& 94.8 VHF Stereo !
A Short History of BRMB Radio

By Mike Smith
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                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker 261
                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker 261
                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker 261
                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker 261
                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker 261
                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker 261
                        BRMB Radio Car Sticker

On this page you will find some history, some memories, tape recordings of great programmes from a wonderful radio station, together with BRMB programme schedules from 1984, 1985, 1988 & 1989.

BRMB - 'Because It Takes A Friend To Get You Through The Day'

261 BRMB Radio - Car
                        StickerAs a bit of a preamble I distinctly remember, as a nine year old lad in February 1974, tuning into the test transmissions on 261 meters (1151 kilohertz) medium wave on a little six transistor 'Harmony' AM pocket radio. 

For several weeks the IBA's radio transmitters carried test transmissions
consisting of music and announcements from the new BRMB radio station on 261 medium wave and also in stereo on 94.8 MHz VHF / FM.  I was fascinated by these unusual new sounds and remained tuned in constantly, carrying the little made in Hong Kong radio around everywhere - even on a visit to the Da Corrado restaurant on the Stratford Road one Sunday lunch time!  I remember three of the music tracks played as being the orchestral work Finlandia by Sibelius, Meet Me On The Corner by Lindisfarne and Streets Of London by Ralph McTell - among many others.

Excitement grew as the new local radio station for our area was about to go on air.

19th February 1974  -  Launch Day

The seeds of an independent, commercial, radio station for Birmingham had been sown in 1961 when Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd had been originally formed. This was during the period of Conservative government from 1957 to 1963 (led by Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home) that tended to view the concept of some form of commercial radio in a favourable light. The return of Harold Wilson's Labour government in1964 put paid to any thoughts of the introduction of commercial radio into the UK, so Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd was effectively put on ice. The offshore 'pirate' radio ships came in 1964 and went in 1967, the BBC launched Radio One in 1967 and a string of local radio stations in 1968, starting with BBC Radio Leicester.

Then, in 1970, a Conservative Government was returned to power with Edward Heath as Prime Minister. By 1972 their Sound Broadcasting Act was passed and the old Independent Television Authority (ITA) was quickly transformed into the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the body that would assume responsibility for Independent Television and the introduction of Independent (commercial) Local Radio into the UK. The IBA advertised franchises for commercial 'programme contractors' to operate Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations in a number of towns and cities including London (2 franchises), Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

BRMB applicationFour applications were made to the IBA for the Birmingham ILR station. The organisation that won the franchise was "Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd" who would use the on air name of BRMB RADIO. The main shareholder was Birmingham Mail group, others included; ATV, Berrows (a newspaper publisher),
Dennis Howell MP, The Co-Op, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Grey's and Lewis's store, Davenports and M & B Brewery, a trade union and various local manufacturers. The application had assured the IBA that no single shareholder could have undue influence over the station.

The Managing Director was David Pinnell, who had previous radio and television experience from working abroad. Coming to BRMB from the BBC and BFBS was John Russell as Programme Manager. Non executive directors included
two directors from the largest shareholder, the Birmingham Mail group and John Parkinson, the principal of Solihull College.

                            Radio in Aston Road North Birmingham - from
                            ANDY WINTAccording to the licence application 'there would be 62 staff working on the station. 29 in programming, 16 in sales, 5 engineers and 12 people in administration. The general manager would earn about £10,000 p.a., the programme manager, news editor, and sales manager around £5,000, 'announcers' and 'maintenance technician' around £2 - £3,000, the music programmer £1,100, a 'newsman' £1,600-£3,000 and  'salesmen' £1,750 to £3,000.' [Ref David Lloyd]

Right: Photograph of BRMB's Radio House photographed at night, in 1979, by Andy Wint.

On Air

BRMB Radio went on air for the first time on 19th February 1974 and was the fourth of the 'ILR' station in the UK, after LBC and Capital Radio in London and Radio Clyde in Glasgow.

BRMB launched at breakfast time - right in the middle of 'The Three Day Week', a period of industrial unrest, strikes and power cuts - which also put the BRMB transmitter off the air for a short time on its first day of broadcasting!  The very first voice heard on the new station was news man Brian Sheppard, while the former ATV television announcer Kevin Morrison [who sounded rather like the actor James Mason] was BRMB's first breakfast show presenter.

The now iconic broadcaster Ed Doolan joined BRMB from German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle to present the afternoon show with the emphasis on information, features and interviews.  The output of BRMB had a heavy emphasis on a 'community radio' style of broadcasting whereby the station communicated with its audience and got involved in Midlands life, rather than simply talking at and playing music to the listeners.

Like most Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations, BRMB's output contained a good deal of music, but that was not the be all and and all of its output; Initially news and information was a very important constituent of its wide ranging programmes, with audience interaction and sport also playing significant roles.

The first 1974 jingle imaging package was produced by EMIson; EMI Broadcast Programmes Ltd, London.

Visit the BRMB Audio page here >

BRMB in the
                          Birmingham Evening Mail - 19th February 1974
BRMB in the Birmingham Evening Mail - 19th February 1974

Radio House

BRMB Radio had moved into part of the Alpha Studios building in Aston, Birmingham, that had previously been occupied by the ATV Television company in the 1960's.  The address initially was; BRMB (Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd.), P.O.Box 555, Alpha Studios, Aston Road North, Birmingham, B6 4BX.

The building was later re-named RADIO HOUSE and the postal address was:

P.O. Box 555
Radio House
B6 4BX

Switchboard Tel:  021 359 4481 / 2 / 9
On Air Telephone:  021 359 4011

BRMB's Radio
                                      House in 1974

BRMB's Radio House in
BRMB's Radio House in 1974
(ATV Midlands)

BRMB's Radio House in the 1990's
BRMB's Radio House as it appeared in the 1990's.
Note the Capital Radio style logo seen on the side of the building, as
 BRMB was owned by the Capital Radio group by this time.

Photo from

Kevin Morrison in one of the BRMB studios
                          - photo courtesy Keith Brown
Kevin Morrison in one of the BRMB studios - (Courtesy Keith Brown)

BRMB Radio Studio
A office inside BRMB Radio - (Courtesy Keith Brown)

John Russell - BRMB's first Programme Director

John Russell was BRMB's first Programme Director. You can read John Russell's inside story HERE >

A short time after BRMB launched, George Fergusson took over the breakfast show from Kevin Morrison who left the station to go on to work in other media fields.  In 1976 the legendary Les Ross joined BRMB to present the breakfast show.  Les had worked for BBC Radio Birmingham (now BBC WM) before BRMB launched and BRMB's management failed to hire him for the launch of BRMB.  Les left BBC local radio and the city of Birmingham in 1975 to work for Radio Tees, another commercial ILR station in Stockton on Tees.  BRMB saw fit to tempt Les back down from Teeside in 1976 and he stayed with BRMB (and sister station XTRA AM) until 27th September 2002.

