Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Metro Radio's studio in Swalwell, Gateshead,
photographed here in November, 1974.
Metro Radio began broadcasting on July 15, 1974. Officially named the Metropolitan Broadcasting Company Limited (MBC), it supplied programmes initially between 6.00am and 2.00am the following morning.

The new studios were located on a light industrial estate at Radio House, Longrigg, Swalwell on the southern bank of the River Tyne, slightly west of Gateshead.

The first programme was The Breakfast Show with Don Dwyer, an Australian presenter who had worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Harry Rowell who had previously worked in the News Department of Tyne Tees Television.

MBC reflected life in Tyne and Wear, and unlike many fledgling ILR stations of the time, pop music and entertainment were to be of less importance in its early programme schedules.  Indeed, its early output relied heavily on speech-based programmes, such as news, costly-to-produce dramas, children's programmes and documentaries.

This website is a tribute to a unique, innovative, creative, entertaining and informative radio station, and to the people with flare, passion and imagination that ensured that over four decades it would develop into one of the most successful examples of commercial radio in Britain. This of course extends down through the decades to Metro Radio’s management, presenters, newsreaders, administrative staff, advertisers, and last but not least its highly loyal and enthusiastic listeners. The extensive and nostalgic jingles, programmes and videos are bound to provoke the fondest and happiest memories of those who have lived in north east England.

The website and associated blog also records Metro Radio's fascinating history as an independent company, its merger with Radio Tees 257 in 1986, the AM/FM split (the end of so-called ‘simulcasting’ by the IBA on Medium Wave/VHF (FM)) that created Metro FM and Great North Radio (GNR), and  the EMAP acquisition of 1997. This brings us right up to date with Metro Radio and its sister station on AM, Metro Radio 2 The Greatest Hits (formerly Magic 1152) being owned and operated by Bauer Media Group.



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Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Andy Craig (left), Elton John (centre), and Giles Squire (right).


Now then, it has been a while since a former Metro Radio presenter has contacted the site directly, so it is a big "thumbs up" to Andy Craig who many will remember from his presentation work on Metro Radio in the late seventies. Andy was also a newsreader, in-vision continuity announcer at Tyne Tees Television and presenter of news magazine Northern Life at around the same time. This is what Andy had to say.

Neil Robinson gave me my first break. I had studied Agriculture at Newcastle University and graduated in June 1976. I went off to find fame and fortune, got some shifts with Radio 210 Thames Valley Broadcasting (the home of Mike Read and Steve Wright) before returning to the North East. Neil was a farmer in Slaley and liked the fact that I could talk his language....I got the job!

I joined (Metro Radio) in the late summer 1976 as an assistant to Geoff Brown, and Geoff and I went on to programme all the daily strip shows for almost two years to guarantee the station sound. The programme controller Mick Johnson didn't believe that the presenters could be trusted to choose their own music. True in some cases!

I was instrumental in helping produce the Gentle on Your Mind jingle package which used the John Miles break from 'Music' as the news jingle. Geoff Brown was constantly looking for inspiration and I brought in my own collection of soul and jazz sounds to entice him....One of them by Young Holt Unlimited 'Soulful Strut' made it through to the Metro New Sound jingle.....How we got away with it!!

I made it to air with 'Simply Soul' with the soul show long after Big Phil had gone. I think it was on a Thursday night.

I stayed at Metro until 1978 when I joined Tyne Tees. Initially in continuity and then News. I went on to front Northern Life with Tom Coyne (and on my own at the tender age of 27).
I then moved to Central ITV in Nottingham and anchored the news in the Midlands for close on ten years before moving to BBC Pebble Mill and Daytime Live. Then it was on to launch the ITV franchise Meridian, hosting Meridian tonight for thirteen years. In between I hosted TV-am with Anne Diamond, countless weeks of This Morning with Fern...and for some reason a whole raft of game shows including Sporting Triangles (ITV), One False Move (Sky), Going Going Gone (BBC1) BrainWave (BBC2), Search Line Special with Cilla.....and so on and so on.

Perhaps most interestingly I invested wisely and went on to own
and be lead shareholder in seven Independent Local Radio Stations. I launched several newspapers and then floated the whole lot on the AIM London Stock Market.

As you can see I am Chairman and shareholder of a company that is still pioneering in the broadcast world with most of its work in the United States. It's a fascinating business.

I have some interesting early photos at Metro which I will look out and some amazing memories. Including meeting Mohammed Ali who wanted to take away the song he had heard on Metro as he was driven to the studios. I gave him the K-Tel album from which the track was played.....you wouldn't argue would you.

Finally if you look at the 40 year YouTube video there is a 'still' before Giles makes his speech. That is yours truly with Giles.....and could it be Elton John under the hat? 

All the best

Andy Craig. 

Contact Andy via this website: www.ionoco.com                         

And thanks to you Andy for contacting the website. Good to hear from you!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


A short video from YouTube by former presenter Richard Rudin recording the fortieth anniversary reunion for staff of Metro Radio on Friday October 17, 2014.

