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Thanks go to Mark Bennett from Alvaston, Derby who first got in touch, together with Simon Parry from Leicester who have submitted information as to the whereabouts of Mark Keen.  We've put the update for this presenter on it's own page!

Mark Keen at Century 106

'Stick your finger in the dial - talk to Keeny for a while!'

Profile: Mark Keen.  Born a Brummie, he's spent the last forty years of his life attempting to ditch the local accent.  He's always worked in the radio biz, apart from when he had a short period in publishing.  During this time he wrote 'The Bald Book', a selection of cartoons celebrating the peaks and troughs in life for people who are follicly challenged.  This release achieved widespread acclaim and ranks in the million sales bracket in the Book Chart.   He loves a bit of nostalgic comedy but when he's not listening to that, he can be found some considerable distance below the water, scuba diving at Capernwray Quarry.  

Simon Parry writes: 'Mark was on Mercia FM from 1989-1995 (during 1992-93 he was also on Leicester Sound with the Naughty Late Show) but in 1995, moved across Coventry to Muff Murfin's Kix 96 where he was the breakfast show host for 2 years.  In April 1997, he was the first voice on Wish FM 102.4, the new ILR station for Wigan and St. Helens, where he was the breakfast host.  He moved back to the East Midlands in September 1997 to present the late night phone in on Radio 106 FM, where he stayed for just over a year, leaving in October 1998.  His next radio job was at Red Rose 999 in Preston, where he again presented a late night phone in.'

Memories: Mark Keen.  Mark Bennett writes:  'For the first time in many years (ever?) the East Midlands had a late night phone in show between 2200 and midnight on Radio 106.  Mark hosted this show and in the early days he also presented the gardening show on a Sunday.

As time went on, the phone in started to become very popular.  Not completely the usual theme of sex and relationships (in GWR plc), but a very light hearted affair which did, of course, have it's more serious moments.

I recall one night during the first week when one of Derbyshire’s finest called in to ask what on earth was happening as there had not been any ‘moosik youth’. Mark explained that the show was a phone-in to which the reply ended with “I’ll goo back ter GEM then”.   The original concept of Radio 106FM included a hitherto unprecedented participation by the listeners which still seems to hold sway now albeit on a networked basis after 2000.

Many characters appeared on Mark’s show, Chocolate Girl, Crazy Lady, Mrs Muppet, Glenn The Postie (who Mark would deliberately have on after midnight at times as he had to be up at 0400 to post letters!!), Yorkie Man (HGV Driver!), Bob The Sheep (suspected long time pal), Matt The Brummie and many others.   These nicknames were coined on air. Many other people would call in to address Mark’s “Issues Of The Day” – that rather grand title being suggested by one of his regular callers, of which there would be three as a rule.

The phone-in ended at midnight and then until 0100 Mark played some music (the first three would be interlinked for the purposes of a break or even to talk to any caller to the phone-in who may have needed help over something).   Before long the phone-in was extended to 0100 in a bid to cope with the many calls coming in.

A quick look at the technical side of things, callers would ring the station and Keeny’s phone answering person would take a few details (name and phone number etc.) Anyone selected to be ‘on’ would then be called back and put on hold. In the studio a television monitor displayed who was on hold and what they have called about.

One big rule was that all radios in the background had to be turned right down as this would otherwise cause problems owing to a 7 second time difference between the studio and the transmitter.  The posh title for this was ‘Profanity Delay’ which apart from providing a useful means of blocking swearing could also be used to block anything which might be libellous etc.  This of course meant Mark had to think on the spot, he certainly did not tolerate swearing of any kind whatsoever (even ‘bloody’) which earned him and the show a great deal of respect.

Before long a re-branding project took place with the station becoming ‘Century 106’ which it still is today. Naturally this project also embodied many changes to the presentation team, a trait which seems to have become something of a tradition.  Mark continued for a while under the ‘Century’ banner until as is often said ‘all good things must come to an end’ as Chris ‘The Mouth’ Ashley took over on the phone-in – strange how music had to be played for most of the show during the first week especially. The writer listened during that week and it seemed no caller would ever be on for much above 90 seconds, a good idea when one doesn’t have many calls in the first place!    One postscript on Mark’s time at 106 is that quite a number of one time callers still actually meet on a regular basis, these people had never met any of the other callers until a couple of outings arranged on air one of which was to Alton Towers.'  (Since take over by Capital, it's been re-branded again to 106 Century FM, and a new logo of a purple design was introduced. Ed)

Jackie from Rugby remembers:  'I remember him from years ago when he was on Mercia and Leicester Sound's Naughty Late Show, and wasn't it a great show?
Amongst all his other regular characters such as Bob the Sheep, Mr. Boring, and Chippy the Wood Pervert, do you remember the Pervy Traffic Warden at all?  She used to write him saucy letters to read out... if he dared!'

Whereabouts: When Red Rose was re-launched as Magic 999 in February 2000, Mark moved to 3pm-7pm, and then later in 2000, he was given the breakfast show where he remains today.  Magic 999 broadcasts across Blackpool, Blackburn, Preston, Wigan, Southport & St Helens on 999 AM.

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