CENTRE RADIO 1981-1983
Thanks to Doug Sharrard for the above image
Centre Radio was Leicestershire's first commercial radio station. It launched on 7th September 1981, in a blaze of publicity. Adverts were placed in the Leicester Mercury for several days preceding the launch, and the station appeared at many local events during August and September 1981. Also, to build people's interest, in the weeks before launch Timmy Mallett started to go up and down London Road on his rollerskates!
A two page spread appeared in the Leicester Mercury on Wednesday 2nd September 1981.
Thanks to Mark Williams for the last two sound clips
Timmy Mallett at Centre Radio
Thanks to Mark Williams for the above photo
The station launched during a recession which was happening in Britain in the early 1980's. Centre had spent £600,000 out of their £750,000 launch budget renovating a 19th century house near Victoria Park in Leicester, which they had bought, and added studios to at the rear of the house. New broadcasting equipment was bought and installed as well, this alone came to £300,000. A local architect was commisioned for the building work, and a plauque bearing their name is still there to this day. This building, Granville House, on Granville Road in Leicester, was Centre's headquarters throughout the whole of it's life.
Granville House, Granville Road, Leicester LE1 7RW
Thanks to Jim Forsyth for the above image
The recession, and the expense that Centre had gone to renovating their premesies, hit the station hard. Another problem they had was attracting listeners, as the local BBC station, BBC Radio Leicester, had been on air since 1967, and many listeners stayed loyal to the BBC.
The station had already recorded a pre operating loss of £121,000 after it's first few weeks on air (the first accounts were released on September 30th 1981) but this was put down to the setting up expenses. A loss of £85,000 was expected in the first year, but the station recorded a loss of £255,000 in the accounts for the year ending 30th September 1982. By this time, the first Managing Director, Mr Ken Warburton (later to be Programme Controller at East Midlands regional station Radio 106 FM) and News Editor David Robey had left.
During 1983, the financial situation continued to worsen, but Centre was expected to make a profit in the end of year accounts. When these were released, in September 1983, this was not the case. The station was losing money fast, and on October 5th, an offer was made by Cresnote, a company formed by Mr Geoffrey Pointon, who had resigned from the board of Centre Radio, made a bid to take over the station. This was accepted by the board, but blocked by the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) who said that a major restructuring like this would mean that the licence would have to be re-advertised, as the structure of the company would change.
Following this news, a board meeting was held on the morning of October 6th 1983, at which the decision was taken to cease trading. The company's accountants were informed and receivers arrived at Granville House at 12.30pm. At 1.00pm, Tony Cook read the news bulletin which contained only one story, the board of Leicester and Leicestershire Local Radio plc (the company that owned Centre) was taking it off the air. You can download that bulliten below.
Thanks to Martyn Metzner for the above clip
The staff had been told before that bulletin was read that their contracts had been terminated. Most spent the next few minutes packing their belongings and leaving Granville House as fast as they could, as the receivers were making notes of everything that was in the building in order to pay creditors. At 2.00pm, the doors of Granville House were locked.
Following the bulliten, the station broadcast continuous music for a few hours, whilst further news was awaited. But there was no more, the station could not be saved, and at 5.30pm the music was stopped and the station went off the air, and 238 metres on the medium wave, and 97.1 VHF in stereo went silent, but not for good..........
Following Centre's closure, Radio Trent in Nottingham put forward a proposal for them to provide a temporary service for Leicester from November 1st 1983. To be called Leicester Sound, this service would have output from Leicester for 12 hours a day on weekdays and 6 hours at weekends, for a period of 1 year, whilst the IBA readvertised the franchise. This proposal was accepted by the IBA but blocked by the unions.
As a result, the IBA readvertised the franchise on October 31st, when the following advertisement appeared in the Leicester Mercury.
To find out what happened next, click here.
The clips below demonstrate what Centre Radio sounded like.
Thanks to Martyn Metzner and Doug Sharrard for the above clips
If you have any information about Centre Radio, or feel that the information stated here is incorrect then please mail me
The clips included here are to demonstrate what Centre Radio sounded like. No infringements of any copyrights is intended. If you feel that I have infringed your copyright on these clips then please let me know and the offending clip will be removed from this website immediately.