^Top Of Page
|On this page you
will find some history, some memories, tape
recordings of great programmes from a wonderful
radio station, together with BRMB programme
schedules from 1984, 1985, 1988 & 1989.
BRMB - 'Because It
Takes A Friend To Get You Through The Day'
As a bit of a preamble I distinctly
remember, as a nine year old lad in February
1974, tuning into the test transmissions on
261 meters (1151 kilohertz) medium wave on a
little six transistor 'Harmony' AM pocket
For several weeks the IBA's radio transmitters
carried test transmissions consisting of
music and announcements from the new BRMB
radio station on 261 medium wave and also in
stereo on 94.8 MHz VHF / FM. I was
fascinated by these unusual new sounds and
remained tuned in constantly, carrying the
little made in Hong Kong radio around
everywhere - even on a visit to the Da Corrado
restaurant on the Stratford Road one Sunday
lunch time! I remember three of the
music tracks played as being the orchestral
work Finlandia by Sibelius, Meet Me On The
Corner by Lindisfarne and Streets Of London by
Ralph McTell - among many others.
grew as the new local radio station for our
area was about to go on air.
1974 - Launch Day
The seeds of an
independent, commercial, radio station for
Birmingham had been sown in 1961 when Birmingham
Broadcasting Ltd had been originally formed.
This was during the period of Conservative
government from 1957 to 1963 (led by Prime
Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec
Douglas-Home) that tended to view the concept of
some form of commercial radio in a favourable
light. The return of Harold Wilson's Labour
government in1964 put paid to any thoughts of
the introduction of commercial radio into the
UK, so Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd was
effectively put on ice. The offshore 'pirate'
radio ships came in 1964 and went in 1967, the
BBC launched Radio One in 1967 and a string of
local radio stations in 1968, starting with BBC
Then, in 1970, a Conservative Government was
returned to power with Edward Heath as Prime
Minister. By 1972 their Sound Broadcasting Act
was passed and the old Independent Television
Authority (ITA) was quickly transformed into the
Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the
body that would assume responsibility for
Independent Television and the introduction of
Independent (commercial) Local Radio into the
UK. The IBA advertised franchises for commercial
'programme contractors' to operate Independent
Local Radio (ILR) stations in a number of towns
and cities including London (2 franchises),
Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.
were made to the IBA for the Birmingham ILR
station. The organisation that won the franchise
was "Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd" who would use
the on air name of BRMB RADIO. The main
shareholder was Birmingham Mail group, others
included; ATV, Berrows (a newspaper publisher),
Howell MP, The Co-Op, the Birmingham Chamber of
Commerce, Grey's and Lewis's store, Davenports and M
& B Brewery, a trade union and various local
manufacturers. The application had assured the
IBA that no single shareholder could have undue
influence over the station.
The Managing Director was David Pinnell, who had
previous radio and television experience from
working abroad. Coming to BRMB from the BBC and
BFBS was John Russell as Programme Manager. Non
executive directors included two directors from
the largest shareholder, the Birmingham Mail
group and John Parkinson, the principal of
According to the
licence application 'there would be 62
staff working on the station. 29 in
programming, 16 in sales, 5 engineers and 12
people in administration. The general manager
would earn about £10,000 p.a., the programme
manager, news editor, and sales manager around
£5,000, 'announcers' and
'maintenance technician' around £2 - £3,000, the
music programmer £1,100, a 'newsman'
£1,600-£3,000 and 'salesmen' £1,750 to
£3,000.' [Ref David Lloyd]
Photograph of BRMB's Radio House photographed
at night, in 1979, by Andy Wint.
Radio went on air for the first time on 19th
February 1974 and was the fourth of the 'ILR'
station in the UK, after LBC and Capital Radio
in London and Radio Clyde in Glasgow.
BRMB launched at breakfast time - right in the
middle of 'The Three Day Week', a period of
industrial unrest, strikes and power cuts -
which also put the BRMB transmitter off the air
for a short time on its first day of
broadcasting! The very first voice heard
on the new station was news man Brian Sheppard,
while the former ATV television announcer Kevin
Morrison [who sounded rather like the actor
James Mason] was BRMB's first breakfast show
The now iconic broadcaster Ed Doolan joined BRMB
from German international broadcaster Deutsche
Welle to present the afternoon show with the
emphasis on information, features and
interviews. The output of BRMB had a heavy
emphasis on a 'community radio' style of
broadcasting whereby the station communicated
with its audience and got involved in Midlands
life, rather than simply talking at and playing
music to the listeners.
Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations, BRMB's
output contained a good deal of music, but that
was not the be all and and all of its output;
Initially news and information was a very
important constituent of its wide ranging
programmes, with audience interaction and
sport also playing significant roles.
The first 1974 jingle imaging package was
produced by EMIson; EMI Broadcast Programmes
Visit the BRMB Audio
page here >
BRMB in the Birmingham Evening Mail
- 19th February 1974
had moved into part of the Alpha Studios
building in Aston, Birmingham, that had
previously been occupied by the ATV
Television company in the 1960's.
The address initially was; BRMB
(Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd.), P.O.Box
555, Alpha Studios, Aston Road North,
Birmingham, B6 4BX.
was later re-named RADIO HOUSE and the
postal address was:
BRMB's Radio House in 1974
P.O. Box 555
Switchboard Tel: 021 359 4481 / 2 / 9
On Air Telephone: 021 359 4011
House as it appeared in the 1990's.
Note the Capital Radio style logo seen
on the side of the building, as
BRMB was owned by the Capital Radio
group by this time.
Kevin Morrison in one of the BRMB
studios - (Courtesy Keith Brown)
A office inside BRMB Radio -
(Courtesy Keith Brown)
John Russell - BRMB's first Programme
was BRMB's first Programme Director. You can
Russell's inside story HERE >
A short time
after BRMB launched, George Fergusson took over
the breakfast show from Kevin Morrison who left
the station to go on to work in other media
fields. In 1976 the legendary Les Ross joined BRMB to
present the breakfast show. Les had worked
for BBC Radio Birmingham (now BBC WM) before
BRMB launched and BRMB's management failed to
hire him for the launch of BRMB. Les left
BBC local radio and the city of Birmingham in
1975 to work for Radio Tees, another commercial
ILR station in Stockton on Tees. BRMB saw
fit to tempt Les back down from Teeside in 1976
and he stayed with BRMB (and sister station
XTRA AM) until 27th
was one of the early presenters at BRMB, well
known for presenting the late show at the time,
and Dave has kindly added the following to to
"I was there from 1975, joining just
before the first birthday from BBC Radio
Leicester. My colleague there, Adrian
Juste, had already made the move to BRMB, and I
followed 6 months later. I started as the
swing guy (i.e. sitting in for anyone who was on
holiday), plus did the Sunday afternoon Top 40
show (a marathon 4 and a half hour thing), and
the Saturday late night show.
(Incidentally, I did a lot of announcing work at
ATV as well, during my time at BRMB - all day
time shifts, out of vision, and I always seemed
to get landed with the schools programmes!!)
Brian Savin moved to the late night
show on weekdays, which I took over from
him. It was 11 pm to 2 am, and I loved
it. If you remember Six of the Best on
Mercia Sound, this is where it was "born".
I ran it on Friday nights there for ages.
My sixth programme at that time was the
classical music show (can you imagine BRMB
having one of these now?!) on Sunday evenings.
Mike Owen joined BRMB during my time
there in the 70s as a school-teacher on a
training attachment ... and never left!
(Mike Owen adds: Dave
is getting mixed up because I was a teacher in
Nottingham and started working on programmes at
BBC Radio Nottingham in 1970 joining their
education team on secondment in 1974 producing
over 12 series with an educational theme. After
that I worked on a variety of shows most notably
'Moonlight Mile' with the famous Trevor Dann
(known for his getting rid of the 'dinosaurs' at
Radio 1). I came to BRMB as Producer of
Meaningful Speech (The IBA insisted every
station appoint such a person - I presume they
thought the rest of the speech was meaningless)
and I was producer for Ed Doolan on his
lunchtime show and the phone in till he left to
join the BBC. - Mike Owen, 7th February 2014.
I left BRMB to return to Scotland (I'm
from Edinburgh) and joined the BBC, but didn't
relish reading the shipping forecast for
Scottish inshore waters much ... so accepted an
offer from Radio Clyde, and stayed there 18
months until Mercia came along. I had met
Ian Rufus on a BBC training course (during my
days at Radio Leicester) so rang him and said
"Gimme a job"!
I returned to Birmingham in the mid
80s, after [leaving] Radio Tees to join Central
TV where I spent 8 very happy years.
During that time, I got in touch with Mike Owen
who was Programme Controller [at BRMB], and said
I'd like to do a weekend show. So he gave
me Sundays 8 to 10.30 am as an oldies show,
which suited me great! Then when the split
came, it seemed logical to move the show onto
Xtra-AM. But the best bit was that Les
Ross, a good friend, and a great broadcaster,
followed me every Sunday morning, so we always
had half an hour while the music was playing to
chat and put the world to rights. I
remember one Sunday where we had been chatting
(off air) - and I paused and said, "Do you
realise that for the past ten minutes, the two
of us - supposed to be "trendy, pop radio
deejays" - have been discussing the best place
in Birmingham to buy soft furnishings?" A
sign of middle age setting in ..."
