MEMORIES OF METRO RADIO


Nostalgia, memories and great radio are this website's raison d'etre . This celebration of the north east of England's proud broadcasting history relies on you, our visitors to provide media, content, and most importantly memories either as a radio listener or as a member of staff of the Metropolitan Broadcasting Company (MBC). It was and still is a radio station that was flatteringly copied, but never bettered.

Perhaps you were once a presenter on Metro Radio a director of the company or one of the office staff. Perhaps you were an avid listener to the first Night Owls programme, hooked on participating in one of the first socially interactive radio programmes at 2.00 am in the morning, a ground-breaking concept unheard of in the UK before Metro came along. Perhaps you still are!  Perhaps you still love listening to Metro Radio, or it's sister station on AM,  Metro Radio 2 broadcasting on those self same frequencies on which it all began on July 15, 1974.

Perhaps you used to listen to some of the competing radio stations at the time, such as BBC

Radio 1 on 247 metres (later 275/285 metres), RTL's 208 Radio Luxembourg (with its appalling skywave signal), BBC Radio Newcastle on 206 metres/95.4MHz VHF, or if you were in the south of the north east, the other Independent Local Radio (ILR) station, Radio Tees on 257 metres medium wave and 95.0 MHz VHF (FM) in stereo, from Stockton-on-Tees.

For whatever your reason you're visiting the Metro Radio 261MW 97VHF The North East Sound Tribute Site, please do share your radio memories with us all! And please share the memories, recordings, jingles and videos with your friends.



To contact myself, the webmaster, Andy Fleming with your comments or audio/visual material (posters, photographs, cassette or reel to reel recordings, mp3, videos etc) or simply say hello and catch up on old presenters and staff (if you were either a colleague or avid listener), contact me via e-mail here or 'friend' me on Facebook here. Incidentally, the site also has a Facebook fan page that you are warmly invited to join and participate in here.

And so to the most important feature of all on the website:


Your Memories



Mark Seaman (presenter):
Hi, Someone pointed me at the link for Where are they Now, and I read a bit about myself - rather odd!
You might want to add, that I also started up Premier Radio in London in the mid nineties, and was Network Controller for the former GWR Group in the mid eighties, and have been writing and acting for some years as well, appearing in the now defunct television show, Brookside, and the cult film, Human Traffic.

I enjoyed looking at the site, great fun

Regards,
Mark Seaman, Senior Producer/Presenter/Music Manager, BBC Radio Wiltshire/BBC Radio Swindon 

Ken McKenzie, one of Metro Radio's presenters from the early days contacted the website and had this to say:
Hi. Just noticed your amazing site. Voice over on The Journal commercial in package 2 is Mike Hurley. Mike had been commercial production manager at Radio Aire, then left to set up his own production company The Creative Department.

Mike voiced thousands of radio & TV ads, including this one made at Dunston when I had Multicord Studios, just down river from Metro’s place at Swalwell.

Mike is no longer with us but there’s some good info on http://www.bbc.co.uk/humber/content/articles/2008/03/05/mike_hurley_feature.shtml

Regards.
Ken McKenzie, McKenzie Media, West Rainton, Durham. Email: ken@mckm.co.ukWebsite: www.mckm.co.uk

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Cheers Ken, really glad that you enjoy visiting this website. The information about Mike Hurley, a very recognisable voice has been updated on the Time for a Commercial Break page. If any other visitors have information about other former Metro Radio presenters, announcers or other members of staff, please contact the site here. Many thanks.

Ken Coates, son of Metro Radio's first Programme Controller Geoff Coates contacted the site and had this to say:
Sirs, My father, Geoff Coates, was the first programme controller for Metro Radio and was responsible for recruiting and training presenters as well as scheduling and producing much of the programme content. He takes pride in having given first opportunities to many who went on to bigger and better things. At the age of 86, he is now in very poor health.

He was in many ways a pioneer of radio locally, having been a producer for BBC Radio Durham and Carlisle and worked for BBC nationally as head of Education for Local Radio. His vision for Metro was consistent with that of the regulatory authorities as a public broadcasting vehicle. Previously he had worked as a continuity announcer and head of presentation at Tyne Tees and after leaving Metro went back to being a Geography teacher in Newcastle.

He would be able to give tremendous insight into the early days of the station, he has many stories and memories of Metro in the seventies and I am sure he would be delighted to share these.
He even gave me a part in City; the daily soap from the early days which I remember keenly and which was fun to make if not hugely critically acclaimed.

