Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Down Your Local - 50 Years of BBC Radio London

The capital had to wait until 6 October 1970 to get its own radio station. The station was based in Harewood House in Hanover Square, a building rented by the BBC and just a 10-minute walk from Broadcasting House. That proximity was important as many of Radio London's broadcasters would make the trip up Regent Street when they joined the national networks. Later the station moved to the old Radio Times offices at 35A Marylebone Road and in 2009 to the redeveloped New Broadcasting House.

Radio London's transmission area was defined as that covered by the Greater London Council, then just five years old, and the largest of any of the BBC local stations. Initially just on 95.3MHz VHF from the transmitter at Wrotham in Kent it added 206m MW from Brooksman Park in September 1972 and moved to 94.9 MHz from the same site in March 1973. Stereo broadcasts started in February 1981 from the transmitter at Crystal Palace.  

The first station manager was Peter Redhouse who'd come from a news and current affairs background as part of the editorial team on Radio 4's Today. This was reflected in Radio London's schedule which offered three key news magazines each day: Rush Hour, Capital City and Home Run. Peter moved on in 1976 (replaced by Allen Holden) to become general manger of the local radio unit until his retirement in 1987. He then worked with his son to help set-up the communications agency Redhouse Lane Communications Ltd becoming the company secretary. Peter died in 2012.

Here's the opening day schedule for the station:

Fortunately a couple of recordings from that opening day have been kept.

This is Radio London presented by David Simmons provides a guide to some of the voices and programmes on the new station.

The opening show, after a short introduction from Peter Redhouse, is Rush Hour with a rather nervy Tom Vernon. Radio London retained the Rush Hour title for its morning show until it closed in 1988 to become Greater London Radio. As with most of the BBC local stations they called upon the services of the Radiophonic Workshop for their jingles, in this case composed by John Baker. The programme's opening theme is Burt Bacharach's Bond Street from the soundtrack of Casino Royale. Soundtracks remained an important part of the musical output - we hear a tracks from West Side Story and Darling Lili later in the show - as they weren't included in the virtually non-existent needletime allocation. 

This was Tom's first regular radio work. He'd previously had a career in teaching and PR and had dabbled in song-writing which led to occasional appearances on the Today programme where overnight he’d write a song about a current news story for broadcast the next day. Indeed he's written a song for the opening of the station heard at about 35 minutes.

Tom presented other programmes such as A Better Place to Live, Weekly Echo and Look, Stop, Listen and produced the classical music show In Concert which was hosted by Michael Oliver (later a presenter of Radio 4's arts magazine Kaleidoscope and Radio 3's Music Weekly). Tom continued to appear on Radio London for the rest of the decade but had spells on Radio 4 as a producer on Kaleidoscope and reviewing the weekly news magazines on News Stand. In 1979 Tom became the first presenter of Radio 4's Feedback and later that year undertook the first of his cycling adventures in Fat Man on a Bicycle. This series was produced by Joy Hatwood who had herself worked at Radio London as a the arts presenter/producer.

Providing some of the news reports in this first edition of Rush Hour were Charles Thompson, Gaynor Jones (who had her own programme That Jones Girl) and Stephen Ladd (who was also heard on Radio Northsea International under his real name Stephen Oliver). Others on the news team included Michael Vestey (joined from the Sunday Express and from 1973 was a BBC national news reporter and presented The World Tonight) and Laurie Mayer (who'd joined from the Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard and would go onto Radio 1's Newsbeat and then on BBC TV and Sky News).  

Radio London's mid-morning offering was aimed at housewives with a "lively and interesting topics linked by music". Woman in Town ran until early 1975 initially presented by Hilary Osborn who'd started at the BBC as a secretary then studio manager before joining the station. She went on to work as a television continuity announcer (LWT, TVS and Meridian) and announcer on Radio 4 (1984) and Radio 2 (1986-90). Hilary was succeeded by Chris Mohr who in turn appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour and became a BBC tv producer (Did You See? and Video Nation). 

Post-lunch musical entertainment was hosted by Canadian David Carter in his Lunch a La Carter show. David had been a music producer on the Light Programme and Radio 1 (Late Night Extra) as well as Thames TV. When Lunch a La Carter ended in 1972 David continued to present (Pop Shop) and also produce a number of music shows.

An early influential music show was Breakthrough presented by Steve Bradshaw. It offered a mix of live sessions, demos, poetry and live and recorded interviews. John Peel was a fan claiming that "that Steve and Breakthrough are doing is almost exactly the kind of thing I wish I were doing for Radio 1". Steve left the show in 1973 but it continued for another 15 years under the guidance of Mike Sparrow. Steve went on to report for Newsbeat, Radio 4's current affairs magazine File on 4 and for Panorama.

Here's a selection of Radio London jingles from John Baker, Paddy Kingsland and their first full package from EMISON.

These programme clips date from June 1971 and August 1972 and include the voices of David Carter, Hilary Osborn, Steve Barnard, Robbie Vincent, Steve Bradshaw, Laurie Mayer, Frank Dawes, Mike Sparrow, Bob Trevor and Susie Barnes.  (Audio has been edited from recordings uploaded by Things Found on Old Reels blogspot).

Moving on to the week commencing 27 March 1971 one of the most familiar names is that of Robbie Vincent here presenting Saturday's Messages and Music and on Sunday sticking his mic under the noses of hospital patients in Bedside Microphone. A year or so later started his long-running Saturday show imaginatively titled It's Saturday (later just The Robbie Vincent Show) which started as a general dedications show but morphed into a soul and funk show running until 1984 (after which Jeff Young presented a similar music show). In 1974 he gained a daily late show Late Night London and from 1977 a replacement to the existing daily phone-in show Call In known as the Robbie Vincent Telephone Programme "the lunchtime show that gets London talking. " He stayed with Radio London until it became GLR in 1988, though by then the daily phone-in was hosted by the Fred (former taxi driving Mastermind champion) Housego.  During his time at Radio London Robbie also worked for Radio 1 with a soul and disco show (1977-78), a youth-orientated talk show Talkabout (1982) and a soul, funk and fusion show ("if it moves, funk it!) between 1983 and 1989. he then joined LBC and later appeared on Kiss and Jazz FM.  

Looking after Home Run this week (and also the Wednesday night Sounds Good "for hi-fi enthusiasts" plus the daily show for under-sevens Listen Children) was David Simmons who was with the station at its launch having previously worked at pirate station Radio 390 and in West Africa and Switzerland. David would present Call In when it started in 1972 and the same year took over the Saturday evening from Mike Raven on Radio 1 playing r'n'b, soul and reggae. (There are a couple of airchecks on YouTube). David stayed with the station until the end of the decade taking over Late Night London and a number of soul shows (Soul 77, Soul 78 and, yes you've guessed it, Soul 79).    

