Unlike the BBC whose main revenue stream is, and always has been the licence fee, commercial radio by its very name and nature has never received any state funding. In its early years the official name of the medium didn't even mention the word commercial at all. In the legislation that introduced the medium, Government Minister Christopher Chattaway's Sound Broadcasting Act, 1972, it was simply referred to as Independent Local Radio (ILR). The Independent Broadcast Authority (IBA) provided the signal carriage infrastructure from the studios, provided and maintained the transmitters and advertised the official government approved franchise areas. The IBA was also responsible for ensuring that the output of each ILR station met strict government regulation in terms of content and technical quality.

The successful  programme contractors who became the franchisees in each of the nineteen areas in the first phase of the introduction of ILR were commercial enterprises with shareholders and boards of directors. The boards also included IBA representatives and members of the listening public, often high profile local personalities or business entrepreneurs. The programme contractors, of which the Metropolitan Broadcasting Company (MBC) was one of the first examples in the UK, had as their main revenue stream income from on-air advertisements and commercials plus other business ventures such as the sale of merchandise, magazines and radio station annuals and special publications. The IBA's Code of Advertising Standards and Practice strictly controlled the content, amount and frequency of the advertisements and when they were broadcast, and monitored the output of each station closely to ensure all inappropriate commercials were excluded from each channel. Sponsorship of programmes in the seventies was not allowed and advertising had to constitute a maximum of nine minutes' output in each 'clock hour'.

Coupled with a programme contractor's strict IBA restrictions on 'needle time', and it's regulation encapsulated in its franchise agreement on speech, drama and specialist programming, in retrospect and by today's standards it was going to be years before any of the fledgling ILR companies like MBC would make any return on the shareholders' capital investments in the companies. If all of this seemed daunting there were even more economic challenges for the fledgling stations in competing with the BBC.

The IBA's technical quality control regulations far exceeded those of the state broadcaster. Microphones and other studio equipment had to be magnitudes of quality better than those used by the BBC, and hence sometimes as much as five times as expensive. And coupled with these huge costs, the ILR programme contractors had the double whammy of often being lumbered with very small transmitter powers (frequently much smaller than their pre-existing BBC local radio counterparts) and hence much smaller service areas both on VHF and Medium Wave. This was because one of the IBA's prime objectives was to ensure that ILR was to provide a truly local service, and relevant to all members of the community too. As a positive note in all of this intense and often overly restrictive regulation, the IBA Engineering Department at Crawley Court, Winchester had pioneered the use of mixed 'circular polarisation' on the VHF (FM) frequency band. This ensured that each ILR station's available signal strength within its official service area (and beyond) was much more efficiently used by portable transistor radios and very importantly, car radios. This advantage equated to much better reception for the available reception, which uniquely at the time for UK local radio also possessed stereo capability (all BBC national and local radio at the time utilised either vertical or horizontal polarisation which historically had been aimed at mains domestic VHF sets that were often powered by valves and utilised rooftop aerials (similar in size and characteristics to 405 line Band I and II television yagi antennas). It was not surprising then that the IBA was promoting VHF as radio for the masses with the aim (similar to that today in the push towards DAB) to wean the general population away from medium wave/AM.

If competition with pre-existing BBC national and local radio services for listeners wasn't difficult enough, there was intense competition in the advertising market too, namely from local and national newspapers, many of whose titles pre-dated the launch of ILR by more than a century, and of course Independent Television (ITV), many of whose stations by the mid seventies had become well established and had become thriving companies in their own right.

Despite an enthusiastic embrace by local advertisers of the new medium across the ILR network, of particular concern to companies such as MBC that were located outside of the huge cosmopolitan conurbations was the relative lack of interest in their services by national advertisers. This was in no small part due to the structure of the ILR which at the very best could only be described nationally as a loose, fragmented  conglomeration of largely unrelated services. This was a great strength of seventies ILR stations: independent, distinctive, locally owned, and engaging all members of its community. Commercially however, it was to be its real Achilles Heel. Yes, their was a newly formed national federation of programme contractors, but it had little experience as a lobby group and would need time to develop if companies such as Coca Cola, Nescafe and Ford were to advertise across the network. National advertising was where the big money lay.

All forms of advertising are highly susceptible to local and national economic conditions and yet again this would have another negative effect on ILR station, particularly stations such as MBC where seventies national strikes in the mining industry, and the power industry were manifesting themselves in major recessions and three day working weeks. Even worse, world oil price shocks in 1973 and 1979 and resulatant economic downturns co-incided with the introduction of the first and second phase of ILR. By the early eighties mass unemployment and a major recession saw programme contractors such as Centre Radio, Gwent Broadcasting and Radio West in Bristol cease broadcasting. In the north east, the ailing Sound Broadcasting (Teesside) Ltd., whose broadcast name was Radio Tees 257 had cut its broadcasting hours from twenty four per day to its original eighteen and shared off-peak output with Metro Radio (by the mid eighties the IBA was having to lighten regulations as it realised many ILR stations were simply not going to survive at all under the changed economic climate). Finally, in 1986 Radio Tees was bought out by the Metro Radio group.