Dave Jamieson

Dave Jamieson was one of the early presenters at BRMB, well known for presenting the late show at the time, and Dave has kindly added the following to to our account:

"I was there from 1975, joining just before the first birthday from BBC Radio Leicester.  My colleague there, Adrian Juste, had already made the move to BRMB, and I followed 6 months later.  I started as the swing guy (i.e. sitting in for anyone who was on holiday), plus did the Sunday afternoon Top 40 show (a marathon 4 and a half hour thing), and the Saturday late night show.  (Incidentally, I did a lot of announcing work at ATV as well, during my time at BRMB - all day time shifts, out of vision, and I always seemed to get landed with the schools programmes!!)

Brian Savin moved to the late night show on weekdays, which I took over from him.  It was 11 pm to 2 am, and I loved it.  If you remember Six of the Best on Mercia Sound, this is where it was "born".  I ran it on Friday nights there for ages.  My sixth programme at that time was the classical music show (can you imagine BRMB having one of these now?!) on Sunday evenings.

Mike Owen joined BRMB during my time there in the 70s as a school-teacher on a training attachment ... and never left!

(Mike Owen adds: Dave is getting mixed up because I was a teacher in Nottingham and started working on programmes at BBC Radio Nottingham in 1970 joining their education team on secondment in 1974 producing over 12 series with an educational theme. After that I worked on a variety of shows most notably 'Moonlight Mile' with the famous Trevor Dann (known for his getting rid of the 'dinosaurs' at Radio 1). I came to BRMB as Producer of Meaningful Speech (The IBA insisted every station appoint such a person - I presume they thought the rest of the speech was meaningless) and I was producer for Ed Doolan on his lunchtime show and the phone in till he left to join the BBC. - Mike Owen, 7th February 2014.  Thanks Mike!)

I left BRMB to return to Scotland (I'm from Edinburgh) and joined the BBC, but didn't relish reading the shipping forecast for Scottish inshore waters much ... so accepted an offer from Radio Clyde, and stayed there 18 months until Mercia came along.  I had met Ian Rufus on a BBC training course (during my days at Radio Leicester) so rang him and said "Gimme a job"!

I returned to Birmingham in the mid 80s, after [leaving] Radio Tees to join Central TV where I spent 8 very happy years.  During that time, I got in touch with Mike Owen who was Programme Controller [at BRMB], and said I'd like to do a weekend show.  So he gave me Sundays 8 to 10.30 am as an oldies show, which suited me great!  Then when the split came, it seemed logical to move the show onto Xtra-AM.  But the best bit was that Les Ross, a good friend, and a great broadcaster, followed me every Sunday morning, so we always had half an hour while the music was playing to chat and put the world to rights.  I remember one Sunday where we had been chatting (off air) - and I paused and said, "Do you realise that for the past ten minutes, the two of us - supposed to be "trendy, pop radio deejays" - have been discussing the best place in Birmingham to buy soft furnishings?"  A sign of middle age setting in ..."

[Thanks Dave!]

                          Jamieson in one of the BRMB studios - courtesy
                          Keith Brown
Dave Jamieson in one of the BRMB studios  -  (Courtesy Keith Brown)

                          Carnival Girls in 1974
BRMB Carnival Girls in 1974
[Courtesy Mike Henfield]
See full size photograph here

I've been clearing out the spare bedroom and I came across this photo I took of the BRMB girls who took part in the Birmingham Carnival (my guess is that this is summer 1974). Second right is Sue Barker, who ran all our community involvement work - she's referred to in John Russell's excellent history of BRMB on the website.

The girl on the extreme left was our first receptionist. Unfortunately increasing decrepitude prevents me from remembering names.

Best wishes, Mike Henfield.


BRMBIn the 1970's and 1980's BRMB wasn't simply the music 'juke-box' that commercial radio is today; the station broadcast a very wide range of programmes from general music and entertainment shows, to phone-ins, comprehensive sports and in depth news coverage, specialist programmes for the local communities along with classical music output.  BRMB also broadcast documentary and feature programmes that even the BBC would have been proud of.

In the early days there was a lot of talk about the name of the station as many listeners wondered what the initials BRMB stood for. In actual fact the initials did not stand for any particular words but were simply extracted from the name of the company that ran the station:
Birmingham Broadcasting Ltd - to form
B i R mingha M B roadcasting Ltd

BRMB Phil RileyJohn Russell, BRMB's first Programme Director, was responsible for forming the winning formula that made the station such a programming and financial success. After six highly successful years, John left the station in 1980 to be replaced by Bob Hopton, who arrived at BRMB from Radio Tees to take on the job, now described as Programme Controller. This position was later filled by Mike Owen in 1984, while Phil Riley took over as programme controller around 1990. (Interestingly after BRMB spent a long period in the wilderness from 1993 through the 2000's after being subsumed in the Capital Radio group, then GCap and Global - Phil Riley returned to the helm in 2009. More of which later.).

Some of the original engineers at BRMB were Quentin Howard and Phil Dawson who worked alongside the Chief Engineer Dave Wood.  They organised the installation of all the equipment at the new station and were responsible for the smooth running of the complex technical facilities.  Quentin Howard went on to work with GWR in Wiltshire and then the national radio station Classic FM in 1992 and more latterly the national DAB digital radio multiplex provider Digital One.

BRMB with Margaret ThatcherJohn Henry (of the "Ross and Henry Show" with Les Ross on BBC Radio Birmingham circa 1972-3) joined BRMB from Radio Birmingham in 1974 and was in charge of commercial production (the adverts).  John stayed with BRMB for six months before joining another relatively ILR station, Radio City in Liverpool.

Station Executives listed in 1981 were:
Directors. A J Parkinson (Chairman); David Pinnell (Managing Director); G N Battman; M A Brown; Reg Davies (Sales); J F Howard; J C Mason; E Swainson.

Executives. David Bagley (Publicity and Promotions Manager); Bob Hopton (Programme Controller); Brian Sheppard (News Editor); Tony Trethewey (Company Secretary); David Wood (Chief Engineer).

Ian Rufus, who made Mercia Sound such a great success in Coventry and Warwickshire from 1980, joined BRMB as Managing Director in 1986.

