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Coventry & Warwickshire Radio

By Mike Smith

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BBC CWR - Now you're talking!

A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT BBC CWR - Coventry And Warwickshire Radio

In the late 1980's and early 1990's the BBC opened up one or two new radio stations in areas that were unserved or underserved by BBC local radio.  New areas outlined in 1988 were Surrey and Berkshire (Radio Surrey and Berkshire), Suffolk (Radio Suffolk), Wiltshire (Wiltshire Sound) and Warwickshire (Radio Warwickshire).

The 'Radio Warwickshire' working title was changed to CWR by the time the station launched in January 1990.  The name CWR (Coventry and Warwickshire Radio) reflected the wider area that the new station would cover, incorporating the city of Coventry with the whole of the county of Warwickshire.

CWR flyer

Above is a promotional flyer that was distributed by the new station in the weeks before its launch in January 1990

The CWR Launch Leaflet proclaimed:

A new kind of local radio is coming your way soon - a station more local, more in tune with you and yours, than any other station on your radio.

BBC CWR will be a new service for the people of Coventry and Warwickshire, providing news, views, information and entertainment 18 hours a day.

We'll offer the best radio service on local sport, with a wide range of music in the finest quality stereo. Our presenters will be friendly, helpful and fully geared to providing the kind of radio you'll enjoy and come to depend on.

We'I 1 provide real local radio for a great city and for the towns and villages of a fine county. Our main studio centre is in Coventry. We'll also have studios in Atherstone, Nuneaton, Rugby, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick. And our radio cars will be heard from all the places in between.

BBC CWR ... a really useful radio service caring for Coventry and working for Warwickshire ... coming soon on your radio.

BBC CWR ... now you're talking ......



  CWR  - For Coventry And Warwickshire - THE STUDIO LOCATIONS

Main Studio Centre

25 Warwick Road

Leamington Spa studio

Town Hall
Leamington Spa
CV32 4AC

Other Studios at:

Atherstone - Nuneaton - Rugby - Warwick - Stratford Upon Avon - Stoneleigh



Below is an examle of daily programmes from CWR.  The schedule below, however, is not the launch schedule, but a later one.  Now legendary broadcaster, Jon Gaunt, later took over the breakfast show with his fast, talk based programme.  In a recording that can be downloaded below you can hear Jon Gaunt  and his many callers arguing the case for retaining CWR as it faced closure in 1995.


6.00am  -  Pete Sylvester  -  Start the day with music, news and travel

7.00am  -   Jim Lee  -  News, talking points, travel, weather and entertainment

10.00am  -  Maurice Dee (Moz or Mozza to us) & Stevie Price -  Music, fun, comment, people and places

12 noon  -   Anna King  -  Local issues, family matters and people in the news each lunchtime

2.00pm   -  Charles Hodkinson  - Across the county with people and places

4.00pm   -  Duncan Stanworth  -  News of the day with. music and travel bulletins

7.00pm  -  Ridanne Sheridan  -  FEM FM
8.00pm  -  Olenka Booth  -  Poles Apart

7.00pm  -  Maurice Dee  -  Irish Extra

7.00pm  -  Mo Adams  -  East In West

7.00pm  -  Mo Adams  -  East In West

7.00pm  -  Ian Harris  -  Grapevine

9.00pm John Taynton    Guests, talking points and the evening phone-in on 021 432 2000

Midnight Radio 2

7.05am  -  Ridanne Sheridan  -  News, features and what's ons this weekend
9.30am  -  Bob Sinfield & Di Houlder  -  Fun and entertainment
12 noon  -  Steve Woodall  -  Musical Memories
2.00pm  -  John Roder  -  Sportsround
6.05pm   -  John Platt  -  Network Gold with 60s, 70s and 80s music
7.30pm   -  Sophie Everitt  -  Calabash - Africo-Caribbean news
9.00pm   -  Tony Stephens  -  Roots Rock Reggae

7.00am  -  lan Harris  -  Sunday Supplement - religious  news and issues

9.00am   -  Bob Sinfield  -  Music and Humour

11.00am  -  Pete Sylvester  -  Pick Of The Week

12 noon   -  Maurice Dee  -  Irish Round-Up with news and views for and from the Irish community
2.00pm  - Classic Hits  -  Non-stop music
4.00pm   -  John Roder  -  Cricket Special
7.00pm   -  SNORT  -  20 and 30 somethings having a grin

