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
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