Dave Jamieson in one of the BRMB
studios - (Courtesy Keith Brown)
BRMB Carnival Girls in 1974
full size photograph here
clearing out the spare bedroom and I came
across this photo I took of the BRMB girls
who took part in the Birmingham Carnival (my
guess is that this is summer 1974). Second
right is Sue Barker, who ran all our
community involvement work - she's referred
to in John Russell's
excellent history of BRMB on the
The girl on the extreme left was our first
receptionist. Unfortunately increasing
decrepitude prevents me from remembering
BEST ENTERTAINMENT - COMPREHENSIVE
LOCAL NEWS - INFORMATION - SPORT & THE
In the 1970's and 1980's BRMB wasn't
simply the music 'juke-box' that commercial
radio is today; the station broadcast a very
wide range of programmes from general music
and entertainment shows, to phone-ins,
comprehensive sports and in depth news
coverage, specialist programmes for the local
communities along with classical music
output. BRMB also broadcast documentary
and feature programmes that even the BBC would
have been proud of.
In the early
days there was a lot of talk about the name of
the station as many listeners wondered what
the initials BRMB stood for. In actual fact
the initials did not stand for any particular
words but were simply extracted from the name
of the company that ran the station:
Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd - to form B i R mingha M B roadcasting Ltd
BRMB's first Programme Director, was
responsible for forming the winning formula
that made the station such a programming and
financial success. After six highly successful
years, John left the station in 1980 to be
replaced by Bob Hopton, who arrived at BRMB
from Radio Tees to take on the job, now
described as Programme Controller. This
position was later filled by Mike Owen in
1984, while Phil Riley took over as programme
controller around 1990. (Interestingly after
BRMB spent a long period in the wilderness
from 1993 through the 2000's after being
subsumed in the Capital Radio group, then GCap
and Global - Phil Riley returned to the helm
in 2009. More of which later.).
Some of the original engineers at BRMB were
Quentin Howard and Phil Dawson who worked
alongside the Chief Engineer Dave Wood.
They organised the installation of all the
equipment at the new station and were
responsible for the smooth running of the
complex technical facilities. Quentin
Howard went on to work with GWR in Wiltshire and
then the national radio station Classic FM in
1992 and more latterly the national DAB digital
radio multiplex provider Digital One.
John Henry (of the "Ross and
Henry Show" with Les Ross on BBC Radio
Birmingham circa 1972-3) joined BRMB from Radio
Birmingham in 1974 and was in charge of
commercial production (the adverts). John
stayed with BRMB for six months before joining
another relatively ILR station, Radio City in
Station Executives listed in 1981 were:
Directors. A J Parkinson (Chairman); David
Pinnell (Managing Director); G N Battman; M A
Brown; Reg Davies (Sales); J F Howard; J C
Mason; E Swainson.
Executives. David Bagley (Publicity and
Promotions Manager); Bob Hopton (Programme
Controller); Brian Sheppard (News Editor); Tony
Trethewey (Company Secretary); David Wood (Chief
who made Mercia Sound such a great success in
Coventry and Warwickshire from 1980, joined
BRMB as Managing Director in 1986.
Phil Riley - BRMB Programme
Controller from 1990
BRMB RADIO - PROGRAMMES & PERSONALITIES
FIRST DAY OF PROGRAMMES
Morrison with the breakfast
and Brian Savin with the
Windows with a two hour lunch
time chat show.
||Ed Doolan -
music, interviews and
news, including the
listener market place
with 'Talk In'.
Sport with Keith Hayes and
- The rock music show (The
first ever programme featured
an interview with Birmingham
band ELO - the Electric Light
|9:00 - 9:30
programme (this half hour slot
was gradually reduced over the
years to five minutes).
- the rock music show
with the late show (George
presented the late show
on other days).
Above, left to right; Tony
Butler, Brendan Kearney and Andy
Ed Doolan on BRMB Radio
(Photograph circa 1976)
some of the names heard on BRMB in the
first two decades of broadcasting:
Kevin Morrison; George Ferguson; Les Ross;
Scott; Alan Leighton, Alan Nin; Brian Savin; Peter
Windows; John Hedges; Tony Butler
& George Reeves on sport; Ed Doolan; John Howard;
Stuart White; Robin Valk; Mike Hollis;
Day; Adrian Juste; Rev. John
Austen; Nicky Steele; Dave Jamieson ; Michael
Hartley; Brendan Kearney; Nick
Meanwell; John Slater; Nick
Hennegan; Steve Dennis; Phil Holden; Mark Keen; Andy
Hollins; George Gavin; Tom Ross; Ian Hardy; Graham
Torrington; Stephen Rhodes; Simon Davies;
Kinch; Phil Gayle; Howard Hughes; Suman
Kang; Tony Huq; Paul Brown; Terry
Griffiths; Stuart Ellis; Suzi Becker.
BRMB's presenters HERE >
You can listen to some Audio
Recordings of BRMB's excellent
presenters on the BRMB AUDIO
PAGE and more on the AIRWAVES PAGE
producing Ed Doolan's daily lunchtime
programme with John Slater
Technical Operator of the programme -
Photograph courtesy John
News with Brian Sheppard BRMB in the
1970's (courtesy Frazer Sheppard)
Hayes appointed BRMB's first news team;
Brian Sheppard, Mike Henfield, Rob Golding,
Colin Palmer and Sue Todd were some
of the first journalists on the news team.
Brian Sheppard became
BRMB's News Editor, and days after his
appointment he found himself commanding the
team covering the Birmingham pub bombings in
1974* [*Thanks to
Frazer Sheppard for this information].
Mike Henfield later went
on to work for Mercia Sound in Coventry in
1980 as 'Merry Mike Henfield'.
Sue Todd was married to
John Russell, the Programme Director. When she
left BRMB she moved into Public Relations
in Birmingham before starting and heading up
her own company in Hampshire. She
subsequently went on to be a Board Member of
NYNEX Cable TV and Ocean Sound (Part of the
then Capital Radio Group) She was the first
woman to Chair the Hampshire Branch of the
Institute of Directors. John and Sue moved out
of the UK to live in Cyprus.
(Thank you to
John Russell for this information.)
You can read
John Russell's history of the early years at
BRMB here >
Other journalists/newsreaders and
reporters in the BRMB Newsroom in 1975 -
1977 were John Rogers, Maureen Carter (now a
crime novelist), Sue Todd, David Ike, Trevor
Reid, Mike Stewart (later Beacon Radio News
Editor), Bob Mills, David Reid (Read /
Reed ?), Surrey Beddows, Marie
Kinsey, Ian Webster, Rob Golding, Sue Plimmer,
Kim Sabido, Colin Palmer, Roger Walker, George
Herbertson Wilson and John Taynton (shown
Colin Palmer eventually moved on to launch
Viking Radio in Humberside and then eventually
back to Birmingham to work for the BBC, and
subsequently [in 2006] to Saga 105.7 FM along
with Rob Golding.
Marie Kinsey moved on to work for Independent
Radio News (IRN), LBC, BBC Radio London and
Capital Radio. spending fifteen years as
Deputy Financial Editor at IRN/LBC. Marie also
worked at Thames TV, BBC local radio, regional
television, BBC Radio 4 and 5 Live, later
moving on to teaching in higher education.
Surrey Beddows later became Head of News for
ITV Anglia television.
Thanks to John Rogers of BRMB News between
1975 and 1977 for additional
information. John also notes: "I have
good memories of the professionalism and
supportive environment in the BRMB Newsroom
under Brian Shepherd and Mike Henfield."
name and voice of the BRMB news team that I
remember well is the unforgettable Merrill
Harris. Merrill Harris would often be heard
reading the news on BRMB during the Saturday
afternoon sports programme with the equally
unforgettable Tony Butler. Martin Benedyk
worked at BRMB between 1981 and 1984 and now
works at The Associated Press in London.
I was a
reporter and newsreader at BRMB between
1981 and 1984, working under Brian
Sheppard and Colin Palmer. I spent three
of my happiest years working for the
station, and I still have some
bulletins, jingles and general clips on
cassette tape. If you're interested, I
will get them down from the loft and
send them to you. Thank you for
everything you're doing to keep the BRMB
memory alive - it was a wonderful
station and I am very sad that it has
disappeared from the airwaves.
"Hullo Mike, Many
thanks for an excellent history of BRMB. I
read news at the station for the whole of
1978. One of the antipodeans who was roped
in at the time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Brian Sheppard was boss and Mike Henfield
another great guy and Rob Golding, Col
Palmer, along with all the others.
I was in UK fresh from Hong Kong
where I was a DJ with Radio Hong Kong
(English Service) and prior to that the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation and
commercial stations in Australia.
