Radiowaves Special Feature: The Radio 4U Story

THE RADIO 4U STORY


Chapter Two


At about the same time I joined the school campus newspaper and eventually became the publisher of my own campus journal. Even though as a charity it was not allowed to make any profits, I still got enough out of it to pay for my travels all over western Europe and Turkey.

On one of the last trips, in 1985, I travelled (once again) to London. On a Saturday afternoon, my second day in town, I was sitting in Trafalgar Square chatting to a bloke (Andre) about his HiFi and his job. It turned out that he was involved in a bid for a community radio licence.

She is better known for having been the first woman producer of a pop radio show at the BBC, single-handedly launching the career of Kenny Everett, and she was one of the architects of Radio 1.

The British Government had invited applicants to bid for 21 community radio licences. To support his application Andre and his sponsors (the Central London YMCA) were running an in-house radio station for the YMCA Hotel. This station (CLR) needed a production studio installed, so I got myself a job as engineer and was soon up to my neck in English radio.

Andre introduced me to Angela Bond who, in 1986, was the music adviser at BBC Local Radio HQ. She is better known for having been the first woman producer of a pop radio show at the BBC, single-handedly launching the career of Kenny Everett, and she was one of the architects of Radio 1.

She offered me a clerical position at her office, part-time, just to keep my head above the water, while we at CLR were waiting for the government to grant us a licence. An announcement was expected by everybody at Christmas time. However, 1986 arrived with no news about a licence. By Easter we were told to wait “only a few more weeks”.
One Sunday in June the newspapers dropped a bombshell: the government were postponing their plans indefinitely and a white paper was to be expected in the autumn.

This was the very Sunday that Germany lost the World Cup final but I was offered a free return air ticket to Belfast. I happened to be at a party where an American was giving his non-refundable ticket away because his friend had been run over by a bus and broken his leg while jogging…

As you can probably imagine it did not take more than half a second before I made up my mind, especially as Ireland was the only country in western Europe I had not yet visited