Aircheck UK - Derbyshire
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AIRCHECK Derbyshire written by Ian Perry
Visit AIRCHECK Leicestershire written by Simon Parry for a different view of the history of regional commercial radio.
BBC LOCAL RADIO:
BBC RADIO DERBY hit the air officially at 5:50pm on 29th April 1971. But, two months earlier than planned, finishing touches were being put to the building when the news team had to dash to Rolls Royce when the firm got into difficulties. A broadcast facility was rapidly set up at the base of a transmitter at Sutton Coldfield to transmit information. Since the launch, the station has evolved considerably both in studio and transmission form. However, there were some dark days in 1977 - the station's future as a public service broadcaster was in the balance as government considered handing over BBC local radio to commercial sectors - there was understandable protest from listeners and local groups. Surviving this threat, by it's 10th birthday in 1981, the station was ranked second most popular BBC station nationally. In 1987, a Trent(!) bus was completely covered with a Radio Derby graphic including the logo which then included the ram's head. See our sticker archive for a picture of the station's logo. Derbyshire was renowned for naff reception in places, most noticeably North Derbyshire. This led to a new North Derbyshire transmitter at Stanton Moor, switched on in 1988 on 95.3FM. Most triumphantly in 2000, Radio Derby recorded it's largest audience figures ever.
Based on St. Helens Street, just off the Derby ring road, the station has for many years provided unrivalled coverage of Derby County Football Club - something that cannot be echoed by 106 Century FM due to it's regional size. It is now only rivalled for exclusive weekly commentary by Derby County's SKY DIGITAL based radio station, RAMPAGE. Radio Derby hosts an annual charity fundraising weekend on-air auction, 'The Money Mountain', which often requires the siting of a marquee in the station car park. Managed up until the early 1990s by Alex Trelinski, there was a greater amount of local output. Regional management demands following Alex's departure were met by new management and this resulted in taking Nottingham's 'Beat On The Beeb' service on Saturdays, and similar networking on a Sunday evening. Saturday nights previously ran to 1:00am featuring (firstly) David Harvey, (then) David Halls, and finally Devon Daley from 7:00-10:00 with the Dance Music Show, The Saturday Night Dance Party/Saturday Sort-Out, and this was followed by Tom Price and guests until 1:00am. Following the evening networking, Devon has maintained his MOBO programme on a Sunday night. Later moves also led to the end of Ashley Franklin's popular 'Soundscapes' programme and ultimately, Ashley's work at Radio Derby. Other presenters of note are John Stiles (who officially launched the station), Graham Knight, Mark Sheldon, Terry Christian (ex-Channel 4 show 'The Word' and now on networked shows for Century FM), and long standing presenters who remain today, Chris Baird and Paul McKenzie. BBC Radio Derby has used ex-hospital radio staff too. Namely, Julia May-brown, David Rider, Nigel Cash and Andy Potter. I also worked for David Halls and Devon Daley's Saturday night programming for two and half years until networking from Nottingham took over. After a period in the wilderness, Alex Trelinski did some work for Radio Five Live, then for BBC Radio Nottingham but he is now the presenter of the evening networked show he took over from John Taynton. Both West and East Midlands BBC stations now have their own night time show but this previously used to be combined from BBC Pebble Mill Birmingham studios and presented by Alex until very recently - he now presents the East Midlands evening service. Radio Derby broadcasts on 104.5, 95.3 & 96FM & on 1116kHz AM/MW to Derbyshire & East Staffordshire
BBC RADIO SHEFFIELD commenced it's service on 15th November 1967, but has evolved a great deal since then. It is designed to serve South Yorkshire & North Derbyshire and the major areas of the two counties. Satellite studios are based in Barnsley, Rotherham, Chesterfield, Doncaster and Worksop. Actual station history is difficult to track, but the current programming speaks volumes anyway. As with standard BBC stations, the public have ample time to discuss a point, or make enquiries for information from studio guests. Live commentary comes from local sporting events, also as you would expect and there entertainment from the legendary Tony Capstick and his team every weekday morning from 9:00am. There's also programming for the ethnic communities, plus jazz, folk, country and Indie specialist music programming and a religious perspective every Sunday morning too. It broadcasts on 94.1FM from the Holme Moss transmitter, 88.6 for for Sheffield from Crosspool's transmitter, 94.7FM for Chesterfield and North Derbyshire, and on AM 1035 from Broadfield Road in Sheffield.
RADIO TRENT 945 / TRENT FM / THE RAM / RAM FM: Commercial radio activity started in the early 1970s, London's LBC, Birmingham's BRMB, and nearby Nottingham's Radio Trent amongst the first on-air. Derbyshire was a wasteland as far as commercial radio was concerned, with those lucky enough to live in the northern part of the county able to pick up Sheffield's Radio Hallam as early as 01/10/1974.
The first commercial radio station for Derby didn't appear until the late 1980s, and was targeted at the BBC's audience of Derbyshire and East Staffordshire - not surprisingly, the station was operated by Radio Trent from Nottingham. But rather than call it Derwent FM/Sound in line with the local river passing through the area as with Nottingham's station name, Derby's ILR commercial radio station was called Radio Trent 945. This being due to simulcasting on both FM and AM, AM being 945kHz MW.
The early part of 1987 saw test transmissions begin with familiar names from Nottingham such as Steve Merike, David Lloyd, Andy Miller, Brian Tansley and more presenting the vocal links and station promos amongst a recognisable Trent music mix.