Phil Riley - BRMB Programme Controller from 1990

Because it's

BRMB Radio

(some approx)
Breakfast Kevin Morrison with the breakfast show.
9:00 am Norma Scott and Brian Savin with the mid-morning show.
1200 midday Peter Windows with a two hour lunch time chat show.
2:00 pm Ed Doolan - music, interviews and news,  including the listener market place 'Tradio'.
3:30 pm Alan Leighton.
5:00 pm Ed Doolan with 'Talk In'.
6.30 pm News and Sport with Keith Hayes and Tony Butler.
7.30 pm Robin Valk - The rock music show (The first ever programme featured an interview with Birmingham band ELO - the Electric Light Orchestra).
9:00 - 9:30 pm News programme (this half hour slot was gradually reduced over the years to five minutes).
9:30 - 11:00pm Robin Valk - the rock music show (continued).
11 pm John Howard with the late show (George Fergusson also presented the late show on other days).
Midnight Closedown.


Les Ross broadcasting
                                    on BRMB in 1976
Les Ross broadcasting on BRMB in 1976            

Les Ross 

  Tont Butler                  Brendan
                                Kearney                    Andy Hollins
Above, left to right; Tony Butler, Brendan Kearney and Andy Hollins 

Ed Doolan
Ed Doolan on BRMB Radio
(Photograph circa 1976)  

Just some of the names heard on BRMB in the first two decades of broadcasting:

Kevin Morrison; George Ferguson;
Les Ross; Norma Scott; Alan Leighton, Alan Nin; Brian Savin; Peter Windows; John Hedges; Tony Butler & George Reeves on sport; Ed Doolan; John Howard; Stuart White; Robin Valk; Mike Hollis; Roger Day; Adrian Juste; Rev. John Austen; Nicky Steele; Dave Jamieson ; Michael Hartley; Brendan Kearney; Nick Meanwell; John Slater; Nick Hennegan; Steve Dennis; Phil Holden; Mark Keen; Andy Hollins; George Gavin; Tom Ross; Ian Hardy; Graham Torrington; Stephen Rhodes; Simon Davies; Deborah Kinch; Phil Gayle; Howard Hughes; Suman Kang; Tony Huq; Paul Brown; Terry Griffiths; Stuart Ellis; Suzi Becker. 

More about BRMB's presenters HERE >

You can listen to some Audio Recordings of BRMB's excellent presenters on the BRMB AUDIO PAGE and more on the AIRWAVES PAGE

BRMB Studio MP2
Mike Owen producing Ed Doolan's daily lunchtime programme with John Slater
as the Technical Operator of the programme - Photograph courtesy John Slater
More >



                              Sound News with Brian Sheppard
BRMB Sound News with Brian Sheppard BRMB in the 1970's (courtesy Frazer Sheppard)

                              NewsKeith Hayes appointed BRMB's first news team; Brian Sheppard, Mike Henfield, Rob Golding, Colin Palmer and Sue Todd were some of the first journalists on the news team.  

Brian Sheppard became BRMB's News Editor, and days after his appointment he found himself commanding the team covering the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974* [*Thanks to Frazer Sheppard for this information].  Mike Henfield later went on to work for Mercia Sound in Coventry in 1980 as 'Merry Mike Henfield'.

Sue Todd was married to John Russell, the Programme Director. When she left BRMB she moved into Public Relations in Birmingham before starting and heading up her own company in Hampshire.  She subsequently went on to be a Board Member of NYNEX Cable TV and Ocean Sound (Part of the then Capital Radio Group) She was the first woman to Chair the Hampshire Branch of the Institute of Directors. John and Sue moved out of the UK to live in Cyprus.

(Thank you to John Russell for this information.)

You can read John Russell's history of the early years at BRMB here >

John TayntonOther journalists/newsreaders and reporters in the BRMB Newsroom in 1975 - 1977 were John Rogers, Maureen Carter (now a crime novelist), Sue Todd, David Ike, Trevor Reid, Mike Stewart (later Beacon Radio News Editor), Bob Mills, David Reid (Read / Reed ?), Surrey Beddows, Marie Kinsey, Ian Webster, Rob Golding, Sue Plimmer, Kim Sabido, Colin Palmer, Roger Walker, George Herbertson Wilson and John Taynton (shown right). 

Colin Palmer eventually moved on to launch Viking Radio in Humberside and then eventually back to Birmingham to work for the BBC, and subsequently [in 2006] to Saga 105.7 FM along with Rob Golding.

Marie Kinsey moved on to work for Independent Radio News (IRN), LBC, BBC Radio London and Capital Radio. spending fifteen years as Deputy Financial Editor at IRN/LBC. Marie also worked at Thames TV, BBC local radio, regional television, BBC Radio 4 and 5 Live, later moving on to teaching in higher education.

Surrey Beddows later became Head of News for ITV Anglia television.

Thanks to John Rogers of BRMB News between 1975 and 1977 for additional information.  John also notes: "I have good memories of the professionalism and supportive environment in the BRMB Newsroom under Brian Shepherd and Mike Henfield."

Another name and voice of the BRMB news team that I remember well is the unforgettable Merrill Harris. Merrill Harris would often be heard reading the news on BRMB during the Saturday afternoon sports programme with the equally unforgettable Tony Butler. Martin Benedyk worked at BRMB between 1981 and 1984 and now works at The Associated Press in London.

Martin Benedyk comments:

I was a reporter and newsreader at BRMB between 1981 and 1984, working under Brian Sheppard and Colin Palmer. I spent three of my happiest years working for the station, and I still have some bulletins, jingles and general clips on cassette tape. If you're interested, I will get them down from the loft and send them to you. Thank you for everything you're doing to keep the BRMB memory alive - it was a wonderful station and I am very sad that it has disappeared from the airwaves.
(October 2012)

Allan Porter adds:

"Hullo Mike, Many thanks for an excellent history of BRMB. I read news at the station for the whole of 1978. One of the antipodeans who was roped in at the time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Brian Sheppard was boss and Mike Henfield another great guy and Rob Golding, Col Palmer, along with all the others.   I was in UK fresh from Hong Kong where I was a DJ with Radio Hong Kong (English Service) and prior to that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and commercial stations in Australia.

My time in Hong Kong co-coincided with the great martial arts movies coming out of the studios. Bruce Lee was king and Enter the Dragon the top movie of that era. He died in 1973/4 and his death brought an end to that genre of movies that found favour among so many movie goers. I did voice overs for many of the movies along with a handful of others who worked for the studios. The Hong Kong experience was only eclipsed by the great environment in BRMB which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Station staff were invited to go on a shoot with the Territorials. I always thought I could hit a target pretty well. But Brian Sheppard got the prize.  I still have - and take great care of - a BRMB shirt. A collectors item?  I returned to Australia for family reasons and missed the station and the work enormously. I took another U-turn in my career and set up a very successful business operation tutoring the captains of industry and others on how to give their best when they are invited to face the reporter's microphone.  Thanks again for a great web of information and my best wishes to all of those, then and now, at the station.  My next visit to the UK I would love to catch up with them.  Allan Porter, Avalon NSW, Australia"

Mike Henfield adds:

"Dear Mike, I've just been taking a trip down memory lane via your excellent website on BRMB. I joined the station as chief reporter in 1973 before it went on air and stayed for six very happy years.