Another member of the launch team was Susie Barnes (billed here on Sunday's Friends and Neighbours as Susan Barnes) who stayed with the station until it's 1988 rebrand, and indeed co-presented the final show with Mike Sparrow. Susie presented a number of programmes on the station including Rush Hour, the mid-morning London Live, a late-night 10 to midnight show and, by the mid-80s an afternoon show.

Starting a couple of months after this Radio Times listing was You Don't Have to Be Jewish with Michael Freedland which ran until 1988. The title came from a US poster advertising bread that read "You Don't Have To Be Jewish to enjoy Levy's Rye." The programme covered a variety of topics from religion and politics to comedy and music  and included phone-ins and documentary style reports. It continued on LBC until 1994. A newspaper journalist by trade Michael had started broadcasting in the mid-60s reporting for Woman's Hour and Home for the Day. On BBC Radio 2 over a period of four decades he wrote and narrated dozens of shows about American singers and songwriters and Hollywood stars. 

Radio London took its music programmes seriously as this schedule for the week beginning 29 September 1973 shows, just a couple of weeks before the launch of Capital Radio.

Sunday afternoons offered rock journalist Charlie Gillett's Honky Tonk which he presented between 1972 and 1978. This was followed by Steve Barnard's Reggae Time. Steve is credited with being the first black DJ to play reggae music on British radio. It was "required listening for fans of the music ... as there was no one else airing the music". He would later broadcast on London pirate station JFM. When Steve left in 1977 the show became Reggae Rockers (later Rockers FM) with Tony Williams and, for a year or so, the legendary DJ David Rodigan.

Sunday at 3pm it was London Country with Bob Powel. Bob became the editor of the  Country Music People magazine and ran a record shop in Saint Paul's Cray for a number of years. He presented London Country between 1971 and 1988.

"Progressive and contemporary pop music" show Fresh Garbage aired at 5 pm. Taking its title from a track on the debut LP by US rock group Spirit it was presented by Andy Finney from 1971 to 1973, indeed this billing is the final show. Andy recalls that Judy Collins was his live interview guest on that show which also featured a regular Obscurity slot with music journalist John Tobler. Initially Andy split his time between Radio Stoke in the week and Radio London at weekend. At London he was the voice of some of the test transmission announcements, he worked on the Saturday afternoon sports coverage, presented a number of editions of Breakthrough between 1973 and 1979 as well as Single File, the station's answer to Rosko's Round Table. In the 1980s Andy moved to work for BBC Television where he was one of the first people in the Corporation to research and develop interactive media, as part of the Interactive Television Unit and co-founder of the BBC's Domesday project.

Meanwhile for jazz fans there was All that Jazz with jazz writer Brian Priestley. Other specialist music shows that came along later include Stuart Colman's Echoes, Eastern Ear with Geetha Bala and Vernon Corea (previously on Radio Ceylon and later the BBC's Ethic Minorities Advisor), Mad on Jazz with Gilles Peterson, The Great Composers with Adrian Edwards and various funk and soul shows with Dave Pearce.

Extract from 1977 BBC booklet Serving Neighbourhood and Nation

A couple of other names to pick up on this 1973 schedule are Jeanine McMullen with Read All About It. Jeanine was one of the first presenters of Radio 4's You and Yours. Looking after weekday afternoons was Richard Vaughan. Richard was with the station for 8 years. He also had a brief stint on Radio 2's Early Show in 1978, reported for Radio 4's holiday show Breakaway, worked for LBC and BFBS and has commentated for numerous sporting events on a range of TV channels.

On Sunday morning at 10.02 am is Exposure, a magazine show about photography which can't have been easy on radio! One of the presenters is photographer Roger Clark who continued to broadcast on the station into the 1980s on Corridors of Power, Inside London and Hold the Front Page. You can see more of Roger's photos on his website.    

Presenting Rush Hour this week was John Toogood (who was also heard occasionally on Radio 2 in the '80s). Other presenters of Rush Hour over the years included Tony Fish (later in the BBC Training Unit, Programme Organiser at Radio York, Station Manager for Radio Newcastle and Managing Editor at Radio Shropshire), Susie Barnes, David Simmonds, Nick Lucy, Astley Jones (for many years a Radio 4 newsreader), John Waite (Radio 4's You and Yours and Face the Facts), Piers Bishop (TV announcer and on Radio Brighton and Radio Sussex), Anne-Marie Grey (who'd been filling in on Black Londoners and would later present Radio 5's Caribbean Magazine), Brenda Ellison (ex-Radio Hallam and later LBC News) and David Edwards.  

With the Saturday afternoon mix of music and football results The Other Programme is Paul Owens. Paul's main show from 1975 to 1979 was the weekday afternoon show 206 Showcase. He left to set up commercial station Devonair and was later on County Sound, Pirate FM, Fox FM, Star FM, The Eagle, The Quay and Time 106.

Jumping ahead to April 1986 many of the original names are still on the station but by now a very famous name was occupying the mid-morning show. Tony Blackburn had joined Radio London in 1981 to host an afternoon show whilst still appearing at the weekend on Radio 1. He left Radio 1 in 1984 by which time he'd already moved to the morning slot where he was getting saucy with London's housewives and whipping out a 12-incher to play; it was as well that the rest of the UK were spared this.

On Saturday's Jeff Young was getting all soulful and funky. Jeff was also on Radio 1 at this time where his Big Beat dance show was a Friday night regular in the last half of the '80s. He was later on Jazz FM, Kiss FM, Capital and XFM.  

Malcolm Laycock, here presenting Those Swinging Years, also moved over to national radio when he took over the Dance Band Days and Big Band Era shows following the death of Alan Dell. Malcolm had been with Radio London since 1974 initially producing a number of their education programmes (Getaway, In the News, What Now? and Know What I Mean?) and also co-producing Black Londoners which initially was also came under education programming . He eventually started to present show such as Track Record and was part of the team on London Live, a weekday afternoon show that " takes a look at people, events and ideas in London." In between leaving Radio London and joining Radio 2 Malcolm helped establish Jazz FM and formed an independent production company Encore Radio.

The two what's on guides London  Weekend and London This Week were presented by David Bartley and Guy Hornsby. Guy had been presenting a similar Saturday morning  guide Weekend What's On since 1979. He was also a reporter on the arts magazine Look, Stop, Listen (presented by Mike Sparrow) and would go on to produce Tony Blackburn's shows for the station and an award-winning documentary series for the World Service called Sweet Soul Music. Later he launched Ocean Sound in 1986 and was programme controller for the Southern Radio Group and MD then CEO for Faze FM Radio (with Programme Controller Mike Gray who had also co -presented with Guy on Radio London) which ran the Kiss stations in Manchester and Leeds.