The late eighties saw economic fortunes improve nationally. Sadly for many ILR stations the recovery and looser IBA regulatory framework (the IBA was itself abolished and replaced by the Radio Authority in 1990) came too late. Happily, Metro Radio's difficult birth in 1974 when it was on the cusp of bankruptcy in its first six months, and its subsequent format changes had been it staff in the eighties. It was an economic survivor and would go from strength to strength in the future. Syndicated national programmes such as Sundays Network Chart Show with Kid Jensen, sponsored by companies such as Pepsi and Nescafe would improve its fortunes even more. Whether advertisers and commercials were sourced via adverstising agencies on a local or national basis or in created totally in-house, Metro Radio would never again have to face the dire economic conditions of the seventies and eighties.

Many of the programmes available on this website contain fascinating commercial breaks that give a snapshot of radio advertising in the seventies and eighties, and I warmly invite you to enjoy these. However, for a real feast and taste of the radio advertising market of the time, please enjoy and share the following fantastic collection of commercial breaks.

All of the following audio has been kindly donated to the Metro Radio 261MW and 97VHF Tribute Site by Neil Siddaway.

Metro Radio Commercials 1
 Metro Weekend Jingle, followed by break bumper. James Bond Moonraker film ad. The North East Sound jingle. Barclay's Bank Chancellor of the Exchequer advert with the Goons. Cars International, voiced by unknown plus, Ken McKenzie, and Pat Doody, (ex-Tyne Tees and Border Television in-vision continuity announcer). Chimneys Old Time Music Hall. Voiced by Tony Cook of Tyne-Tees Television; 1979; Duration: 3mins 10 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 2

 Break bumper, Washing machine ad from North Eastern Electricity Board (NEEB), voiced by Neville Wanless, in-vision continuity announcer  for Tyne Tees Television. The Journal, voiced by Mike Hurley. Dewhirst The Master Butcher. The Music In The North East jingle; 1979; Duration: 1min 48secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 3
Barclay's Bank Millionnaire, Inland Residue Goons Ad. Rutherford's of Morpeth. Music for Everyone (Bobby Vee) jingle. The New Seekers at the Wansbeck Regatta. Milligan's new shop in Morpeth. (Tony Cook from TTTV again) Metro's Fifth Birthday Magazine (Ad1) Boney M at the City Hall. (Pat Doody from Border TV again) Metro 261 Means Music, Jingle; 1979; Duration: 5 mins 47 secs. 

Metro Radio Commercials 4
Break Bumper, Legs and Co at various locations. Avia Time, (Peter Hetherington)  Langley Castle. All The Best Music (Neil Sedaka) Jingle; 1979; Duration: 1min 20 secs.
Metro Radio Commercials 5
Dixielander's Music Hall at Roker Park (Bill Steel). Datsun Cherry At The Mill, Ryhope. (Bill Steel). Big T, Auto Leisureland, Pallion. The Music In The North East (ABBA) jingle. Richard Shops. Spring In The Air Metro 261 Jingle;1979 Duration: 1min 56 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 6
Three Degrees LP. Peters and Tompkinson Darris Hall Garage. Northern Gas, Cookers.  Metro Holiday jingle. Fine Fare Superstore. Mc Ewans Best Scotch, Home now. Makita Tools, REM Power Tools Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate. Metro Radio 97FM jingle; 1979: Duration: 3mins 35 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 7
Break Bumper. Mc Ewans "House of the Rising Sun" Best Scotch. Sgt Peppers Saville Row. Kraft Cheesey Pasta. Spring In The air, the North East Sound jingle; 1979; Duration: 2mins 43secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 8

Marc Paul, all the best music jingle; NEEB Ad, with Bill Steel, News Jingles; Dave Burrows, the music In the N.E. (ABBA); Watch Out There's A Car About, with Ken Mc Kenzie, Turn On to 261; Porridge Film, Turn on to 261; Metro 5th Birthday Magazine Ad 2; Mark Seaman, All Hits; Andy Graham, All The Best Music; 1977/78; Duration: 3 mins 54 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 9

Rupert's Club South Shields; Dentine; Saltwell Park Motors. (All you really need is a Datsun); Hinton's, (Your fresh thinking supermarket); The Beatles, Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Record; Mr. Ritz (Crackers, cash giveaway); Bonsors, Bigg Market, Newcastle; late 70s; Duration: 4 mins 4 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 10

