95 VHF Stereo and 257 metres (1170 kHz) medium wave ... The Sound of Home
|Broadcast area||North East England (Teesside, parts of County Durham and North Yorkshire)|
|Frequency||257 metres MW; 95 VHF|
|First air date||24 June 1975|
|Owner||Sound Broadcasting (Teesside) Ltd website = http://www.radiotees.co.uk/|
Broadcasting on 257 metres medium wave from the converted Water Board buildings at 74 Dovecot Street, Stockton-on-Tees, Radio Tees was launched at 6 am on 24 June 1975 by Les Ross. By the autumn of that year Radio Tees was also broadcasting on 95 VHF, the first radio station in the area to offer the clarity of FM transmissions.
Marketing itself as 'A Friend Who's Always Near' and 'The Sound of Home', Radio Tees offered unique and distinctive local output with a wide variety of programming and an emphasis on community involvement. Many of its presenters, such as Alastair Pirrie, Mark Page, John Simons, Mark Matthews and Graham Robb, derive from the local area.
Alongside specialist Soul, Blues and Country music shows, Radio Tees programmes included the hi-fi show 'Sounds Superb', the motoring show 'Sidelight' and the holiday show 'Trains and Boats and Planes' where Radio Tees presenters would travel to destinations around the world and record reports interviewing local people and giving tourist advice and information. Radio Tees was also a presence at many local events, regularly broadcasting from the Cleveland and Darlington Shows, the Teesside Air Show and the Teesside Steel Family Gala. The station often organized its own outside broadcast events as well, many of which took place in John Walker Square, just off Stockton-on-Tees High Street. For a few months during 1985 Radio Tees even had its own traffic 'flying eye', a light aircraft kept at Teesside Airport (now renamed Durham Tees Valley Airport), from which Graham Robb reported on traffic conditions and which featured daily on John Simons' breakfast show.
One of the best remembered programmes from Radio Tees' 13-year history was Late On, presented by Graham Robb, which ran from 10 pm to 1 am every weekday evening in 1984. The show featured characters such as Rita the cleaner, Mad Tom the handyman, Ginger Johnson (ex-RAF) and Superstar Cecil the proprietor of 'The Balloon and Feather' pub. Around this time, the station also briefly experimented with over the air software downloads for popular home computers, usually broadcasting them over the air after Robb's show finished at 1am.
Radio Tees also met and interviewed many well known artists over the years both in mainstream and specialist music genres including soul music legend Bobby Womack interviewed in 1985 by the then Nightlife Show presenter, Mike Prior.
By the mid-1980s Radio Tees found itself in financial difficulties and in 1986 its parent company, Sound Broadcasting (Teesside) Ltd, was bought by Metropolitan Broadcasting or the Metro Radio group as it was known as it owned Metro Radio in Newcastle upon Tyne. In November 1986 Radio Tees moved its FM frequency to 96.6 in a direct swap with BBC Radio Cleveland. The station was re-branded as TFM in January 1988 in an attempt to provide it with a more modern image. In April 1989 its 257 metres, 1170 kHz medium wave frequency was split and this became Great North Radio (GNR). In 1992 TFM vacated its old Dovecot Street studios and moved to new, purpose-built studios in Thornaby-on-Tees. In 1998 Metropolitan Broadcasting was taken over by EMAP; 'TFM' was renamed '96.6 TFM' and brought into EMAP's north of England Independent Local Radio Big City Network. In 2007, Emap renamed the station from 96.6 TFM, to TFM Radio.
Presenters subsequent successesEdit
Some former Radio Tees presenters have gone on to work in the UK national media including Mark Page, who briefly worked as a presenter for BBC Radio 1 in the 1980s, Roger Lewis, who was Head of Music at BBC Radio 1 and is now Managing Director of ITV Wales, and Alex Lester, who has presented the 3 am – 6 am show on BBC Radio 2 from 1990 to 2016. Brian Anderson moved to Scotland to oversee programmes at the launch of Moray Firth Radio, and now presents a weekend programme on Aberdeen's Original 106. The late Alastair Pirrie - host of afternoon show Pirrie PM - which was part of the opening day’s schedule and ran for several years - “The Big P on the Big T” , went on to host cult Tyne Tees TV kids’ pop show Razzamatazz with a young Lisa Stansfield between 1981-87.
It is in the area of news and sport though, that Radio Tees has appeared on the CV's of many well known figures in the UK broadcasting industry: The inaugural news editor Bill Hamilton became a senior correspondent for BBC TV. Kent Barker became a reporter with BBC Radio and Home Affairs Correspondent for Channel Four News. Libby Fawbert joined the World at One and was an occasional presenter of the PM programme on BBC Radio 4. David Stevenson went to Piccadilly Radio before joining BBC Radio’s Today and World Tonight programmes. John Andrew had a career with BBC Radio News. Kate Fawcett worked for BBC Radio Scotland. Peter Bowes was BBC Los Angeles Correspondent, Kim Barnes a BBC Television News reporter, Jeff Stelling Sky Sports presenter, Helen Boaden Director of BBC News, and Mark Mardell BBC Europe Editor.