Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Viking Invasion – Part 6 – More Gold and the Big Easy

Changes in ownership and changes in branding, something that is now the norm in the industry, started to happen in the late 80s: the transition from “independent” to “commercial” radio.  

On 31 October 1988 Viking Gold had launched but by 1 May 1989 it was now Classic Gold and networked to Hull, Bradford and Sheffield.  A year later it was snapped up by the expanding Metro Radio Group and was soon re-titled Great Yorkshire Radio (to complement their Great North Radio in Newcastle). A decline in audiences and the realisation that the Gold name and format was perhaps, erm, “radio gold”, it became Great Yorkshire Gold in 1994. (Does anyone know the exact date?). (In fact it was 13 September 1993 according to John Foster who presented the first show, so he should know!)
Classic Gold promo

Great Yorkshire Gold jingles

From a 1995 Gold publicity leaflet, at a time when Steven Parkinson was the Programme Controller, the DJ line-up at Great Yorkshire Gold was:

John Foster – these days broadcasting daily on BBC Tees
Mark Jones – formerly “Mark Joenz” of Radio City and still working in radio in the North-West
Steve Colman – latterly with Magic 1152 in the North-East
Chris Straw – ex-Radio Sheffield but other than that nothing known though I have found this clip from 1996:

Gerry Kersey – still broadcasting every Sunday afternoon on BBC Radio Sheffield
Ann Hodgson – ??
Peter Hetherington – is or was serving time in prison
Peter Fairhead – mentioned in the last Viking post
John Harding – who went into radio management and currently works for Bauer Media

This undated schedule also shows an old favourite on the air, Tim Jibson with his Goldmine Gold Show, Steve Fountain (latterly Head of Radio at the KM Group) and the networked, ahem, Savile’s Travels.

Here’s two Great Yorkshire Gold airchecks. Firstly from 16 August 1996 Peter Fairhead sitting in for Al Dupres. You’ll notice those classic JAM jingles familiar to Radio 1 listeners in the 70s complete with  “Beep Beep Yeah Travel News”.

By the time of this Al Dupres show on Monday 10 February 1997 the station’s days were numbered prior to the Magic makeover.

The Metro group had been bought out by media group EMAP in August 1995 and they started to roll out their Magic branding. On 12 February 1997 Great Yorkshire Gold was replaced by Magic 1161 using what it called “The Big Easy” format. With a mix of oldies and contemporary hits with long sweeps of music that seemed to consist of Phil Collins and Celine Dion, or that may be just my memory of it!

The launch was live from Cave Castle in South Cave. In charge of proceedings was Nick Wright - still doing his thing daily on the Magic network. Nick’s first guest, on the phone from Geneva, was Phil Collins (talking for far too long before we get into the first record, Two Hearts so I’ve edited this bit but listen out for the mystery voice asking “you are there, aren’t you?”).

In the next and final post what’s going on over on FM.

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