My time in Hong Kong co-coincided with the
great martial arts movies coming out of the
studios. Bruce Lee was king and Enter the
Dragon the top movie of that era. He died in
1973/4 and his death brought an end to that
genre of movies that found favour among so
many movie goers. I did voice overs for many
of the movies along with a handful of others
who worked for the studios. The Hong Kong
experience was only eclipsed by the great
environment in BRMB which I thoroughly
were invited to go on a shoot with the
Territorials. I always thought I could hit
a target pretty well. But Brian Sheppard
got the prize. I still have - and
take great care of - a BRMB shirt. A
collectors item? I returned to
Australia for family reasons and missed
the station and the work enormously. I
took another U-turn in my career and set
up a very successful business operation
tutoring the captains of industry and
others on how to give their best when they
are invited to face the reporter's
microphone. Thanks again for a great
web of information and my best wishes to
all of those, then and now, at the
station. My next visit to the UK I
would love to catch up with them.
Allan Porter, Avalon NSW, Australia"
I've just been taking a trip down memory
lane via your excellent website on BRMB. I
joined the station as chief reporter in
1973 before it went on air and stayed for
six very happy years.
Terry Griffiths' name amid all the
nostalgia. Terry had the distinction of
being one of the few radio presenters ever
to knock himself unconscious while on air.
He was doing an evening show at the time
and he thought he'd have just enough time
to get to the loo and back while a record
was on. While in the toilet, he realised
the track was coming to an end - so he
rushed back down the corridor and into the
studio, colliding with one of the massive
speakers we had suspended from the studio
ceiling. Downstairs in the presenters'
room they realised that somethign was
amiss - by this time all that was coming
out of the speaker was dead air. They
found Terry unconscious on the floor.
rushed to Dudley Road Hospital, where the
first person he saw when he came round was
his wife who was a nurse in the casualty
department. Terry soon recovered and was
back at the mic in a day or two - but not
before the station had gained a fair
amount of useful publicity from the
early days at BRMB were some of the
happiest in my career (I have just retired
after teaching journalism and radio
production at Salford University for the
past decade). BRMB was a great station -
with probably the best newsroom outside
London. It was a sad day when we didn't
get a scoop from Colin Palmer, Dickie
Myers or Ian Webster.
to do after-dinner talks in Birmingham to
publicise BRMB, so I've got lots more
[stories], remind me to tell you about the
protest march on the station when Alan
Leighton(spelling?) got sacked from his
afternoon show... and some stories of Alan
Ninn's amazing Sunday night callers).
were great pioneering days for all of us -
no-one had any experience of commercial
radio except for the first news editor
Keith Hayes, who came over from Vancouver.
about the sad death of John Russell]...
although I've lost touch with many of the
old veterans from those early days
Surprisingly enough, I met up many years
later with Trevor Reid, who was in
the BRMB newsroom right from the start and
later became a newspaper editor in Devon.
I was an external examiner for the
broadcast journalism degree at
Staffordshire University and I ran into
Trevor about four years ago when he was
doing a similar job with the print
work at Radio Wyvern after Mercia Sound,
as you say - but then left and became
group programme controller for the Red
Rose stations in Preston, Cardiff and
Leeds. I ran the Bristol end of GWR for a
time - and then went back to Red Rose.
However, by this time it was nothing like
the happy ship I had known the first time
round, many of the old management team
really enjoyed the last 10 years at
Salford - and you'll find many of our
graduates in newsrooms around the country.
commercial radio is a very different
animal from the one I joined in 1973...but
things can't stay the same and in these
uncertain economic times there's no way
you could run a radio station producing
the sort of output we transmitted back in
the very best with the website - keep that
best wishes to you - and thanks for the
fine website. Keep that flame burning -
and, as we used to say on the air, say
hello to anyone else who remembers me...
Henfield (BRMB 1973-1980)"
Thank you for allowing me to put your
comments on the BRMB page. As you may
gather I am more than happy to include
any stories, information and other
material that former BRMB staff can
offer. It's always very rewarding to add
another piece to the BRMB jigsaw puzzle.
If you ever feel like adding another
story - about Alan Ninn or Alan Leighton
- I would be, once again, most grateful.
Thanks for clarifying the Radio Wyvern
question. I thought that was the case,
but I had become unsure. Now that you
mention it, I do remember your going to
Red Rose Radio, but I was unaware of the
GWR connection. Thank you for reminding
me. As you say commercial radio is,
sadly, quite different today. It does
make me, as an appreciative listener all
those years ago, realise that they were
magical radio days that may never be
repeated. Thank you for making radio so
enjoyable when you were there! Best
wishes, Mike MDS975.
John Rogers at BRMB Radio in 1976 (courtesy John Rogers)
Hi Mike, After another trip down
memory lane on your site I have something
else to contribute to the BRMB pages. You
might be interested in posting the
attached pic of me [above] circa 1976 when
I was in the newsroom.
I remember that John Russell gave all the
presenters and the newsroom staff the
chance to present their favourite piece of
music one Sunday night, I think it was
Christmas 1976, and giving them the
opportunity to say why the musical item
was their favourite. I took the
opportunity along with some of the other
staff and pre-recorded mine for a
I wonder if a copy survives of that
BRMB Newsroom, Aston
John Rogers - BRMB
Radio News in 1977 (courtesy John Rogers)
SIX OF THE
"After much searching, I found a rare gem
to stir memories of Friday nights on BRMB
- the theme music for Six of the Best, as
used by Dave Jamieson and later (by me) on
Wiltshire Radio. The instrumental is
"Image", a classic '60s Hammond organ
piece by Alan Haven. Dave used
"Image" as a bed under the six questions
read out at the start and end of the
quiz. SOTB was on BRMB from 1976 to
about 1978 when Dave left his Friday night
slot. At one point, BRMB
printed a mini-booklet for fans, "Sixty
Six of the Best" featuring a selection of
the trickiest questions. I
guess that's a measure of how, in those
days, radio features could became instant
In 1982 I took Six of the Best to
Wiltshire Radio/GWR, and used 'Image'
again for the music bed. It had
become so inextricably linked to Dave's
SOTB, it would have been wrong to use
anything else, and in any case, it's a
fabulous piece of 'radio' theme
music! When I took the
quiz to Classic FM ten years later I'd
lost the only tape cartridge copy.
For anyone who doesn't remember SOTB, it
consisted of 5 difficult questions
involving hidden anagrams, cryptic clues
and red herrings about news events or
local history/landmarks. The
sixth question on BRMB was a mystery voice
(as it was on Wiltshrie Radio, however on
Classic FM Q6 was "The Last Chord" - a
single chord of a classical piece to be
identified). Q6 allowed
anyone to have go, including Sandra from
Sutton (in her phone
box*). SOTB was a
difficult quiz to set. Dave, as I
remember, would spend several hours making
up anagrams and cryptic clues, and the
Classic FM version took a full day set and
In Dave's version of SOTB, he would read
out all five cryptic questions, followed
by Q6, the mystery voice, then open the
phone lines. Listeners would ring
up, in dribs and drabs to begin with,
offering bits of answers to perhaps one or
two questions. Gradually, in a sort
of collective effort by listeners, the
clues and answers would begin to
unravel. However, callers were not
told if their individual answer(s) were
right or wrong, so it was left to
subsequent callers to decide what was
correct and try to assemble a perfect set
of answers. Only when a caller
attempted all six questions would he or
she be told how many they had scored right
but never which ones. Listeners then
scrambled to assemble the correct set of
answers (a bit like that plastic peg game,
Mastermind). As the presenter,
you could help or hinder depending how
well the quiz was going and how devious
you wished to be. Callers came
on-air in batches of 3 or 4,
followed by a disc, then 3 or 4 more
callers and another disc until the whole
thing had been successfully solved.
It could take anything from 30-50 minutes
to solve SOTB, but it was the basis for a
decent piece of original radio
entertainment. Stuart White
(also BRMB) did a version on his Sunday
lunchtime programme at Severn Sound and
the last time it was on air on Classic FM
The "Image" theme music is one of the
sounds that defined BRMB's early years.
the Six Of The Best theme "Image"
thanks to Quentin Howard for the story of
Six Of The Best.
Dave Jamieson also presented the Six Of
The Best quiz during his time at Mercia
Sound in Coventry.
Razzamatazz was a great
fun programme that was broadcast on BRMB every
Saturday morning. See some of BRMB's
Of RAZAMATAZZ Rashida
"I worked on air at BRMB from 1986-1990 when
Phil Riley took over from Mike Owen and
decided there was no room for fluff on air and
therefore promptly fired me!
I worked on Razzamatazz initially with Brendan
Kearney and then remained on air with Nick
Hennegan and we did Saturday morning Breakfast
every week for over 4 years. It was fantastic
and shaped me in every way. Celebrity
interviews included (remember they were big at
the time) T'Pau, Mica Paris, Simply Red, Nick
Kamen, Brother Beyond, Deacon Blue and Ben
Elton. I even had my hair done by John Frieda
after the show when he came in for an
interview. I was 14 when I first joined
and was 'paid' with freebies - but I was a
presenter and was just thankful to be there
and didn't know any better. Yasemen
Hussain was also part of Nick's girly "posse".