9.00pm   -  Sarnantha Meah's Sunday Night Party

11.00pm  -  Frank Stewart  -  Gospel Hour

Midnight as Radio Two


Monday to Friday
Every hour and at 7.30am, 8.30am, 9.30am, 12.30pm, 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm
Extended news at 7am, 8am, 1 pm, 5pm and 6pm

Every hour until 1.00pm and at 7.30am and 8.30am

News every hour until 1 pm


Monday to Friday Every 10 - 15 minutes 6.45am ~ 9.15am and 4.15pm 6.35pm and one minute to the hour 9am, 1 Ocim, 11 am, 12 noon, 1 pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 7pm Saturday 7.50am, 8.50am, 9.50am, 10.50am. 11.50om and 12.50pm Sunday 9.40am, 10.40am, 5.15pm, 5.45pm, 6.15pm and 6.45pm

Tel. No: 0203 559911
Phone In: 0203 231231
Fax: 0203 520080

(Enquiries, please ring Clare Hill, ext. 202)

Example Programme Schedule



Tuning Guide



The BBC initially provided two powerful transmitters for CWR to cover the whole of the county.  A 2.2 kilowatt transmitter at an existing tower at Meriden provided the north of the region with good signals on 94.8 MHz vhf / fm..  (Incidentally,  this is a frequency that was previously used in the Midlands by ILR station BRMB Radio, until it was moved to 96.4 in 1987).

The south Warwickshire area received good service from a strong 1.4 kilowatt transmitter located at an existing television relay site on a hill at Lark Stoke, just south west of Stratford Upon Avon.  This transmitter used 103.7 MHz vhf / fm.

A small pocket of poor reception in Nuneaton was later resolved by adding a low power relay transmitter on 104.0 MHz vhf / fm for the town.



The map above is CWR's guide to finding the best frequency for your area within Warwickshire and Coventry

BBC map
The official coverage area from the transmitters as provided by the BBC
transmissions department



From day one BBC CWR faced strong competition from the independent local radio (ILR) stations in the area.  Mercia Sound had been an outstanding success since its own launch ten years earlier in 1980.  XTRA AM, a new split - of station from the owners of Mercia Sound, Midlands Radio ltd, had also become hugely popular with audiences since its launch a year earlier in 1989. 

CWR seemed to find it difficult to compete for the very large audiences built up by Mercia and Xtra, it was, however, well respected and highly regarded with its regular audience.

The BBC, under Director General John Birt, deemed that CWR was not sufficently successful in audience terms to warrant its continuation, and in February 1995 it was decided to merge the station with neighbouring BBC local station BBC Radio WM in Birmingham.  The Coventry and Warwickshire part of the merged operation would be known as "BBC Coventry And Warwickshire" and this would operate as an opt-out service from BBC WM in Birmingham.

Regular listeners were hugely disappointed and phoned the station in large numbers to protest about the decision.  It is fair to say that there was an outcry from the local population about the loss of their local radio service.  Although Mercia FM and Xtra AM were popular radio stations, over the years they had bcome diluted; Mercia and Xtra had been taken over from 'Midlands Radio plc' by GWR in Swindon.  Xtra AM had beeen replaced by a mostly piped-in quasi-national networked radio service from remote studios somewhere else in the UK to become Classic Gold 1359.  Mercia FM had become a simple pop 'juke-box'.  This left CWR as the only serious LOCAL RADIO STATION - and now the BBC were effectively going to close the station.  A huge disappointment.

The new opt-out name itself of "BBC Coventry and Warwickshire" was dropped a few years later and all programmes from the Coventry and Warwickshire transmitters were carried under the BBC WM banner.

A Reinstatement of local programmes:

In 2003 the then Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke, announced that Coventry and Warwickshire was again to have its own BBC Local Radio Station, and admitted that the closure of BBC CWR by the former Director General, Jon Birt, had been a mistake.

The new BBC station for Coventry and Warwickshire - BBC COVENTRY & WARWICKSHIRE - started broadcasting in autumn 2005.   You can find the new BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on 94.8 & 103.7 MHz VHF / FM, of course!

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