One programme he was single handedly responsible for was Slaty Drift which he wrote, produced and acted in and recently we came across in our loft the original scripts which had initially been co-written with Stan Hall and performed around Churches in Newcastle. As I remember he also presented a classical music programme himself.

My daughter is trying hard to access the complete Slaty Drift collection to burn to CD for my father as a nice surprise for him. Can you help?

She has a friend who works at Metro currently who is going to make enquiries but, apparently there is no longer an archivist working at the station.
Kind regards
Ken Coates

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Can anyone help Ken and his daughter?  Does anyone have a recording of the Slaty Drift series on cassette or reel-to-reel, or indeed on any media?  Please contact the site here if you can help.

Andrew Swift,
a listener
to Through The Night With Jerry Vine
 on Metro Radio contacted the site in reply to Jeremy's post, and this is what he had to say:

Peter Duncan was the actor/all-action guy off Blue Peter!!! I think he meant Richard Duncan who joined in September 1984 and left a couple of years later.

The jingle/strapline for Jeremy’s overnight show was Through The Night With Jerry Vine and I remember him playing seventies band Sailor’s three hits as a triple-tracker one night.

Jeremy Vine,
The BBC Radio 2 presenter contacted the site about his time at Metro Radio in 1984, and this is what he had to say:

I just found this site; what an excellent archive. I presented on MetroRadio at Swalwell between 2.00 and 5.00am roughly once a week, between 1984 and 1986 while I was a student at Durham University.

I was given the slot by Giles Squire (who was then a DJ/executive) and whom I still see. Mic Johnson was the controller. Alan Robson was doing the show before mine. It wasn't really mine anyway - it was Dave Bray who was the main presenter of the overnight show when I was there. I wasn't much good but I learnt a lot.


Other DJs were Steve King, Nicky Brown, Peter Duncan and Dave Porter. Dave Porter usually came on at 5.00am. My first record on my first show was Abba's, Dancing Queen, in 1984.


I was paid £8 per hour on air, which was a fortune to me. I will always be grateful to Giles and Mic for the start.

Best wishes
Jeremy Vine
BBC Radio 2

Jonathan Morrell,
presenter at Metro Radio between 1990 and 1991 contacted the site, and this is what he had to say:

I found your site by accident but great to see some faces and names from my brief time at Metro. I was there from 1990 to 1991 before returning to BBC Radio Newcastle. I used to host the Lovelines show on a Friday night and the early Sunday Breakfast Show with the Reverend Joe Poulter.

It was a great place to work with Steve Coleman on the Breakfast Show, Mark Forest on mid mornings, David Prever on the 1pm to 4pm show and then Tim Smith from 4pm to 7pm (I think).

The one thing that struck me was the image of the station compared with the actual reality of the building – the image and sound on air was big, the Swalwell studios were nothing like that! Great memories and I learnt so much while working there. Thanks for reminding me of some of them through the site.
Kind regards,
Jonathan

Ian Nesbitt,
an ex-Metro Radio listener from Boldon, Tyne and Wear contacted the site and said:

Jeff Brown used to present the late night programme Bridges on Saturday nights when the station first kicked off, so called – he said – because it bridged musical genres; although I recall it was primarily rock-based, but not so ‘heavy’ as the Sunday night programme, the name of which escapes me.

Can you tell me what happened to Jeff Brown as he seemed to disappear at no-notice whatsoever; although part of me recalls that there was some sort of cloud surrounding his departure – my unreserved apologies to him if this is untrue.
Many thanks,
Ian Nesbitt

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Has anyone any information on Jeff Brown please? If so, please contact the website here. Thank you!

Alison Busby
contacted the site:
Whilst clearing out my father in laws home we came across a large set of master tapes produced by George Adams on Metro Radio titled ‘Sinatra Story’.

Are you able to give us any information about these – we are wary about trying to play them as they may have deteriorated in storage.  Any information you have would be helpful.
Many thanks, Kind regards
Alison Busby

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Can anyone help Alison on this subject? If so, please contact the website here. Thank you!

Tony Crosby (presenter):
I had my heart set on a career behind the mike after listening to countless hours of Radio North Sea and to a lesser extent, Caroline and Veronica Radio from Holland.
 
My career was all too short lived! But enjoyable nevertheless. I remember helping move Marc Paul up from London (he didn't drive and I'd just passed my test!) when he got his first job on Metro. Sadly he died in his thirties shortly after leaving Metro Radio.
 