Our show was fun loving and was consistently
one of the most popular shows on air beating
Romantica and Les's breakfast show at one
I still love radio but I'm more a listener
than anything else at the moment, living in
London and raising five beautiful boys.
The old building on Aston Road North still
fills me with joy and gives me butterflies in
my stomach. I'm still in touch with John
Slater, who is now in stage management, Nick
Hennegan, who is working for The Arrow and Ian
Hardy, who now lives and works in New York.
Phil Gayle (brother of the author Mike Gayle
and now works on London Today) did overnights
for a while in the late 1980's and Howard
Hughes was Chris Tarrant's man for a long long
time, and went on
to either Smooth or LBC, I think.
The site is
looking fantastic. Thank you so much for
taking the time to do it. It feels like an
important part of my life has now been
Rashida x "
|One of the
funniest programmes on BRMB Radio was
made in 1979 by Jasper Carrott and
many of the BRMB presenters and
This programme was "RADIO ACOCKS
GREEN" where Jasper Carrott, along
with the BRMB team, made a series of
sketches about the fictional local
radio station and essentially made fun
of some of the BRMB programming at the
Jasper Carrott and the BRMB presenters
all had characters to play, be they
Radio Acocks Green presenters or phone
in callers. I was in tears of
laughter while listening back to the
snippets of Radio Acocks Green
cassette recordings that I have; Those
taking part alongside Jasper Carrott
included Brian Savin and Ed Doolan.
Production was by Phil Dawson.
As an example, there was a spoof radio
commercial for "Super Oriental
Detergent" which proclaimed "If DAZ
doesn't whiten it and OMO doesn't
brighten it - SOD IT!" Other sketches
Waiter, a take off of BRMB's legendary
sports presenter Tony Butler, "Open
Line" with Brian Nunn (rather than
BRMB's Alan Nin) and "Tradio" where
Radio Acocks Green listeners could
sell their unwanted goods, as long as
they cost no more than 5 pence!
Unfortunately my family decided that
it would be really good to have a
shopping expedition in Peterborough on
one of the days that Radio Acocks
Green was transmitted on BRMB during
that Easter holiday!
I took my trusty little 'Ultra'
portable AM/FM radio cassette recorder
with me, but BRMB faded out long
before we reached Cambridgeshire, so I
missed that episode and at least one
other missed episode too, so we only had a
short recording of 'Radio Acocks
Green' on tape, but kind readers to
these pages have sent in further
recordings on BRMB and Radio Acocks
Green which you can hear on the BRMB AUDIO
|IF YOU HAVE ANY CLASSIC,
AMUSING OR HISTORIC
RECORDINGS OF FROM BRMB
RADIO, OR KNOW ANYONE ELSE
THAT MIGHT HAVE SOME OF
THESE PROGRAMMES ON TAPE -
PLEASE LET US KNOW!!!
WE'D REALLY LIKE TO
HEAR MORE OF THIS ONCE
EXECELLENT RADIO STATION!
AND MIDLANDS RADIO - AND THE AM
BRMB joined forces with Mercia Sound in Coventry
and later with Radio Trent in Nottingham and
Derby and Leicester Sound to form a group
called Midlands Radio PLC
BRMB experimented with some split frequency
broadcasting whereby normal programmes would
continue on 96.4 FM while golden oldies with
Robin Valk or sport was carried on 1152
kilohertz (261 meters) medium wave.
This experiment led the the setting up of a
full time AM only radio station in April
1989 called XTRA AM.
concentrated on playing 'Classic Hits' from
the 1950's 60's 70's and 80's and the best
of current chart music. The enduringly
popular, and household name, Les Ross
moved to XTRA to do breakfasts and the
revered BRMB Sports programming was also
moved from BRMB FM over to XTRA AM.
- MUSIC POWER
BRMB RADIO became BRMB FM - MUSIC POWER and
re-focussed its output on current chart music
and employed the services of new DJ's
including Simon Davies and Deborah Kinch who
presented the all new BRMB FM Breakfast
Show. Graham Torrington remained on BRMB
FM for a while and Brendan Kearney, who had
left BRMB a few years earlier, returned to the
station in 1990 and, as well as his daily
breakfast show, did a double-header with Andy
Hollins on Saturdays called "Hollins and
Kearney". The format ended in tears though
after they had a big bust up on air one
morning! You can hear the audio recording of
this on-air bust up on our BRMB Audio page.
Phil Holden stayed with
BRMB FM for a few more years until around
Radio PLC sold out to Capital Radio in
1993. Capital Radio kept BRMB FM and
the 1152 part of XTRA AM but did not want
the rest and in 1994 sold Radio Trent,
Leicester Sound and Mercia Sound to GWR.
It was around this time that Tony Butler,
who had been sacked by BRMB in 1984,
re-joined the company to present the
breakfast show on Xtra-am.
bought Beacon Radio around this
period. Strangely, with the
government's de-regulation of the radio
industry with a new broadcasting act in 2004
which allows radio groups to own far more
radio stations, GWR was bought up by Capital
Radio PLC to form a merged group called
GCAP. More about the developments in
ownership, further de-regulation and loss of
local programming here.
RADIO - IN THE NEWS
John Slater decided to
leave BRMB in 1991. You can hear some
audio clips of John Slater in the BRMB AUDIO
section below. John Slater presented one
of the very best serious music programmes on any
radio station in Britain and so when he
announced his departure it really was a huge
shock. The news was announced by the Birmingham
Evening Mail in this way:
AS TOP DJ DECIDES TO QUIT
by Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers 1991
BRMB's John Slater is to quit the station
days after making his biggest ever
personal appearance by broadcasting live
to an audience of 70,000 at the
Monsters of Rock Festival.
The news will come as a double blow to
local rock fans because Paul Flower's
Radio WM show will be axed after tonight.
John joined BRMB 14 years ago  in a
technical capacity and has been presenting
the evening rock show for the past eight
years. He has done 1,500 Interviews,
commissioned 50 concert recordings and
supervised 150 sessions - as well an
helping to encourage interviewees to sing
acoustically in the studio to just one
As the Evening Mail revealed last week,
John will become the first local radio DJ
to host this Saturday's Castle Donington
festival after headliners AC/DC refused to
allow Radio 1 to broadcast the event
live. He landed the festival slot
after having already decided to quit BRMB
on Thursday, September 5.
"I will be very sad to leave, but it's my
own doing" he said. "It is time to go on
and do something else. I have one or two
Irons in the fire, but I don't really know
what I will do. I don't think that you can
spend your whole life doing the same
thing, but I would like to stay in the
In the absence on holiday of BRMB Managing
director Ian Rufus, sales chief
David Bagley said: "John will be sadly
missed. I am sure everyone will wish him
Mr Bagley added that he hoped BRMB would
be able to continue promoting local music.
After a year presenting The Hollins And Kearney
Show, the duo split up in this way:
PAIR STORM OUT AFTER STUDIO ROW
Birmingham post Monday December 30th
By Jason Lewis
Startled listeners heard two Birmingham
radio presenters have a furious row in
which one swore at the other before both
stormed out of the studio. The
argument between DJs Brendan Kearney and
Andy Hollins was heard by thousands of
listeners tuned to the city's independent
radio, BRMB, yesterday lunchtime.
The row started during a live review of
the year of the pair's regular Sunday
show. Listeners heard Hollins swear
at Kearney before he stormed out of the
studio slamming the door behind him at
11.50am. Kearney then followed. The
station played continuous music and
advertisements until about 12.30pm when
the lpm programme presenter, Stuart Ellis,
came on air saying he was starting his
show early. Meanwhile, the pair
continued their dispute in the corridor
Last night Mr Alan Carruthers, BRMB's
programme manager, said the disagreement
seemed to have started over excerpts being
played from their previous shows. Kearney
was at the studio's controls and was
selecting the different pieces while
Hollins sat at a microphone.
"It seems Andy thought Brendan was trying
to get at him with the pieces he was
choosing," Mr Carruthers said. "The
show centres around the double act, with
them trying to out do each other, playing
off each one another and winding each
other up. On this occasion it seems to
have been too much." Mr Carruthers
said the rivalry between the two
presenters had increased over recent weeks
over a competition which required
listeners to say which of the pair they
Mr Carruthers said he intended to speak to
both men about what had happened. He
said: " But the station does not want to
lose either of them over an incident like
this."He refused to discuss whether either
of the presenters would be disciplined.
Ross To Quit
Exclusive by Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers
13 Year Run
Les, Ross, BRMB's breakfast
presenter for a record breaking 13
years, is to quit the station he helped
to make such a success. Next month
40 year old Les will be replaced by a
"boy and girl" team as he moves over to
XTRA-AM, the new Birmingham based
sister station for BRMB.