Another reporter on Look, Stop, Listen was Sarah Dunant, a producer on Radio 4's arts magazine Kaleidoscope and later one of team presenting BBC2's The Late Show but now a successful novelist. 

By 1986 the arts programme was called Big City. The arts editor was Nick St George who'd started his radio career at the World Service before moving to Radio Birmingham and then  Radio London. Moving to tv he worked on the Channel 4 Daily, was joint MD for the production company Heavy Entertainment before returning to radio for Testbed Productions and a producer for Radio 4 Extra. His Big City co-presenter was Anthony Denselow, freelance at the time but joining the BBC as a full-time arts producer mainly on Kaleidoscope and Radio 3's Night Waves.  

Finally Black Londoners, a groundbreaking radio show that had started in November 1974, initially monthly then weekly from September 1976 and then every weekday from May 1978 for the remainder of its run to October 1988, thus becoming the first black daily radio show on UK radio. Keith Yeomans and Barry Clayton (brought over from Capital Radio) were asked to produce it and they found Alex Pascall, (pictured above) a Grenadian-born musician to present it.     

Black Londoners mixed news, discussion, interviews, reports, music and comedy. It proved so popular that one survey found that 59% of black Londoners listened to it. In time Pascall would help organise the Notting Hill Carnival and in 1982 he co-founded The Voice, Britain's first weekly Afro-Caribbean newspaper. By the time of this programme schedule Pascall was sharing presenting duties with Sonia Fraser and Hilton Fyle, best known for Network Africa on the BBC's African service. Reporters on the show included Vince Herbert and former Hackney Gazette journalist Juliet Alexander , both of whom worked on BBC2's Ebony.

Other broadcasters heard on BBC Radio London between 1970 and 1988 include Jill Evans, Louis Marriott, Jenny Thompson, Diana Rice, Michael Meech, Norman de Mesquita, Mike Field, Nick Handel, Nick Worrall, Roger Hurrell, David Kremer, Simon Reed, Tony Grant, Tony Freeman, Frank Dawes, Colin Maitland, Harold Bohla, Steve Walsh, Andy Peebles and Gary Crowley. 

The first incarnation of Radio London came to end at 7 pm on Friday 7 October 1988. After 17 days of test transmissions it re-launched as Greater London Radio (GLR). Matthew Bannister and Trevor Dann dropped virtually all the Radio London on-air team with the exception of Dave Pearce, Sonia Fraser, Andy Peebles and Gary Crowley. "This is a new station so we want to avoid any comparisons with Radio London", said Bannister.

The final show We're Just Stepping Outside, We May Be Gone Some Time was hosted by Susie Barnes and Mike Sparrow.

In time GLR relaunched as BBC London Live 94.9 in March 2000, became BBC London 94.9 in October 2001 and went back to its original name of BBC Radio London in October 2015.

In October 2010 marked its 40th anniversary with this special show presented by Tony Blackburn, though it does rather concentrate on the GLR era. 

With thanks to David Ballard for his help in locating Radio Times back issues.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

You and Yours - A Brief History

You and Yours
has been championing the rights of the consumer and providing advice on matters of finance, legal issues, travel and holidays, food and drink, health, lifestyle, work, planning, money-saving tips and a myriad of other subjects for five decades. The programme's first edition aired on BBC Radio 4 on 5 October 1970.

In 1970 Radio 4 already had a smattering of programmes that dealt with a range of consumer issues (more on those in a moment). But the idea for some kind of umbrella programme was raised by the then controller Tony Whitby in May of that year following a departmental meeting about the "possible incorporation of the present service programmes in your department...into a daily magazine as 12 noon on weekdays."    

Introducing You and Yours, Stephen Bonarjee, Editor of General Current Affairs wrote for that week's Radio Times: the logic is that, over the years, and over the pages of Radio Times, there have been scattered a number of valuable programmes dealing with listeners' various problems, on an ad hoc basis, never interrelated. All these aspects of direct concern will now be gathered together in one sequence."

The programme was initially scheduled in a 25 minute slot at 12 noon Monday to Thursday and just 15 minutes starting at 12.10pm on Fridays (to accommodate schools programmes). "We feel that this is a suitable time", said Bonarjee, "we hope one that is convenient for listeners. A high proportion of the matters discussed will be relevant to women, although not exclusively so. And women tend to be around at midday, to listen."

At first the programmes was broadly themed by day. Monday was money, Tuesday home and family, Wednesday rights and responsibilities, Thursday health and welfare and on Friday leisure. 

You and Yours swallowed up four existing programmes. Perhaps the best-known and longest-running of these was Can I Help You? which dealt with legal, social and financial issues. It had started in October 1939 as  a series of fortnightly talks billed as "Questions that are puzzling people in these difficult times are answered by two well-known broadcasters". Those broadcasters were Herbert Hodge and Thomas Thompson. Hodge was (some four decades before Fred Housego) a cabdriver turned writer and broadcaster. Thompson had made his name writing about Lancashire life for The Guardian and the Radio Times and broadcasting for the North region. 

After a few months Douglas Hougton became the main name associated with the programme in which he dealt with "the questions people ask him and the problems arising from the many regulations with which we all have to deal nowadays." Initially on the Home Service and later the Light Programme Can I Help You? only really came into its own under Dudley Perkins (pictured above) who presented it throughout the 1950s. Perkins was a solicitor and at one time Assistant Director of the BBC's Legal Department. He also talked about legal matters on Woman's Hour and a You and the Law feature on the BBC tv afternoon magazine Home at One-Thirty (1961-2). Perkins received sufficient listener correspondence and interest in legal matters to publish a 1959 book Can I Help You? looking at topics such as buying or renting, hire purchase, sale of goods and making a will.  

For most of the 1960s Can I Help You?, by now back on the Home Service (later Radio 4), adopted more of a magazine style rather than a straight talk. The main presenter was the staff announcer Robin Holmes and reporters included Marjory Todd, Joan Yorke (a long-time reporter on Woman's Hour), Pamela Deedes (solicitor and a regular contributor to Woman's Hour), Elizabeth Mitchell and Laurie Sapper(who became a leading Trade Unionist). All, except Marjory, would also appear on You and Yours.    

A partner programme was Money Matters (1952-1963), a series of weekly 5-minute talks often given by Gordon Cummings (1953-55) and later Edward Leader (1956-61). It became part of Can I Help You? from Jan 1964.

