Radio Caroline founder Ronan O'Rahilly dies aged 79

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The founder of renowned pirate station Radio Caroline has died aged 79. Ronan O'Rahilly was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2013; his death was announced on Radio Caroline this morning (April 21).

In 1964, Ronan set up Radio Caroline on a ship anchored 19 miles off the Essex coast. It was the first pirate station in the UK and rivalled the BBC's dominance. Much to teenagers' delight, it played pop all day, unlike the BBC, who played the genre for just two hours a week.

Radio Caroline aground in rough waters between Frinton and Holland-on-Sea, Credit: PA

Radio Caroline drew in listeners by the million and is said to have revolutionised radio.

However, Ronan was soon faced by a major challenge. A 1967 law change made it illegal for pirate stations to broadcast. Many closed, and BBC's Radio 1 was created.

Radio Caroline off the coast of Felixstowe, Suffolk Credit: PA

Ronan didn't shut down Radio Caroline, instead, he had presenters live in Holland. The story of the resolute radio station became well known, it even served as the inspiration for Richard Curtis' 2009 film, The Boat That Rocked.

Radio Caroline still rocks, albeit a little differently. The station was granted a medium wave licence and its mainly broadcasts on land. The boat is still around though. It's moored in the Blackwater Estuary, just off Bradwell-on-Sea.

The station and boat live on - all part of Ronan's illustrious legacy.