Radio Sovereign was one of the first stations to exploit the fact that the authorities could not confiscate any equipment without a court order. They broadcast seven days a week from Twickenham.
The station was set up by John Kenning and Crispian St. John, and it was intended to be a commercial venture from the outset. DJs and sales staff were all paid weekly wages.
Sovereign was a Solid Gold station, and as well as playing only oldies, they had their own 1960s Pams jingle package. The jingles were all versions of those which had been used on the hugely popular offshrore station Radio London in the mid 60s.
Crispian St. John had many years of experience working in Radio. He had worked for many offshore stations, including Radio Caroline, and several ILR stations. He was determined that Radio Sovereign would be extremely professional in it's sound, and it is a tribute to him that Sovereign can be said to have paved the way for many of the oldies stations Britan has today.
Kevin Turner in the Sovereign studio in Twickenham
The station was proving very popular in South West London, and soon London's only legal music station Capital Radio was demanding action by the authorities.
Following a massive raid at the end of 1983, Sovereign returned to the air, however the case ended up in court and the magistrate ordered the confiscation of all the transmitting and studio equipment. As a result, the station was forced to close down on January 2nd 1984.
All of the studio equipment was professional gear and, reluctant to lose it, John Kenning took much of it it out of the country and set up a legal Radio Sovereign in Camporosso Mare in north west Italy. This new station broadcast in English to the French Riviera. Kenning eventually sold Sovereign to an Australian group who re-named it Riviera 104. Ironically Capital Radio then bought it, and moved it to Monaco under the name Riviera Radio, where it still broadcasts to this day (though no longer owned by Capital).
Crispian St. John returned to Radio Caroline as Jay Jackson, before setting up, and editing The Radio Magazine for many years. Sadly he died in 2002.
The Radio Eric archive holds the following recording(s) of this station:
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