It's March 1989 and Metro Radio's FM and AM output become completely separate radio stations under IBA edict. From the IBA's Burnhope Transmitting station the programmes of Metro FM are carried on 97.1MHz VHF/FM, whilst the directional array at Greenside, Ryton carries the output of Great North Radio (GNR North) on 1152kHz/261 metres Medium Wave/AM.
By the end of the eighties decade the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) started to make plans to cease the practice known in broadcasting circles as simulcasting.

From the start of Independent Local Radio in 1973 most programme contractors had been granted two frequencies, one in the VHF (FM) frequency band and one on the Medium Wave (MF/AM) band. With little exception the same output could be heard on both modes of signal carriage. This simulcasting although regarded as a waste of broadcast radio spectrum now occurred because in the seventies the number of domestic VHF (FM) sets was comparatively low (and stereo receivers uncommon indeed). Most of the public received their radio on Medium Wave and Long Wave sets.

Radio House, Swalwell. By the 1990s, the building was home to both Metro FM and Great North Radio (GNR) North.
The IBA realised that the long term future of the medium really lay with VHF(FM), primarily due to its greater dynamic audio frequency range, its capacity for stereo reception and the comparative lack of interference, especially after dark, when Medium Wave service areas could be reduced by up to seventy five per cent due to the signals of high power foreign stations being reflected back to the ground by the Earth's ionisphere (this was after all the reason why Radio Luxembourg could be received on normal transistor radios hundreds of miles from its transmitter in the Grand Duchy).

It's the mid 1990s, and Metro Radio's premises and car park at Radio House, Longrigg, Swalwell, Gateshead are seen from the air by Metro FM's traffic helicopter Starburst One. Radio House served the station for thirty one years until a move beckoned to the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
It was going to be a while for a critical mass of domestic VHF sets to be purchase, but by the mid eighties most people had access to this superior quality form of reception, which made Independent Local Radio medium wave services rather obsolete and a waste of precious RF spectrum if something different was not being offered on AM.

The late Jim Brown, one of Metro Radio's excellent producers.
By 1988 commercial radio programme contractors were being asked by the IBA to formulate plans for new services on Medium Wave, under the basis of either use the frequency with something different to VHF (FM) or lose it.

Many stations which by then under more relaxed ownership rules had merged into small groups with syndicated output opted to broadcast a "Gold" format alternative to a Top Forty format for younger listeners on VHF (FM), In the case of the Metro Radio Group, their golden oldies service manifested itself as Great North Radio.

The AM/FM Split, Great North Radio (GNR) and the end of simulcasting

GNR broadcast golden oldies with the strapline Forty Years of Hits from the 1950s through to the 1980s. In addition to the end of simulcasting, commercial promotion surrounding the Medium Wave band change, and the band was renamed 'AM'.

Wavelengths in metres (Metro Radio before the of medium wave and VHF/FM had been 261 metres) were dropped in favour of a station's frequency which in the case of 261 metres was 1152 kHz (1151kHz up to the international Geneva Plan frequency changes of November, 1978).

As a result of a buy out by Metropolitan Broadcasting of the Independent Local Radio (ILR) radio franchise holder for the Teesside area, Radio Tees on 257 metres, GNR was launched in March, 1989 to provide a networked output for both the Tyne/Wear area (GNR North) on 1152kHz and the Teesside area (GNR south) on 1170kHz. Programme output was usually the same on both frequencies with opt-outs for local news bulletins and commercial breaks.

Meanwhile, on Metropolitan Broadcasting's north FM frequency serving Tyne and Wear, Metro Radio was re-branded as Metro FM. There was an incremental frequency change to 97.1 MHz FM stereo from the IBA's Burnhope transmitted located close to Lanchester, County Durham (by this time the only output from this once main television transmitter). There was also an increase in power for fringe areas of the service area.

