It has been 40 years since the launch of LASER558. Now we reported in February on our website that a station calling itself Laser 558 was broadcasting.

This is quite interesting this Laser 558 is an online station run by Stephen (Steve) Michael Bannister and, reportedly has no connection to the original station of the same name.  It is available online plus via Freeview Channel 277 via UK Radio Portal. It is also due to go on DAB in Winchester and Basingstoke. This is effectively a recreation tribute station.

The station uses modern technology to remaster recordings of original Laser 558 DJs from the 80s to introduce the 80s music today.  Now we did delay our reporting although Radio Today UK did so on January 4th.

The programming and playlist puts the listener back in the mid-80s playing hits of the time as well as playing oldies as per the original station.


The original jocks are back behind the mic, and the channel’s focus audience is the millions of people who remember the original station as well as fans of 80s music. We don’t think they get paid for this (in itself is an interesting legal question), Craig Novak has been noted running new promotions on the Laser558 stream. This includes original adverts from the 80s are also playing for items such as cassette tape decks via mail-order.


On the website there are three streams Laser 558, Laser 558 Classic and Laser 558 AM where they apparently use an Optimod to recreate the classic sound of the station (Ed they used an on the ship).



Laser558 – AM (the Am quality sound is reproduced we think uaing Optimod and not a CRL Audio Processor as onboard the ship.

Laser558 Classic – playing original unedited recordings.


Shows are recreated by taking recordings of DJs and using AI to produce new shows. They use Station Playlist and mix and remaster the DJs etc It is all very clever but JET thinks this is going to be a very niche product. Laser DJs used to do five or four hour shows On their schedule some DJs are doing three hour shows and there is a mixture of DJs each day. So is this could be that they are short of Laser558 audio clippings. They use the same clock to produce programmes as the shipborne Laser (Paul Ruslings book Laser Radio Programming shows you this) so anyone could replicate the format if you have the music archive.

The new project has as controversial as the original. The station management acted against the Facebook group Laser558 & Hit Hits group (URL is Laser558 all Europe radio) for using the name and the URL was temporarily changed to evkdntkrdnvhiukdertchb by Facebook whilst they investigated. The group then became difficult to find. The original URL was closed by Facebook but fortunately common sense prevailed and the original URL returned. Please note it is now a private group and not public.


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They also use Spencer Studios in the USA.

The DJs announcements have to be cropped – its a bit like the early when the DJs were reading off cards. It is made up with more Laser558 jingles/sweepers than they used to do back in the old days.

It raised a few questions: It was thought that Ray Anderson owned all the Laser copyrights and merchandising? One also wondered how much support the project had amongst the former Laser staff. Matters have become clearer recently. In May they announced that the 40th anniversary of the original launch on May 24th they would re-produce by re-creating the station’s first day on air. Steve Bannister Station Director, told RadioToday: “We are very excited to be bringing a special celebration of LASER558’s launch 40 years ago. Many of those original jocks have recorded new material for us and are sharing some never-before-heard stories and memories that we will also be broadcasting throughout the day. On the day, we’ll also be broadcasting a special commemorative program as well as a round-table chat with former jocks to be posted on our website.

This will then be followed on May 25th by new schedule seeing five of the original DJs returning including two of the Laserettes. So wie will hear Chris Carson, Jeff Davis, Erin Kelly, Jay Mack and Craig Novak. According to the report in Radio Today they have been working with Steve behind the scenes for a while, and look forward to being back and to repaying the kindness and support they received from so many listeners 40 years ago.”

Jeff Davis says he was stunned  “but not surprised that Laser’s legacy continues to live on so many decades later. I am also thrilled to speak to music fans in The UK and the European continent once again. Is this really happening?”

Jay Mack, added “The listeners made Laser a special radio experience. They’re still out there, the great songs are still out there, and so are we, the original Laser DJs!”

See more at

Other original LASER558 DJs are also happy to be back on the station again. Craig Novak (who is already doing promos etc for the new Laser) said, “It’s gratifying to hear that what we did in 1985 had an impact on so many listeners. I’m happy to be involved again!” The original LASER558 also had several female DJs, three of whom became known as the ‘Laserettes’. Two of the Laserettes are also returning. Chris Carson stated, “It was a riot in 1985 to be part of LASER, and it’s even better to be back in 2004”, while Erin Kelly, another of the Laserettes, said, “Thanks for the party and adventure back in the day. Come on, let’s do it again! Celebrate the Day every day on LASER558.”

Jeff Davis commented on the SMC Facebook page:

“most unexpected, mind-blowing, opportunity came out of nowhere the last few months for me. The pirate radio ship I worked for in 1985, Laser 558, is back and asked me to be part of its return for the 40th Anniversary! It never occurred to me THAT would happen!!

May 24th was the anniversary date and they've been airing stories that former and current jocks have shared, including me. I'm one of four DJs who have agreed to stay on indefinitely to continue the legacy that has remained these past 4 decades. Two others may join us. What's cool is, it's like a time capsule from 1984-85. The music and some of the old commercials are the same. Also, parts of original shows are being rebroadcast as many hours of Laser were recorded by fans and still exist.”

I have a photo album featuring Laser on this Facebook account. We were in the North Sea about 15 miles off the coast of England near Kent in international waters. Shooting out a (pirated, unauthorized) radio signal across Great Britain and Northern Europe. While we are not on the ship now but in the comfortable confines of our homes, the mindset has returned.

My shift in England is 9am - 12, Monday - Friday, and Saturday & Sunday, 3 to 6pm. (7am to 10am PST) Do I have time for this sort of thing? No. Does my wife think I'm nuts? Thankfully not. I thought I was done with radio as of last year, but as most broadcasters will tell you, once you're in, it will always be in your blood.

Ed:As mentioned aerlier JET thinks it is a very niche product. It is however very impressive and shows what can be done with modern software. Let's face it any recreation or new Laser would have to hark back to the 80s (I don't think it woul work with the chart nowadays

Please note I have scanned in an original Laser558 car sticker as the background to the header.

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