Another programme subsumed into You and Yours was Listening Post which read out listeners correspondence on current issues. For most of its run it was scheduled to follow the 10 pm weekday news, only occupying a 12 noon weekly slot in the last few months of its run in 1970. it was variously presented by Kenneth Kendall, William Hardcastle, John Thompson, Douglas Brown, Leslie Smith, Audrey Russell, Walter James, Polly Elwes, John Ellison, Giles Playfair, Nan Winton, Anne Allen, Tim Matthews, Walter Taplin, Gilbert Phelps, John Anthony, Jill Tweedie and Antony Brown. 

You and Yours also picked up some of the issues covered by Parents and Children "a forum in which parents can talk about their children." This had first appeared in late 1957 as part of the Study Session on Network Three, the daytime service on the Third Programme's wavelengths. Initially under the direction of Eileen Molony who throughout her career concentrated on programmes to do with education and child development ranging from Children's Hour in the 40s to BBC tv Schools programmes in the 60s. Parents and Children moved to the Home Service in 1964 and for much of its run was presented by former Talks producer and interviewer Leslie Smith who also appeared on Woman's Hour, Frankly Speaking, Taking Issue, Listening Post, In Touch, Home This Afternoon and many schools programmes.     

Yet another programme that became part of You and Yours was  In Practice, a medical magazine with Joan Yorke that had started in April 1968 and by late 1968 was weekly on Thursdays at 12 noon.

And finally there was You and Your Money had a short run over the summer of 1970 and was presented by journalist and one-time ITN newscaster Antony Brown.

The first edition of You and Yours was presented by Joan Yorke. No recordings exist but it included items on home ownership, an interview with Lesley Vickers who'd just written the book Buying a House, and an interview with the Chairman of the Building Societies Association. Other topics in the first week covered DIY trends,  pensions for the over eighties, 'Pangs of Parting', 'Tomorrow's Living Rooms' and 'Firework Hazards'.

Despite some initial concerns that the programme would not have the time to deal with subjects in any depth or that it might provide inaccurate or misleading advice, it soon got support at the Radio Review Board. Controller Tony Whitby was happy that "the programme's practical, down-to-earth approach was exactly right. It deals with matters that are of daily concern to ordinary people". It clearly met the remit of providing a public service function.

There are very few early complete editions in the archives. From 7 June 1971 comes this edition presented by former World at One reporter Nancy Wise looking at household budgeting with Borehamwood housewife Mrs Jay and Tim Matthews on cheap holiday accommodation plus Ken Sykora reports on rheumatoid arthritis. 

From 3 February 1972 an edition with John Edmunds, former ITV announcer and at the time a BBC tv newsreader. It includes a report from Joan Yorke on the growth of health centres and investigates school uniforms.

Joan Yorke is presenting this edition from 15 February 1972 looks at teacher's pay, the life of a fireman, textiles research and features an increasing number of listeners' letters.

Derek Cooper was already a familiar voice on radio and television when he presented You and Yours between 1970 and 1974. In this edition from 25 May 1972 he starts by tackling a subject which would later be close to his heart when he devised and presented The Food Programme in an interview with Dr Lyall Watson about his new book Omnivore: The Role of Food in Human Evolution. There's are also a report from Lucille Hall on a subject that remains critical today, that of elderly residential care and a feature on child development.   

By 1980 the original theme had been dropped and we have one that sounds like a Radiophonic Workshop creation. In this short clip Nancy Wise (at the time the longest serving presenter) co-presents with Bill Breckon who'd been reporting on medical matters since 1973.

In this clip from 6 May 1983 Bill is presenting with ex-Radio Bristol's Jenni Mills.

From 9 May 1983 the programme had a revamp with new presenters Paul Heiney and, from Nationwide's 'Watchdog' feature Pattie Coldwell. The other major change was that the programme no longer relied solely on listeners' letters to generate feedback but finally saw fit to open the phone lines "inviting the audience to tell us their stories", though it would be some years before callers were put on air in the regular programmes.

If you missed any vital information you could always send off for a fact sheet, at least until the internet came along. The You and Yours brand was also extended with programmes such as Call to Account and Call You and Yours.

For one of the 40th anniversary shows Julian Worricker looked at the changes in communications over the preceding four decades.

Since 2000 the You and Yours regular presenter has been Winifred Robinson alongside Peter White, who's been involved with the programme since the 1990s. It moved from Broadcasting House to Salford in 2011.   

Roland White hails the crusading work of You and Yours 
in the Radio Times 22 August 1998 

The influence of You and Yours and the expansion of consumer-based radio programmes continued throughout the decade and into the 1980s. These include the hard-hitting investigative Checkpoint with Roger Cook (1973-85), Money Box (1977- ), It's a Bargain with Norman Tozer (1977-84), The Food Programme (1979- ), looking at travel and transport Going Places (1977-98), radio's answer to the Holiday programme Breakaway (1979-98), Medicine Now with Geoff Watts (1980-98), Law In Action (1984- ) and exposing "serious cases of injustice, fraud, abuse of power and incompetence" Face the Facts (1986-2015). Consumer issues were also tackled on many a BBC local radio show and a revamp of Jimmy Young's show when it moved from Radio 1 to Radio 2 eventually saw the introduction of features with the Legal Beagle (Bill Thomas), Legal Eagle (Andrew Phillips) and Tony D'Angeli of The Grocer. On BBC Radio Ulster Linda McAuley has been presenting On Your Behalf for 25 years.  

The 50th anniversary edition of You and Yours falls on Monday.

Presenters of You and Yours over the years have included: Joan Yorke, Derek Cooper, Nancy Wise, John Edmunds, Ken Sykora, Jeanine McMullen, Nigel Murphy, George Luce, Roger Cook, Lyn MacDonald, Mavis Nicholson, Mari Prichard, Bill Breckon, Sue Cook, Margaret Korving, Molly Price-Owen, Andy Price, Jenni Mills, John Howard, Paul Heiney, Pattie Coldwell, Paul Clark, Susan Rae, John Buckley, Debbie Thrower, John Waite, Chris Hawksworth, Margaret Collins, Roisin McAuley, Linda Lewis, Tasneem Siddiqi, Daire Brehan, Michael Collie, Liz Barclay, Chris Choi, Lesley Riddoch, Mark Whittaker, Trixie Rawlinson, Peter White, Charlotte Smith, Winifred Robinson, Diana Madill, Carolyn Atkinson, Sheila McClennon, Stuart Flinders, Julian Worricker, Shari Vahl, Louise Minchin, Andrea Catherwood and Melanie Abbott. (List only includes those broadcasters presenting more than 10 editions as per BBC Genome listings and Radio 4's online schedules).