Simultaneously to the south. the company's FM frequency serving Teesside which until the end of simulcasting had carried the output of Radio Tees 257 on 95.0 MHz FM stereo, was changed to 96.6 MHz, again with an increase in power from the main Bilsdale television transmitting station in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Radio Tees was renamed TFM96.60.

Both Metro FM and TFM96.60 were aimed at the younger demographic, with a heeavy emphasis on chart music.  GNR on the other hand was aimed at an older audience.



Specialist programmes on an evening included: 

The Sound Of Beautiful Music - with Ray Anderson, playing orchestral and easy listening

music, Saturdays 7 to 10pm.

The Birthday Bunch - if it was your Birthday, you could hear your name mentioned by daytime presenter Bill Young, weekdays 10.30am.

The Lunch Bunch, with Bill Young or Roger Kennedy.

The Saturday Music Explosion  - all sorts here, hits with themes, one from each decade etc. with Roger Kennedy, Saturdays 12 noon.

Down At The Diner - sixty Minutes of Rock ‘N Roll hits, juke box style, with Bill Young, Saturdays 1pm.

The Sound Of Beautiful Music - orchestral music, and easy listening. Sponsored in part by Windows of the Central Arcade Newcastle. With Ray Anderson,  Saturdays 7pm. 

The Great North Gameshow - presented by Dave Porter with a variety of competitions, contests and music, Fridays and Saturdays 10pm. 

Songs For a New Day - inspirational and easy listening music programme with the Reverend Joe Poulter, Sunday 6am.

The Album Chart  - presented by Steve Phillips, Sundays 3pm.

Friday Night Country Crowd - with Brian Clough, Fridays 8 to 10pm.

Folk Show with Jed Grimes.

Memories, Sundays 7 to 10pm.

In Classical Mood with Laurie Giles In Classical Mood, Saturdays 8 to 10pm.

Musical Travels - Sundays 12 noon to 2pm.

Yours for the Asking - a programme of record dedications and requests with Peter Hetherington, Judi Lines and Kathy Secker.

Other presenters included John Foster, John Mann, John Darin, John Warwick, Phil Matthews, Chris Best, Dave Bray, Steve Coleman and Anna Belward.

Great North Radio Jingle Packages

Great North Radio Jingle Montage, 1989 , Alfasound

Great North Radio Jingle Montage, 1992, JAM Creative Productions

Videos of Great North Radio Television Commercials as broadcast on ITV Tyne Tees Television

Great North Radio Commercial 1 including Station Theme by Alfasound

Great North Radio Commercial 2 by Creative Productions

Memories of Great North Radio (GNR)

The website would like to include many more of your memories about GNR. It was such a great radio station and gave so much pleasure to so many listeners in the north east of England. Let's here from you and share your memories with us!  Please contact the site here if you can help. Many thanks in advance.

Andy Fleming

Roger Kennedy (presenter)
and original Breakfast Show host contacted the site and said:

Hi Mate

Just came across your Tribute page.

Before it went on air, I was head-hunted from Southern FM (Brighton) to become the station's Senior Presenter (i.e. deputy Programme Controller) and was the station's first Breakfast Show presenter (and yet I only seem to get a mention at the bottom!).

After four years at GNR I went on to set up Wessex FM, then I came back to Century NE, then onto Magic 1170 for many years (plus a spell on Magic 1152 and Alpha FM in-between).

I now present the Late Show six nights per week on Sun FM in Sunderland.

Regards, Roger Kennedy,

Wessex Radio Productions,

Webmaster: Cheers Roger, and thanks for contacting the site. We've got you at the bottom? We'll have to change that!

Ray Daniels (presenter):

Came across your web site and very much enjoyed seeing the photos of my former colleagues from Metro/GNR. Just wanted to remind you of Tony Adams and Freddie Allen too. I believe Tony is still in England. Freddie was last heard of in New Mexico.

I am working in New York on the all news station - 1010 WINS and am also the New York correspondent for Citybeat in Belfast. Thanks for keeping the memories alive.

All the best, Ray.

Where are they now?

The website is missing much information about the whereabouts of former GNR presenters. Please contact the site here if you can help. Many thanks in advance.