The morning of Tuesday 3rd March 1987 saw test transmissions replaced by the occasional bleep to remind the transmitter not to switch itself off. At 6:00am, Andy Marriott announced the station's arrival and handed over to a recording of the official opening announcement by his grace the Duke of Devonshire, who stated how marvellous it was that Radio Trent was extending into Derbyshire and remarked: "Would it be rude of me to say, high time too? .." Giggles then faded into the launch montage led by David Lloyd. And so the station began. Interesting fact - Derby Market Place studios of Radio Trent 945 had blinds in the window and, on good authority, we've been told that these were down and closed on the morning of the launch. This is because Andy Marriott was actually in Nottingham's Radio Trent Castlegate studios! The launch of the station resulted in whole mass of personal departing the local hospital station, Radio Link, including Richard (Dick) Stone, Colin Woolley, Mark Burrows and Gary Burton, and latterly James Daniels and Adrian Eyre. The station also spawned the local broadcasting careers of Ian Chilvers (Century 106 & Trax), Tony Horder (Trax), Danny White (Centre FM) as well as to my own albeit lesser extent. Some of the names you see here are not as they were originally written on their birth certificates with birth names not deemed 'radio names'!
The station saw some considerable changes, most noticeably the FM/AM split dictated by the IBA which led to the creation of one of the best, if not the best GOLD radio stations. Not surprising then that it was done by Radio Trent, by this stage part of Midlands Radio plc, the station, which occupied the Nottingham 999, Derbyshire 945 AM and Leicester 1260 AM frequencies was GEM AM which launched on 04/10/88
Radio Trent became Trent FM at this time, but albeit with a few presenter changes, standards remained, Danny Cox and Andy Miller staying on FM, Andy Marriott moving to GEM along with John Peters, Brian Tansley, and Steve Merike. Trent FM Derby reached it's fifth birthday but not much further than that in comparative terms. By the end of February 1994, Midlands Radio plc had been taken over by the then little known GWR plc - who hailed from Bristol. Trent Derby had long been partially coming from Nottingham for some time, but because the quality of the service was good, this was accepted, but gave GWR an excuse for a relaunch with a new name for a station 'just for the Derby area.' This didn't really exist anyway due to networking on both FM and AM services by GWR.
By what would have been Trent's 7th birthday, (March 1994), almost to the day, the last Trent new jingle had been heard one early breakfast late February, news bulletins remained first voiced by Anne-Marie Minhall (now at Classic FM), (although the news team didn't stay around for long after rebranding), test transmissions promised we were getting a radio station WE wanted and featuring music that WE had said we wanted to hear, and 102.8 THE RAM was announced. Gone were the JAM jingles, gone were the familiar presenters personalities, and in their place, liner cards - lots of them and often. And so on 04/03/94, DLT launched 102.8 THE RAM (subsequently dropped in favour of) / RAM FM and the show presented by James 'Derby' Daniels, stating the station management were claiming a new world record for the fastest launch of a radio station. Odd really for saying the studio and offices were already there, and the transmissions had never stopped on the 102.8 frequency. No more was said of the claim afterwards. Early music played sounded distinctly adult contemporary - Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Simple Red, Simple Minds, Talk Talk, described as artists who formed 'today's better music mix' and so we were encouraged to 'make the switch' Considering that lots hadn't been anywhere in the first place and were simply waiting for this new all-singing all-dancing station 'just for the Derby area', this did seem a little odd. Around again came the same artists.... and again... and again.
Over recent years, the station's music policy has evolved to a distinctly younger feel - however the repetition and liner cards remain. As I chose to take a dislike to the new service after launch, having given it reasonable time to appeal I might add, I must admit I have rarely sampled it since, unless by force in a restaurant, on a bus, a shop or someone else's car, unless I felt I ought to give it another chance or as 'site research'. Perhaps I'm just getting old!
The station's original logo of the RAM's head (representing Derby) was latterly replaced by non-descript orange swirly lettering on a black background, and then with the standard GWR 'flare' logo as seen today on all station's stickers in the group, intended to indicate they were part of 'THE MIX' network, but, probably not an intention, also blatantly showing a lack of local identity. The 'today's better music mix' tag line has recently been scrapped but replaced by the similar 'today's best mix'.
After many years underneath the Assembly Rooms in Derby Market Place, RAM-FM and the Derby based offices of both RAM and GEM are now just around the corner in Iron Gate - easy to miss by all accounts - there is not believed to be a reception for the public to access. The old premises dating back to Radio Trent 945's launch are now a Derbyshire Constabulary Police office.
GEM-AM/CLASSIC GOLD 'DIGITAL' GEM: Chris Hughes became Programme Controller at Radio Trent in July 1980, then took on similar position at sister station Leicester Sound, then Radio Trent 945 in Derbyshire. Upon the launch of GEM AM on 4th October 1988, he would be overseeing 76 hours of local programming and 55 news bulletins amongst them. In a final interview with John Shaw on Radio Trent's final 'Conversations' programme, when asked by John what the 'sudden commercial expansion of ILR was about', i.e. the end of simulcasting, Chris said that the 'Government said we could do it' In the previous three years, approximately six areas of the country trialled a split frequency format - Leicestershire carried Leicester Sound on FM and the Asian service Sabras on 1260kHz as part of the trial. A subsequent Government Green paper said it would be unreasonable to 'waste' spectrum space by simulcasting so stations could either have an FM or an AM service. Therefore to beat this new legislation, it was a case of 'use it or lose it' and so Trent (Midlands Radio plc) created GEM-AM, (Great East Midlands-AM) which turned out to be one of, if not the best UK GOLD station. It launched on 945, 999 & 1260 kHz, at 12:00noon by paying a possible homage to the offshore stations that had built a long standing reputation for GOLD radio - John Peters played The Beatles' 'All You Need Is Love'. With John's fondness for offshore radio, this could be nothing else.
