Tom Lodge 1936 – 2012

OB Tom Lodge, who has died aged 75, worked as a cowboy, used car salesman, gold miner and a winter fisherman on the Great Slave Lake in Canada before becoming one of the first disc jockeys on Pirate Station Radio Caroline, where he was credited with introducing a looser, more spontaneous, American-influenced style to the pirate station’s output.

Bedales School

Thomas Odoard Marshall Lodge was born on April 16 1936 at Forest Green, Surrey. His father was the writer Oliver WF Lodge and his grandfather, Sir Oliver Lodge, was the physicist who, in 1894, transmitted the first radio signal, between two buildings in Oxford. When the Second World War broke out, the family left England for America, and Tom was brought up in Maryland and Virginia. When the war ended, the family returned to England and lived at Painswick, Gloucestershire. Tom was educated at Bedales School, where he learned the violin and the clarinet, taught himself the guitar and mouth organ, and played in a four-piece skiffle band called the Top Flat Ramblers.

At the age of 18 he left Britain with his guitar and £16 and moved to Alberta, Canada, where he worked as a cowboy in Calgary and as a used-car salesman in Edmonton, before travelling to Hay River in the icy Northwest Territories, where he worked as an ice-fisherman on the Great Slave Lake.

In 1956 he returned to England, where the following year he married Jeanine Arpourettes. The couple went to live at Yellowknife in Canada, where Tom worked in a gold mine before joining the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as an announcer. He became a station manager and then returned to England.

Lodge joined Radio Caroline as a DJ in April 1964 and soon became one of the station’s most popular broadcasters, presenting the Breakfast Show and stepping in at short notice when others were laid low with seasickness.

It was Lodge, perhaps more than anyone, who set the pace. As programme director from October 1965, he scrapped rigid formatting and emphasised the contrast with the BBC’s Light Programme. By 1966 Radio Caroline boasted an audience of 23 million, but the station’s popularity stoked Establishment outrage, and in 1967 pirate radio stations were banned under the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act. Yet by the time it went off air in 1968, Radio Caroline had helped bring about a revolution in the British music scene that even the BBC could not ignore.

He wrote a popular book called ‘The Ship that Rocked the World’ about his adventures on Radio Caroline and how a band of pirates changed the world of music forever,

After the passing of the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, Lodge worked as a DJ for the BBC’s newly-created Radio 1, but soon got disenchanted with the bureaucracy and returned to Canada. There he worked as a DJ on a local radio station in London, Ontario, and, in 1970, founded a training programme for recording engineers and record producers at Fanshawe College.

In the mid-1970s Lodge moved to California, where he began practising Zen Buddhism. In 1998 his Zen Master changed his name to “Umi” and he became a Zen Master

Tom Lodge’s three sons survive him.

Tom Lodge, born April 16 1936, died March 25 2012


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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