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Down Your Local - 50 Years of BBC Radio Manchester

BBC Radio Manchester first came on air fifty years ago this week on 10 September 1970. In this post I look at some of the programmes and presenters in the first decade or so.

The city has a long history of broadcasting both regionally and nationally dating back to May 1922 when station 2ZY started test transmissions and became part of the BBC that November. Initially part of Metropolitan Vickers Ltd it operated from Trafford Park before moving into studios in an old cotton warehouse on Dickenson Street, then the Orme Building at The Parsonage off Deansgate before the BBC built a new broadcasting house in Piccadilly that opened in October 1928. 

The studios in Piccadilly would become the home of the Regional Programme for the north of England and the Northern Home Service after the War. When Radio Manchester launched it was also based at 33 Piccadilly before moving to the new centre on Oxford Road in September 1975. In October 2011 the station moved over to Media City.    

Initially on 95.1MHz only from the transmitter at Holme Moss, the area included Salford, Bury, Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, Macclesfield, Altrincham, Warrington and Wigan. It was a couple of years before the station was also heard on 206m medium wave.

The staff for the station were drawn roughly one-third from the ex-North region staff, one-third from existing local stations and one-third "outsiders who are brining other kinds of expertise".   

Here's the opening hour, We've Arrived!, heard between 6 and 7 am on Thursday 10 September. Alan Sykes was one of the ex-North region staff having been an announcer on the Home Service and Radio 4 in Manchester. He'd started with the BBC as a studio manager, working on shows such as The Clitheroe Kid and presented network radio shows including The N.D.O. Sound on the Light and Challenging Brass on Network Three. Alan continued to appear on Radio Manchester into the 1990s and over on Radio 2 compered many shows featuring the Syd Lawrence Orchestra.

Alongside Alan is Ian Murray who had previously worked at BBC Radio Merseyside. There are some attempts at humour and by the sounds of it they may have already opened some of the champagne they have on offer. There's a specially recorded theme from the Northern Dance Orchestra arranged by Peter Husband and sung by Jill Allison, Friday Brown, Terry Burton and Pat Keeters (sp?). Note too how there's no needletime allocation in this hour; the music is either non-commercial (such as the BBC coded music scheme discs) or from film soundtracks.

Also on air that day was another ex-North region announcer Sandra Chalmers (pictured below). She'd gained her first broadcasting experience on Children's Hour shows from Manchester. Sandy was a regular presenter of the Up and About breakfast show and later the mid-morning phone-in show Talk In. She left the station in 1976 to take up the post of manager at  Radio Stoke, the first woman to manage a BBC station. By 1983 she was the editor of Woman's Hour and subsequently became Head of Radio Publicity and Promotions. She left the Corporation in 1994 and for six years was Director of Communications for Help the Aged, offering media training and regularly acting as an expert contributor on TV and radio on over-50s issues.

Latterly Sandy ran Chalmers Communications, was on the Board of Directors at Saga Radio and presented programmes on Primetime Radio between 2000 and 2006 such as The Collection on Sunday afternoons.  Sadly she died in 2015.    

Manchester's station manager was Allen Holden, a former network radio producer, who went on to manage BBC Radio London. He was keen to put news at the centre of the schedule: " News is going to be the most important thing on Radio Manchester, and because Manchester is a national news centre we feel we ought to do world news, national news and local news - all from Manchester". On a typical weekday the early station schedules include a longer News Round North West bulletin most hours from 6am to midnight with a 30 minute news magazine at 6 pm followed by 30 minutes of Sports Round North West with sports editor and presenter Ian Frame.

Those news programmes were under the control of the first news editor Alec Greenhalgh. A news paper journalist, he'd started on  the Oldham Evening Chronicle, and later worked for Oldham Press Agency, the Daily Sketch and the Manchester Guardian. In the early 70s the reporting team included Eric Purnell (deputy news editor), Vic Crossland, Charles Guest, John Tait, Peter Everett (later a radio producer mainly on Radio 4 and head of network production in Birmingham and Bristol), Bob Wrack (formerly of the Manchester Evening News and in the early 80s manager at Radio Newcastle), David Hulme, Tony Donlan and Steve Taylor.

The education producer was Chris Walmsley (no direct relation) who later worked on the BBC2 documentary series Brass Tacks before becoming politically active in the Liberal Party, though ultimately failing to make it as an MP.

Presenting some of the sports coverage such as Kick Off and the Saturday afternoon Sports Round North West was former Oldham Evening Chronicle journalist Tom Tyrrell. Tom would move over to Piccadilly Radio when it started in 1974 and commentated on football for many years as well as providing the tannoy announcements at Old Trafford. Later he provided match commentaries for Today FM in Dublin. He died in 2017.

Joining the station from Radio Leeds was Diana Stenson who would present the early afternoon Midway from the mid-70s to the early 80s. She produced the Manchester editions of Woman's Hour when they still had regional editions and between 1985 and 1992 produced Gardeners' Question Time.

A DJ best known for his time at Radio City was Dave Eastwood. He'd started in forces broadcasting and did interviews on Radio 1 Club but appeared on Radio Manchester in 1973 presenting both Sunday Morning Manchester and  Music Match in which listeners could nominate a record they thought should be the North West's choice. Dave also worked for Radio Teeside and Piccadilly before moving to City followed by spells at Luxembourg and Essex Radio (1985-89).

Similarly a DJ more associated with Radio Clyde was Mike Riddoch. He was in Manchester in the mid-70s presenting various music shows including The All Crackling Steam Radio Show playing old 78 records, the mid-morning Piccadilly 33 and producing the arts magazine Scope.

Here's the programme schedule for the week commencing 22 March 1975.

A couple of programmes are worth highlighting here. Firstly, the nightly The Baron from the BBC. The Baron (pictured below), we never know his real name, had been a Manchester club DJ before passing an audition to join Radio Luxembourg where he appeared for eight months in 1967-68. Meanwhile over at Radio 1 producer Stuart Grundy, also ex-Luxembourg, offered him an 11-week Saturday show as The Baron from the BBC which was " a type of candid camera thing originally where I went round with my tape recorder hidden under my coast and asked stupid questions".  A further couple of short series on Radio 1 followed in 1972 and 1973 when The Baron joined Radio Manchester to present the weekday evening show City Scene. This became The Baron from the BBC and he encouraged a select group of  listeners, known as The Mob, to join him in the studio. There were also Sunday shows called Buzz the Baron and Out Talking with The Baron. He left the station some time in 1976 and seems to have disappeared without trace.   