Here's the opening schedule for GEM-AM.
And so, GEM-AM became the great GOLD station for the three counties. In 1992, a decision was taken to remove GEM completely from the 1260 AM frequency and replace it with 24-hour Asian programming - effective from 14th September of that year. It was perhaps felt that Leicestershire would be covered quite adequately by the other frequencies. No real damage done then....
Midlands Radio plc, also the home to BRMB, Beacon, Mercia & Xtra-AM, and Trent-FM 102.8 was purchased by a company called GWR in 1993 - this put a dread fear through everyone as the GWR company had already gained a reputation for taking over stations and wielding various sizes of axe upon doing so - networking their own Classic Gold service on AM from Swindon. GWR didn't dare touch GEM - at least not straightaway. Evenn in 1994, GEM continued live and local 24 hours a day much to the temporary relief of local interested parties.
But the cloud of networking hung heavy throughout that time and in 1997, a decision was taken to network Tony Lyman across the Classic Gold network encapsulating the Midlands and the Home Counties - GEM was sneaked onto the end of the Classic Gold name to form Classic Gold GEM. Once the rather clever covert methods of networking had been started, it could only go to it's full anticipated state. Today's extent is one of minimalistic localness - i.e. four hours weekdays 14:00-18:00 which, until his move to SAGA was presented by John Peters, who himself had been freelancing all over the place in between times. And, safety wins at all costs, with the usual replicated worn set of safe oldies feature with all the other greats cast into oblivion, probably never to be heard again.
Radio Authority ownership restrictions hit the intentions of GWR group in a way they didn't like - as they continued to buy up stations, they were told to offload stations - GWR retained FM stations and offloaded AM. Relieved, previously aggravated fans and listeners to the old GEM rejoiced. But there is some bad news for this good news. GWR sold Classic Gold to UBC, United Broadcasting - on the understanding that GWR can buy the stations back again when ownership rules are relaxed.
It took a considerable amount of time for GWR to pluck up enough courage to even breathe on GEM let alone touch it. It was though thought inevitable as the CLASSIC GOLD brand was rolled out on all acquired station's AM networks. 945 for Derbyshire and 999 for Nottingham continue as GEM however, albeit confusingly as CLASSIC GOLD GEM when minimalistic programming is broadcast locally and as CLASSIC GOLD at all other times. You're more likely to hear less 50s, more 80s and contemporary 90s. 60s tracks are the usual tired safe ones which do nothing but exaggerate the quality of the broadcasts of GEM long gone. Continuing in name only partially, GEM is a shadow of what it was. One thing that remained for some time in various guises was the semi circle logo, which harks back to Midlands Radio plc ownership - but the black and gold CLASSIC GOLD logo has now been adapted. The other AM frequency of 1260kHz for Leicestershire has been operated by SABRAS SOUND for the Asian population of the region for some time now. It was felt 945 & 999 would cover Leicestershire adequately perhaps. GEM's current licence expires in October 2004. All localised GEM programming comes from Nottingham's Castle Gate studios.
PEAK 107: A request for a commercial radio station for the Chesterfield & North Derbyshire area was put in to what was then the IBA as early as the mid 1980s. Repeated requests, from a local and prominent journalist, were refused, with the IBA believed to cite that locals had Radio Sheffield and Hallam-FM. But this wasn't for Chesterfield itself. In 1996, more than 10 years since the campaign began, Chesterfield was finally put on the working list and a SALLIE (small scale alternative local licence) was advertised by the RA in the August of the following year. TRUST-FM was the first station to break the local radio silence, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of Hady/Chesterfield Hospital Radio to broadcast in 1996, backed by other radio group professionals, local businessman Norton Lea, then chairman of Chesterfield Football Club and a team of other local prominent business people and individuals. Full commentary on Chesterfield FC's games featured for the first time on local radio. Second on-air with an RSL was FIRST-FM, backed by SPIRE FM from Salisbury, a town also known for their prominent church spire. Both groups applied for the licence, but close to the deadline for receipt of applications, a third bidder applied - Grand Central Broadcasting Limited, broadcasting as PEAK 107. Despite other groups operating local RSLs and doing heavy campaigning and publicity in and around Chesterfield, and that no trial broadcasts had stemmed from PEAK 107, the licence was awarded to them in May 1998. But the licence award needed some confirming by the Radio Authority. Anonymous allegations were made to the RA about information contained in Peak 107's application. RA members met on July 2nd of that year to consider the content of the allegations submitted, but concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that the Authority had been materially or intentionally misled. The licence was therefore confirmed as awarded to Peak 107 at the same meeting. The station commenced broadcasting on 07/10/1998.
Ex-Trent presenter Mark Burrows took control of breakfast on the station and there was even weekend presentation work done by the bloke who used to play Andy McDonald in Coronation Street, Nick Cochrane. More recently, Mark moved to Lincs FM group stations nearby, and now to SAGA 106.6, and on 29th June 2001, Grand Central Broadcasting Limited & Peak 107 was bought out by Forever Broadcasting Ltd, who have brought in Sean Goldsmith (ex Centre-FM (Tamworth, Lichfield & Burton) and Century 106) and Diana Luke. Also more recently on the broadcast staff was Tim Disney, station programme controller, who established himself in the region at Nottingham & Derby's Trent-FM and Pete Allen, who has now moved back to Derby's RAM-FM. Peak's current broadcast licence doesn't expire until 6th October 2006. Tim Disney is also no longer employed by Forever and has recently (June 2003) been listed with Trent-FM schedules. Well, you've got to go where the work is!