I spotted Terry Griffiths' name amid all the nostalgia. Terry had the distinction of being one of the few radio presenters ever to knock himself unconscious while on air. He was doing an evening show at the time and he thought he'd have just enough time to get to the loo and back while a record was on. While in the toilet, he realised the track was coming to an end - so he rushed back down the corridor and into the studio, colliding with one of the massive speakers we had suspended from the studio ceiling. Downstairs in the presenters' room they realised that somethign was amiss - by this time all that was coming out of the speaker was dead air. They found Terry unconscious on the floor.

He was rushed to Dudley Road Hospital, where the first person he saw when he came round was his wife who was a nurse in the casualty department. Terry soon recovered and was back at the mic in a day or two - but not before the station had gained a fair amount of useful publicity from the incident.

Those early days at BRMB were some of the happiest in my career (I have just retired after teaching journalism and radio production at Salford University for the past decade). BRMB was a great station - with probably the best newsroom outside London. It was a sad day when we didn't get a scoop from Colin Palmer, Dickie Myers or Ian Webster.

I used to do after-dinner talks in Birmingham to publicise BRMB, so I've got lots more [stories], remind me to tell you about the protest march on the station when Alan Leighton(spelling?) got sacked from his afternoon show... and some stories of Alan Ninn's amazing Sunday night callers).

They were great pioneering days for all of us - no-one had any experience of commercial radio except for the first news editor Keith Hayes, who came over from Vancouver.

[I knew about the sad death of John Russell]... although I've lost touch with many of the old veterans from those early days Surprisingly enough, I met up many years later  with Trevor Reid, who was in the BRMB newsroom right from the start and later became a newspaper editor in Devon. I was an external examiner for the broadcast journalism degree at Staffordshire University and I ran into Trevor about four years ago when he was doing a similar job with the print journalism degrees.

I did work at Radio Wyvern after Mercia Sound, as you say - but then left and became group programme controller for the Red Rose stations in Preston, Cardiff and Leeds. I ran the Bristol end of GWR for a time - and then went back to Red Rose. However, by this time it was nothing like the happy ship I had known the first time round, many of the old management team having left.

I've really enjoyed the last 10 years at Salford - and you'll find many of our graduates in newsrooms around the country.

Sadly, commercial radio is a very different animal from the one I joined in 1973...but things can't stay the same and in these uncertain economic times there's no way you could run a radio station producing the sort of output we transmitted back in the 1970s.

So...all the very best with the website - keep that flame burning.

Very best wishes to you - and thanks for the fine website. Keep that flame burning - and, as we used to say on the air, say hello to anyone else who remembers me...
Mike Henfield
Mike Henfield (BRMB 1973-1980)"
February 2010

Mike, Thank you for allowing me to put your comments on the BRMB page. As you may gather I am more than happy to include any stories, information and other material that former BRMB staff can offer. It's always very rewarding to add another piece to the BRMB jigsaw puzzle. If you ever feel like adding another story - about Alan Ninn or Alan Leighton - I would be, once again, most grateful. Thanks for clarifying the Radio Wyvern question. I thought that was the case, but I had become unsure. Now that you mention it, I do remember your going to Red Rose Radio, but I was unaware of the GWR connection. Thank you for reminding me. As you say commercial radio is, sadly, quite different today. It does make me, as an appreciative listener all those years ago, realise that they were magical radio days that may never be repeated. Thank you for making radio so enjoyable when you were there! Best wishes, Mike MDS975.

                              Rogers at BRMB Radio in 1976
John Rogers at BRMB Radio in 1976 (courtesy John Rogers)

John Rogers adds:

Hi Mike, After another trip down memory lane on your site I have something else to contribute to the BRMB pages. You might be interested in posting the attached pic of me [above] circa 1976 when I was in the newsroom.

I remember that John Russell gave all the presenters and the newsroom staff the chance to present their favourite piece of music one Sunday night, I think it was Christmas 1976, and giving them the opportunity to say why the musical item was their favourite. I took the opportunity along with some of the other staff and pre-recorded mine for a compilation program.

I wonder if a copy survives of that program?

John Rogers
BRMB Newsroom, Aston Cross, 1975-1976
(January 2012)


By Quentin Howard

"After much searching, I found a rare gem to stir memories of Friday nights on BRMB - the theme music for Six of the Best, as used by Dave Jamieson and later (by me) on Wiltshire Radio.  The instrumental is "Image", a classic '60s Hammond organ piece by Alan Haven.   Dave used "Image" as a bed under the six questions read out at the start and end of the quiz.  SOTB was on BRMB from 1976 to about 1978 when Dave left his Friday night slot.   At one point, BRMB printed a mini-booklet for fans, "Sixty Six of the Best" featuring a selection of the trickiest questions.   I guess that's a measure of how, in those days, radio features could became instant legends.    

In 1982 I took Six of the Best to Wiltshire Radio/GWR, and used 'Image' again for the music bed.  It had become so inextricably linked to Dave's SOTB, it would have been wrong to use anything else, and in any case, it's a fabulous piece of 'radio' theme music!    When I took the quiz to Classic FM ten years later I'd lost the only tape cartridge copy.

For anyone who doesn't remember SOTB, it consisted of 5 difficult questions involving hidden anagrams, cryptic clues and red herrings about news events or local history/landmarks.   The sixth question on BRMB was a mystery voice (as it was on Wiltshrie Radio, however on Classic FM Q6 was "The Last Chord" - a single chord of a classical piece to be identified).    Q6 allowed anyone to have go, including Sandra from Sutton (in her phone box*).    SOTB was a difficult quiz to set.  Dave, as I remember, would spend several hours making up anagrams and cryptic clues, and the Classic FM version took a full day set and check.   

