JASON FAULKNER

Jason has recently been kind enough to get in touch with me, explaining how he got involved at Leicester Sound, and what he has been doing since!

My thanks to Jason Faulkner for the info below

It all started when I left school (Rowley Fields) in 1990, I joined Hospital Radio Fox at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. I co-presented a show with Sean Goldsmith on Saturday mornings, as well as fund raise and ward visit. I also joined the YTS scheme at Fosse Studios which taught me how to photograph, video edit and use video cameras.

In 1991 Fosse Studios sent me to Loughborough College to study the media in depth for two years, it was here that I met Leicester Sound’s Ian Phelps, Martin Mitchell and Paul Heatherley (who were the radio tutors). I offered to help them out at Leicester Sound on a voluntary basis at weekends. I started off on the Saturday Sports show helping Paul by answering the phones on ‘Cash for Goals’ as well as helping out doing odd jobs. At the same time I also helped out Martin on the religious show ‘Sunday Sound’ which started at 6am by tech-opping the show. Back then the studio was driven by carts, cd’s and vinyl, so it was a little more involved. I didn’t like climbing to the top of a dark Granville House at 5.30am on a Sunday morning to photocopy the Weather, especially after the ghost stories that I was told by everyone I had met.

In 1992 my YTS course was drawing to a close and my tutors got me a job at the new local Cable TV station that had just opened called ‘Cable 7’ run by LCL Ltd. My main function was to run the in-vision text service, as well as film and edit programmes made by volunteers. I also presented the in-vision continuity links for a while. I started to branch out at Leicester Sound at this point by helping out Mike Salisbury and Kenny Hague on Sundays. For Kenny’s show I would produce snippets of songs that the winner of the ‘High/Low’ game would have to guess (artists/title) to win a prize. I was also running a mobile disco outfit to bring in the spare cash.

Later on I was paid to tech-op the Pepsi Chart on Sundays. It was also around this time that the sustaining service switched from Trent FM to Mercia Sound, and I had to play-out the Bob Brolly Irish music show (which followed the Pepsi Chart) from Reel-to Reel inserting the ads, station idents and news. Sorry if I can’t provide actual dates, but you would probably know them better than I do. Although I only worked at the weekends, I was included in things such as the Christmas parties.

Around 1994 GWR took over the station. I still tech-opped the Charts, but Bob Brolly was replaced by Guy Morris on Mini-Disc which I had to play out. Unlike Bob Brolly, only the links were pre-recorded, not the music which meant I was effectively running the whole show.

In 1995 I was beginning to get bored of Cable 7 and Leicester Sound so I started to do other things, such as work behind the bar at a nightclub called ‘The Meridian’. I also teamed-up with a colleague I had worked with at Cable 7 called David Harris. He approached me wanting to operate an RSL, I told him that If I were to do it then it should have a purpose. At that time Hinckley had just been placed on the Radio Authority’s working list of new licence areas, so we decided that we would apply for the licence under the name Cross Counties Radio.

Later in 1995 I was offered my own show on Leicester Sound, the Saturday evening 6 til 10pm show. I was incredibly nervous the first time I went on air as Leicester City FC were playing that evening, and I knew that a lot of people listened to the sport show on the way home from the match. When I finished the show I would drive to the nightclub and jump behind the bar!

I presented the show for six months (and had a crack at the mid-week late show when someone was ill) until a big satellite dish was installed along with a sophisticated computer playout system. The GWR network link was tested during the chart show (which I was still tech-opping). The first time we let it run it went horribly wrong failing to play idents, instead the GWR idents went out on-air (I still have one of them on tape somewhere). Unfortunately, once the glitches were ironed out I was no longer required to tech-op and was also told that my Saturday evening show was to be replaced by the satellite dish.

At this point I decided that it would be a conflict of interests to run an RSL and work at Leicester Sound doing cover work, so I left (on amicable terms). In January 1996 I also left Cable 7 to concentrate more on my RSL work.

In June 1996 we launched Cross Counties Radio on 87.7FM from a converted loft of a barn at Sketchley Grange near Hinckley. The equipment was loaned from Wire FM in the North West, the presenters were mainly from Nuneaton’s Anker (Hospital) Radio and the music was from my extensive collection.

In November 1996 Cross Counties Radio took to the airwaves again, but this time from newly built studios (including a brand new Sonifex mixing desk) in a converted portacabin on Newtown Road in Nuneaton. The property was owned by Nuneaton and District Newspapers who printed the Heartland Evening News. I was unhappy with 87.7 as a frequency as some advertisers couldn’t receive us, so I demanded a better one from the Radio Authority. We were given 106FM and hired our transmitter kit from SBS.

We placed our transmitter on top of the highest hill in Nuneaton, which happened to have the George Eliot Hospital sited on it. We convinced the hospital to place our mast on top which was linked by a UHF transmitter back to the studio. This site was extremely good for a low powered 25 Watt transmitter. Stereo RDS reception was received in Nuneaton, Hinckley, Atherstone, almost all of Coventry, large parts of Leicester, parts of Rugby, and parts of Burton.

This time the music on the RSL was scheduled (by me) to allow for more variety, and no poor presenter song choices. Our computer ended-up being programmed with around 1300 well known hits from the Motown/Beatles era onwards. I saw the audience figures rise substantially whilst at Leicester Sound when GWR changed the music policy, therefore I adopted a similar principle at my station.

After this RSL we were approached by the Burton Daily Mail to help them apply for the South East Staffordshire licence. This included choosing a name (Staffs FM), conducting market research, holding roadshows and writing the application. The station was 100% owned by the Burton Daily Mail which was led us into public interest test territory. The licence was eventually won by Centre FM.

Whilst we were in the licence application period in 1997 (which was backed by Choice FM and DMGT), I started to do some freelance work for Metro Networks in Birmingham. My first job was the airbourne split shift operating out of East Midlands Airport. I was the broadcaster for Leicester Sound, Northants Radio, Wyvern FM and Choice FM Birmingham. I didn’t like the plane as it was cold and there wasn’t a toilet on board, which fellow broadcasters Johnny and Shirley found very funny one horrible day….

When we were eventually told that Fosseway Radio had won the licence for South West Leicestershire, we had to re-evaluate our direction. Fosseway launched specifically targeting Hinckley and not mentioning Nuneaton. We saw this as a good path to go down.

In November 1998 I moved to London taking on a full-time editorial job with Metro Networks (and some cover broadcasting), as they had just won the contract to supply the BBC stations. Obviously at this time I couldn’t dedicate as much time to the RSL as I would have liked to being in London.

In 1999 our newly named RSL, North Warwickshire Radio (107.4FM) took to the airwaves (for which I had to take time away from Metro). The station was a success and, like the two previous, broke-even at around £15k. Unfortunately, Fosseway changed their TSA at the same time to include Nuneaton, which derailed our plans for a Nuneaton based station. At this point all parties decided to call it a day, close the company and sell the assets (ie the studio).

After all of this, and bearing in mind that I started when I was 16, I decided that I needed a better quality of life in 2000. My radio enthusiasm had waned considerably over the last few years, although I was never overly interested in being on-air. At this point I had been promoted to Senior Editor at Trafficlink London (the new name for Metro), and I started to discover how much fun a social life actually is (Something I missed out on whilst working at Leicester Sound every weekend in my late teens).

In 2003 I changed job to work in the London Traffic Control Centre. It is here where a small group of us literally keep London moving. My job involves communicating with the media the latest travel news. This is the job I am currently doing, and I live in South East London in a flat overlooking the River Thames.

Jason in Thunderbird 1

Jason on Leicester Sound

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