Sinion Davies, aged 20, has been signed
from Wrexham-based Marcher Sound, and
will take over from Monday, March 13.
His partner will be
22-year-old Deborah Kinch, who was
known as "Delightful Deborah" on BBC
Radio 1's Steve Wright Show.
Les, who believes he may warrant a place
in the Guinness. Book of Records for
having done the same daily
show longer than any on British
radio will be aiming for 35 to
The new radio station will be launched
by Midlands Radio Holdings on April 4.
XTRA-AM programme controller Phil Riley
said: "It's a great coup to have Les
Ross as breakfast show presenter."
Les, although in favour of more radio
stations, is sad at having to leave BRMB
after such a long run - a move which
indirectly results from the Government
deciding that radio stations with AM and
FM wavebands must split frequencies.
He said: "I am looking forward to the
new challenge with great enthusiasm and
it is great to know I will still be
talking to people at breakfast time."
"I wish Simon, Deborah and the rest of
BRMB's new breakfast team the best of
luck. I know BRMB listeners will give
them a warm welcome"
BRMB, 15 years old, will
now unashamedly go after Radio 1's
young audience now that it no longer has
to try appeal to everybody.
Programme controller Mike Owen said:
"This change gives BRMB's breakfast show
a great opportunity to be the liveliest,
freshest, fastest breakfast show around
"Radio1 is frightened of. giving women
presenters a high profile. I will be
giving Deborah her own programme too."
by Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers
Sunday evening problem adviser has
left the station after nearly six
Mr Hartley said that he quit the 15
year old Open Line programme because
of a "difference of opinion" between
him and programme controller Mr Mike
Owen. Mr Owen is on holiday, but
deputy programme controller Mr Brian
Savin said of Mr Hartley's departure;
"He has left - for reasons of his
year thousands of listeners heard a 15
year old Birmingham schoolgirl
threaten to kill herself but Mr
Hartley kept her talking for 40
minutes and engineers were able to
trace the girl to a city centre call
box. She was later escorted home
by one of her teachers and a woman
Sunday, listeners heard temporary
replacement presenter Nick Meanwell
and a woman from the Samaritans
answering problems. One woman
caller got so emotional that she had
to be taken off air to talk to another
Samaritan volunteer on a private line.
next Sunday the Rev John Austen will
return to the slot which he filled for
six years before Mr Michael Hartley
until he left to concentrate on the
Aston University chaplaincy. He
said at the time: "It is real.
People are interested in other
people's lives, but you must never
exploit their problems."
Nicky Steele Axed
Housewives' favourite Nicky
Steele has left BRMB after 13
years - two days after the arrival of
new head of programmes Phil Riley.
By Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers
September 11th 1989
The new man wants BRMB to attack Radio 1,
which has been building up its share of a
growing radio audience in Birmingham. He
felt 41-year-old Nicky was not the right
man for the job. Nicky's contract, -which
had until the end of October to run, is
not being renewed.
Mr Riley, who joined BRMB from sister
station XTRA-AM, which he will also
continue to run, asked Nicky to leave
immediately after his morning show last
Friday. Mr Riley said: "I have certain
plans for BRMB and I didn't feel Nicky
fitted into those plans."
"Nicky leaves with my best wishes and no
animosity. He is not too old - age has
nothing to do with it. He is a talented
broadcaster and I am sure he will find
employment on the radio in this city with
deregulation coming up. There is no
It is the second time that Nicky has left
BRMB very quickly. He is developing
the Nicky Steele Discotheque Agency.
FOND MEMORIES OF BRMB FROM QUENTIN HOWARD
grateful thanks to Quentin Howard who sent these
memories of BRMB to me in March 2008:
Here's some more stuff for your page on BRMB.
I joined as an engineer in 1976, by
accident. As a 2nd year engineering
student in Rugby I'd been on an anorak visit to
see Dave Wood, the Chief Engineer, to gen up on
something. Dave lee, one of the BRMB
engineers interrupted our meeting to ask how Dave
intended to cover the shifts whilst one of their
other engineers was recovering from an operation
for 3 months. Dave hadn't thought
about it and as I was a sandwich student (I had to
find engineering employment until academic studies
resumed the following January) I piped up and
offered to cover until Christmas. Very
cheeky, of course, but Dave hired me on the spot
for £36 a week and I so started on 18th October,
the same day as Mike Hollis and not long after Les
Ross started doing breakfast on the
My time at BRMB was undoubtedly the happiest and
most inspiring of my radio career. I
would spend hours in the studio, being Les Ross'
audience, sitting in on Dave Jamieson's late night
show, and learning my trade from the finest bunch
of engineers you could imagine.
I returned in January to do tech-op shifts,
driving the studio for the evening phone in
programme with Sue Barker, or the late Sunday
evening lonely hearts show hosted by Alan Nin.
One Spring Saturday in 1977 I was in the control
room watching Terry Griffiths tech-op Tony
Butler's sport show. 5 hours of the most
hectic and intense operations anyone could
imagine. The TO had to drive the desk,
load and fire commercials, handle 6 live OBs from
each of the local matches, plus phoned -in
reports, play the music, including Tony's famous
theme tune which he'd want played whenever he got
his "prayer mat" out to encourage Villa to score,
and finally the two hour live phone in from 5 to
Just before half time Terry asked me to "watch the
controls" whilst he went to the toilet, and didn't
come back until 7pm. It was a baptism
of fire but from that day on until I left BRMB in
1979 I was Tony's tech op. The sports
show was a legend, and I remember one day the BBC
came to visit. Radio 2 (which at that time
did their major Saturday afternoon sports show)
dispatched half a dozen of their producers and SMs
to see how this Birmingham "legend" was
broadcast. They were utterly gob
smacked to see that the show consisted of Tony in
the studio, George doing the racing results, Dave
Wood's secretary was the runner between newsroom
and studio with ripped off telex results , and
then there was me operating the studio, dealing
with the OB's, match round ups and filtering (i.e.
producer) for all the punter's phone calls.
That was it. The BBC probably had an
army of hundreds doing the same thing (without the
commercials, of course) and kept asking me how on
earth we did it.
The famous delay system was 4 seconds, not
7. This was physically the longest tape loop
we could create using rollers and guides on the
Technics reel to reel that served as the delay
system. Dave Wood's view was that if you
couldn't bleep out a "f**k" in 4 seconds then you
didn't deserve to be a tech-op.
The "bleep" was a four second jingle which simply
blotted out the offending bit. If the
phone in was going a bit slow then Tony and I
would discuss my pressing the sensor button to
make people think someone had sworn. That
always got the lines lighting up!
In fact, there were only 4 phone in lines -
021 359 4011 - so the tech op had to work quickly
to get the callers lined up, on-air, and off again
quickly to free up the lines for new
callers. You could always spot a
dodgy punter, as soon as you took their
call. It was a sixth sense.
Occasionally a dodgy one would get on air and many
a time Tony would just give you the eye through
the glass and you both knew to be ready with the
The famous Jasper Carrot sketch about Tony's
programme is all true, and the incidents he refers
to including sports reporter 'Harry Trethewey' at
the Wolves saying live on air that the interviewee
he'd lined up after the match "has just fu**ed
off, Tone". I was the tech op and Harry
Trethewey (real name Tony Trethewey - he was
BRMB's chief accountant) was that reporter.
Many a fine time was had at BRMB, including Dave
Jamieson's memorable last late show. I had
gone round the entire staff recording their
brief farewell messages for Dave and recorded them
over his show's theme tune cartridge which Dave
was to play coming out of the 10pm
news. How we
laughed! Or the times we struggle back from
The Avenue (the local pub) with a somewhat worse
for wear presenter and prop him up in his seat
with hand on the fader ready to start his
In my 3 years at BRMB I learned my trade and
am indebted to Dave Wood for teaching me
everything I needed to know to become a manager
which stood me in good stead when at the tender
age of 23 I went off to be Chief Engineer at
The early years of BRMB were magic beyond compare
- we were all pioneers and fearless.
That spirit doesn't exist in radio today.
RADIO - THE AUDIO
VISIT THE NEW BRMB AUDIO
PAGE - HERE
BRMB RADIO - THE PROGRAMME SCHEDULES
|Printed BRMB Programme Schedule
|Printed BRMB Programme Schedule
RADIO - THE TRANSMITTERS AND
(Independent Broadcasting Authority)
owned and operated the transmitters on
behalf of BRMB. BRMB, as with all
other commercial Independent Local Radio
stations (ILR), paid what amounted to a
rent to the IBA in order
to use these transmission facilities.
description of BRMB's ILR service
to Birmingham (IBA Year Book)
For Medium Wave
the IBA installed the transmission
equipment at Langley Mill, just to the
north east of Birmingham. This
comprised an 800 Watt transmitter and a
highly directional, and rather unusual
for its day, four mast aerial system
which directed the main beam of power
south-west across the city of Birmingham
with an equivalent radiated power in
this direction of 3000 Watts (3.0 kW
e.m.r.p.). The frequency was 1151
kilohertz though at this time most
people worked in wavelengths and
expressed this as 261 meters. Most
radio stations of this era, including
BRMB, simply announced the medium
wavelength in meters - so it was "261
map from the Birmingham Evening Mail
showing the "lound and clear"
reception areas of Mercia
Beacon Radio and BRMB Radio.
