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UK Radio History - 1970s

 

Although UK Radio did not begin official programmes until January 24th 1978 the station's history dates back to 1977 when the first test transmissions began, and this is where we begin the story...

 

1977

In the summer of 1977 Paul Johnson and a former member of the station Doug Neilson began experiments with several transmitter designs available at that time with a view to starting a local hit-music station in the Wolverhampton area. Most of the experiments and circuit designs proved to be totally unsuitable because of either a lack of range, instability or poor modulation, or in some cases all three. However, despite these drawbacks and many hours of soldering and re-soldering, scrapping the one circuit and testing another eventually towards the end of 1977 some success was achieved and in November of that year the first test transmissions commenced one evening on 225 metres medium wave, 1332 kHz. The first tests were just continuous music put out so that Paul Johnson and Doug Neilson could go out and test the coverage of the new transmitter. Several adjustments were made to the basic transmitter design over the next couple of months aimed at improving the range of the signal and tests were carried out nightly from 7 till 10pm. By December it was found that a signal having a range of approx 1 mile had been achieved and so it was decided at that point to set up the first studio and set about getting the station on the air with proper programming and so with that thought 1977 drew to a close.

1978

In January 1978 the first studio was set up using an old Rigonda record deck and very crude mixer put together by Paul Johnson and Doug Neilson. Following this the studio was connected to the transmitter and the first announced tests took place under the name of UK Radio 225. It was decided to eventually commence programming on a nightly basis on 24th January 1978 and this was indeed what happened.

On the night the station began broadcasting it was a very exciting feeling as we felt that we were starting something very unique and original, tthose early days were great fun and I still have them among my fondest memories. So at 7pm on the 24th January we opened the station with the first record being played, Uptown Top Ranking by Althia and Donna and then Native New Yorker by Odyssey. The first announcement made was welcome to UK Radio 225 on 225 metres on the medium wave band my names Paul Johnson and it's great to be here with some great music.

Paul Johnson was 17 at that time, and following him was David Jarvis. David presented regular programmes on the station untill 1985. Then finally on that first day was Pete Winfield who left the station to pursue catering later the same year.

Following the first day of programmes a schedule was drawn up with Paul Johnson Station Manager presenter and assistant engineer, David Jarvis presenter, Pete Winfield and Doug Neilson as chief engineer. Doug Neilson left the station in 1980 when Paul Johnson took over a chief engineer and has been ever since. Programmes continued on a nightly basis and had a range of a few streets at that time. The programmes went out between 7 and 10pm Monday to Thursday and 7 till 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Some of the early programmes on UK were the UK Top 20 on Tuesday and Friday nights with David Jarvis, the Steady Pogo Show every Thursday night which used to feature an hour of the then trendy latest Punk Rock music. Also there was the Disco Inferno show on Saturday nights and the B-side show on Sundays. The station continued to braodcast in this way every day without many breaks throughout most of 1978 and although the range of the station was short we did build up a nightly audience in the area.

In October 1978 Paul Johnson and Doug Neilson set about getting the station on VHF FM. This was decided because our signal on medium wave suffered considerable interference after dark from foreign stations on the same frequency of 225m MW. This at times caused a heterodyne or whistle which was a severe problem. The first VHF FM transmitter was constructed between October and December 1978 and was set on a frequency of 104 MHz. The transmitter had a power output of 1 watt which was fed into a quarter wave telescopic aerial giving a range of about 1 mile which was much better than we achieved on medium wave at this time. the first tests on VHF FM occured in December 1978 and this is how 1978 drew to a close.

1979

January 1979 saw the station open up our new FM service and Doug Neilson also began presenting regular shows including the oldies show which was the first one on UK Radio. In March we were also joined by several new members who also began presenting regular programmes.

The station soon settled down to a regular schedule and because of our appearance on FM we did pull in a few more listeners. Also in 1979 work began on a new studio which was completed in June and went into service in September. However unfortunately the station was about to enter a period of turmoil caused by some members of the station leaving over disagreements between Doug Neilson and David Jarvis. These disagreements persisted for several months and basically consisted of Doug stating that he would not present programmes if David remained a member of the station. Because of this Doug took the FM transmitter from us and we had to close down until a new FM transmitter could be built. So in September 1979 UK Radio closed down and this could well have been the end of the story but it was not.

 

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