I moved from hospital radio and nightclub work directly into the mainstream with Metro in July 1980 as a tender 24 year old, rather raw and inexperienced. Did the weekend breakfast, mid-morning, weekday afternoon show, evening show and even Night Owls for a while. Changes happened every six months or so in those days. You waited outside Mic Johnson's office for the good (or bad) news and a list would appear on the noticeboard outside his room and you'd change shows at the end of that week usually.
 
I left in January 1985 although in the last six months had been banished to the graveyard shift of constant overnights! That's what happened to you in those days if they wanted to get the message through that you were on your way out! No hard feelings here though.
 
I did a few bits and pieces for Radio Newcastle after that, but my heart wasn't in it anymore, and I made my last broadcast for the BBC around June 1987. And that was it. Took a Law Degree and retrained to be a lawyer.
 
Occasionally, when driving I'll hear one of those great songs from the seventies or early eighties Sniff and the Tears or Steely Dan or something similar on the radio and hear myself talking over the intro to the vocals (in my head only!)
 
That's the only time I miss it.

Andy Craig (presenter):
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 

Dave Porter (presenter):
I left Metro radio in 1986, and started my own business, in association with a charity, running parachute courses. After about a year or so, I got a call from Roy Leonard, who was the launch Programme Controller for Great North Radio (GNR) asking if I was interested in doing some freelance presenting. I did agree to do one show a week, they had wanted me to do more. Eventually it was increased, and I did most of the filling in stuff as well. Eventually I returned full time and presented the GNR afternoon show for about six months.

I left GNR and started another business, but after a break from radio, about thirteen years ago started doing the odd freelance presenting job for BBC Radio Newcastle. Again, as these things do, not long after that I was working effectively full time for the BBC filling in on BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Cumbria and BBC Radio Cleveland. 

Brian Clough (presenter):
Remember Country Jamboree and The Friday Night Country Crowd on Metro Radio and Great North Radio. Two excellent country music programmes. Well, Brian Clough, the presenter of both has been in touch, and this is what he had to say:
...Originally started on Metro on 19th March 1980 on a three month contract....which lasted almost 18 years...last show was on Friday 29th August 1998.... When changeover came to GNR it was just a matter of moving from one studio to another... and trying to remember after 10 year that it was Great North Radio rather than Metro, later of course it became GNR.

I initially inherited the Country Jamboree show from Mike Taylor who I believe had replaced Len Groat, who I believe had replaced Mark Paul. Initially the show was broadcast on a Wednesday night from 8-9pm (or was it (9pm-10pm), it then moved to Saturday evenings between 5.30 and 7.30pm (after which Laurie Giles presented In Classical Mood) and then to Fridays between 7 and 10 (followed by many of colleagues already listed i.e. Dave Porter, Paddy MacDee, Alan Beswick, James Whale, Alan Robson, John Warwick and too many more to remember). During the change to a Friday slot I chanced to say one night 'it's great to know that you're part of the Friday Night Country Crowd' and the rest as they say is history.

Since the demise of Friday Night Country Crowd, have been involved in applications for new radio stations in the North East and I'm currently part of a team bidding for the new radio station licence for Durham.

During test broadcasts for the Durham station we managed to acquire the services of Davie Bray, John Oley (now teaching radio and media at Darlington College of Technology) and Graham Courtney... the best sports broadcaster and voice that Metro ever had. I also tried to get Alan Twelvetree but after great effort found that he had moved out of the area and I think is now in Cambridge somewhere.. It was quite ironic as I was presenting a 7-10 pm country show on Friday evening, a sixties show on Wednesday and doing general mix and information shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It was brilliant all broadcasting on the same airwaves again.

Other presenters perhaps missing from the list were John Darin (GNR) and John Warwick (who sadly died around ten years ago) and can you remember the Metro Radios Folk programme host Jed Grimes?

Mike Larvin (programme assistant):
Helped out at Metro 1977-78 during Med School holidays. Just did what Mic Johnson told me to, like everyone else at the time! Remember running the switchboard for James Whale's Night Owls, and being conned into driving to London to pick up a roof rack from his Dad's pub (think he can afford his own now)...

James later developed a nice line in town or city insults e.g. Barnsley, but in those days the only insults I remember were aimed at me or Anne when things got busy (he he, we gave as good as we got).... talking about jingles in response to webmaster) Gentle on your Mind was developed by Mic Johnson, as a result of having, I think, Tim Connors, an American Radio Consultant in for a spell (he also worked on air a bit). As they did not raise as much dosh as predicted they were advised to go up market a bit. A conscious effort not to compete with Radio 1 (still only available on medium wave/AM in the late 1970s, but king of the ratings), nor with their replacing high-profile presenters.

