Heart North East

Heart North East is a regional radio station owned and operated by Global as part of the Heart network. It broadcasts to North East England from studios in Newcastle.

Heart North East
The Heart Network logo.svg
CityNewcastle upon Tyne
Broadcast areaNorth East England
BrandingThis is Heart
SloganTurn up the Feel Good!
FormatAdult contemporary
First air date
  • 1 September 1994 (1994-09-01) (as Century)
  • 30 March 2009 (as Real Radio)
  • 6 May 2014 (as Heart)
WebcastGlobal Player
Websitewww.heart.co.uk/northeast/ Edit this at Wikidata


Century RadioEdit

Century was based in a building next to the Tyne Bridge Tower for most of its life
The former studios at Team Valley, Gateshead

Century Radio was the first regional station for North East England and also was the first to use the Century brand, which followed a 'personality' format, mixing speech and music. The station was originally based beside the Tyne Bridge in Gateshead, before relocating to Team Valley in 2008 to share a building with fellow GMG Radio stations, Smooth Radio and Rock Radio. The station was originally called Century Radio, before changing its name to Century FM then reverting to the original name in 2008.

The station was set up by Border Television, with John Myers as managing director and John Simons as programme director. Myers presented the breakfast show under the pseudonym of John Morgan. The first song played on air was "A Star is Born".

A 'listener's club' was formed, with parties at locations around the region attended by the station's presenters. The Jingling Gate in Stanley, County Durham was the most common location, but other events were held at the Stadium of Light and the Dolphin Centre in Darlington.

Late-night phone-in presenter Mike 'The Mouth' Elliott once caused controversy by walking out during his show. Elliot took an extended break after this controversy, during which time he appeared in the film Billy Elliot as boxing coach George Watson. He was also fired in January 2000 when bosses claimed that he was intoxicated on air. However, Elliott claims that he was "stoned out of his tree" on Benylin while trying to fight off a heavy cold. He was reemployed when Capital Radio took over the station.[1]

Ex-Metro Radio presenter Steve Colman's highly marketed introduction to the breakfast show was very unpopular, and he was sacked after just three weeks in August 1996. It was revealed that audiences had decreased rapidly, and businesses had threatened to pull their advertising. Colman is now[when?] with Smooth Radio.

Jeff Stephenson replaced Myers as Managing Director, and John Caine replaced Simons. Simons left the station for Talksport, and Myers left Gateshead to concentrate on setting up 105.4 Century FM in Salford and relaunching 106 Century FM in Nottingham.

Border sold the Century brand to GCap Media, and Myers left the group to head GMG Radio, where he set up the similar Real Radio network. Simons rejoined Myers to establish the Real and Smooth FM regional stations. In October 2006 GMG Radio acquired the Century brand from GCap.[1] Paul Smith, a former BBC and commercial radio producer, then joined Century as Programme Controller, and Sales Director Debbie Bowman was promoted to Managing Director. Smith left the company after the current Programme Director Kevin Howard joined the company in September 2007.

Real RadioEdit

On 18 December 2008 it was announced that Century Radio would be re-branded as Real Radio from 30 March 2009.[2]

The station has previously broadcast extensively on football, a passion in the north east, and had a particularly close relationship with both Newcastle United and Middlesbrough. The station began its association with the game with the 1994 launch of 'The Big Mal Football Phone-In' hosted by Teesside presenter and Boro fan Dave Roberts and flamboyant ex-manager Malcolm Allison. The station then signed an exclusive radio rights deal with Middlesbrough FC with Roberts and Allison joined by local BBC broadcaster Ali Brownlee and the resultant 'Roberts & Brownlee Show' was born – a radio show biased in its commentary style towards Middlesbrough, so much so that Roberts was attacked in his commentary position by a disgruntled Newcastle fan at half time during a Tyne Tees derby at St James's Park.

Two famous ex-players for local sides, Malcolm Macdonald, who played for Newcastle United and Bernie Slaven, who played for Middlesbrough, presented the Legends Football Phone-In on weekday evenings, alongside ex-Sunderland player Eric Gates, and latterly, FA Cup Final 1973 winner Micky Horswill. Live match commentaries on Newcastle United and Sunderland matches aired until the end of the 2010-11 season.[3] The Legends Football Phone In was dropped following the end of the 2011-12 season.[4] The phone-in later moved to Star Radio North East and several community radio stations but was axed within a year.[5]


On 25 June 2012, it was announced Global (the owner of stations such as Capital and Heart) had bought GMG Radio. The former GMG stations, including Real Radio, were placed under a hold separate company known as Real and Smooth Limited.[6][7]

As of 5 November 2012, the station's local programming consisted of a daily breakfast and weekday drivetime shows from Newcastle upon Tyne with most non-peak output broadcast from Salford Quays.[8]

On 6 February 2014, Global announced it would be rebranding all Real Radio stations as Heart.[9] Real Radio North East began a gradual transition to the Heart branding on 24 March 2014. The Real Radio branding was phased out a month later ahead of a full relaunch as Heart North East on 6 May 2014.[10] Around the time of the rebrand, the station's audience share was 3.8% (as of June 2014).