MAGIC 990 / 1548 / 1305 is another part of the EMAP MAGIC network with this part having studios at Radio House, 900 Herries Road, Sheffield - to serve South Yorkshire and the North Midlands. In particular, the service covers major towns of Doncaster, Rotherham, Chesterfield, Barnsley, Worksop and parts of the Peak District National Park.
The MAGIC brand stations play quality, laid back songs 24 hours a day to their respective areas, and is aimed to be the ideal choice of listening when it's time to unwind. Only well known songs from big names are played with a mix both older and newer songs. Chat is kept to a minimum, however, international, national and local news and sport is aired at the times expected. In a survey carried out independently, it was found that 7 out of 10 new MAGIC listeners quickly made the station their first choice when turning the radio on - and this matches the station's aims - i.e. to be personal to listeners.
Radio 106FM/ CENTURY 106 / 106 CENTURY FM: The man deemed to be at the helm of Midlands Radio plc until it's takeover by GWR was a Mr. Ron Coles. Having relinquished control to GWR, he was probably well delighted to be at the helm of the new and first East Midlands (Notts/Derbys/Leics) regional licence. Backed by Border Radio Holdings (BRH) based in Cumbria and part of Border TV, Radio 106 ran simple test transmissions of adult contemporary music interspersed with simple announcements about the station's programming. On board was Ron's Trent colleague, Mr. Sport, Tony Delahunty who, for station launch was in Valderama in Spain, watching local golfer Lee Westwood in action for Radio 106.
Ken Warburton at Radio 106 Ron Coles at Radio 106
On 23/09/1997, Radio 106 was launched at 6:00am by Dickie Dodd with later programming from Kevin Fernihough on the morning show and Ken Warburton on afternoons. As Border further established it's Century brand, this led to a rebranding of Radio 106, which was perhaps, in hindsight going to be inevitable anyway. Out went Ron who, my memory tells me, couldn't bare the pending changes, and in came John Myers. (Ron then took control of the radio division of SAGA plc, who were planning some radio activities). Hiring and firing seemed the norm and the obligatory changing of personnel took place. Names such as Mark Keen, Gordon Astley, Adrian Allen & Ian Skye have all passed through the 'revolving doors'
One person who did come in the doors of note, and fresh from the Radio Authority was a Mr. David Lloyd. Having spent a considerable time at Radio Trent, then Lincs FM in Lincolnshire, and in other radio areas including Classic FM, and then the Authority itself, David's arrival at what was then Century 106 saw what was almost a hark back to the Radio Trent days with David himself taking up some air time, the arrival on air of Ian Chilvers, who had been working in the background at Century as a producer, assistant programme controller to David, and formerly as travel presenter in the Radio 106 days as 'Jimmy Jams'(!) (after a Lincs-FM group stay at Compass FM, he's now returned to Nottingham as producer for John Peters, swing presenter and co-ordinator of station branding at SAGA 106.6FM), the brief appearance of current Radio Derby sport reporter, Nigel Cash, along with Ian, also an ex-Radio Link (hospital radio) member, Colin Woolley and Tony Lyman and John Peters to daytime programming, and, the return to radio of Andy Marriott, continuity announcer for Central/Carlton TV, (who at that stage was not working on radio) who brought with him his ex-GEM-AM programme 'The Andy Marriott Television Show' to Sunday evenings. David also brought in Steve Jordan, ex-Lincs FM colleague, to afternoons and latterly, before Graham Mack, and after Sean Goldsmith, breakfast. Programming echoed the Trent feel, which no doubt was of huge appeal to the population of the counties it served. David is no longer associated with Century again, but does still have a firm footing in the radio business, mostly advisory once more at Galaxy 105, but joined SAGA 106.6 FM in February 2003 to present a Sunday request show across the East Midlands.
Big groups are normally taken over by bigger groups, and following negotiations, Century 106 became property of Capital Radio plc. This led to a slight rebranding to 106 Century FM, scrapping of sung jingles, a clear out of presenters, most of the above either leaving or getting the push in some way, copious amounts of SPORT and phone-ins, fronted by ex-Trent news reader and sports reporter Darren Fletcher and a more Capital styled music mix. Although maintaining it's older target audience, the music mix is generally more targeted that it has ever been with regulars like TEXAS, TRAVIS, STEREOPHONICS, et al doing the rounds (and arounds). To their credit though, weekends break the mould with each Saturday and Sunday currently being 80's themed. Capital GOLD presenters Mike Sweeney and Noddy Holder have also appeared with relevant sixties and seventies programming, although this has been dumbed down or scrapped over more recent months. Other presenters include Stuart Ellis, ex Heart FM 100.7 Breakfast & BRMB. Century 106's current licence expires 22nd September 2005.
SAGA 106.6FM (101.4 Derby): Since tests began on Tuesday 28th February (30th for 101.4 Derby) - a 'who's who' of local radio has gradually appeared with the airing of pre-recorded test announcements - John Peters & David Hamilton started things off, later being joined by Tony Lyman, David Lloyd, Paul Robey, Erica Hughes and night-time presenter Tim Gough. A sizeable playlist has been aired with only long term listeners hearing a repeat of some tunes - with a music mix which combines Radio 2 and the classic days of East Midlands great gold station GEM-AM. Sunday 2nd February also saw the use of the first SAGA 106.6 jingles. Cheekily, the tests continued to trail the station as serving '...the Great East Midlands...' - undoubtedly a 'ha-ha we're back' sideswipe at the dumbing down of local radio and the downsizing of GEM-AM.