They also wanted to stop competing with BBC Radio Newcastle - the Broadcasting House cover everything approach was just too expensive for the advertising income which came in. Linking local presenters with a common music based theme was aimed at slightly older higher earning listeners and their spouses. James's Night Owls and the two long news bulletins were the only survivors of the early days. Did it work?

I remember converting endless computer line printouts to graphs for Mic in secret during the summerof1977 and 1978, and Metro had definitely moved up after Gentle on your Mind came in.

I do remember handing out tons of those butterfly T-Shirts and car stickers at a couple of Tyneside Summer Exhibitions - and you're correct - the butterfly in Metro Radio livery - orange and black. They had me drive around the region at lunchtimes for weeks afterwards in the Metro promotional vehicle, giving out the leftovers!

Andrew Carr (listener):
It’s great to see a website dedicated to the brilliant local radio of the north east! I'm 34 and used to listen to both Metro and Great North Radio, up until about the late nineties. The stations had real character, excellent music policies and great presenters. I thought that I would send you some of my own personal memories of both Metro FM and GNR, together with some details about programmes and features that I remember both stations included. Please feel free to use anything you wish, for your already excellent website.

Ricky Hauber (listener):
Hi, there. Great to read about the presenters and what they are doing now. I was sad to read of John Warwick no longer with us - I remember his Saturday Supersquares game and he was known as the Professor! It certainly is not the same now. I still listen to Magic 1152 and certain shows such as UK Top 20 Rewind and Retro Chart Years to me recreate what Great North Radio used to be. A couple of updates - Dave Bray is back at Swalwell and Magic 1152 presenting mainly on a Saturday afternoon between 2pm and 5pm, Roger Kennedy presents Sunday Breakfast between 6am and 10am on Magic 1170 in Teesside.

Len Groat (Griffin) (presenter):
I've just enjoyed reading and listening to your Metro Radio site!  I was 'Len Groat' on the Groat Market from July 14th 1974. My interview for Metro was in that April at a night club in Newcastle with Peter Lewis, the first programme controller. When George Adams (who joined Metro as a producer after years working on Andy Pandy) was asked to produce new jingles to replace the awful launch ones he came straight to me as at that time I already had a vast jingle collection.  In the space of  three weeks I chose, lyriced, ordered (from Fred Hardy at PAMS Productions Inc.of Dallas) and received the big package. And that was the re-launch of us as The North East Sound, I think November, 1974.

The package cost £1,785 pounds... I have only just given the receipt to a jingle collector!  They were based on packages from 1970 to 1973, originally sung for WABC New York, WWWE, WFIL Philadelphia, 13 KOL Seattle (Solid rock in Seattle was changed to Number 1 in the North East!).  The jingle package, plus a new Breakfast presenter, Dave Gregory, revolutionised Metro Radio.  I also worked with the new programme controller Geoff Coates, a former history teacher, on the training and recruitment of new staff, including Steve King.

And my worst memory? For two weeks I broadcast my 9am to 12 noon morning show from the window of Joplings Department store in Sunderland!

But I also enjoyed doing a second package with PAMS in June 1975!


The core personalities of Dave Gregory, Giles Squire, James Whale and myself also took control of the music (it was one hundred per cent free choice when we launched) and the station was sounding great, when sadly a Canadian consultant was brought in early in 1976. I chose to leave almost immediately. The EMISON jingles appeared soon after.

By the way, it was the Musicians Union who pressurised the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to have us stop using the American jingles. This left the door wide open for BBC Radio One to have a monopoly on them for ten years as it was not until 1987 that Independent Local Radio (ILR) was able to buy jingles from America again.

Leaving Metro Radio was my best career decision ever as after a year at Piccadilly Radio 261 in Manchester, I moved to Radio Trent 301 in Nottingham where I worked constantly from 1977 to 1994 with great broadcasters like John Peters, Steve Merike, David Lloyd, Dale Winton, and Pete Wagstaff.

Radio Trent, later Trent FM was a great radio station, but by 1980 I was mainly off air managing programmes and music, and recruiting and training endless (mainly local) new DJ's as our group grew to a massive four stations, quite amusing compared to today's vast monopoly situation?

Even better than Trent was GEM-AM, (GEM stood for Great East Midlands) which I named and launched in October 1988. I believe Great North Radio (GNR) got the idea for its name from that! GEM had a twenty four per cent reach in Nottingham and twenty three per cent reach in Derby when I left in April 1994. It was a good time to go as more consultants appeared on the scene. Ten years later their audience share had fallen to just seven per cent.