VHF / FM the IBA installed the
transmission equipment at their very
tall Lichfield mast located near Hints
in Staffordhire. Lichfield was the
original mast, installed by the IBA's
predecessor the ITA, to bring VHF, 405
line black and white television to the
Midlands - ATV. The VHF / FM
transmitter for BRMB used directional
aerials which were directed southwards
across Birmingham with a maximum
effective radiated power in that
direction of 2000 Watts. (2.0 kW
e.r.p.) The frequency used was
94.8 MHz and, unlike BBC local radio,
the transmissions were in stereo, as
were all ILR VHF transmissions.
Map Showing The
Coverage area of BRMB RADIO.
The solid line shows
the VHF / FM contour.
The radiating lines
show the total survey area where
reception should be
possible on medium wave.
special type of transmitting aerial was
also used which enabled transmission of
equal amounts of power in the horizontal
and vertical planes of polarization -
this was called "mixed polarization" and
aided reception on vertically oriented
car radio and portable radio aerials as
well as providing a good signal for more
traditional horizontally mounted rooftop
vhf/fm aerials often installed for home
hi-fi stereo systems. Mixed
polarization was pioneered by the IBA
for ILR stations such as BRMB and is a
system that was also adopted by the BBC
In November 1978 BRMB's medium wave
frequency was adjusted from 1151 kHz to
1152 kHz to fall into alignment with a
new 9 kHz international frequency
spacing plan. This tiny adjustment
did not affect listeners in any
noticeable way and was not announced by
the station. BRMB was still
essentially at the 261 meters spot on
the dial. (1151 kilohertz and for
that matter 1152 kilohertz is just
another way of expressing the 261 meters
position on the medium wave radio dial).
The big frequency change that did affect
BRMB, and many other local stations
around the country, was the national
re-organisation of the VHF / FM band
between 1985 and 1987. Though a
great number of listeners still chose
medium wave to listen to the radio, very
many took advantage of the high fidelity
stereo broadcasts at 94.8 MHz FM.
These listeners had to make the switch
from the original frequency of 94.8 MHz
to the new frequency of 96.4 MHz .
In spring 1989, after a long fight by
BRMB for a more effective transmitter,
the IBA finally installed a new
transmitter at the main television and
radio mast in Sutton Coldfield, which
was closer to Birmingham than
Lichfield. The old Lichfield
transmitter was shut down and
transmissions moved to Sutton. The
aerials used at Sutton were still very
directional across Birmingham and the
Black Country but the effective
radiated power was now up to 10,000
Watts, so while the transmission area
was not greatly expanded, the strength
reception within that area should have
been improved. The map
below shows the predicted change in
coverage area from the new Sutton
Coldfield transmitter compared to the
original transmitter at
Lichfield. The transmitting
aerial pattern had to be tightly
matched to the transmission area so as
to avoid overspill of the signal into
the Wolverhampton and Coventry areas
where other ILR stations operated
(Beacon Radio and Mercia Sound).
The map also shows the medium
wave (AM) coverage from the
Langley Mill transmitter.
Predicted VHF coverage from new
transmitter at Sutton Coldfield
also shows measured VHF coverage from
and MF coverage from Langley Mill
(IBA Engineering Information)
from Sutton Coldfield
1995 the building that BRMB and sister station
XTRA AM occupied, 'Radio House', was completely
However in August 1998 BRMB's management (Capital
Radio group) moved the radio station out of its
old building in Aston Road North to brand new
studios at 9 Brindley Place, Oozells Square; part
of the Birminghams's entertainment quarter, with
Radio House being put up for sale.
The move cost a reported two million pounds and
provided the station with new studios and offices
located above a new "Radio Cafe" concept
introduced by the station's owners Capital Radio.
BRMB and sister station Capital Gold moved into
the first floor of the new building where there
were three studios together with a commercial
production suite. The Radio Cafe was intended to
be a venue for bands vising the station while also
serving meals and drinks to members of the public.
Station Director Julie Fair said: "We're all very
excited about the move. We've been in Aston for
around 25 years and our present building has
become a bit drab. Brindley Place is as
central as we could get and it seems to be where
everything is happening. We will be much more
accessible for people to visit us and we feel we
will be more in touch with the public."
Other commercial radio stations, Heart FM and
Choice FM (later Galaxy then Capital) together
with Central Television (ITV) were also located
nearby in the Broad Street area.
While BRMB remained on the first floor the Radio
Cafe idea turned out to not to be a marketing
success and was abandoned. The space is now
inhabited by another cafe business.
Today's BRMB (2011) is not the
'all things to all people' type of radio station
that it used to be - an entertaining,
communicating, community based radio station.
Birmingham, its population and the radio industry
as a whole is much the worse off for that.
1970's, 1980's and into the early 1990's BRMB
Radio provided some truly unique and wonderful
local radio programming which, today, is very
The unique culture and locallness of BRMB, a
radio station steeped in its community is gone -
possibly forever which is extremely sad.
James Young comments: "It is only now when you
look at what is called commercial radio with the
homogeneous pap programmed by computers and
distributed from a central source to so-called
'local' stations you realise how pioneering it
all was in the 1970s."
continued to be a popular music station in
Birmingham through to 2012 - so a hearty
congratulations to one and all for all past
achievements. Well done everyone involved
with "261 BRMB Radio" - particularly from
the 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's !
"Butler! He's your man at the ground!
Butler! Let's kick it around!
Butler! Gets from you to me!
He's the man of the century!"
* * *
BRMB, Heard by millions,
We're the heartbeat of the Midlands!
Turn on, tune in, to a brighter day!
If you're low we can light your fire,
If you're high we can take you higher!
Two-Six-One, Medium Wave on your dial,
And away we go-oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
BRMB sounds familiar, let the mood of
music fill your head,
And let your thoughts - Run -
* * *
|2008 - GCAP bought by
the Global Radio conglomerate and puts BRMB &
other stations up for sale
Since the GWR and Capital Radio plc merger, to form GCAP,
in 2004, the Labour government through its hapless
regulator Ofcom continually reduced local programming commitments and
relaxed ownership rules.
government's Digital Report and other industry reports
weakened any remaining thread-bear commitments to quality
and locally produced programming still further. Already, by
2009, many so-called local commercial
radio stations provide only the bear minimum of four hours
per day of local programmes.
Stations such as BRMB and Beacon may only have a locally
produced breakfast and drive-time programme with all other
output networked in from London or elsewhere.
Many stations resort to a technological trick called
'voice-tracking' (VT). In this case the station merely
inserts pre-recorded presenter announcements between music
tracks and commercials from an automated computer play-out
system. Some small stations might sound local to a casual
listener because of some local adverts and announcements,
but in many cases it most probably isn't actually the
case, with programmed being voice-tracked or piped in from
remote studies elsewhere in the country.
In April 2008 GCAP itself was bought for £375 million by
Global Radio - owners of the banal Heart FM and Galaxy
brands and other stations such as LBC in London. This
formed a massive radio conglomerate including Capital 95.8
in London, the XFM brands, Choice FM, Classic FM, the Gold
network and the so-called "Hit Music Network" consisting
of BRMB, Beacon, Mercia, Wyvern, Chiltern, Horizon, Southern FM, Invicta
FM, Mercury, Essex FM, Fox FM etc.
However the deal was somewhat too large for the
Competition Commission and OFT to allow, so they required
Global Radio to dispose of a number of stations. To this
end in August 2008 Global put BRMB in Birmingham up for
sale along with Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton and
Shropshire (97.2 & 103.1), Mercia FM in Coventry (97.0
& 102.9), Wyvern FM in Hereford & Worcester (97.6,
96.7 & 102.8), Heart 106 in the East Midlands along
with the associated medium wave, AM licenses
in Birmingham (1152), Coventry (1359), Shrewsbury (1017) and
Among bidders for these stations were a consortium headed
by former BRMB Programme Controller Mike Owen, another
group led by former BRMB and Chrysalis Radio executive
Phil Riley and another from the German radio and
publishing group Bauer - owner of former EMAP stations in
the north of the UK.
In mid May 2009 Phil Riley's
group, backed by Lloyds TSB venture capital, emerged as
the winning buyer of the Midlands stations. The original
price asked by Global for these stations was thought to be
in the region of £40 million (though this is unconfirmed).
Renowned radio expert Phil Riley became Orion's Chief
Executive while another industry expert, David Lloyd, took
the position of Director of Programming & Marketing
with Adrian Serle as the Commercial Director.
