Tuesday, 3 June 2014


It's 1979 and politically Britain ends the decade as it started with economic, political and industrial turmoil and a change of government. Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives are elected to power, while in Iran, their is an Islamic Revolution and the Shah is exiled. In the north east of England, listeners were kept fully informed by Metro's newsoom.


As the seventies gave way to the eighties, the north east, Britain and indeed the world were changing dramatically. It was one of history's turning points.

In the United Kingdom, the Winter of Discontent marked by industrial unrest gave way to a new government in the spring led by Margaret Thatcher with new economics based on the free market and deregulation. There was a religious revolution in Iran where the Shah was deposed and uncertainties in the Middle East led to a second major global oil price shock. In southern Africa the winds of change and a bush war led to the crumbling of illegal white minority rule in one of Britain's few remaining colonies, Rhodesia. The country would become Zimbabwe in 1980, the Prime Minister Ian Smith being replaced with a new president, Robert Mugabe in democratic elections. Pressure was intensified on the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the civil war flared again in the Lebanon, with its capital, Beirut crumbling.
Old industries such as coal and steel were to decline in the eighties and with a major recession the economic landscape of the region and of Britain in general would change forever.  The Cold War intensified as the United States elected Ronald Reagan as President and the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc were labelled "the evil empire". And NASA's space shuttle was to make trips to space easier, if not routine. 

And it wasn't just the international climate that was cold. Britain and the north east endured some of the coldest winters on record in 1979, 1980 and 1981. In the north east whole communities were left isolated as power supplies and roads were cut, and motorists were stranded in snowdrifts on the A68 at Consett in County Durham. At Balmoral in Scotland temperatures finally plummeted to -27'C.

The good news that we were all entertained at the Odeon and the ABC Cinemas with three great Roger Moore Bond movies such as Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. Then there was Alien with Sigourney Weaver and on television Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Brideshead Revisited, Spitting Image, Breakfast Time and TV-am. Oh... and Britain's fourth analogue television channel, proposed for so long was finally opened on November 2, 1982:

And throughout it all, Metro's newsroom kept listeners fully informed locally, nationally and internationally.

Having put our latest recordings into context, it's time to have another nostalgia trip back to the cusp of the eighties with two of Metro Radio’s programmes from the time thanks to Neil Siddaway of Middlesbrough, Teesside. Neil has lovingly taped these programmes and most importantly has kept them all this time, and has indeed built up a superb audio archive! We're going to listen to an Easter Monday Bank Holiday edition of Steve King's Mid Day Music Explosion from 1979 and a 1980 edition of Giles Squire's Sunday Oldies Explosion from 1980.
Presenter of the Mid Day Music Explosion,
Metro Radio's Steve King.

As usual, enjoy these programmes and if you have any material you would like to share via the Metro Radio 261MW 97VHF Tribute Website, no matter what the quality (we have ways of digitally cleaning it up!), then please don't hesitate this friendly historical website. We are starting to gain thousands of visitors many of whom are listeners and former presenters, and any material you possess I'm sure would bring nostalgic memories flooding back!

Submitting material couldn't be easier either via e-mail attachment, a free file hosting service or by post. To submit audio visual material and/or your memories or for inquiries, please contact the site here.

Giles Squire's Sunday Oldies Explosion. Air date: 1980. Duration: 24 minutes.

The Mid Day Music Explosion, presented by Steve King. Air date: Easter Monday April 16, 1979. Duration: 51 minutes.
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