The other show scheduled here for Wednesday night is Pedal, Percussion and Pipes which was something of a rarity, a show featuring the sound of theatre and electronic organs, little heard at the time aside from Radio 2's The Organist Entertains, Arnold Loxam on Radio Leeds and Charles McNichol on Radio Nottingham.  At the time the BBC's third theatre organ was in the Playhouse Theatre in Manchester but it was disposed of in the mid-80s and Alan's shows also came to an end, though you can still hear him online each month on Organ1st Radio.

Presenting the North West Picture Show on Sunday afternoon is Alan Nixon. Alan went on to be a prolific comedy producer on both radio and television with Week Ending, The News Quiz, The News Huddlines, Son of Cliche, The All-New Alexi Sayle Show, Absolutely and Hale and Pace appearing on his CV. Later he was Network Television Controller for Channel 5.

Extract from 1977 BBC booklet Serving Neighbourhood and Nation

A fair few local radio broadcasters came from teaching (must be something to do with keeping a class full of kids both educated and entertained). Radio Manchester's Iqbal Ahmad was one such broadcaster who, in 1970, was asked to help with programmes covering ethnic minority groups. Born in India in 1930 he qualified as an accountant in the UK, was an assistant editor of the Islamic Review and later trained to be a teacher. He presented Eastwards North-Westwards and Link but died in 1978.

Presenting On Stage is Natalie Anglesey. Natalie quickly gained a national profile co-presenting with Mike Riddoch the Radio 2 show Two in Mind that featured the music of the Northern Radio Orchestra. On TV she appeared on BBC1's Open Air (at one point co-presenting with another Radio Manchester presenter Mike Shaft) and ITV's This Morning. Other radio work included LBC, various Radio 4 programmes and Radio 2's The Arts Programme. Natalie has  written theatre reviews for the Manchester Evening News, The Stage and other publications.   

Moving on to October 1983 and its steeplejack legend Fred Dibdah who's on hand to help launch Radio Oldham, the first of the pop-up community stations that the BBC ran on 1296kHz in 1983/84. The others were Radio Bury, Radio Rochdale, Radio Trafford and Radio Wigan.

Looking after the main breakfast show Up and About is another familiar voice in the north west, Peter Wheeler. For BBC national radio he'd appeared on the Home Service (Home this Afternoon), the Light Programme (Music Through Midnight), Radio 4 (Plain Sailing and reading the regional news bulletins) and Radio 2 (shows with the NRO). On BBC tv (Call My Bluff and Come Dancing) and for Granada tv (the voice-over on Crown Court and What the Papers Say). Peter was on the station for about six years.

Hosting 206 Tonight is Jeff Cooper. Radio Manchester is just one of the many station's Jeff's worked for. His radio career started at Radio Veronica, he was a continuity announcer/newsreader on Radio2 then at Piccadilly, Trent, Clyde, City, LBC Music Radio in Italy, Beacon, Chiltern Radio, The Superstation, Rock FM, Hallam FM, Silk FM, Peak 107 and online stations Radio 2XS and Radio Trent. More recently Jeff has been providing pre-recorded public announcements for Stagecoach.

With Grundy's Grumbles on Saturday morning is Bill Grundy. He'd started his broadcasting career in the late 50s in the north west at Granada tv but after that Today incident on Thames tv in 1976 work was think on the ground though he did appear on tv for the BBC in the north west and here on Radio Manchester.

For the station's 40th anniversary in 2010 Sandra Chalmers, Diana Stenson and Martin Henfield joined heather Stott to remember the early days of Radio Manchester. Martin joined the station from Radio Birmingham in 1975 initially as deputy manager, becoming the manager for five years in 1988. On television he read the news on Look North and later North West Tonight.

Other broadcasters who have appeared (or appear) on BBC Radio Manchester (and its 1988-2006 incarnation as GMR) include Allan Beswick, Phil Trow, Becky Want, Mike Shaft, Phil ("Mind the gap") Sayer, Norman Prince, Richard Fair, Mike Kiddey, Tricia Newbrook, Dianne Oxberry, Susie Mathis, Fred Fielder, Phil Wood (ex. Picadilly), Victoria Derbyshire, Jimmy Wagg, Eamonn O'Neal, Michelle Daniel, Mark Edwardson, Michelle Mullane, Sam Walker and Mike Sweeney.  

And finally, because you can't beat a bit of Kenny Everett, here he is in 1973 talking to Pete Sharratt on The Week Ahead. Pete would go on to co-present Saturday Rocks with John Woodruff. 

With thanks to Ken Clark and David Ballard for their help in locating Radio Times back issues.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Down Your Local - 50 Years of BBC Radio Bristol


2020 has been a challenging year for BBC local radio. Cuts were already on the horizon before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Emergency schedules were adopted which have now been accepted as the norm. Stations provided an invaluable service and a friendly voice during the lockdown and the Make a Difference campaign helped over a million people. All this in the year which sees the fiftieth anniversary of a raft of stations that first went on air in late 1970.

Launching on Friday 4 September was BBC Radio Bristol. The city already had a well-established broadcasting history. A small talks studio for the BBC's West Region (at the time based in Cardiff) existed in Bristol until new premises at 23 Whiteladies Road were occupied in 1934. By 1937 this became the hub for the redrawn West Region when Wales finally got it own regional service. The site was expanded, by buying up and converting the neighbouring Victorian properties when part of the BBC decamped from London during the Second World War. In the 1940s it became the home of the Natural History Unit and a television service started in the late 50s with the Points West news bulletins.    

A local radio service was first mooted in 1961 when Bristol was included in the closed-circuit trials as part of the evidence to the Pilkington Committee. When the BBC finally got the go-ahead to open new stations in 1967 Bristol was on the list but the city council didn't make a bid to help fund the running costs. In the second tranche starting in 1970 Bristol was the first station to open. It occupied yet another old house at 3 Tyndalls Park Road, round the corner from Whiteladies Road. Now a network production centre, part of the old premises were demolished making way for a new reception and production facilities for Bristol's Broadcasting House.

Radio Bristol's first manager was David Waine who had been a TV reporter for the BBC in Southampton before joining BBC Radio Brighton in 1968 as the programme organiser. After leaving Bristol he became the regional Television manger in Plymouth and finally head of Network Production Centre and then Head of Broadcasting BBC Midlands at Pebble Mill.

To open the station there was a familiar voice, one who was instrumental in bringing about BBC local radio. After some truly historic reports as a war correspondent Frank Gillard became Head of Programmes for the West Region and by 1963 was Director of Sound Broadcasting. He'd retired by the time Radio Bristol opened but he continued to make regular broadcasts for the next 28 years. This  audio sequence (with thanks to David Lloyd) features the station opening.    

