Our story now moves to 1987, a year of change behind the scenes and on-air at Viking Radio. The ILR stations were gradually loosening their IBA shackles and the rules on ownership now allowed the merger of Radio Hallam and Pennine Radio and then Viking Radio to form the Yorkshire Radio Network.
The first evidence of YRN on-air was on the evening of 19 May 1987 when Tim Finlay presented the launch show airing on all three stations. Along with Steve 'Bongo' Tong and Les Smith the joint shows filled the hours between 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.Tim Finlay 190587
The other change in radio, both commercial and BBC, was the Government’s decision to take “a decisive step away from simulcasting” on FM and AM. Viking had already dipped its toe into the water with its Sunday afternoon music (FM) and rugby league (AM) split. Here’s Viking’s schedule in 1987, by now we’d also got Saturday split programming with Sportacular (terrible title) versus Afternoon Delight with Diana Luke.
When it came to full-time permanent changes in simulcasting first out of the blocks was County Sound, on 1 June 1988 splitting to form Premier Radio on FM and County Sound Gold on AM. In August Piccadilly was renamed Key 103 whilst its AM service morphed into Piccadilly Gold. On 4 October GEM-AM launched out of the Radio Trent and Leicester Sound grouping. And on 1 November we had the Capital FM/Capital Gold split on a full-time basis (it had been at the weekend only since July). Meanwhile Viking Gold launched on 1161 AM at noon on 31 October,
On air for the first full day (1 November) were Peter Fairhead, Alan Ross, Tim Jibson, Al Dupres and John Uphoff all making good use of those PAMS jingles re-sings. (Sorry, I've no recordings of Alan or Al).Peter Fairhead
The Viking Gold launch team was as follows:
Peter Fairhead had joined the team from Pennine Radio and would go on to present on Classic Gold and Great Yorkshire Gold (more of which in future posts). You can hear Peter each week on WHCR in Hull and on UK Country Radio.
Tim Jibson was already part of the Viking team and would also work on the later local Gold stations. Tim launched KCFM and now runs Adventures in Radio Ltd.
Alan Ross was Viking Gold’s Programme Controller and came from the Pennine side of the operation. He’d started at DevonAir before moving to CBC and Red Dragon Radio. Alan would also work on the subsequent Classic Gold service before a move back to Pennine (later The Pulse). From 1994 at Touch Radio and then Magic 1170 in Stockton where he stayed for over 14 years retiring from the Breakfast Show just last month as part of the increasing networking of Magic programming.
John Uphoff was also from Pennine. By 1991 he’d moved to Jersey working on commercial radio and then for the BBC. Sadly John died in 2008 aged 46.
Keith Skues has, it seems, been DJ-ing for ever. When Viking Gold launched he was the Group Programme Consultant for YRN. Read more about Keith in my Hallam post.
Al Dupres has long been involved in radio in the Hull area working on the later Gold incarnations, Magic, KCFM and WHCR. As well as doing voiceover work Al can currently be heard on Radio Caroline.