You have to be of a certain age to understand why March 28, 2024 is so important.

Until Radio Caroline switched on their transmitters over the Easter weekend 60 years ago and started pumping out the heady pop music of 1964, we teenagers were in the stupefying straight-jacket of the BBC’s Light Programme.

Eastern Daily Press: The Radio Caroline ship

At night, a crackling Radio Luxembourg gave us some pop music but your favourite record usually faded away into atmospherics half way through.

Don’t get me wrong, my Mother loved the Light Programme and its “light” music with Sam Costa, Pete Murray and David Jacobs, but the cosy, scripted presentation just wasn’t cutting it for sixties teenagers.

Pirate Radio was a hefty kick up broadcasting’s backside and boy, did we need it.

Caroline was the first, and by creating a radio station on a boat and mooring it outside territorial waters who could stop them having a “poptastic” time?

For a while, nobody in authority could so Simon Dee and his disc-jockey pals got on with making radio fun.

Pre the Pirates, radio had evolved steadily in the BBC’s “ivory tower” of Broadcasting House.

Eastern Daily Press: It's 60 years since Radio Caroline launched

They had nodded, albeit too slowly and not enough, towards post-war teen music  with Saturday Club, Pick of the Pops and Easybeat.

There was also that memorable soundtrack to our Sunday lunchtimes, Two-Way Family Favourites. With the young British squaddies in Germany being on the receiving end of the record requests, pop music sneaked in, but you hardly ever heard all the record because of the dreaded “needle time.”

Eastern Daily Press: David Clayton (left) and Keith Skues (right) with 60s pop star PJ Proby, whose records would haveNeedle time was the amount of commercial recorded music the BBC could play, based on an agreement with the Musicians Union.

The BBC had invested in the famous dance bands over many decades employing thousands of musicians to play the popular music of the day.

It was understandable musicians held firm on their stranglehold to the point you heard things like Please Please Me by The Frank Chacksfield Orchestra, not The Beatles.

The Pirates ignored such constraints and played wall to wall pop records by the actual artists.

Around the Easter school holidays of ’64 I doubt I’d have heard Radio Caroline had it not been for the fact my parents had some builders knocking our kitchen around in Gorleston.

They re-tuned our radio and the next time I turned it on the Beatles’ raucous Twist and Shout blasted out of the speaker in place of the more sedate offerings of Housewife’s Choice.

I never looked back. All the music I liked was now on the radio back to back.

Then along came another Pirate, Radio London, with a brighter, brasher sound lifted straight from the style of American radio, as ever, way ahead of us.

As much as the music was great, the way the DJs introduced it was so different.

They weren’t scripted. They ad-libbed and mucked about a bit. They were putting their own shows together, wandering into the cramped studios, being spontaneous and having oh so much fun. The polar opposite of the scripted, stop-watched, heavily produced radio we had grown up with.

Eastern Daily Press: L-R  Roger “Twiggy” Day, Tom Edwards, Johnnie Walker and Keith Skues at a 2017 Pirate Radio

Roll on to the summer of 1966 and my holiday job selling seaside rock and ice creams from a kiosk on Gorleston sea front gave me the money to buy my own transistor radio.

It sat on top of the ice cream fridge tuned to Wonderful Radio London listening to Keith Skues, Tony Blackburn, Dave Cash and Kenny Everett. They became my radio mates and I wanted to be one of those DJs when I grew up.

During the summer of 1967 legislation closed down the Pirates and as my beloved Radio London switched off its transmitter at 3 o’clock on August 14th, I wore a black arm band that I’d begged my mother to make for me. It was the day my music died.

I can’t actually swear that my 50 years in front of broadcast microphones is solely down to the inspiration of what’s affectionately known as “watery wireless,” but I do know that everything I ever aspired to was rooted in the way those pioneering Pirate Radio DJs sounded during my teenage years.

I’m lucky to call Keith Skues, Tom Edwards and Andy Archer friends. They were there in those heady days of Pirate Radio.

Without necessarily trying to, they laid the foundations for what happened next. As the Pirates faded out of our lives the BBC and the government couldn’t ignore the seismic shift in audience expectation.

The BBC created Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4, re-branding The Light Programme, the Third Programme and the Home Service while Radio 1 gave a home to many ex-Pirate DJs.

Later in 1967, the BBC launched its first Local Radio station in Leicester. Thirteen years later Radio Norfolk came along and I got a chance to emulate my Pirate heroes.

Then as the seventies dawned, independent local commercial radio started to spread across the country.

What came out of our radio speakers had changed forever. It was, I believe, down to those Pirates who certainly waived the rules but for just over three years undoubtedly ruled the waves.

To this day if I hear the recording of my beloved Pirate Radio London closing down at 3pm on August 14, 1967, I’ll get a lump in my throat. Now, where’s that black arm band?

*David Clayton has been on Norfolk’s airwaves since 1980 and for 18 years was BBC Radio Norfolk’s Editor. Having helped start Hospital Radio in Norwich in 1974, he’s into his 50th year of broadcasting. He now coaches radio presenters and journalism students.