Birtley Caravans. (Voiced by Alan Cartner, Border and Tyne Tees Television in-vision announcer); Programme Promo, Special Report (Kevin Rowntree); Prize Yoghurt; Buist Motors; Revlon; Go Cat Hoops; Ringtons Tea; Fiat Minories; Sunderland; Boots; Cinzano Rose (Is this Max Wall and Irene Handl. Any ideas folks?); Billy Joel (Moving Out Single);  Colebrook and Burgess Whitley Bay. Late 70s; Duration 5 mins 58 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 11

Saltwell Park Motors. (Ad 2); Turners, Photo Shop; Hinton's Price Picnic;
Flamingo Land. (Going to the Zoo Tomorrow); Midland Bank; Yellow Pages. (Let Your Fingers Do The Walking); Boots; Eggs. Late 70s; Duration 4 mins 51 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 12

L&T Homes, New Hartley Village; Clifford James Caravans, Hexham; J.H. Fisher Homes; Robbs of Hexham; Gateshead Car Centre; Van Allan, Northumberland Street; The Metro Express. (Steam Train Journey); Spend The Day In Seaham; Coquet Vale Hotel, Rothbury; Barratt Homes. Late 70sDuration 6 mins 28 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 13

Smokey On Metro Promo; New Musical Express; S Plate Special, Leyland Cars (Dutton Forshaw); Anadin; Pepsi Cola (Lipsmakin Pepsi Cola); Elf Garage, Dunston; The Cassandra Crossing Film; The Metro Man Promo; Gough Electronics, South Shields; Sava Centre; Denim (After Shave); Black & Decker Power Tools (Maxwells DIY); 1978; 5 mins 02 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 14

Metro Tyneside Summer Exhibition Promo; Sava Centre; Pilkington Double Glazing, (Pete & Dud); NEEB Audio Star Buys; Spania Oranges; City of Portsmouth String Quartet Comp; G.D. Autos, Chester Le Street; NEEB Storage Heaters; Metro Disco Roadshow; On The Move Promo; Ken McKenzie Christmas Day Show Promo;  Boydells Toyshops, (Eldon Sq.); You Know Where You Are with ILR, plus a couple of (rare) jingles; 7 mins 16 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 15

Newcastle Brown Ale; Callers Open Golf Tournament; Radio Guide; Liverpool Express at the City Hall; Wrangler Jeans. (Mr. Wrangler, Brooklyn Bridge); Wimpy Bars; Jubilee 77 Pub; Prontaprint; Eldon Square Recreation Centre; British Airways. (Fly The Flag); Get The Most From Your Post. (Kenny Everett); 1977Duration 5 mins 39 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 16

Wrangler Jeans. (Mr. Wrangler, Rhapsody In Blue); Gladys Knight & The Pips. (Album, Still Together); Ian Gillian Band. (At the City Hall) Voiced by Alan "Fluff" Freeman; Lucifer's Club, Bedlington; Hinton's. (Plain Flour); Issac Waltons; North Eastern Coop; The DIY Centre, West Road Newcastle; 1977; 5 mins 23 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 17

Graham Gratrix, Bathrooms, Newcastle; W.H. Smith, Top 50 L.Ps.; Ridge Farm Hotel Bedlington; Liverpool Express, Promo; W.H. Smith, Pickwick L.Ps.; W.F & J.R. Shepherd. (Scrap Merchants); Mark Wray, Ice Cream; Bosch Spark Plugs; What's Up Nurse, Film; Hartlepool Stock Car Racing; Thicken Hair. Hair Treatment; Go Places Tokens, North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway; 1977; 5 mins 37 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 18

The Flying Scotsman. (The Journal); Stanley Discount Superstore; Esso Extra Motor Oil; Kenwood Cook Pot; North Of England, Equestrian Centre, Stannington; Woman's World; Manpower Services Commission; Blue Boar Disco, Stanley; The Journal; Minories Car Hire; The Carpet Warehouse, Willington Quay; 1978; 6 mins 01 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 19

.Visit Hexham; Tavaras Promo; Crossley Carpets. (Willie Rushton); Jaffa Grapefruits; Liverpool Express Promo; Clunk Click, Every Trip; Metro T-Shirts Offer. McEwans Best Scotch; Derek Thorpe, TV & Hi Fi, South Shields; 1978; 5 mins 06 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 20

Tyneside Summer Exhibition 1975; Windowlene; Wrigley's Spearmint Gum; Viking Taxi's Jarrow; Lambton Pleasure Park, Chester le Street; Stolen Car Message; Circus, Debut Album; The Daily Express Telephone Challenge. Maxwell's Old Time Music Hall, Tynemouth; Leach Homes; The Sunday Sun; 1975; 5 mins 35 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 21