Summarising the tests, Day 2 saw a short period off air for approximately 90 minutes with tests heard returning at 4:30 in the afternoon. Other intermittent drop outs of sound were heard although less and less over the last few days of tests. These then, were truly tests in every sense. Other interesting facts, include the referral to Lincolnshire as being served, along with the other three inland East Mids counties, Notts, Derbys & Leics - Lincs doesn't get a mention by the other regional, 106 Century FM. More recent tests have included programme trailers. Prior to launch, perhaps a negative side is that there were seemingly no large adverts being carried on lorries - no billboards spotted - no leaflets through doors, but Derby's Evening Telegraph Entertainment supplement on Friday 7th featured an interview and photographs with David Hamilton. Some locals who have previously made contact with SAGA in any guise, received a small magazine featuring articles and schedules. It confirmed, after recent omissions from the test announcements, the appearance of Andy Marriott, with 'Pure Nostalgia' on a Sunday - this is already aired by Andy on the West Midlands sister station so we assume that this is networked on both stations. Diana Luke e-mailed confirmation to us here at AIRCHECK that she would be presenting a weekend JAZZ show on SAGA 106.6 whilst maintaining a weekday show on Peak 107 (Chesterfield) and also at weekends on Yorkshire's Real Radio.
Overnight presenter, Mike Wyer started his first shift warming up for launch, providing regular live test announcements, counting down to the launch throughout the night - and at 7:00am, John Peters burst onto the air, clearly excited with what lay ahead. It's the third time he's launched a local station in his 28 years of broadcasting locally - the original Radio Trent 301 in 1975 and GEM-AM in 1988. Airing a re-sung Radio London jingle, (of which the style would be familiar, with John being a fan and having worked on recent Big L broadcasts), he announced that SAGA was 'about to take off' - the first songs aired were Frank Sinatra's 'Come Fly With Me' and The Carpenters' 'We've Only Just Begun', with other songs from The Beatles, The Seekers and Abba following. It seems SAGA have done what Radio 106 / Century didn't/doesn't - and that's to show clear evidence of being interested in it's different counties and their audience - it is already involved with all local papers in each county - evident from the pre-launch magazine and by John on-air - there was also interactivity by mentioning the many e-mails and letters received and a request. The 'Great East Midlands' theme looks set to continue, along with a constant, although tricky reference to the Derby transmitter on 101.4 despite the station being on 106.6 in the main. The first advertiser/sponsor to appear came with the first travel bulletin, British Airways, closely followed by the first commercial proper - again a National advertiser - Sainsburys. At 7:25, £500 was up for grabs on the Mystery Voice competition - and the station phone number was announced - 0845 650 1066. Claire Bailey presented a detailed news, sport and weather bulletin at 7:30pm. Overall reflections on the opening 30 minutes from AIRCHECK? SAGA RADIO is fronted by ex-Trent and Radio 106 man Ron Coles. It would seem that real, local radio (with JINGLES!!!) is finally back in the East Midlands - the ghost of Trent & GEM past returns to haunt once more. Happy haunting!
So, who else is doing what then? Trent, GEM, Big L, Century 106 & Lincs FM group jock John Peters is the Breakfast show presenter upon launch, a local radio star for 28 years, Erica Hughes fills the morning show (9am-Noon), and David Hamilton takes on the afternoon show (1-4pm) moving from the Breakfast show on the West Midlands sister station on 105.7 which can be heard well over the East Midlands coverage area. Ex-BRMB star Les Ross has taken over in Birmingham's SAGA Breakfast from January 6th following a short break after his departure from BRMB. Ex Trent and GEM presenter Tony Lyman is moving back home to present the drivetime afternoon slot from his similar position in Birmingham's SAGA station - he also presents Saturday Breakfast - and ex-Trent/GEM links continue because Paul Robey has left his job with the Lincs-FM group to become the SAGA 106.6 Programme Controller, and Head Of Music and will present 'The SAGA Collection weekdays at 12noon and 7pm. Tim Gough controls the late night show, weekdays 8pm-Midnight (Tim is ex-96 Trent-FM) ex-golden Trent era star Peter Quinn was scheduled to finally return to local airwaves Friday 8pm-Midnight, Saturday afternoon 2pm-6pm and Sunday breakfast from 6:00am-10:00am. However, a few days into the start of transmissions, his name was removed from the list of presenters on the station's website. Peter was unable to appear due to personal reasons. The aptly named ex-travel news presenter Mike Wyer presents the graveyard shift, with Mark Burrows making a welcome return to local radio, in a slot he's familiar with - in this case Midnight - 2am, with anoother familiar title 'A Little Night Music' and both Sheila Tracey and Diana Luke appear in the schedule too. As David Lloyd's dulcet tones have been heard on test announcements, fans of the great Steve Merike have been jumping for joy as David included Steve in a list of presenters cited as appearing on the station. It is known from inside AIRCHECK circles, that Steve has a fondness for the music of the 1930s, however, it was not on a specialist show that Steve made a return - with no start for Peter Quinn, this freed up Sunday breakfast, a show which Steve has seemingly stepped straight into as if he'd never been away. We were the first to be told by the man himself on December 12th 2002 - and we promised we wouldn't tell, but it's been formally announced by the station itself - David Lloyd returns to the East Midlands with the Sunday request show 10:00am - 1:00pm. On his first show, one of David's first links enthused about being back and referred to having been 'interrupted last time'. On station back up, ex-Derby Hospital Radio Link, Radio 106, Century 106 & Compass FM presenter Ian Chilvers is producer for John Peters, a swing presenter and co-ordinator of station branding.