The party was organised by former Metro Radio presenter and Group Programme Director Giles Squire and was held at the Tyne Wall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 

Appearing on the video are many of Metro Radio's former staff and presenters including Brian Clough, Steve Colman, Brian Lister, Paddy MacDee, Lyn Spencer, Dave Porter, Helen Porter and probably many more!

The fortieth anniversary speech, which appears in the video was given by Giles Squire and includes many memories and stories from Metro Radio 261MW and 97VHF at Swalwell: The North East Sound.

Monday, 14 July 2014



Forty years ago today the Metropolitan Broadcasting Company, otherwise known as MBC or simply Metro Radio took to the airwaves of north east England. It was the sixth Independent Local Radio (ILR) station to open in the United Kingdom, and part of the first tranche of nineteen of such stations that would commence broadcasting by April, 1976.

Commercial radio back then was a new medium in a country that since the invention of radio in the early twentieth century had been allowed little choice when it came to listening to legal broadcasts. Domestically, there was just the BBC or Radio Luxembourg from the Continent. These were joined in the sixties by a plethora of pirate stations, operating from international waters in the North Sea.

Eventually the Government relaxed the broadcasting rules and regulated for ILR. This was a system of generally low power local radio stations that were required to identify strongly with their local communities via news, current affairs, sport, other speech-based, music and specialist programmes.

Sunday, 8 June 2014



Thursday morning proved much more interesting than usual for a couple of reasons for both myself and visitors to this website.

One of the Metro Radio 261MW 97VHF Tribute Website visitors, Matthew Gulliver of Rotherham asked whether I would be willing to take a listen to Radio Tyneside, a hospital radio service for Newcastle-upon-Tyne and surrounding areas. This radio station has been broadcasting to the hospital communities in the Tyneside area via closed circuit headphone and now via the internet and 1575kHz AM/medium wave since 1951.

North East broadcasting legend Bill Steel was being interviewed by Radio Tyneside presenter Dave Nicholson about his broadcasting career and Matthew was wondering if I could record the output of the station for both himself and Bill. Of course I didn't have to be asked twice, and thought it would make good feature for sharing with you on this website too.
So here he is then, Bill Steel talking about his fascinating career acting, and presenting both on radio and television. Bill of course worked for Tyne Tees Television (ITV) serving the north east of England since the early sixties as a continuity announcer, eventually graduating to the position of chief announcer and presenter of Today at Six and Northern Life. Also working in television in for ATV Manchester and the Midlands, he presented Metro Radio's very popular Breakfast Show during the seventies. 

Bill Steel playing the role of Bernard McKenna on Granada ITV's ever-popular soap Coronation Street (Episode 4169; Air Date: March 31, 1997). Image courtesy of Corriepedia.
Bill also presented on Century Radio North East in the nineties, and is known nationwide for playing the role of Bernard McKenna in ITV's Coronation Street for eight months.

Bill Steel interviewed by Dave Nicholson, Hospital Radio Tyneside, June 6, 2014. Apologies for the audio quality of the recording due to problems with my mixer software, and not the source.


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Tuesday, 3 June 2014


It's 1979 and politically Britain ends the decade as it started with economic, political and industrial turmoil and a change of government. Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives are elected to power, while in Iran, their is an Islamic Revolution and the Shah is exiled. In the north east of England, listeners were kept fully informed by Metro's newsoom.


As the seventies gave way to the eighties, the north east, Britain and indeed the world were changing dramatically. It was one of history's turning points.

In the United Kingdom, the Winter of Discontent marked by industrial unrest gave way to a new government in the spring led by Margaret Thatcher with new economics based on the free market and deregulation. There was a religious revolution in Iran where the Shah was deposed and uncertainties in the Middle East led to a second major global oil price shock. In southern Africa the winds of change and a bush war led to the crumbling of illegal white minority rule in one of Britain's few remaining colonies, Rhodesia. The country would become Zimbabwe in 1980, the Prime Minister Ian Smith being replaced with a new president, Robert Mugabe in democratic elections. Pressure was intensified on the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the civil war flared again in the Lebanon, with its capital, Beirut crumbling.

Monday, 2 June 2014


So you've enjoyed the sights and sounds of Metro Radio 261MW 97VHF in the seventies and eighties, the Independent Local Radio (ILR) service for the Tyne/Wear area, thanks to the North East Sound Tribute website.

But Metro Radio was just one of the original tranche of nineteen ILR stations originally licenced by the Independent Broadcasting Authority. What about the rest of the network? Are there any similar 'independent' tribute websites for those other stations providing multimedia, artwork, jingles and programme downloads just like the Metro Radio 261MW 97VHF Tribute website.

Well, the good news is "yes". That means we can take a virtual tour of UK radio-land in the seventies and see what's available on the internet, starting in Northern Ireland. You may even be able to compare and contrast the output of these original stations with that of Metro Radio.

Simply click the ILR station logo to visit its tribute website, or, if an alternative site exists, click the ILR station name below. Enjoy!


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