Introducing Frank Gillard is Michael Buerk, one of the four Programme Assistants (News). Recalling the fact that it was initially a VHF-only service Buerk said that the "biggest problem was the phone-ins and record request programmes. We had a lot of these, partly because they were cheap, but also because they were a way of involving the community and turning us into the local notice-board, village hall etc. Nobody called. We had to line-up friends, landladies, Ron from the Coach and Horses... You always knew it was one of the station staff in vocal disguise, because we early always claimed to be phoning from Nempnett Thrubwell". Buerk reported to the news editor Brian Roberts who "wore cravats, pushed his polka dot handkerchief up his sleeve and said 'ahem' at the beginning of every sentence."

The earliest programme schedule I can locate is for the week commencing 7 November 1970.

Weekdays opened with the news magazine Morning West, a titled that was retained until 2003. For the majority of that run it was presented by Roger Bennett but in the early days the other presenters included John Walmsley who did a couple of spells at Radio Brighton and worked for Radio 1's Newsbeat (1974-79) and Jeremy Robinson who also presented the Radio 4 South and West opt-out of Today (later called Morning Sou' West). There's no name listed in this Radio Times but the first host was Jonathan Fulford who also pops up on arts magazine For Art's Sake and the inter-school quiz Question Marks.

Roger Bennett (pictured above) combined a journalistic career together with a love of jazz. Starting as a reporter on the Bristol Evening Post he joined Radio Bristol at the start and by 1974 was the main presenter of Morning West. He stayed with the show until 2002 and the station until his retirement in 2003. At the same time he was very much part of the Bristol jazz scene playing either soprano sax or clarinet with his group the Blue Notes Jazz Band. Roger died in 2005.

Most of the BBC local stations had their own version of Woman's Hour and Bristol was no different. Womenwise was presented by one Kathryn Adie. Now better known for her work as a BBC correspondent Kate Adie was already a local radio veteran by the time Radio Bristol opened. After her local radio training she'd had a short spell at Radio Brighton before heading back north to join Radio Durham when that started in 1968. At Bristol she was appointed the Woman's Programme producer and her brief included Womenwise but she also picked up production duties on the farming programme and the arts round-up Mosiac. Kate left the station in 1976 to work as a news reporter for the BBC's regional operation in Plymouth and Southampton before joining the national reporting team in 1979.

Both Kate and Roger can be seen in this early piece of film footage.

Looking after the Saturday morning sports and motoring magazine show Come Alive... is actress Daphne Neville. In 1968 she was working on Harlech TV as an in-vision announcer and presenting the children's show It's Time for Me, later working for HTV in Bristol with Jan Leeming on Woman Only, ATV's Women Today and Border TV as an announcer. On the acting front Daphne took the role of barmaid Nora McAuley in The Archers as well as numerous film, TV and theatre performances.  

Ex-teacher Ken Blakeson was the education presenter/producer and in 1970 was presenting the Saturday morning kids show Calico Pie (later called Calico Pie Rules OK?). One of the contributors was Ian 'Spike' Woods who is also featured in the programme The Last Lands (Friday am). Ken would write short dramatic pieces for the station, often roping in the other staff to perform. This kindled his interest in writing plays for radio and after coming third in the Alfred Bradley drama prize he started to write regularly for BBC Radio 4 including the series September Song and the Giles Cooper and Sony Award winning drama Excess Baggage.     

Calico Pie ran for about seven years, latterly presented by Marilyn Duker before being replaced by Hopscotch with Adrian Jay and then Cheryl Armitage and Rob Salvidge. 

Extract from 1977 BBC booklet Serving Neighbourhood and Nation

The best known name on the station in 1970 was Don Moss who'd started his broadcasting career with the British Forces Network before joining Radio Luxembourg and then from 1961 also appearing on the BBC Light Programme presenting disc shows like Twelve O'Clock Spin, Midday Spin, Pick of the Pops, Housewives' Choice, Newly Pressed and Disc Jockey Derby (which also continued on Radio 1). On Radio Bristol Don hosted a Saturday morning show for about five years and by 1976 he was on Radio Victory with Don Moss’s Sunday Jaunt as well as working for Radio 2 on shows with the Radio Orchestra and Radio 2 Top Tunes.

Radio Bristol's geographic coverage was substantial covering not only Avon and Somerset but into south Gloucestershire and west Wiltshire. Sports-wise that included the two Bristol football teams, the rugby union clubs in Bristol (now the Bristol Bears) and Bath, county cricket grounds in Bristol and Taunton and racing at Bath and Taunton. Saturday afternoon coverage in On the Ball and Sportsfinal was, in the 1970s, looked after by Douglas Chalmers, Peter Davies, Graham Russell (former football reporter for The People and the Western Daily Mail), Dennis Langley, Gerry Parker and Gerald Bennett. Preview programmes for the football alternated between Up Rovers and Up City depending who was playing at home.    

On Sunday afternoon you'll spot the name of Frank Topping with By Different Roads. A former actor turned Methodist minister Frank would go on to be a long-running contributor to Radio 2's Pause for Thought. 

At 12 noon on Friday is Call a Tune with Arthur Parkman at the studio piano together with his Lady Friend ready to play any tune requested on the phone by listeners. Kate Adie remembers: "Whether it was obscure jazz or a favourite hymn, Arthur would say 'Roight my lover' and launch himself at the keyboard. He was never fazed - he possessed a thick pile of sheet music, which he never referred to - so we were impressed by the entire performance, though with tow slight reservations: first, it was curious how Yellow Submarine and Alexander's Ragtime Band and In a Monastery Garden sounded so alike; and second, we weren't quite sure what the Lady Friend's role was".

Presenting Take It Away, Radio Bristol's swap shop, is Colin Mason. After gaining some early radio experience in the States Colin returned to the UK in the late 60s to become a continuity announcer for UTV before joining Radio Durham and then moving south to Bristol. When the ILR station network expanded in 1974 he became the programme director for Swansea Sound and later headed up the Chiltern Radio Network.   

Like all the BBC local stations they initially went out on VHF/FM only. It was a couple of years (4 September 1972) before Bristol added 194m MW.  

Moving on four years to the schedule for the week commencing 31 August 1974 and pictured as the presenter of Home Run is Chris Denham. By the time Chris joined the station he'd worked as a  reporter for a local paper in Southampton, a Winchester-based news agency and Radio Brighton as well as broadcasting on the BFBS out in Cyprus. After Radio Bristol Chris moved into TV news reporting, first in Norwich on Look East and then presenting Spotlight from Plymouth where he also presented Waterfront for BBC2. He set up Denham Productions Ltd to make TV lifestyle shows and documentaries and in 2004 was awarded RTS Lifetime Achievement Award.     