Speaking about the launch, David Hamilton
who also presents a Saturday show called 'Million Sellers', said: 'Radio for people aged 50 and over is something new on the airwaves and I am delighted to be one of the pioneers and part of the launch team at
SAGA 106.6FM.' Studios are based at
Nottingham's Riverside Business Park. Saga has invested £2.5million in the new
SAGA 106.6fm is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Saga Group Ltd which was founded in 1952 and is now the market leader in travel, financial and other services for people aged 50 and over, and also publishes the award-winning 1.2 million circulation Saga magazine
Click here to see who SAGA beat to get to air!
RESTRICTED SERVICE LICENCES (RSLs): As in any major area, RSL activity can be at any point from zero to manic. There is now only one major RSL group for the City - ASWAS RADIO GROUP broadcasting as PRIDE-FM, which was formed in 1997 from the nucleus of presenters of VALLEY RADIO, which had previously operated both AM and latterly FM licences in the AMBER VALLEY area of Derbyshire and based initially in a railway carriage at the Midland Railway Museum at Butterley, latterly above an off-licence in Oxford Street, Ripley for it's last broadcast in 1996. At the same time as VALLEY RADIO, there was also AMBER SOUND FM, which had also conducted RSLs on both popular wavebands. AMBER SOUND is not believed to be in operation and AMBER VALLEY, once believed to be considered to be put on the working list at present has nothing. It is though believed that attempts are being made to form a new RSL outfit in the area almost 7 years after the end of VALLEY RADIO. Derby City has three other RSL groups in it's radio history - Radio Freedom, which formerly broadcast from the ROCKHOUSE nightspot in Babington Lane, it's last broadcast being several years ago now, and the local student radio station 'Bedlam'. It's RSL broadcasting only target the student audience irrespective of broadcast radius. So this leaves PRIDE-FM who have been providing regular broadcasting to Derby initially twice and now once a year since 1997, most recently as the City's Jubilee Radio Station, covering celebrations of Derby's 25th anniversary of City status, 50 years of HM The Queen's reign and 75 years of the City's Cathedral status. PRIDE-FM's activities can be followed via it's website at www.pridefm.co.uk. PRIDE-FM sees itself as a provider of community access radio and as an addition to existing services.
Radio Ikhlas completed a broadcast to Derby for the holy month of Ramadan using 87.9FM from 06/11/02 to 07/12/02, but again, this is special event radio service targeted for part of the ethnic community only.
The only other RSL outfit to break cover didn't cover the Derby area directly, although it could be heard in the East of the City. The broadcast was of a trial nature and was for the East Midlands regional licence and came from Ilkeston, itself considered a suburb of Derby although enjoying a Nottinghamshire postcode. SMOOTH-FM, run by Guardian Media Group, broadcast from and received considerable support from Ilkeston Co-op in the Town Centre. It included broadcast staff such as Gordon Astley & Craig Strong, both of whom have considerable involvement in local radio, (Century 106 for the former & Trent FM,. PRIDE-FM & the Lincs-FM owned station, Trax in Newark, Nottinghamshire for the latter.)
Thanks to an injection of some £240,000, the next 2 years will see a new RSL radio service for a Derby community. Launched 1st July 2003, Derwent FM is set to take to the airwaves of Derby in either October or November this year. The station is in the process of applying for a licence from the Radio Authority for it's first RSL which, subject to a successful application, will be the first of four. The station will broadcast for 12 hours a day from new studios built within High View School, Breadsall Hill Top, which is in the Derwent Ward of the City Centre. The venture is primarily a vehicle of delivering basic skills learning. There will be around 12 people in the broadcast team upon start up who will take part in the 'Basic Skills Media Course' validated by the Open College Network. Prior to the first anticipated broadcast, the team will spend their time writing scripts, working in both the class and studio to put together programmes and to progress ideas to actuality.
Derwent FM was the brainchild of ex-Hospital Radio presenter, and current BBC local radio & (Derby's community radio station) PRIDE-FM presenter Andy Potter. He said '...the type of programmes we put out will be down to the people taking the course and they need to be representative of the community we're broadcasting to. It will be another avenue for local people to express themselves.' Andy forsees the location of the studio (i.e. within the school complex) as having a spin-off effect for the school, enabling the facilities to be used both during and outside of school hours. Andy continued '..we have limited speakers to hear what's happening in the studio - I'm hoping that these can be placed all around the school so that it can become part of a daily lunchtime broadcast.' There are around 2,000 tracks in the station's playlist. People are still needed for the first course and anyone interested in signing up should contact Andy Potter on Derby 831515. If you would like to e-mail Andy instead, please contact us here at AIRCHECK (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll forward the e-mail address on.
The project is funded by the Derwent Community Team - responsible for re-generating Derby's Derwent area with £42m of 'Government New Deal in the Communities' funding.
DIGITAL: No digital multiplex is known to operate for the county.
The closest thing to a digital radio service for Derby stemmed from Radio First plc's SKY DIGITAL channel 906 station for Derby County Football Club, RAMPAGE. Part of their 'fan radio network', the only way this service could be heard was through television in the home, hence restricting potential audience to SKY subscribers living in the allocated area on audio sub-carrier 12320 Vertical. The station was owned 50:50 by both parties with the deal, the fourth of four deals, done in January 2001. It launched later that year. Irrespective of the broadcast platform, station management claimed satisfactory audience figures following recent research.
In March 2003, Radio First plc withdrew from operating the station. It's other services, Aston Villa's THE VILLAIN, Southampton's THE SAINT & Chelsea's BIG BLUE are all for Premiership clubs: Derby were a Premiership club when RAMPAGE was launched. At the time of the closedown of RAMPAGE, the football club was just above the relegation zone in the First Division, the manager, John Gregory had been landed with a five match touchline ban, was then suspended, the major players had been sold and the club had only taken 2 points out of the last 27 possible. It isn't known whether the club's difficulties influenced Radio First plc's decision to withdraw. The studio facilities, which cost £70,000 when new, remain under lock and key to await their fate. The other stations in the Radio First plc Fan Network continue unaffected. There was no press release made at the time, and AIRCHECK reported the news of RAMPAGE's closedown exclusively.