Andy Fleming

Jed Grimes presented the folk music programme. Any ideas?

Ray Anderson: any ideas?

Freddie Allen: any ideas?

John Darin: any ideas?

John Warwick sadly passed away.

John Foster is presenting at BBC Tees.

Bill Young went on to Chiltern Radio, then Beacon Radio/WABC.  He now works at CityBeat in Belfast.

Roger Kennedy is now at Sun FM in Sunderland  Alpha FM in Darlington, doing Sunday afternoons.  Also presents Sunday Breakfast between 6am and 10am on Magic 1170 in Teesside.

Steve Philips (Tong) was at Alpha FM, Darlington and Durham FM and Smooth Radio North East. Now broadcasts on the Magic Network with Mellow Magic from 10.00pm.

John Mann lives in Scotland, not far from Lockerbie. John runs his own antique clock business, and also presents on BBC Radio Cumbria, two shows a week, Friday evening and a Saturday Lunchtime.

Judi Lines is now a buyer and personal shopper at Fenwick's in Newcastle.

Kathy Secker now presents the Sunday Dedication Show, BBC Radio Newcastle 2.00pm - 4.00pm.  Kathy's daughter Jane is a reporter for Sky News.

The AM/FM Split, METRO FM and the end of simulcasting

As mentioned above, whilst GNR was born on AM, Metro FM began broadcasting as a separate station on VHF (FM). To improve the signal on VHF (FM) fringe areas (particularly for stereo), by 1992 the radio station had commenced transmission from a number of low power relay stations, in addition to the main 97.1MHz signal from Burnhope.

These extra relay transmitters did, and still do broadcast on 102.6MHz for Alnwick, 103.0MHz for Fenham and 103.2MHz for Hexham. These provide better stereo FM coverage in shadow areas of the main transmitter, especially along the Tyne Valley.

Metro FM's Starburst One helicopter takes to the north east skies to report on the all important traffic conditions during the Breakfast Show and at Drivetime.
On the business front, advertising sales became buoyant as the UK economy recovered after the recession of the early 1980s, helped by an increase in national advertising associated with such shows as The Network Chart Show on a Sunday at 4.00pm introduced by Kid Jensen and sponsored by Nescafe.

In 1986, Metro Radio took over Radio Tees, and in 1990 the company acquired Pennine Radio in Bradford (re-launched as The Pulse of West Yorkshire), Viking Radio in Hull, and Radio Hallam in Sheffield.  The AM medium wave franchises of these stations were then re-launched as Great Yorkshire Radio (later Great Yorkshire Gold).

Metropolitan Broadcasting itself was taken over by EMAP in 1996, and Metro FM eventually reverted back to its original name of Metro Radio (on VHF and DAB platforms only).  The Tyne and Wear ILR AM Medium Wave franchise became Magic 1152.

Model Linda Lusardi trying her hand at a spot of broadcasting in the studio at Metro FM.
Giles Squire with chart-topping singer Belinda Carlisle at Metro FM and Great North Radio (GNR) reception, Radio House, Longrigg, Swalwell.

In 2005, Metro Radio and Magic 1152 vacated Radio House, Longrigg, Swalwell - it's
home for over thirty years -  for new premises in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne next to the central motorway.  Its new address is 55 Degrees North Building, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
EMAP's radio operations were sold to the Bauer Radio Group in December, 2007.

Metro Radio's ownership has changed many times over the years, but as they say, you can't keep a good brand down. On July 15, 2014 Metro Radio celebrated its fortieth anniversary.

If you pardon the pun it kinda speaks volumes!

On January 5, 2015, Magic 1152 broadcasting on the old Metro Radio AM frequency and in common with other Magic AM stations was re-branded and named Metro Radio 2.

Go back in time and read here about Metro's History:The 1980s
Go further back in time and read here about Metro's History:The 1970s
Listen to Metro Radio (FM) and Metro Radio (AM) today (click either logo)



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