Ironically, GEM-AM had many of the same jingles as Metro Radio's original PAMS Productions of Dallas package, as I did five packages in the States between 1988 and 1992 for Trent and GEM-AM (after nine in Manchester with the great people at Alfasound who also did many packages for Metro Radio in the eighties.)

And Number 1 in the North East became  It’s a world full of magic... and Your next door neighbour in the North East became Your next door neighbour in the Great East Midlands.

Hope you enjoyed these memories, I have loads more!

I wrote four books on Clarice Cliff pottery after leaving radio, and then studied design in New Zealand for three years; another new life!


I now live in Portugal and I am involved with radio once more, this time in the burgeoning internet radio market where I'm helping to recreate the sounds of what once was a great medium. Take a look at, and listen to GEM-AM: Radio Like it Used to Be.

Kindest Regards
Len

Len is also the webmaster of the Radio - Like it Used to Be... blog.

Brian Lister (Metro Radio, Technical Operation Supervisor):
I stumbled across your Metro Radio pages by accident today. A fascinating collection of memories - great to see all those faces again.

I was at Metro Radio from before it started (June 1974) as Technical Operations Supervisor to when they sent me to manage the then Radio Tees when we bought it in 1986. By that time I was Assistant Programme Controller.

Great days.  Also a few pretty dire ones.
Brian.

Brian is also the webmaster of the Brian Lister Radio Blog.

Graham Courtney (Metro Radio sports reporter):
Blimey...the good old days at Metro Radio.

I spent a fantastic sixteen years at Metro as a sports reporter. I joined from Durham University in 1979, appointed by the guy who put Metro on the 'sporting' map...Charles Harrison. It was the early days of commercial radio, but I'd like to think that our sports coverage was some of the best in the UK. Great fun too.

Charles is now enjoying retirement, although he's also involved in a video company with the former news editor, Tony Cartledge. My colleagues were Peter Slater...now on BBC Radio 5 Live... and Bill Arthur, who does Rugby League for Sky TV. Bob Cass used to help us out on a Sunday, he's now with the Mail on Sunday.

In 1995, I left to be news and sports editor at TFM in Stockton...but I was only there until mid-1996 before I was approached by Kevin Keegan to be his Press Officer at Newcastle United Football Club. I spent four years at NUFC working for Kevin, Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit. It was wonderful with Messrs Keegan and Dalglish, but the job it went downhill rapidly under Gullit.

In 2000 I switched to a freelance career and set up an internet business providing video and audio streaming for car manufacturers. During my time at Metro Radio, I became a freelance motoring reporter and built up extensive contacts in the motor trade. I ended up syndicating material for the majority of manufacturers and some of their suppliers. In 2003 I joined a public relations company in Newcastle....Black and White PR.

I've also resumed a freelance broadcasting career, and am now the North Eastern Football Correspondent for talkSPORT covering Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. My regular contact in London is Jim Brown...ex Metro Radio...a gifted producer and a bloke with the knack for 'fixing' things. He's now their senior engineer and spends most of his time travelling around the world organising outside broadcasts. 

In amongst all of that, I was involved in the bid to win a radio licence for Durham City. In the end, we lost out in a two-horse race. Durham FM will be broadcasting from the end of November. They're the same company that own Sun FM in Sunderland and Alpha in Darlington. Good luck to them. Brian Lister, who also appears on this website, is the driving force behind this new radio station. The one big plus point is that it gave me the chance to meet up with two of the ex-stalwarts of Metro...Dave Bray and Brian Clough.

Ricky Hauber (listener):
As a contributor to your page a little while back, I have been to the old studio building a couple of times at Swalwell, what is going to happen to this amazing building which for thirty years fantastic programmes of Metro and Great North Radio were broadcast. Both times I have been round, there are people busy working inside and (I assume) only the original sign displaying Metro Radio is still there. I would love to know. Thanks for a batch of great memories.

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Can anyone help Ricky on this subject? If so, please contact the website here. Thank you!

Graham Courtney (sports reporter)
contacted the site again this time with some very sad news:
Hi….I thought I’d update you on some sad news which affects my piece on your Metro Radio tribute site.  Jim Brown…a real stalwart of radio in both the north eastt with Metro..and then London with talkSPORT (formerly Talk Radio) has died. His funeral was last week in Chilton….massive turnout…loads of ex Metro and current talkSPORT staff.