Gary Philipson and Lisa Shaw presented their final breakfast show in December 2014 after almost five years at the station.[11] Justin Lockwood and Kelly Scott were promoted from the drivetime show and replaced the duo. Heart Gloucestershire presenter Tom Campbell joined inturn to takeover from Lockwood and Scott.[12]

In May 2015, Heart North East moved to new studios at new studios at Wellbar Central in Newcastle city centre,[13] shared with sister station Capital North East and Communicorp-owned Smooth North East.

In February 2019, following OFCOM's decision to relax local content obligations from commercial radio, Global announced it would replace Heart North East's local breakfast and weekend shows with networked programming from London.[14]

Breakfast presenters Justin Lockwood and Kelly Scott,[15][16] alongside drivetime presenter Tom Campbell left the station in May 2019, with the latter joining wrestling-centric YouTube channel Cultaholic.[17]

As of 3 June 2019, the station's local output consists of a three-hour Drivetime show on weekdays, alongside local news bulletins, traffic updates and advertising.[18]


All networked programming originates from Global's London headquarters, including Heart Breakfast, presented each weekday by Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden.

Regional programming is produced and broadcast from Global's Newcastle studios from 4-7pm on weekdays,[19] presented by Emil Franchi.


Global's Newcastle newsroom broadcasts hourly regional news bulletins from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays and from 6 am to 12 pm at weekends - including two ten-minute weekday programmes, Heart Morning News at 6 am and Heart Nightly News at 6:45 pm - and headlines on the half hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows.[19]

National news updates air hourly from Global's London headquarters at all other times.

Notable former presentersEdit


  1. ^ Mike Elliott interview Archived 25 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine lindisfarne.co.uk
  2. ^ "End of an Era for Century". Radio Today. 18 December 2008. After 15 years in the North East, and a decade in the North West of England, Century Radio is to be re-branded as Real Radio, to match sister stations in Yorkshire, Wales and Scotland.
  3. ^ Real Radio drops Newcastle Sunderland Radio Today, 13 June 2011
  4. ^ Legends programme changes, Real Radio North East, 23 July 2012
  5. ^ "Star Radio boss leaves, Legends cancelled". Radio Today. 9 October 2013. News of the station axing the Legends appeared online this evening. One of the Legends, Bernie, has written on his website that the station has been struggling to make the show pay since it started 12 months ago. The show had previously been on Real Radio (Century) for 13 years.
  6. ^ Sweney, Mark (25 June 2012). "GMG Radio sold to Global for around £70m". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  7. ^ Global Radio seals £50m purchase of GMG Radio Maisie McCabe, Media Week, 25 June 2012
  8. ^ http://www.mediauk.com/radio/discussions/radio-chatter/real-radio-to-network-daytimes
  9. ^ Martin, Roy (6 February 2014). "Communicorp buys 8 Global stations". Radio Today. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Real Radio starts Heart transformation". Radio Today. 24 March 2014. Stations in the Real network are now using Heart’s voice over and identifying as “The Heart of” followed by the TSA.
  11. ^ "Gary and Lisa to leave Heart North East Breakfast". Radio Today. 3 December 2014. Heart North East’s Breakfast presenter Gary Philipson and Lisa Shaw are leaving the station at the end of this month, RadioToday can reveal.
  12. ^ "Justin and Kelly take over Heart North East Breakfast". Radio Today. 9 December 2014. Heart North East is moving Justin Lockwood and Kelly Scott from drivetime to the breakfast show, as replacement for Gary and Lisa.
  13. ^ "Global moves to new studios in the North East". Radio Today. 22 May 2015. The new facilities are on the 7th floor of Wellbar Central on Gallowgate in Newcastle city centre, just next to the St James’ Park football ground.
  14. ^ "Global to network Capital, Heart and Smooth breakfast shows". Radio Today. 26 February 2019. Heart will get a single breakfast show across England, Scotland and Wales on all stations owned by Global and Communicorp in the coming months – putting an end to the current line-up of 22 breakfast shows and their teams. And instead of 23 separate drivetime shows, there will be 10 covering the enlarged areas.
  15. ^ Duke, Simon (29 April 2019). "Heart North East breakfast presenters Justin & Kelly confirm they're leaving as show goes national". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle upon Tyne: Reach. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  16. ^ Duke, Simon (22 May 2019). "Heart North East Breakfast presenters Justin and Kelly prepare to host final show". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle upon Tyne: Reach. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  17. ^ https://cultaholic.com/author/tom-campbell/
  18. ^ Martin, Roy (29 April 2019). "Amanda Holden to join Jamie Theakston for Heart UK Breakfast". Radio Today. Jamie and Amanda will replace 21 breakfast shows on stations from Exeter to Edinburgh – meaning around 70 presenters and producers being taken away from the slot. Amanda is a replacement for Emma Bunton who left the show last year. Some breakfast presenters will be leaving the network, and some will move to drivetime, replacing the current drivetime shows.
  19. ^ a b Heart North East public file
  20. ^ West, Gillian (8 March 2013). "Boots UK launches radio and online programme hosted by Kate Thornton". The Drum. Retrieved 11 March 2013.

External linksEdit