning (Hans)
Royal Ruler Tony Prince (Raoul)
Tony Prince and Lynsey de Paul model the 208 T-shirt (Hans)

Ray Orchard from The Radio Luxembourg Book of Record Stars


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