RADIO LINK, a registered charity, is run by a long-serving committee and broadcasts to the major Derby city hospitals. It was established in 1974, then providing taped programmes to the Rycote Centre. The service was launched by ex-Radio Derby presenter John Stiles and was the training ground for several local radio presenters as named above, most of whom went to Radio Trent on launch, although some presenters have also gone on to work for BBC Radio Derby as also named above. More recently, Russell Walker-Brown has gone on to work for the BBC locally. As with many hospital radio stations, a tired, temperamental, often with damaged or no headphones or faulty headsets, internal loop system restricts audience, although an external service provider, Patientline, is now being installed. Recent fundraising events by nurses have also raised money for portable ward based radios and televisions restricting audience further still. In it's early days, Radio Link broadcast from a doctors waiting room and equipment was taken out of a cupboard after surgery hours, set up for broadcast and packed away afterwards. Availability of extra rooms and appropriate fundraising led to the building of Studio 2 in what was the old, rather cramped record library and office, the latter, until only recently, occupying new separate rooms down the corridor. More recently, the station has refitted Studio 1, for years it's only broadcast facility.
Ex-Chairman, ex-member and now local radio presenter, journalist and TV extra, Andy Potter brought local and considerable publicity for the station with the likes of ambassadors Graham Knight (ex BBC Radio Derby & BBC Radio Two), locally born actress Gwen Taylor, and actors Ben Roberts & the late Kevin Lloyd, (ITV's THE BILL) who all represented and visited the station during Andy's chairmanship. Despite excellent broadcast facilities nowadays, a considerable amount of programming comes either partially or totally from computer. The buildings in which the studios are based are due to be flattened in 2006 or sooner along with surrounding old hospital buildings as the site becomes the main A&E and hospital facility for the City. However, the station is in discussions with hospital management regarding relocating around 2006 to an even better facility featuring a voice-over booth, broadcast and production studio, racks room, music store, engineering workshop and store plus a reception and open plan offices as well as a superb improvement to domestic facilities. It has been frequently necessary for presenters to have a dash up on to the main hospital corridor, some distance away when nature calls, unless you're a female, in which case, the ladies toilet is just down the corridor! History shows that, unfortunately, the male staff have tended to outnumber the females at the station!
Radio Link has never made any use of AM or FM transmission facilities, either low power or RSL. The station used to promote having patrons such as Brian Clough, David Jensen & TV presenter Andy Craig, however no such promotions have been made in anyway since the station's logo was redesigned some years ago and is a very little known fact nowadays.
Recent station events include BBC Radio Derby presenter Andy Whittaker having to use conventional faders whilst presenting live from Radio Link studios during NHS Day, and the station also won two GOLD awards at the 2002 Autumn PPL sponsored Hospital Broadcasting Awards, for Station Identification and Programme Trailer. As well as being judged the best in the country, financial awards were also made to the station.
Thanks go to the station's Mark Atherton for some of the more recent information. The rest of the information came from this site's editor who spent almost ten happy years at the station, ending in 1997!
Chesterfield Hospital Radio/Hady Radio came to an end at Chesterfield Royal Hospital with the operation of 107.4 TRUST-FM's RSL broadcast of 1996 headed by local prominent broadcaster and journalist Ivan Spencely - the hospital management needed the room which housed the office, record library and studio and it was felt the station had run it's course and was struggling for staff anyway.
Ilkeston Community Hospital has a much newer radio station, Radio Robin, which is run by the Hospital League Of Friends. The station launched at 2:00pm on 19th July 1995 with Bobby Day's 'Rockin' Robin'. Broadcasting from only one small room, an old sluice room, Radio Robin is looking to expand it's service to neighbouring hospitals. Since August 2002, the station has regularly teamed up with Derby-based community radio station PRIDE-FM to provide the public address for the annual summer fair as well as working together at other local events. Radio Robin operated an RSL to celebrate the station's fifth birthday and it is understood that it is looking to provide a further service to raise funds for the station and to promote the station itself, in the future. It is about to install some computer equipment to further enhance broadcast play-out facilities.
The Radio Authority advertised a new Independent Local Radio licence for the town of Buxton and other parts of the High Peak district, in Derbyshire on 24th December 2002. Applicants could choose to apply for a licence to broadcast either on the FM (VHF) waveband or the AM (medium wave) band, but not both, with only a single licence up for grabs on whichever waveband the successful applicant prefers. The closing date for applying for this eight year licence was Tuesday 8th April 2003. A non-refundable application fee of £1,500 for an FM licence, or £1,000 for an AM licence, was required for each application submitted. The date of award was Thursday 10th July 2003. First to break the story were rival but unsuccessful bidders, Temple FM on their website, offering congratulations to the Jenner brothers, and High Peak Radio who have been awarded the licence.
BID INFO: High Peak Radio Ltd: Proposing a vibrant local radio voice for Buxton, Glossop, New Mills, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Whaley Bridge and the rural High Peak, featuring great music and a full service of local news and information. Previously known as Radio Buxton, they operated four locally based RSLs in May 1999, November 1999, May 2000 and May 2001 using 106.2 & 106.3. They were the first and last group to stage such broadcasts in the target area. The directors of the station are the locally known Jenner brothers Paul & Steve, who have history in local RSLs & licence bids in the Peak area (Chesterfield & Buxton). The Chairman of the group is local businessman Clive Beattie. The bid website is at available on-line at www.highpeakradio.co.uk or directly to www.radiobuxton.co.uk. There are no known details about any substantial backing from other radio groups or parties.