In Dave's version of SOTB, he would read out all five cryptic questions, followed by Q6, the mystery voice, then open the phone lines.  Listeners would ring up, in dribs and drabs to begin with, offering bits of answers to perhaps one or two questions.  Gradually, in a sort of collective effort by listeners, the clues and answers would begin to unravel.  However, callers were not told if their individual answer(s) were right or wrong, so it was left to subsequent callers to decide what was correct and try to assemble a perfect set of answers.   Only when a caller attempted all six questions would he or she be told how many they had scored right but never which ones.  Listeners then scrambled to assemble the correct set of answers (a bit like that plastic peg game, Mastermind).   As the presenter, you could help or hinder depending how well the quiz was going and how devious you wished to be.  Callers came on-air in batches of 3 or 4,  followed by a disc, then 3 or 4 more callers and another disc until the whole thing had been successfully solved.  It could take anything from 30-50 minutes to solve SOTB, but it was the basis for a decent piece of original radio entertainment.   Stuart White (also BRMB) did a version on his Sunday lunchtime programme at Severn Sound and the last time it was on air on Classic FM was 1998."  

The "Image" theme music is one of the sounds that defined BRMB's early years.

Listen to the Six Of The Best theme "Image"

Grateful thanks to Quentin Howard for the story of Six Of The Best.

Dave Jamieson also presented the Six Of The Best quiz during his time at Mercia Sound in Coventry.


Razzamatazz was a great fun programme that was broadcast on BRMB every Saturday morning.  See some of BRMB's schedules >

Of RAZAMATAZZ Rashida Subedar comments:

"I worked on air at BRMB from 1986-1990 when Phil Riley took over from Mike Owen and decided there was no room for fluff on air and therefore promptly fired me!
I worked on Razzamatazz initially with Brendan Kearney and then remained on air with Nick Hennegan and we did Saturday morning Breakfast every week for over 4 years. It was fantastic and shaped me in every way. Celebrity interviews included (remember they were big at the time) T'Pau, Mica Paris, Simply Red, Nick Kamen, Brother Beyond, Deacon Blue and Ben Elton. I even had my hair done by John Frieda after the show when he came in for an interview.  I was 14 when I first joined and was 'paid' with freebies - but I was a presenter and was just thankful to be there and didn't know any better.  Yasemen Hussain was also part of Nick's girly "posse". Our show was fun loving and was consistently one of the most popular shows on air beating Romantica and Les's breakfast show at one point.
I still love radio but I'm more a listener than anything else at the moment, living in London and raising five beautiful boys.  The old building on Aston Road North still fills me with joy and gives me butterflies in my stomach.  I'm still in touch with John Slater, who is now in stage management, Nick Hennegan, who is working for The Arrow and Ian Hardy, who now lives and works in New York. Phil Gayle (brother of the author Mike Gayle and now works on London Today) did overnights for a while in the late 1980's and Howard Hughes was Chris Tarrant's man for a long long time
, and went on to either Smooth or LBC, I think.

The site is looking fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to do it. It feels like an important part of my life has now been validated!"

Thank you. Rashida x "


One of the funniest programmes on BRMB Radio was made in 1979 by Jasper Carrott and many of the BRMB presenters and staff. 

This programme was "RADIO ACOCKS GREEN" where Jasper Carrott, along with the BRMB team, made a series of sketches about the fictional local radio station and essentially made fun of some of the BRMB programming at the time. 

Jasper Carrott and the BRMB presenters all had characters to play, be they Radio Acocks Green presenters or phone in callers.  I was in tears of laughter while listening back to the snippets of Radio Acocks Green cassette recordings that I have; Those taking part alongside Jasper Carrott included Brian Savin and Ed Doolan. Production was by Phil Dawson.

As an example, there was a spoof radio commercial for "Super Oriental Detergent" which proclaimed "If DAZ doesn't whiten it and OMO doesn't brighten it - SOD IT!" Other sketches included
Tony Waiter, a take off of BRMB's legendary sports presenter Tony Butler, "Open Line" with Brian Nunn (rather than BRMB's Alan Nin) and "Tradio" where Radio Acocks Green listeners could sell their unwanted goods, as long as they cost no more than 5 pence!

Unfortunately my family decided that it would be really good to have a shopping expedition in Peterborough on one of the days that Radio Acocks Green was transmitted on BRMB during that Easter holiday! 

Radio Acocks Green logo
Of course I took my trusty little 'Ultra' portable AM/FM radio cassette recorder with me, but BRMB faded out long before we reached Cambridgeshire, so I missed that episode and at least one other missed episode too, so we only had a short recording of 'Radio Acocks Green' on tape, but kind readers to these pages have sent in further recordings on BRMB and Radio Acocks Green which you can hear on the BRMB AUDIO PAGE.

We need
                                            YOUR BRMB archives !




In 1988 BRMB joined forces with Mercia Sound in Coventry and later with Radio Trent in Nottingham and Derby and Leicester Sound to form a group called Midlands Radio PLC

In 1988 BRMB experimented with some split frequency broadcasting whereby normal programmes would continue on 96.4 FM while golden oldies with Robin Valk or sport was carried on 1152 kilohertz (261 meters) medium wave.  This experiment led the the setting up of a full time AM only radio station in April 1989 called XTRA AM.

XTRA AM concentrated on playing 'Classic Hits' from the 1950's 60's 70's and 80's and the best of current chart music.  The enduringly popular, and  household name, Les Ross moved to XTRA to do breakfasts and the revered BRMB Sports programming was also moved from BRMB FM over to XTRA AM.

BRMB Radio - The Power Station


Simon Davies
Birmingham Evening Mail

BRMB RADIO became BRMB FM - MUSIC POWER and re-focussed its output on current chart music and employed the services of new DJ's including Simon Davies and Deborah Kinch who presented the all new BRMB FM Breakfast Show.  Graham Torrington remained on BRMB FM for a while and Brendan Kearney, who had left BRMB a few years earlier, returned to the station in 1990 and, as well as his daily breakfast show, did a double-header with Andy Hollins on Saturdays called "Hollins and Kearney". The format ended in tears though after they had a big bust up on air one morning! You can hear the audio recording of this on-air bust up on our BRMB Audio page.

Phil Holden stayed with BRMB FM for a few more years until around 1992.

Midlands Radio PLC sold out to Capital Radio in 1993.  Capital Radio kept BRMB FM and the 1152 part of XTRA AM but did not want the rest and in 1994 sold Radio Trent, Leicester Sound and Mercia Sound to GWR.  It was around this time that Tony Butler, who had been sacked by BRMB in 1984, re-joined the company to present the breakfast show on Xtra-am.

GWR also bought Beacon Radio around this period.  Strangely, with the government's de-regulation of the radio industry with a new broadcasting act in 2004 which allows radio groups to own far more radio stations, GWR was bought up by Capital Radio PLC to form a merged group called GCAP.  More about the developments in ownership, further de-regulation and loss of local programming here.