From the beginning of 2009 Global Radio started a mass
re-branding of the so-called 'Hit Music' network with the
non-descript "Heart" brand. Famous heritage stations names
- so well known since the inception of ILR - started to be
culled: Plymouth Sound, GWR, Hereward, Orchard FM, FOX
FM, 2-TEN, Ocean FM, Southern FM, 2CR, Invicta,
Chiltern, Horizon, SGR, Gemini FM, Lantern FM, Q103, Coast, Champion, Marcher Sound -
all fell under Global Radio's axe, only to be replaced by
the banal Heart network. Power FM in Southampton was
replaced by the Galaxy brand.
government relaxation of local programming requirements
may allow all these essentially local licenses to transmit
what will effectively be a full-time nationally networked
Heart programme, with the only local content being locally
inserted advertising and minimal local news.
Too much competition, too little and ineffectual
regulation as well as massive pressure from the commercial
radio lobby helped allow the widespread loss of real local
radio. The sad thing is that it was allowed to happen by
the audience which was seemingly uninterested in community
and local (or even national) news, but accepting of
meaningless 'prattle' and narrow, focused and repetitive
playlists that are increasingly used by commercial radio.
What happened to BRMB and the other Midlands stations from
this point remained to be seen. Enthusiasts hoped that Phil
Riley, who had a rather long association with the station,
would show a better commitment to local radio in the
Midlands than Capital, GCAP and Global before it.
Coventry Evening Telegraph.
September 21st 2009
THE boss of the new company which owns Coventry and
Warwickshire station Mercia FM has spoken of his
plans to put the local back in local radio. Phil
Riley, chief executive of Orion Media, which
purchased six Midlands stations from Global Radio,
believes in closer links with management and the
He has already pushed through a restructuring
programme, transforming the group from an outpost of
the ex-owner’s empire into a self-contained
Birmingham-based company. Mr Riley said: “We will be
more focused on playing the right music for our core
audience, more focused on local content and more
focused on events and personality.”
The private equity-backed takeover also included the
purchase of BRMB in Birmingham, Beacon FM in
Wolverhampton, Radio Wyvern in Worcester, Gold in
Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, and Heart
With the Digital Economy Act of 2010 allowing further
relaxation of local programming requirements, the UK economy
essentially flat-lining since 2008 and with tough
competition, particularly from Global's quasi-national
stations Heart and Capital, Orion's response was, naturally,
to cut back on programming costs. Beacon was at one time a
dual area providing separate programming for the
Wolverhampton area and the Shropshire area, but Orion
dropped this and merged the two areas - Ofcom did not
require separate output. Eventually the greater majority of
output from Orion's stations was merged across the midlands
regions with about 75% of all output from BRMB in Birmingham
being shared across Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern. It did seem
to not bode well for the future.
The once separate and local radio station for Coventry and
Warwickshire, Mercia [Sound], was effectively closed. The
Hertford Place studios in Coventry were shut and all
programming on its 97.0 and 102.9 MHz transmitters was from
then on to come from Orion's studio in Birmingham.
In January 2012 Orion Media called it a day
on heritage radio brands BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern, and Beacon
and abandons individual stations names in favour of a one
name for all approach across its areas and transmitters.
Under the terms of its franchise, won from the IBA
(Independent Broadcasting Authority) in the 1973 BRMB had
to offer some content to all interests and sections of the
community - it had to be an 'all things to all people'
So for the first decade or so the station offered mixed
format programming with 'pop' music during the day
interspersed with news, sport, interviews, shopping tips
and recipes and the like. In the evening specialist
programmes were broadcasts. Over the years, as IBA
franchises became Ofcom licences, most programming
requirements and directives were dropped from the licence
By 2012, of course, local radio was becoming a distant
memory with 75% of all output was shared across the
stations, so the once separate stations were essentially a
single network in all but name - some local peak time
hours remained, at
breakfast and drive time. However having separate local names was
becoming meaningless and pointless to the point that it
was hampering the marketing of the network.
Having four separate names does not allow a presenter to
make a live reference to the station name during
networking - he cannot refer to the name "BRMB" while also
broadcasting live across Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern! Why
indeed make four separate pre-recorded station name
identification announcements in a programme that was being
shared across the network?
So, by now it was less relevant to have separate a
identification of of four 'local' stations; BRMB, Mercia, Beacon and
Wyvern. Indeed much of what was once local commercial radio
across the rest of the UK was gradually being amalgamated
into larger groups with output being shared across regions
or even on a quasi-national basis. The traditional
'heritage' ILR stations of the 1970's / 1980's had almost
disappeared in their original local format.
Orion Media's stations, however, remained locally owned in
the Midlands, but it was a logical conclusion to retire
the BRMB and Mercia / Beacon / Wyvern) identities and
formulate one new, all encompassing network brand.
The name chosen was Freeradio which had a soft launch on
26th March 2012.
BRMB, along with the other well known names, Mercia, Beacon and Wyvern, merely faded
inauspiciously from the airwaves; phased out between 21st
March and 26th March 2012 when the new name was launched.
R.I.P. B i R M
See the headlines
from The Guardian newspaper below:
BRMB rebrands to Free Radio
9th January 2012
Owner Orion Media announces name change for
Birmingham broadcaster along with three Midlands
sister stations Beacon, Wyvern and Mercia.
Nearly 40 years of
radio history will be wiped off the dial with the
rebrand of Birmingham's BRMB to Free Radio.
Owner Orion Media, run by former Chrysalis Radio
boss Phil Riley, announced the rebrand of the
Birmingham broadcaster along with three of its
sister stations in the Midlands – Mercia, Beacon and
Riley said the content of the stations, which
currently share about 75% of their programming
outside of breakfast and drivetime, would remain
Orion is the latest commercial radio group to
relaunch stations under a single brand, beginning
with the rollout of Global Radio's Heart followed by
sister network Capital and Smooth Radio, which is
owned by GMG Radio, part of the group that publishes
Riley, the chief executive of Orion Media, said:
"The decision to change the name of our stations
after each one has been broadcasting in their areas
under their original names for so long has not been
easy or one that we have taken lightly.
"We have given this a great deal of consideration
and undertaken detailed research. The original on
air names of each station means a lot to all of us
at Orion, and we know and understand the deep
affection many people have for those names. However,
the radio market has changed dramatically recently
and we have to adapt and respond."
BRMB was the UK's fourth commercial radio station
when it launched in 1974. It was followed by Beacon
in 1976, Mercia in 1980 and Wyvern two years later.
Riley said the "Free Radio" name was chosen because
it was "easy to remember, easy to spell, and is
flexible enough to work in a number of different
ways. It's not free as in cheap, it's free as in
freedom to have a bit more character".
The four stations have a reach of 889,000 listeners
between them, according to the latest official Rajar
figures, with BRMB the biggest with an average
weekly reach of 359,000.
Riley said the new name would make the stations a
better to sell to advertisers. He said no content
would be changed – or jobs lost – as a result of the
He added: "Although the names are changing, the
commitment we have to provide the best mix of music
and presenters along with local news, sport, weather
and traffic remains our No 1 priority.
"Even when we are in network mode on Free Radio, we
will be broadcasting from and ensuring the station
serves only the needs of the region."
Orion Media also owns Gem 106 in the east Midlands
and the Gold AM station in the west Midlands, which
will not be rebranding.
Two months after
the closure of BRMB and the launch of Free Radio
on FM and DAB, there was some brighter news from
In May 2012 it was announced that Gold, the oldies
station produced by Global Radio in London and
relayed by Orion Media to the Midlands on medium
wave and DAB, would be replaced by a locally
produced station to be called Free Radio
Keith Brown writes:
Mike, Terry returned to
Birmingham this week for a holiday - first time in
33 years .Today we visited Radio House. Please
include the photo on your great site.
Cheers, Keith. [ Thanks Keith - that's
great. Cheers, Mike ]
outside Radio House in July 2013. Photo by Keith Brown
comment from reader, James Young:
What a fabulous
website on the history of BRMB and so many memories.
I started at Lanchester Polytechnic in Sept 1974 and
BRMB was the station of choice. It is only now when
you look at what is called commercial radio with the
homogeneous pap programmed by computers and
distributed from a central source to so-called
'local' stations you realise how pioneering it all
was in the 70s.
concentrated quite rightly on how strong BRMB was in
the community and I'm sure John Russell used to do a
Sunday classical music programme. No space for that
now in the schedules.
My 3rd year was a
year in industry, so 76/77 found me living in
Shrewsbury listening to Beacon 303. Pioneering in
many different ways with a very N American approach
from ND Jay White. Rock show host KKJ and Mike
Baker's American Billboard Chart Show - the fastest
show on two turntables. My 4th year was back in
Coventry where I subsequently worked for a couple of
years. A choice now from BRMB and Mercia Sound with
the talented Gordon Astley on breakfast.
You have amassed
so much information on BRMB - its greatest stars
undoubtedly Les Ross (absolutely the best at
breakfast anywhere) Ed Doolan and Tony Butler. I
remember the classic 2 way with Tony Trethewey. I
also heard that the bleep loop was used more often
in Tony's programme than it ever was in general
election campaigns with the need to maintain
political neutrality. I ended up working in
Engineering at Pebble Mill in the 80s (another
great time and place) and knew Tony Butler when he
was in the newsroom on earlys for Breakfast. A
totally fascinating person to talk to.