The new licensee may broadcast for eight years from the commencement of the actual service. The RA noted the significant number of applications, especially when considering the small population of the area and the likely difficulties in providing adequate reception over the particularly hilly terrain but said that the decision was finely judged between the strongest of the candidates.
The members of the deciding RA panel noted High Peak Radio's local roots, the levels of awareness generated by it's five local trial broadcasts, the involvement of members of the board in starting up small-scale stations, the good relationships held with many local station advertisers, many of whom had written endorsements for the station's bid, and support as shown with similar endorsements and petitions from members of the public, local bodies and community groups. The successful bidder's business plan was deemed to be realistic, containing reasonable audience forecasts and prudent local revenue estimates.
Officially, High Peak Radio will provide a full service local radio station, primarily targeting 25-54 year olds. Speech content will comprise 20-35% of the output during weekday daytimes, 15-30% on Saturdays and 10-25% on Sundays. The group has committed to the provision of eight locally-orientated speech features which will include a weekday mid-afternoon 'News Focus', a local expert slot, community group appeals, and an item on outdoor pursuits and activities in the Peak District National Park scheduled at breakfast time at the weekends. The news bulletins will include two minutes of local news during weekday peak times. The music output will consist of hits from the last four decades. The RA Members accepted the fact that the station would rely heavily on automated output.
A total of five groups formally
applied for the new radio licence. Four went for FM, one for AM. Here
are the other four unsuccessful applicants.
For FM, the bids were from:
The Edge Ltd: Proposing the first truly local radio service for the High Peak with a clear focus on local news, sport and information, playing the best of today's music and popular songs from the last 40 years. The application is led by Wayne Chadwick, who, as Grand Central Broadcasting, entered the bidding for the Chesterfield SALLIE at the death, without carrying out any RSLs and won the licence as Peak 107. This was later sold to Forever Broadcasting. Backing for The Edge comes from The Wireless Group - a fact reflected by a member of the board. The bid website is at www.fmtheedge.com - on quality of websites alone, this iss the winner! A locally based Special Event Millennium RSL was staged from 13th December 1999 - one of only approximately 25 to be licenced. The brand name has been linked with Huddersfield (February 2000) and Edgware - London (November 1997). The station name is only known to be a brand rather than having any specific local relevance.
Spring FM Ltd: Proposing a unique radio service for all age groups, with the emphasis being on providing a diverse range of music from the last six decades, complemented by devoted local news, issues and event coverage. Spring FM is proposed by The Vale of Belvoir Community Radio Association, the group behind TWC-FM, more recently known as Melton FM over in Leicestershire. Cliff Sanderson is the man at the helm of the group and it's Buxton application. Also on the board of directors is Dave Lee Travis & Crossroads and ex-Coronation Street actress Sherrie Hewson who are offering their services for free until the group is profitable. Bid website at www.springfm.co.uk. There are no records of any locally based RSL broadcasts. The name is synonymous with the area and it's abundance of natural spring water.
Temple FM (The Radio Game Ltd): Proposing a real local radio for Buxton and the High Peak District, with a total focus on the local community and programmes from and for this wonderful area: music from the 1950s to the present day, local news, travel and details of charity/community events 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A known name behind this bid is Kenni James, ex Forward Media Group Chief Executive who left the group suddenly in September 2001, having only taken over from Bill Johnston in May of the previous year. Kenni's experience goes back to his BBC roots in 1980, commercial radio from 1987 with the likes of Red Rose Radio, Radio City, The Bay, and Belfast CityBeat. Also with him is Chris Hornby, who has worked on the same commercial stations, plus Southport's Dune FM. The station name is taken from the local heritage site 'Solomon's Temple' which was created in the 1800s to provide work for local people. Bid website is at www.templefm.com
And the one AM licence application:
PKM (Peak AM Ltd): Proposing a mature and stimulating radio service for an adult audience aged 25-55. AIRCHECK's early impressions were that this was a bid by Forever Broadcasting, who already operate Peak 107 in the Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire area. This was partially based on the trading name of Peak AM Ltd. The Chesterfield FM licence was originally won by Wayne Chadwick's Grand Central Broadcasting but was later bought out by Forever. However, we've located the bid website/page at www.peakradio.co.uk which diverts to the actual page of www.powerstation.demon.co.uk/Peakradio1.htm. This shows the on-air name of PKM - quite obviously an attempt to avoid legal proceedings by Forever Broadcasting should they use 'Peak AM'. They claim to be the first group to ask the Radio Authority for a licence to broadcast to the Peak district as far back as 1990, and suggest that it is through constant pressure that a licence has now been offered. PKM show a logo of three green letters spelling out the name, and 'Radio For The Peaks on 1521AM' as a logo with a two sided box around the top and left of it. Names behind the bid are Alistair Bates & Graham Symonds.
Also...With the pending 3rd West Midlands regional (in addition to Heart and Saga), it is expected that, albeit eventually, a 3rd East Midlands regional will be advertised, giving the disappointed groups who missed out with their bids for the 2nd East Mids regional, a second bite at the cherry. The RA, soon to be OFCOM, have not made any announcement of plans for a 3rd East Midlands licence as yet, only saying that they do not feel that the area can presently sustain another station due to a locally busy radio spectrum. When industry discussions and RA trials have concluded, it is not deemed unreasonable for Derby and other large populated areas of the county to have a community-based access station too
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