Saturday morning was Jay Time with Adrian Jay. He'd joined the station in 1972 presenting Scene Around (alongside Richard Nankivell ex-BFBS and later BBC Radio Cumbria) but left in late 1974 to work for Swansea Sound. By 1977 Adrian was back in Bristol initially on Hopscotch and then The Jolly Jay Show as well as the daily drivetime show Head for Home. This clip of The Jolly Jay Show (kindly provided by Karl Burtonshaw) dates from 1979.

Meanwhile on Sunday morning's the religious hour Genesis is produced by Andy Radford. The Right Reverend Andrew Radford combined radio production and presentation with the church. After Radio Bristol he appeared on Radio West with a Sunday gospel show and was the religious programmes co-ordinator for Severn Sound and media advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Ordained in 1975 he was made a bishop in 1998 Died in 2006 aged 62.

Radio Bristol was still carrying Radio 2 shows during the day as a sustaining service. The mid-morning programme Compass (9 am to noon) would fill part of this gap. Presenters included Jenni Murray and David Eggleston. David had moved down from Radio Humberside and would tragically die in a accident in 1976.   

Jenni Murray had joined Radio Bristol in 1973. After leaving university (reading French and Drama at Hull) she worked for the Brooke Street Bureau in Leeds and then Bristol before joining the BBC. Jenni had already attempted to gain employment at the BBC and recalled that: "Local radio was just beginning to burgeon, but when I applied to be a studio manager at the BBC I didn’t get past the initial interview. I’d spent the journey down from Barnsley reading about microphones and neglected to read the papers, so when they asked me what the Prime Minister was doing that day, I was stumped. I got a job at BBC Radio Bristol and that was it". Jenni left Bristol in 1980 by which time she'd also been presenting the Friday regional edition of Woman's Hour from Bristol. She became the programme's regular presenter in 1986 and on TV presented (very briefly) Look North from Leeds and then South Today from Southampton before graduating to BBC2's Newsnight and for a few months in 1987 the Today programme. After 33 years Dame Jenni leaves Woman's Hour next month. 

Other broadcasters that appeared on Radio Bristol in the first decade included:

Terry Mann also MD at Swansea Sound, Radio 210, Real Radio, BBC Radio Wales and community station GTFM. He married to Doreen Jenkins also on Swansea Sound

Al Read presented a rock show. He'd been a club DJ and later managed The Granary nightclub in Bristol. He joined the station in 1976 to present the Sunday afternoon rock show and later the weekday Al Read's Six O'Clock Rock, the Weekend Wonder Show and, in the 1980s, Till Midnight. Al left the station in  1990 to complete an A level art course and work for the Bristol Zoo graphics team. He retired in 2007 and died last year.   

Christopher Slade presented and produced a number of shows in 1977/78 including the student-based I Level. Between 1979 and 1989 he was on  Radio 4 as a continuity announcer and newsreader, presented BBC1's regional new edition Spotlight before going into media consultancy.  

Jeremy Orlebar was an education producer at the station before becoming a TV director, usually of education programmes, producer, freelance writer and lecturer.   

Peter Lawrence had first broadcast on some Children's Hour serials just before the war. After being made redundant from the British Egg Marketing Board he wrote a short straight piece in Bristol dialect which eventually became a weekly series of 3 minute pieces on Radio Bristol. That developed into a Saturday morning request show Pete 'n' Eval (but just who was his co-presenter Eva?). The monologues were released on record under the name Old Pete. For a while Pete also presented the weekday afternoon show.     

Andrew Harvey is perhaps better known as a TV newsreader on both the BBC and ITN but in the mid-70s he was a Bristol-based news reporter and presented shows on Radio Brsitol.

Rob Salvidge was on the station for 30 years and combined broadcasting with his love of sailing.

Louis Robinson was a songwriter and folk singer, at one point as part of the Green Ginger folk quartet, who also regularly appeared on Radio Bristol. Later wrote comedy for a number of TV series he's now resident in the USA.   

Jonathan Hewat, the one-time custodian of thousands of radio bloopers, first started collecting out-takes and on-air gaffes whilst working on Radio Bristol in the late 70s. Later appeared on Can I Take That Again? (Radio 2) and Bloopers (Radio 4). He died in 2014.   

Andy Batten-Foster started on Radio Bristol in 1977 and later presented RPM a weekly rock magazine for BBC1 in Bristol and then co-hosting Saturday Live on Radio 1 (1983-85) before moving into television directing and production.

Richard Lewis was working for Billy Butlin when he sent of an audition tape to Radio Bristol. Initially working on a Saturday morning show he would stay with the station until 1986 when he became a network TV producer (Telly Addicts being the first show he worked on).  He returned to the radio in 2000 and until earlier this year was presenting a weekly treasure hunt show  on both Radio Bristol and Radio Somerset called Clueless.  

Gerard (Ged) Clapson had joined the station in 1974 as the Gram Librarian and progressed to Programme Assistant presenting the hospital dedication show Bedside Manner. He produced Guideline aimed at blind and disabled listeners. Temporarily leaving the BBC to work at Liverpool's  Empire Theatre he returned as a freelance working on a number of programme until the late 80s including the religious affairs magazine Genesis.   

Norman Rickard joined the station from BFBS in the early 70s. He was a news reporter and later producer and editor and for many years read the bulletins on the breakfast show. He died in 2007.

John Turner started at Bristol in 1978 and for a few years co-presented Compass with Jenni Mills, Polly Lloyd, Fran Unsworth (now Director, News & Current Affairs at the BBC) and others. Left the station in 2007, he died in 2018.  

Kenny Everett. Yes even Kenny Everett presented four pre-recorded shows for the station to cover for Don Moss. Kenny had been fired by Radio 1 in 1970 but station manager David Waine took a chance on him which led to Cuddly Ken also making shows for Radio Medway, Radio Merseyside and Radio Solent.  

Broadcasting House Bristol

I've no time to mention in any detail some of the other Radio Bristol names such as Clinton Rogers, Steve Yabsley, Ali Vowles, Keith Warmington, Chris Morris, Trevor Fry, Susan Osman, Geoff Twentyman, John Darvall and so on.

In the meantime congratulations BBC Radio Bristol on 50 years of broadcasting.  

Listen to BBC Radio Bristol jingles at The Jingle Ark.

Emma Britton talks about how she got into radio on the Talking Radio Youtube channel.  

Listen to the Radio Bristol special about Kenny Everett's shows here.

With thanks to Ken Clark and David Ballard for their help in locating Radio Times back issues.

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