Friday, 14 October 2011

Down Your Local - Radio Trent

This is the thirteenth post in a series looking at the original nineteen ILR stations. This week Radio Trent.

Airdate: 3 July 1975
Still on air?: No - now part of the Capital FM Network from January 2011 but has been recently resurrected, see post below.

When Trent launched the then Programme Director Bob Snyder promised “programming” and not “programmes” where the DJs would “not say a lot”. The daytime music policy was mainstream pop and the target listener was a “28 year old housewife in West Bridgeford who is doing the hovering.” The reason Trent played so many oldies was “that such a housewife was brought up on pop and that the oldies will remind her of when she was courting.” In the evening the station was more contemporary and progressive with the intention of aiming at a large student audience – Trent covered the universities at Nottingham, Loughborough and Leicester.
The Trent team in 76: Chris Baird, John Peters, Kid Jensen, Jeff Cooper,
Pete Wagstaff, Guy Morris and Peter Quinn
Perhaps best known of the first team was David ‘Kid’ Jensen who’d come from Radio Luxembourg, as far as I’m aware the first 208 DJ to join ILR straight from that station. The Kid was on Trent for just over a year as by the Autumn of 1976 he’d moved on to Radio 1 with a Saturday morning show. David is now on Smooth Radio with a whole host of former Radio 1 DJs.

Here’s the Radio Guide programme listings published in December 1977:

Presenting specialist music shows and on at the weekend was one Dale Winton. Like many other early ILR DJs Dale got his break into radio at the United Biscuit Network (UBN), initially broadcasting under the name Simon York, before joining Trent. He moved on to Blue Danube Radio in Vienna, Chiltern Radio and Beacon Radio, where he’d been offered a job by former Trent man Pete Wagstaff. By the late 80s Dale was on TV and, of course, he is known for Supermarket Sweep and various lottery shows. Dale returned to the radio when he took over Pick of the Pops from Alan Freemen in 2000 and continued to present it until last year. Occasionally he has sat in for a holidaying Steve Wright too.

Steve Merike (real name Michael John Willis) had been a pirate DJ in the 60s, briefly on Radio Scotland and then Radio Caroline South. He joined Radio 1 in 1970 presenting a number of shows including a spell deputising for Tony Blackburn on the Breakfast Show. But his time there was short-lived and he left after a fall out, just in time to be invited to restart pirate station Radio Nordsee International. He moved on to BBC Radio Brighton and LBC before heading north to Manchester where he was Head of Music at Piccadilly Radio. By ‘75 Steve was Deputy Programme Controller at Pennine before his move to Trent. Later he would broadcast on Forth Radio, Radio Victory, Radio Leeds, GEM-AM, Oak FM, Saga 106.6 and in Australia. No longer broadcasting, his radio experience is now put to use as a lecturer in media and education at New College, Nottingham. Last year he stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the General Election for the Loughborough constituency.   

John Peters had worked as a Post Office telecoms engineer but acquired an interest in music and radio after building a DJ console at a local youth club. Failing to get jobs with Radio 1 and Luxy he was approached to join the team at UBN in 1974. The following year he joined Radio Trent to host their Breakfast Show. Later John presented on GEM-AM (Trent’s medium wave service), Saga and Smooth as well as community stations Lincoln City Radio and Gravity FM in Grantham. Currently you can hear John on Radio 2XS and the new Radio Trent – both stations run by his former Trent colleague Jeff Cooper.

When Guy Morris joined Trent in 1975 he was completely new to radio. Four years at the station he moved on to BRMB and Radio Victory before joining the launch team at Leicester Sound. Guy became Programme Director at Silk FM before moving back to Portsmouth on Ocean FM and setting up MLS Audio, a PA equipment hire company (one of his first jobs had been as an installer of sound and light equipment). Earlier this year Guy returned to broadcasting as part of the new Trent service.

Talkback host Graham Knight cut his broadcasting teeth on hospital radio in Birmingham before getting a job with BRMB and in the following year starting at Radio Trent, where he would stay for eight years. Thereafter Graham moved to BBC Radio Derby and also did stints on Radio 2’s weekend Early Show. Retiring to run and tea and coffee shop in Sherwood he died in 2009.

Pete Wagstaff left Trent in 1979 and went ‘down under’ to work at 2KA in Sydney. Returning to the UK first to Chiltern Radio and then in 1985 at Beacon Radio where he hosted the breakfast show, went on to become Programme Director and launched the AM service WABC as well as Beacon Shropshire. Pete was then at Century, The Wolf and Telford FM and now looks after the radio interests of Midland News Association Ltd (107.2 The Wyre and The Severn).

Len Groat had been at ILR stations Metro Radio and Piccadilly before moving down to Nottingham, bringing some of his PAMS produced jingles with him. He presented Groat Market and The Len Groat Get-Together and would later become Programme Director at the station. At Trent until 1994 Len worked for GEM-AM, Saga and Smooth. Now retired and living in Portugal he’s a regular contributor to Jinglemad and earlier this year started the Seventies Sunday show on Trent Sound.

If you’ve been listening to the Radio 2 series Sounds of the 20th Century you’ll recognise the voice of Bill Bingham reading the news headlines. That series has taken much of its material from the earlier Radio1 series 25 Years of Rock broadcast at a time when Bill was a newsreader on the network .He moved on to work at Radio4, LBC, Jazz FM, BFBS 2, Saga, Liver FM and Smooth. Currently Bill can be heard on Sky News bulletins and on at the weekends on one of the ‘new’ Trent stations. As well as his radio presentation work Bill is an actor on stage, TV and radio.

Presenting a daily current affairs phone-in was news editor Tony Cartledge. Tony had been a news reporter for the Hull Daily Mail before joining the news team at BBC Radio Humberside. He moved to Metro Radio when that launched in 1974, then on to Pennine Radio and Radio Trent. Tony returned to the north east to again work for Metro before setting up an independent television production company whose commissions included The Sunday Interview for Tyne-Tees. With his wife he now jointly owns and runs Picasso’s Restaurant in Whitely Bay.  

This is the station information published in January 1978:

Trent’s Programme Director at the time was the Neil Spence, better known in his pirate radio days on Big L as Dave Dennis, the ‘Double D’.  Back on land he became Programme Director at UBN and so was John Peters boss at both stations. He died in 2007.

In late 1979 Radio Trent produced what was supposedly ILR’s first situation comedy: starring Bill Maynard and called Cobblers it was about a four lads that work in a show factory – hence the name – and decide to form a pop group. The group is managed by Bill’s character Vernon Wilkinson. Trent producer Martin Campbell had high hopes of the series going to TV. As far as I can ascertain it didn’t. Perhaps Cobblers was an appropriate title in more ways than one!

Trent was swallowed up as part of the Capital Network in January of this year when a number of the old ILR names disappeared. However this summer, phoenix like, Radio Trent came back, twice over! First off the blocks on 13 June was Trent Sound. Programme Controller Jevan Lloyd promised to “deliver a real live local radio for the City of Nottingham.” To help recreate the sound old Trent jingles were re-written and recorded by S2Blue. Len Groat, who was instrumental in commissioning the jingles first time round, has joined to present an oldies show and ex-Trent DJs Andy Marriott and Craig Strong are also back.

On 2 July an online Trent started broadcasting. Put together by Jeff Cooper, and using his facilities at 2XS, this version has more of the big names from the past: John Peters, Guy Morris, Bill Bingham, Tim Disney, Tim Rogers and Jeff himself.   

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