And, I’ve also got a new job. As of November, I started as the Chief Officer for the Independent Football Commission. You can refer to it as a type of ‘watchdog’ that oversees the activities of the Football Association, Premier League and Football League.
All the best,
Graham Courtney

Peter Slater (sports reporter),
contacted the site:
In the long hot summer of 1976 I'd been selling Classified Advertisements in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, but having made radio programmes whilst at University I was desperate to start a career in that industry.

Then along came Paula Bell, my advertising contact at Minories garages. She knew Charles Harrison, she knew I wasn't happy, and suggested I spoke to him. We arranged to meet on a Monday night at a pub out near Whitley Bay.  Charles and I hit it off immediately (who couldn't hit it off with Charles?) and after an audition in front of Mic Johnson on the Tuesday I was interviewed again by Neil Robinson on the Friday, and in a week my whole life had changed. Thirty years on I'm still working in radio, still loving every minute of it, so it was a pretty good decision.

On my first day in Swalwell I met Malcolm Macdonald.  Within twenty four hours of starting I was on the air, doing the lunchtime sport.  Within three months Charles let me present the Saturday afternoon show, but most of all I loved being sent out to report sporting events and interview the sports stars. There was always a crisis at Newcastle United.  Sunderland were always either being promoted or relegated, Blyth Spartans, Blue Star, Gosforth Rugby, the athletics at Gateshead, Muhammad Ali at the Holiday Inn Seaton Burn - it was like dreamland for me.

I produced the first travel programmes - the newsroom loved that - it meant free holidays for all.  My girlfriend and I took over Ian Elliott's cottage in Covington, and were married from there in 1978.  28 years and two children later we're still together!!

After four and a half years I was offered the chance to be Sports Editor of Radio Orwell in Ipswich, thence to the BBC in London where I was Football Producer for three years.  But I had to come back North, and since 1989 I've been BBC Radio Sports man in the North of England.  This means I still watch Newcastle United and Sunderland, and still keep in touch with Metro employees past and present.

Justin Lockwood and Simon Crabtree now carry the baton once held by Charles Harrison and myself.  I wonder if they still have the same laughs that we used to have, like trying to read the racing results without corpsing as Giles Squire did unmentionable things on the other side of the studio desk, or watching as the Gosforth pack pushed the radio van out of the mud by the side of the pitch.


I like to think we had the best of times.  There aren't many people who spend their entire working life at their hobby.  I do.  Thanks Metro.
Peter Slater
Derbyshire, March 2006

Paul Redmond (listener)
contacted the website:
Enjoyed browsing your website.  Loved the old clips of James Whale on Metro Radio. He sounded positively polite in those days.  He's totally changed his style over the years.
Paul.

Alice Gower (listener)
asks:
Does anyone have any information on ‘Big Phil’? He played at a friend of mines engagement party back in the seventies, I just wondered if he is still in England and still alive.

Susan Moon (listener)
asks the same question:
Hi. I used to love listening to Big Phil on an evening in the seventies. Is he still alive and do you know what he' s doing now? It would be nice to hear about him

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Can anyone help Alison and Susan regarding information about Big Phil? If so, please contact the website here. Thank you!

Peter Groom (ex-Engineer and Assistant Producer at Metro Radio)
wrote to the site and said:
Hi there.  Every now and again I visit the site and enjoy reading and remembering the people referred to on the pages. I was an engineer and assistant producer to Jim Brown for six years making Saville's Travels, Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40, Hot Mix and sports programmes, and most memorably the Sting concert live from the Buddle Arts Centre (for which I still have the master tapes).

Very sad about Jim Brown, but good to see so many ex-colleagues at the funeral (so often the only way you do get to meet people again.) Jim was an inspiration to me and we worked very closely for my entire time at Metro Radio.

There are so many names on the site, but many not mentioned. Ken McKenzie was my first boss before Metro Radio, but I also remember Tim Smith, Mark Forrest, Andy Robson (now programme controller at BBC Newcastle) David Prever, Alex Rowland, Samantha Rowlands, Diane Youdale, Coleen Cairns, Lynne McKinnon, Dixie Peach (I used to produce his show and drive the desk, a nightmare!) Terry Christian (who stood in on Night Owls whilst I produced), Steve Randall, Russ Williams - so many.