BRMB logo from 1991 to 1997


John Slater decided to leave BRMB in 1991.  You can hear some audio clips of John Slater in the BRMB AUDIO section below.  John Slater presented one of the very best serious music programmes on any radio station in Britain and so when he announced his departure it really was a huge shock. The news was announced by the Birmingham Evening Mail in this way:

Exclusive by Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers 1991

BRMB's John Slater is to quit the station days after making his biggest ever personal appearance by broadcasting live to an audience of  70,000 at the Monsters of Rock Festival.

The news will come as a double blow to local rock fans because Paul Flower's Radio WM show will be axed after tonight.

John joined BRMB 14 years ago [1976] in a technical capacity and has been presenting the evening rock show for the past eight years. He has done 1,500 Interviews, commissioned 50 concert recordings and supervised 150 sessions - as well an helping to encourage interviewees to sing acoustically in the studio to just one guitar.

As the Evening Mail revealed last week, John will become the first local radio DJ to host this Saturday's Castle Donington festival after headliners AC/DC refused to allow Radio 1 to broadcast the event live.  He landed the festival slot after having already decided to quit BRMB on Thursday, September 5.

"I will be very sad to leave, but it's my own doing" he said. "It is time to go on and do something else. I have one or two Irons in the fire, but I don't really know what I will do. I don't think that you can spend your whole life doing the same thing, but I would like to stay in the music business."

In the absence on holiday of BRMB Managing director Ian Rufus, sales chief  David Bagley said: "John will be sadly missed. I am sure everyone will wish him well."

Mr Bagley added that he hoped BRMB would be able to continue promoting local music.

After a year presenting The Hollins And Kearney Show, the duo split up in this way:

The Birmingham post Monday December 30th 1991
By Jason Lewis

Startled listeners heard two Birmingham radio presenters have a furious row in which one swore at the other before both stormed out of the studio.  The argument between DJs Brendan Kearney and Andy Hollins was heard by thousands of listeners tuned to the city's independent radio, BRMB, yesterday lunchtime.

The row started during a live review of the year of the pair's regular Sunday show.  Listeners heard Hollins swear at Kearney before he stormed out of the studio slamming the door behind him at 11.50am. Kearney then followed.  The station played continuous music and advertisements until about 12.30pm when the lpm programme presenter, Stuart Ellis, came on air saying he was starting his show early.  Meanwhile, the pair continued their dispute in the corridor outside.

Last night Mr Alan Carruthers, BRMB's programme manager, said the disagreement seemed to have started over excerpts being played from their previous shows. Kearney was at the studio's controls and was selecting the different pieces while Hollins sat at a microphone.

"It seems Andy thought Brendan was trying to get at him with the pieces he was choosing," Mr Carruthers said.  "The show centres around the double act, with them trying to out do each other, playing off each one another and winding each other up. On this occasion it seems to have been too much."  Mr Carruthers said the rivalry between the two presenters had increased over recent weeks over a competition which required listeners to say which of the pair they liked best.

Mr Carruthers said he intended to speak to both men about what had happened.  He said: " But the station does not want to lose either of them over an incident like this."He refused to discuss whether either of the presenters would be disciplined.

BRMB's Ross To Quit
Exclusive by Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers
Move Ends 13 Year Run

Les, Ross, BRMB's breakfast presenter for a record breaking 13 years, is to quit the station he helped to make such a success. Next month 40 year old Les will be replaced by a "boy and girl" team as he moves over to XTRA-AM, the new Birmingham based sister station for BRMB.

Sinion Davies, aged 20, has been signed from Wrexham-based Marcher Sound, and will take over from Monday, March 13. His partner will be 22-year-old Deborah Kinch, who was known as "Delightful Deborah" on BBC Radio 1's Steve Wright Show.

Les, who believes he may warrant a place in the Guinness. Book of Records for having done the same daily show longer than any on British radio will be aiming for 35 to 50-year-old listeners.

The new radio station will be launched by Midlands Radio Holdings on April 4. XTRA-AM programme controller Phil Riley said: "It's a great coup to have Les Ross as breakfast show presenter."

Les, although in favour of more radio stations, is sad at having to leave BRMB after such a long run - a move which indirectly results from the Government deciding that radio stations with AM and FM wavebands must split frequencies.

He said: "I am looking forward to the new challenge with great enthusiasm and it is great to know I will still be talking to people at breakfast time."

"I wish Simon, Deborah and the rest of BRMB's new breakfast team the best of luck. I know BRMB listeners will give them a warm welcome"

BRMB, 15 years old, will now unashamedly go after Radio 1's young audience now that it no longer has to try appeal to everybody.

Programme controller Mike Owen said: "This change gives BRMB's breakfast show a great opportunity to be the liveliest, freshest, fastest breakfast show around

"Radio1 is frightened of. giving women presenters a high profile. I will be giving Deborah her own programme too."

Exclusive by Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers
August 1988

Michael Hartley, the Sunday evening problem adviser has left the station after nearly six years.

Mr Hartley said that he quit the 15 year old Open Line programme because of a "difference of opinion" between him and programme controller Mr Mike Owen.  Mr Owen is on holiday, but deputy programme controller Mr Brian Savin said of Mr Hartley's departure; "He has left - for reasons of his own."

Last year thousands of listeners heard a 15 year old Birmingham schoolgirl threaten to kill herself but Mr Hartley kept her talking for 40 minutes and engineers were able to trace the girl to a city centre call box.  She was later escorted home by one of her teachers and a woman police officer.

This Sunday, listeners heard temporary replacement presenter Nick Meanwell and a woman from the Samaritans answering problems.  One woman caller got so emotional that she had to be taken off air to talk to another Samaritan volunteer on a private line.

But next Sunday the Rev John Austen will return to the slot which he filled for six years before Mr Michael Hartley until he left to concentrate on the Aston University chaplaincy.  He said at the time: "It is real.  People are interested in other people's lives, but you must never exploit their problems."

BRMB's Nicky Steele Axed
By Graham Young
Birmingham Post and Mail Newspapers
September 11th 1989
BRMB's Nicky SteeleHousewives' favourite Nicky Steele has left BRMB after 13 years - two days after the arrival of new head of programmes Phil Riley.

The new man wants BRMB to attack Radio 1, which has been building up its share of a growing radio audience in Birmingham. He felt 41-year-old Nicky was not the right man for the job. Nicky's contract, -which had until the end of October to run, is not being renewed.

Mr Riley, who joined BRMB from sister station XTRA-AM, which he will also continue to run, asked Nicky to leave immediately after his morning show last Friday. Mr Riley said: "I have certain plans for BRMB and I didn't feel Nicky fitted into those plans."

