I first met Julian when we were putting together the Sunset application and he suggested that Trans World Communications would like to be a part of it. That did not happen as we at Sunset, wished to have no link with any other station broadcasting in Manchester at the time.
After winning the licence, BBC GMR, where I was working at the time, immediately refused to let me present any more shows. This was a pretty big story in the Manchester area and within a couple of days, I was approached by the programme controller of Piccadilly, Mike Briscoe who suggested that I might like to present some shows on their newly launched KEY 103fm service. The Managing Director at Piccadilly at the time was Julian Allitt.
Fast forward 3 years. Julian wins the IR licence for the Lancaster and Morecambe area and is about to launch The BAY. As a man who always has an eye on the main chance, he is also applying for the Manchester licence, which is advertised after the demise of Sunset Radio.
He contacts me to see if I would be interested in being a part of the FIRE group to try and win the Manchester licence. I agree and also suggest that I was the man to get him a decent mid morning audience on The BAY.
After a couple of days, we have a meeting, agree terms and I am now working at The BAY.
My first visit to The BAY was enough to put anyone off. The station is situated on the quay side in Lancaster and prior to my arrival there, it had been raining almost constantly. The road outside was flooded and only suitably placed sandbags were preventing the water from actually entering The BAY. Chief engineer Rod Whelan had all the floorboards up and there was building work going on everywhere.
I had experienced the launch of a new station with Sunset so I was not totally surprised. This was my first meeting with Programme Controller Kenni James, whom I had known for a few years previously.
Kenni, back in the old days, was very into soul and had presented the soul show on BBC Radio Merseyside while I was doing the same in Manchester. We had bumped into each other on a number of occasions at the regular gigs that we attended through out the NorthWest and also regularly at the various record shops in Manchester and Warrington. The discussions about the job were very quick and I was made mid morning presenter and Head of Promotion.
The Head of Sales was Rosemary Beale and along with Kenni and Julian this would be the Management team. In truth there was only one member of the Management team and that was Julian but we all understood that. The BAY was launched at 8am on 1st March 1993 by Commander Jim Boyd of the Royal Navy Submarine HMS Vanguard.
The launch morning of The BAY was a truly glorious affair with all the great and the good in the broadcast area and friends in the broadcasting industry getting together for the launch breakfast. Local TV cameras were in attendance and an in-house video was produced.
The first presenter on air was the excellent Carl Greenwood. The full weekday line-up was Carl Greenwood on breakfast (6 – 10), Mike Shaft on mid morning (10-2), Kenni James on drive (2-6). The drive time show was followed by 1 hour of non stop classic hits and then the evening show. (7-12). Because of the vast experience of all the presenters, this was not at all like the launch of a new station; it was as if we had always been there.
There were very few cock-ups and by the end of that first day, all the staff and management were very pleased and we were very, very relieved. The BAY arrived on the airwaves of the Morecambe Bay area like a breath of fresh air. The audience, who were accustomed to BBC local radio, had not known anything like it.
The music was sensational, Kenni, who also looked after the music made sure that all the big songs were there under the tag line of ‘Classic Hits on The BAY’. Local information was provided by the Bay Bugle, a what’s on guide which featured as much information as we could about happenings in the local community.
As someone who has always believed in local radio, it was a truly wonderful time for me, and the launch party which the public were invited to, took place at the Empire in Morecambe. To this day, it still remains one of the biggest things the station has ever been involved in.
In its first appearance in national research, The BAY achieved a reach of 37% and a market share of 22% which made it the clear market leader in the area. This was well ahead of the nearest competitors BBC Radio2 with 14.4% and Red Rose with 7.9%.
The Bay was the station of the Morecambe Bay area and in a very short time we had persuaded the listeners that we were THE station to listen to. From Lancaster to Barrow and everywhere inbetween there was now an exciting professional station to listen to.
The BAY had arrived.
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