Sadly the iconic
Pebble Mill is no more; apparently the old
ATV/Central studios on Bridge St are slated to come
down as well, as that area is re-developed but, a
quick look at Google Earth and a check in the
postcode directory shows Radio House is still there,
but now B6 4DA has replaced B6 4BX. I wonder why?
Thanks again for
a wonderful website
Ian Edwards adds:
Hi, I've just
stumbled across your site and have whiled away an hour
reading through some of your pages on ILR. I was an
engineer at Radio Luxembourg (1973-1976) Beacon Radio
(1976-1980) and BRMB/Capital (1980-2005) and so have lived
through, but forgotten, much of it. You have gathered more
archive material than the radio stations themselves which
is commendable, how have you done it!
I have quite a library
of original audio around the house, and some home video
clips from BRMB days (mid 80's) if I ever get round to it
I'll have a sort through and see if there is anything I
can contribute to your collection. It's also good to
see that you still seem to be maintaining the site - keep
up the good work, I'll be back as there is a lot I haven't
looked at yet.
Keith Burson adds:
Hello Mike, I have a 40
min abridged version of Radio Acocks Green introduced by
Ed Doolan and is complete as broadcast apart from the
removal of a couple of records that seemed unnessasary as
they were standard hits of the time. My MP3 is resampled
to 32K giving a filesize of 9.586MB.
Also I have the first
part of the opening broadcast of BBC Radio Birmingham in
1970. I was working at Pebble Mill at the time, it
includes the news of the time plus how the station was
planned. I was 19 years old when I recorded this clip, I
was one of the many engineers that were involved in the
new studios, we felt we were breaking new ground with a
true local radio station, as indeed we were. I think the
best time of my professional career in electronics was my
time at Pebble Mill, I have many happy memories to look
Hope you find the clip
interesting, they were both recorded on cassette so
quality is not so good but brings back the times when
radio and tv studios were something special.
Love the site.
Thank you Keith for generously sending the mp3 clips of
Radio Acocks Green and the opening of BBC Radio Birmingham.
It is most generous and kind of you.
Radio Acocks Green, from 1979, can be found on the BRMB Audio Page here > and
the opening of BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970 can be found on
the Airwaves page here >
Hello Mike, What a great site I compliment you on all your
hard work. I remember BRMB back in 1974 when I lived
in Stratford upon Avon. In fact I won a record and tee
shirt!! I also did a lot of charity work for the blind
driving a narrow boat up the cut to give the people a day
out; I heard the appeal on BRMB.
I write to ask if I
can put a link onto our club web site, the Barry Amateur
Radio Society http://www.bars.btik.com
Again my thanks and
appreciation for a very informative site.
73 Glyn GW0ANA,
Stan Drew writes:
Many congratulations on
your excellent site about BRMB, which brings back many
memories. I came across this interview with John Slater,
in which he talks about his time at BRMB: career-profile-john-slater-a-life-of-drive-time-162478
Regards, Stan Drew
Hi Mike, I would like to congratulate you and thank you
for your uploads of BRMB recordings from 80s and 90s. I
was particularly interested in the George Gavin and Tom
Ross football phone ins. I was a keen listener and never
missed a show and never thought that I would hear them
again until I came across your website.
Kind Regards, Bobby.
Keith Brown writes:
Mike, I must congratulate you on
your site capturing the golden days of BRMB. I was there
listening on day one and up until the early Eighties had
struck up friendships with a few of the presenters. Dave
Jamieson and Adrian Juste to mention two. The staff at
Radio House used to use a local pub called The Avenue, I
can remember chatting to Tony Butler about the Birmingham
Brummies Speedway team over a pint. Actually it was a half
as Butler only drank halves!
Shirley, West Midlands
From Lynne Holden:
Hi, I just wanted to
say how much I’ve enjoyed your site. I joined BRMB in May
1974 as record librarian and left in September 1997 after
23 years. I think I was Programmes Co-Ordinator by then. I
am still in touch with almost all my ex-colleagues (I
joined Radio 2 after leaving BRMB and I am still at the
BBC). Even though I’ve been with the BBC for over 14
years, BRMB will always be my spiritual home – it was a
very special place and we were, and continue to be, a
Thanks for the lovely
Lynne Holden [December
From Jon Dell:
Just to say a big thank
you for putting the Les Ross "Yesterday
recordings on line!
them! Nim Nim Nim!
Terry Hughes writes:
Although I now live in Canada, I was a Black Country kid
and started listening to BRMB in 1976 I think. I was
a Hospital Radio DJ in Dudley and I got to know some of
the presenters including Roger Day, Les Ross, and
others. I am still in touch with Roger Day.
I was on BRMB a few
times myself, as a guest DJ. I have one of those as
an MP3 file (it's me and Roger Day doing a Sunday morning
show in 1982), let me know the best way to send it to you
and you can put it on your site. I also have a Les
Ross breakfast show from 1987. You are welcome to
both files. I also have an MP3 of radio jingles from
the 1970s and there's a lot of Midlands stuff on there.
Congrats on a great
Hi, I was a reporter
and newsreader at BRMB between 1981 and 1984, working
under Brian Sheppard and Colin Palmer. I spent three of my
happiest years working for the station.
[On adding Martin to
the BRMB page] I was hardly up there with the greats like
Les Ross or Ed Doolan - but it gives me particular pride
and pleasure to see myself listed, through your work, as
part of the collective memory of the station, and I still
have some bulletins, jingles and general clips on cassette
tape. If you're interested, I will get them down from the
loft and send them to you.
Thank you for
everything you're doing to keep the BRMB memory alive - it
was a wonderful station and I am very sad that it has
disappeared from the airwaves.
Martin Benedyk (Now
working for The Associated Press in London)
From James Rosson:
Hi Mike, Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the
ILR section of your website. I was inspired to write by
the recent ‘biopic /docudrama about Kenny Everett on BBC 4
which brought back some great memories.
I used to spend a
number of half term holidays in the 1970’s zooming all
over the UK with my father usually delivering parts to the
great British car industry so BRMB was no stranger to the
Ford Cortina’s medium wave only radio. As you well know it
was on 261m (seemingly the ILR frequency of choice) so you
could leave London on the M1 listening to LBC and almost
have an automatic retune to BRMB and then Piccadilly, if
you were heading toward the British Leyland factory in
All those stations were
great and put today’s ‘local’ radio to shame. The dumbing
down of the original ILR network is nothing short of a
disgrace. As for the new digital only stations the less
said the better (with the honourable exception of BBC 6
Music) – and the powers that be are surprised by the lack
of take up … perhaps they haven’t listened to any of it!
I’m now the one behind
the wheel zooming up and down the M1 and I usually take a
pile of CDs to listen to rather than listen to the rubbish
pumped out by Heart and Capital; Can anyone tell me what
‘ownership’ and ‘involvement’ someone living in Cardiff or
Sheffield have of a station called Capital???
It’s interesting to me
how much of Radio 2’s output over the last 10 years at
times sounds so much like the ‘old’ ILR. It’s equally
interesting how they always clean up when the audience
figures are released so it proves those stations were on
the right track.
Keep up the good work.
We hope that this page has brought
back some great memories of some really wonderful
programmes that would have been heard on the Second
City's only Independent Radio station in the 1970's
and 1980's - BRMB
: 261 meters
(1152 kilohertz) medium wave and 94.8 VHF / FM
very grateful thanks to:
(Beacon Radio Manx Radio, Chatsworth Campbell
Media, Isle of Man) - BRMB images.
who provided many interesting details of his,
and other fellow presenters', career details at
BRMB and other radio stations.
(BRMB news 1974 to 1979)
Mike Owen of
Mike Owen Media - http://mikeowenmedia.co.uk/
(BRMB, Free Radio, Orion Media)
David Lloyd (BRMB, Free
Radio, Orion Media)
who provided extra details about his time
and the programmes at BRMB
Subedar for taking the trouble to supply
additional information regarding the Razzamatazz
for additional material.
for additional newsroom names.
Griffiths for additional comments.
John Howard for additional background.
Frazer Sheppard for additional material
Ian Edwards for additional information.
Allan Porter for addition information about the
Howard for Six Of The Best and other
for The Inside Story of BRMB Radio.
Al Cale for
Crump for audio files.
Tang for audio files.
Tucker for audio files.
Young for comments and information.
Julian Watson for audio files.
Terry Hughes for audio files.
Brown for photographs and audio files.
for information and audio files.
Benedyk for information.
Robert Scott for audio recordings.
Graham Hyde for audio recordings.
Grateful thanks to anyone who I may have
forgotten - If I have, please remind me!
to all those involved at BRMB for the fine
entertainment that you have all provided.
Information from David Lloyd - http://davidlloyd-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/brmb-1972-proposals.html