"Nicky leaves with my best wishes and no animosity. He is not too old - age has nothing to do with it. He is a talented broadcaster and I am sure he will find employment on the radio in this city with deregulation coming up. There is no ulterior motive."

It is the second time that Nicky has left BRMB very quickly. He is developing the Nicky Steele Discotheque Agency.

With grateful thanks to Quentin Howard who sent these memories of BRMB to me in March 2008:


Here's some more stuff for your page on BRMB.
I joined as an engineer in 1976, by accident.   As a 2nd year engineering student in Rugby I'd been on an anorak visit to see Dave Wood, the Chief Engineer, to gen up on something.   Dave lee, one of the BRMB engineers interrupted our meeting to ask how Dave intended to cover the shifts whilst one of their other engineers was recovering from an operation for 3 months.   Dave hadn't thought about it and as I was a sandwich student (I had to find engineering employment until academic studies resumed the following January) I piped up and offered to cover until Christmas.  Very cheeky, of course, but Dave hired me on the spot for £36 a week and I so started on 18th October, the same day as Mike Hollis and not long after Les Ross started doing breakfast on the station.  
My time at BRMB was undoubtedly the happiest and most inspiring of my radio career.   I would spend hours in the studio, being Les Ross' audience, sitting in on Dave Jamieson's late night show, and learning my trade from the finest bunch of engineers you could imagine.
I returned in January to do tech-op shifts, driving the studio for the evening phone in programme with Sue Barker, or the late Sunday evening lonely hearts show hosted by Alan Nin.
One Spring Saturday in 1977 I was in the control room watching Terry Griffiths tech-op Tony Butler's sport show.  5 hours of the most hectic and intense operations anyone could imagine.   The TO had to drive the desk, load and fire commercials, handle 6 live OBs from each of the local matches, plus phoned -in reports, play the music, including Tony's famous theme tune which he'd want played whenever he got his "prayer mat" out to encourage Villa to score, and finally the two hour live phone in from 5 to 7pm. 
Just before half time Terry asked me to "watch the controls" whilst he went to the toilet, and didn't come back until 7pm.   It was a baptism of fire but from that day on until I left BRMB in 1979 I was Tony's tech op.   The sports show was a legend, and I remember one day the BBC came to visit.  Radio 2 (which at that time did their major Saturday afternoon sports show) dispatched half a dozen of their producers and SMs to see how this Birmingham "legend" was broadcast.   They were utterly gob smacked to see that the show consisted of Tony in the studio, George doing the racing results, Dave Wood's secretary was the runner between newsroom and studio with ripped off telex results , and then there was me operating the studio, dealing with the OB's, match round ups and filtering (i.e. producer) for all the punter's phone calls.  That was it.   The BBC probably had an army of hundreds doing the same thing (without the commercials, of course) and kept asking me how on earth we did it.   
The famous delay system was 4 seconds, not 7.  This was physically the longest tape loop we could create using rollers and guides on the Technics reel to reel that served as the delay system.  Dave Wood's view was that if you couldn't bleep out a "f**k" in 4 seconds then you didn't deserve to be a tech-op.    The "bleep" was a four second jingle which simply blotted out the offending bit.   If the phone in was going a bit slow then Tony and I would discuss my pressing the sensor button to make people think someone had sworn.  That always got the lines lighting up!
In fact, there were only 4 phone in lines  - 021 359 4011 - so the tech op had to work quickly to get the callers lined up, on-air, and off again quickly to free up the lines for new callers.    You could always spot a dodgy punter, as soon as you took their call.  It was a sixth sense.   Occasionally a dodgy one would get on air and many a time Tony would just give you the eye through the glass and you both knew to be ready with the bleep button. 
The famous Jasper Carrot sketch about Tony's programme is all true, and the incidents he refers to including sports reporter 'Harry Trethewey' at the Wolves saying live on air that the interviewee he'd lined up after the match "has just fu**ed off, Tone".  I was the tech op and Harry Trethewey (real name Tony Trethewey - he was BRMB's chief accountant) was that reporter.
Many a fine time was had at BRMB, including Dave Jamieson's memorable last late show.  I had gone round the entire staff  recording their brief farewell messages for Dave and recorded them over his show's theme tune cartridge which Dave was to play coming out of the 10pm news.     How we laughed!  Or the times we struggle back from The Avenue (the local pub) with a somewhat worse for wear presenter and prop him up in his seat with hand on the fader ready to start his programme. 
In my 3 years at BRMB I learned my  trade and am indebted to Dave Wood for teaching me everything I needed to know to become a manager which stood me in good stead when at the tender age of 23 I went off to be Chief Engineer at Severn Sound.    
The early years of BRMB were magic beyond compare - we were all pioneers and fearless.   That spirit doesn't exist in radio today.  Shame.

March 2008

BRMB Radio
                                    Audio MP3 Files

BRMB Audio MP3
                          Files   VISIT THE NEW BRMB AUDIO PAGE - HERE 


BRMB Schedule

BRMB Schedule
Printed BRMB Programme Schedule October 1984
Back Cover
Printed BRMB Programme Schedule December 1985
Front Cover


Pioneer Tuner

The IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) owned and operated the transmitters on behalf of BRMB.  BRMB, as with all other commercial Independent Local Radio stations (ILR), paid what amounted to a rent to the IBA in order to use these transmission facilities.

IBA description of
                                    BRMB's ILR service to Birmingham
IBA description of BRMB's ILR service to Birmingham (IBA Year Book)

Station map from the
                                    Birmingham Evening Mail in 1980
Station map from the Birmingham Evening Mail in 1980
showing the "lound and clear" reception areas of Mercia Sound,
Beacon Radio and BRMB Radio.

For Medium Wave the IBA installed the transmission equipment at Langley Mill, just to the north east of Birmingham.  This comprised an 800 Watt transmitter and a highly directional, and rather unusual for its day, four mast aerial system which directed the main beam of power south-west across the city of Birmingham with an equivalent radiated power in this direction of 3000 Watts (3.0 kW e.m.r.p.).  The frequency was 1151 kilohertz though at this time most people worked in wavelengths and expressed this as 261 meters.  Most radio stations of this era, including BRMB, simply announced the medium wavelength in meters - so it was  "261 BRMB RADIO"

For VHF / FM the IBA installed the transmission equipment at their very tall Lichfield mast located near Hints in Staffordhire.  Lichfield was the original mast, installed by the IBA's predecessor the ITA, to bring VHF, 405 line black and white television to the Midlands - ATV.  The VHF / FM transmitter for BRMB used directional aerials which were directed southwards across Birmingham with a maximum effective radiated power in that direction of 2000 Watts. (2.0 kW e.r.p.)  The frequency used was 94.8 MHz and, unlike BBC local radio, the transmissions were in stereo, as were all ILR VHF transmissions.

