jump to navigation

Radio Tees 40 years on May 29, 2009

Posted by memarkpage in Uncategorized.
comments closed

40 years since independent local radio arrived on Teessideradio tees

On 24th June 1975, Teesside woke up to hear commercial radio for the first time, as Radio Tees took to the airwaves. The area was one of the first ten in the UK to get an independent station and it quickly proved to be a success. Within a few years, around half of the one million population between Durham and Ripon were tuning in each week. The company that ran it, Sound Broadcasting Teesside, included many local businessmen and a shareholding by the Evening Gazette.

Lesley Ross presented the station’s first breakfast show, opening with the song Everything’s Tuesday, by the Chairman of the Board. Broadcasting on 257 metres medium wave, before FM became the first choice for listening, the station opened up at 6 AM, with closedown at midnight.

The original line up included David Hoare, Steve Gordon, Alistair Pirrie and Middlesbrough schoolboy Mark Page, who was also the UK’s youngest radio presenter. He says without the opportunity he was given, he would have missed the chance to put Teesside on the map.

“It was a bold move to put a school kid from Kings Manor on the air, but I was there at the birth of commercial radio in the UK. Radio Tees really was a great station and we certainly punched way above our weight in terms of personality and listening figures. The five years I did on the Breakfast Show, allowed me to “Talk Teesside” which no other broadcaster had done before. And the world, or rather Teesside, was my oyster. I had characters like Dennis Brain of the Boro who had a melon farm on Eston Hills with his pal Gormless Gordon. I talked about the Redcar Triangle and the infamous Redcar Holes. Things like this and catchphrases became a talking point. To have been able to do this in my home area was phenomenal. At one stage, one person in two on Teesside was listening in every morning.”

Page was also the longest serving DJ during the station’s history, being there for eight years before he joined BBC Radio One. He later won Britain’s top presenting prize, the Sony Gold for Britain’s Best breakfast Show and several more, including another two gold awards.

However the station faltered after eleven years, with listening figures and sales in decline and the station was bought up by neighbouring Metro on Tyneside, when it was just days from closure. The station then split to become GNR on AM and TFM on FM. So in some ways heritage stops at this point. Radio Tees lasted only 11 years.

Mark said “I’m sure many Teessiders who were around to listen to the station, remember what a positive effect it had on the area and the novelty of hearing your area, even your road on the air, was pretty ground-breaking.”