Spiderman, The Dragons Challenge, Film; Unipart; K. Tel; A Reason To Live, A Reason To Die, Film; Dave Gregory, Promo; Brazilian Blend Coffee; The Seven Golden Vampires, Film; Dreams, Promo. (Metro Daily); Metro Your Station, Promo;  1979/1975; 5 mins 51 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 22

Len Groat. Various; John Denver Live At The London Palladium Album; Motor Cycle Racing Films At The People's Theatre; Death Race 2,000 Film; Tropical Ryslip, Paperback Book; Michael Parrish; Murray Mints. (Ad One); Just Jeans, Grainger Street, Newcastle; Murray Mints. (Ad Two); Metropopolis; Giles Squire, Show Closing; Big Phil Promo; 1974/75; 6 mins 27 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 23

Big Phil intro; Mr Quilp, Film; Scottish & Newcastle, Merry Christmas; Sombrero Club, Chester Le Street; Compliments of the Season; Guinness, Christmas;
Prontaprint, Happy Christmas; North Eastern COOP, Goodbye '75 Sale; Maxwell's, Tynemouth; Guinness, New Year; Keep On Trucking, Promo; Guinness, Ad 3; Babycham; Gallagher & Lyle at The City Hall; Bellway Homes; Farnon's Sale; Hunting Lambert Travel; 
1975; 7 mins 04 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 24
Bridges Intro, with Alan "Fluff" Freeman; Northern Gas. The specialists; Schweppes Challenge Mile, Gateshead Stadium; Suite Centres, Newcastle & Sunderland; Roy's Two Rooms, Newcastle; Turners Photography; Kojak Shades, Sunglasses; Hotpoint Service Pledge; Metro Sports Quiz Final; Wrigley's Spearmint Gum; Shepard's of Gateshead; Joplings, Sunderland; 4-7-11, (Ad 1); Airport Way Filling Station; Complan; Only The Beginning, Album. Minories; Maxwell's of Tynemouth; Father's Day Cards; Juicy Fruit Gum; Minories, Lower Hire Charges; Waterloo House Sale; 4-7-11, (Ad 2)1976; 10 mins 03 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 25
Metro Job Time; Yorkie; Starks DIY, Shiney Row. (Bobby Thompson); Weetabix; Patterson Ford. (How Can We Help You); Cowies, Sunderland; Ross's Beetroot; H.G.Block & Son; The Journal; Green Shield Stamps; 1978; 5 mins 12 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 26

Octopus Books; Wallsend Service Station, (Merry Christmas); Keep On Trucking, Promo; Elvis 40 Greatest Hits; Christmas Cards; Harp Lager; Metcalfe's Radios (Merry Christmas); Golden Rail Holidays; Corbett & Company; Tom Thumb Cigars; Carlsberg Special Brew; 1979; 5 mins 40 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 27
Fine Fare Department Store, Peterlee; On The Road, Weekly Car Guide; Fine Fare Superstore, Stanley; Heaven Can Wait Film. (1978); Nurodol, Pain Killer; Top Rank Club. (Pat Coombes); Student Rail Card. (Noel Edmonds); Esso Tyres; PER Employment News. (Redvers Kyle); La Dolce Vita1978; 5 mins 24 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 28
Includes the soundtrack of an advertisment for Metro Radio itself on Tyne Tees Television. This showed a close-up of a woman's mouth miming to the different sounds of Metro Radio.
B.T. Astrophone; Oasis Bar, The Galleries; Camshaft. Pity Me; Sava Centre's Third Birthday; Metro's TV Advert; At The Mill. Mill Garages; Door Tunes Doorbell; Think, Before You Drink, Before You Drive
1979; 5 mins 55 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 29
Ken McKenzie Show, Promo; Radio Rentals, Colour TV; Minories, Customers Matter; Northern Gas. Gas Cooker Trade In; Windows, James Last L.P. K-Tel, Super Bad L.P.; The Big New Sound. Promo; Burton's Made To Measure Suits for £30. (WOW, yes 30 quid)' You Listen, and I Listen....To The Sound of Metro Radio; Designers & Coal Miners....To The Sound of Metro Radio; Take The Tranny on a Picnic, Promo. (Yours for The Asking ???); Sunday Supplement Programme. Promo; Weather Jingle; La Dolce Vita. Newcastle;  1975; 6 mins 32 secs.

Metro Radio Commercials 30
Irvine Motors, Newcastle; Eric Petch, Photocopiers; Makro Washington, 5th Birthday; Initial Towel Rental; Leach Homes, Home Seekers Advice; The Journal, Killer On The Loose; North Eastern Coop. Heinz Prices; Mothercare, Goes Up To Ten; Vidor Batteries; September 5, 1978; 5 mins 19 secs.

Metro Radio Individual Commercial
Mr Rahman, Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 1978.


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