Good memories. I'm pleased I was there before the EMAP take over. Not the same now by all accounts.  I moved from radio to television and have been in television sound ever since.
Cheers
Peter Groom - Metro Radio 1987 to 1993

Clive Champney:
writer and producer of children's programme Timbertops wrote to the site requesting recordings and information about former colleagues, including Geoff Coates.
Can anybody help please? Does anyone remember a daily serial for children with the title Timbertops in the early years of Metro Radio? Each episode lasted fifteen minutes and concerned Jo, a writer, who spent her time in a tree house doing her writing away from the noise of the house, and her numerous animal friends.  

These included Monty a pompous cockerel, Sharkey a streetwise Geordie cat, Mrs Belpre a pigeon who delivered the mail, Ricky & Rocky two menacing Mafia-like frogs who caused havoc in the area, and Skip a helpful squirrel who got everything wrong.  I think there were fourteen characters, each character having his or her own song.

The music was by Zack Laurence the writer of some of television's memorable theme tunes being and was released as an album. Not only did I write the series (it ran for approximately eighteen months) but did all the voices with my wife Jo who was the narrator.  We recorded the coming week's programmes every Thursday from 9.00am to 4.00pm; happy times in the days of Helen Brennan and Geoff Coates.

There were also numerous sessions of recording commercials with Helen and with Roger Harvey and later radio drama, notably Flicker’s' Hassan, produced by Roger.


And after all of that, my questions are (a) does anyone remember Timbertops, and better still have a copy of any of the episodes, and (b) I'm still in touch with Roger but can anyone tell me if and where Geoff Coates can be contacted?   Any information will be appreciated.
Clive Champney

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Can anyone help Clive and perhaps we can get some recordings of Timbertops posted on this website. It would be great to listen to them again! If so, please contact the website here. Thank you!

John Stoker,
producer of Timbertops wrote to the site.  This is what he said:
I was happy to see that someone remembers Timbertops which featured my good friends the Champneys.


But I must correct a couple of errors. First of all Zack Laurence was the musical director of the series. The music was written by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, the composers of hits for Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (remember them?). Oh, and I was the producer and the only other voice.  What happened to the tapes? Probably wiped! But I still have the album.
Regards, John Stoker.

Steve Turner
(ex-Metro Radio/Radio Tees listener) wrote to the site saying:

Hi - just found your site and what a great site, thank you.  I was really into radio between 1974 and 79 and loved Metro Radio and Radio Tees 257 at the time.  I was 14 to 19 years old - great days listening to Metro then 257 Tees with the super slick jingles and style; they were great stations and presenters.

The outdoor broadcasts in Joplings, Sunderland I recall; Len Groat and Giles Squire and who recalls Johnny Jason the ex-Caroline jock doing stand-ins in 1975, and then Harry Rowell. I visited Metro Radio many times and recall Dave Burrows giving me a lift in his MG back to the Central Station railway station in Newcastle.  I then built up a friendship with Marc Paul in 1977, and had many an enjoyable time helping him on the Sunday Breakfast and his 5.00pm show later - it was a long day.

Marc and I had some good fun even although I was only eighteen, some good nights out and staying at his place up in Cramlington; - happy times,  and also at Mecca where he did the Monday night slot.  He set up a Radio School The People's Programme down at Newburn on the Tyne.

I relocated and lost all contact - what a shock to read on your site he died young; a great DJ, but sadly Metro did not like his slick style and approach. Today local radio is boring although here in the East Midlands we have Smooth Radio, and a couple of their programmes with "old" Radio Trent 301 jocks bring back the memories and good times. We need to have independently run local stations with live and local presenters as in the seventies.

Would love also to hear from anyone who knew Marc and memories of the time at Metro 261. Keep up the good work on the site, and it would be great to keep it updated and more people joining the site.
Best wishes,
Steve Turner

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Many thanks for your e-mail Steve - anyone else remember Marc Paul/Dave Burrows?  And anyone else share his views about local commercial radio today?  If so, please contact the website here.

Gareth Hill
wrote to the site with memories of Samantha Rowland and Nicky Brown:

Finding this site give me a warm glow as it brought back many fond memories of the late eighties and early nineties.  Living in Newton Aycliffe at the time we were able to pick up Metro Radio, to be honest I did used to switch between Metro Radio and Radio Tees/TFM.

There are two Metro DJs in particular which stand out for me. The first is Nicky Brown who used to be on in the evenings, his show was something different, as at that time BBC Radio 1/1FM still ruled with its playlist, if it wasn't on their playlist it would never make the charts.  The first time I heard Brother Beyond was on Nicky's show with their first single How Many Times.

Think he may have had them in the studio too, of course they went onto make the charts with later releases. Recently I found a clip of Brother Beyond on You Tube performing that same song, it took me back as I have never heard it since his show. There were also a few obscure artists on his show too, I still remember a duo called Sophie and Peter Johnston we can only wonder about what happened to them!  In short Nicky's show was a breath of fresh air from the monotony of Radio 1.

Secondly Samantha Rowland and that distinctive soft voice, I never used to miss Dance Decades on a Sunday afternoon, just before the Network Chart.  It is down to this show that I developed a real appreciation of seventies and eighties soul and jazz funk.  She used to play some absolute gems on this show The Rimshots' 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Blow your whistle and Silver Convention's Fly Robin Fly both really stand out for me. Great times! It would be great to see hear some clips of these two on the site!

Regards
Gareth Hill

Andy Fleming, Webmaster: Can anyone help Gareth regarding some of Samantha and Nicky's programme recordings. If so, please contact the website here. Thank you!

Alan Lee (listener)
contacted the site and said:
Hi, found this site by Goggling Metro Radio, and thought I'd add my memories here!   I can remember most of the presenters mentioned on this website, but in particular I must mention John Oley.  When I was about ten, I was a junior reporter (around 1985) on his Sunday morning show.  My mate and I got to interview the train crew of an Intercity 125 (they were new trains at the time) then interviewed the staff at Rail Riders World (now York Model Railway).

It was a brilliant day recording it all, John and his assistant were great and that was my first ever time being on the radio!  I still have the original programme on audio tape somewhere! That experience really got me interested in radio (despite how young and awful I sounded at that time!) and have since worked for a few hospital and internet radio stations as a presenter! Love this site - something as simple as the 1984 montage of jingles really evoked some memories!  Does anyone have a copy of the rest of the jingles from the 1984 period? As I say, it's about that time that I really started to take an interest in local radio.
Best wishes,
Alan Lee

Paul Jackson (programme assistant)
contacted the site and said:
Hi, I think I'm a bit late to the party, but only just discovered this site by Googling "Metro FM Memories"!

For those of you hanging out in Swalwell between around 1993 and 1998, you may remember me as a very young, very keen assistant to whoever wanted assisting. AKA Billy Wizz (can't remember who coined that phrase but I think it may have been Bill Young - the first guy I ever met who said f*** every other word).

I spent a bit of time working with Pat (surname?) in the programmes office after Jim Brown brought me on board as a summer student. Very sad indeed to hear of his demise, and that of John Warwick - both wonderful guys. I worked summers from 1993 to 1995 on the first floor at Swalwell then expanded into John Oley's world at St James' Radio Magpie. A teenage boy's dream really, every home match in the box as a programme assistant. The sports reporter was Bob Crosby and in spite of our difference in years, he and I got along really well! If anyone knows how he is, if he's still with us, let me know.


Fond memories too of John and if you're around, drop me a line. My Magpie years were followed by a couple of years with Alan Robson on Night Owls, an experience I look back on with a smile and a frown. Interesting times and good fun.


I noticed that Sean Marley got married to some soap actress and is the President of Liverpool or something! Good luck to him, he was a very cool guy. I'm now living in Toronto, Canada having transferred here with Norwich Union's parent company Aviva. I'm Vice President of Marketing for Canada. Thoroughly enjoying it but often wishing I was back in radio, and for all of my exotic travelling the world, I do miss the north east of England. Would welcome a line from anyone who remembers me.
Cheers!
Paul Jackson,  AKA Billy Wizz

Neil Robinson (listener)
contacted the site and said:
Can I say firstly this site is excellent. I have listened to Metro Radio/GNR /Magic for years but for me the early 1980s of Metro Radio and the introduction of Great North Radio was the best period, the Peter Hetherington Memories programme was my all-time favourite. Anyway once again the site is excellent.

Kind Regards
Neil Robinson.

'Enerjee'
contacted the site via the Digital Spy Radio Forums and said:
Metro Radio didn't have much success with this risky launch format and within a few months had to revamp its schedule to appeal to a younger audience. A similar thing happened with Capital Radio the previous year. The listeners who may have wanted this kind of programming preferred it without commercials and stayed with the BBC. Both stations would have gone bust very quickly and had to re-launch.

Both Metro and Capital "rocked it up" and became successful stations within their first year.

Luke Coulson
contacted the site and said:
A very interesting website. My late uncle was a presenter on Metro Radio from the mid seventies until the early eighties. That was just how I remember it when he used to take me into work when I was a kid. I still have a couple of boxes of reel to reel stuff of his, I haven't a clue what's on them!


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