BRMB Radio TSA - Total
                                  Service Area

Map Showing The Coverage area of BRMB RADIO.
The solid line shows the VHF / FM contour.
The radiating lines show the total survey area where reasonable
reception should be possible on medium wave.
(IBA Year Book)

A special type of transmitting aerial was also used which enabled transmission of equal amounts of power in the horizontal and vertical planes of polarization - this was called "mixed polarization" and aided reception on vertically oriented car radio and portable radio aerials as well as providing a good signal for more traditional horizontally mounted rooftop vhf/fm aerials often installed for home hi-fi stereo systems.  Mixed polarization was pioneered by the IBA for ILR stations such as BRMB and is a system that was also adopted by the BBC years later.

In November 1978 BRMB's medium wave frequency was adjusted from 1151 kHz to 1152 kHz to fall into alignment with a new 9 kHz international frequency spacing plan.  This tiny adjustment did not affect listeners in any noticeable way and was not announced by the station.  BRMB was still essentially at the 261 meters spot on the dial.  (1151 kilohertz and for that matter 1152 kilohertz is just another way of expressing the 261 meters position on the medium wave radio dial).

The big frequency change that did affect BRMB, and many other local stations around the country, was the national re-organisation of the VHF / FM band between 1985 and 1987.  Though a great number of listeners still chose medium wave to listen to the radio, very many took advantage of the high fidelity stereo broadcasts at 94.8 MHz FM.  These listeners had to make the switch from the original frequency of 94.8 MHz to the new frequency of 96.4 MHz .

In spring 1989, after a long fight by BRMB for a more effective transmitter, the IBA finally installed a new transmitter at the main television and radio mast in Sutton Coldfield, which was closer to Birmingham than Lichfield.  The old Lichfield transmitter was shut down and transmissions moved to Sutton. 
The aerials used at Sutton were still very directional across Birmingham and the Black Country but the effective radiated power was now up to 10,000 Watts, so while the transmission area was not greatly expanded, the strength reception within that area should have been improved.   The map below shows the predicted change in coverage area from the new Sutton Coldfield transmitter compared to the original transmitter at Lichfield.  The transmitting aerial pattern had to be tightly matched to the transmission area so as to avoid overspill of the signal into the Wolverhampton and Coventry areas where other ILR stations operated (Beacon Radio and Mercia Sound).  The map also shows the medium wave  (AM) coverage from the Langley Mill transmitter.

BRMB Radio MW and VHF
                                  coverage contours
Predicted VHF coverage from new transmitter at Sutton Coldfield
also shows measured VHF coverage from Lichfield
and MF coverage from Langley Mill
(IBA Engineering Information)

BRMB coverage map
Measured VHF coverage from Sutton Coldfield

BRMB - On The Move

BRMB's Capital Radio styled
                        logo from 1997 to 2001Radio House as it looked by 2011 - rented
                          out as office spaceIn 1995 the building that BRMB and sister station XTRA AM occupied, 'Radio House', was completely refurbished.
However in August 1998 BRMB's management (Capital Radio group) moved the radio station out of its old building in Aston Road North to brand new studios at 9 Brindley Place, Oozells Square; part of the Birminghams's entertainment quarter, with Radio House being put up for sale.

The move cost a reported two million pounds and provided the station with new studios and offices located above a new "Radio Cafe" concept introduced by the station's owners Capital Radio. BRMB and sister station Capital Gold moved into the first floor of the new building where there were three studios together with a commercial production suite. The Radio Cafe was intended to be a venue for bands vising the station while also serving meals and drinks to members of the public.

Station Director Julie Fair said: "We're all very excited about the move. We've been in Aston for around 25 years and our present building has become a bit drab. Brindley Place is as central as we could get and it seems to be where everything is happening. We will be much more accessible for people to visit us and we feel we will be more in touch with the public."

Other commercial radio stations, Heart FM and Choice FM (later Galaxy then Capital) together with Central Television (ITV) were also located nearby in the Broad Street area.

While BRMB remained on the first floor the Radio Cafe idea turned out to not to be a marketing success and was abandoned. The space is now inhabited by another cafe business.

BRMB as seen from Broad Street in

BRMB - Then and Now

BRMB's Capital Radio styled logo 2001 to
                        2007Today's BRMB (2011) is not the 'all things to all people' type of radio station that it used to be - an entertaining, communicating, community based radio station. Birmingham, its population and the radio industry as a whole is much the worse off for that.

Throughout the 1970's, 1980's and into the early 1990's BRMB Radio provided some truly unique and wonderful local radio programming which, today, is very greatly  missed. 

The unique culture and locallness of BRMB, a radio station steeped in its community is gone - possibly forever which is extremely sad.

James Young comments: "It is only now when you look at what is called commercial radio with the homogeneous pap programmed by computers and distributed from a central source to so-called 'local' stations you realise how pioneering it all was in the 1970s."

BRMB FM continued to be a popular music station in Birmingham through to 2012 - so a hearty congratulations to one and all for all past achievements.  Well done everyone involved with "261 BRMB  Radio" - particularly from the 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's !

"Butler! He's your man at the ground!
Butler! Let's kick it around!
Butler! Gets from you to me!
He's the man of the century!"

*  *  *

BRMB, Heard by millions,
We're the heartbeat of the Midlands!
Turn on, tune in, to a brighter day!
If you're low we can light your fire,
If you're high we can take you higher!
Two-Six-One, Medium Wave on your dial,
And away we go-oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
BRMB sounds familiar, let the mood of music fill your head,
And let your thoughts - Run - Freeeeeeeee!

*  *  *

^Top Of Page

2008 - GCAP bought by the Global Radio conglomerate and puts BRMB & other stations up for sale

GCap's BRMB logo 2007 to 20102008

Since the GWR and Capital Radio plc merger, to form GCAP, in 2004, the Labour government through its hapless regulator Ofcom  continually reduced local
programming commitments and relaxed ownership rules.

The Labour government's Digital Report and other industry reports weakened any remaining thread-bear commitments to quality and locally produced programming still further. Already, by 2009, many so-called local commercial radio stations provide only the bear minimum of four hours per day of local programmes.

Stations such as BRMB and Beacon may only have a locally produced breakfast and drive-time programme with all other output networked in from London or elsewhere. Many stations resort to a technological trick called 'voice-tracking' (VT). In this case the station merely inserts pre-recorded presenter announcements between music tracks and commercials from an automated computer play-out system. Some small stations might sound local to a casual listener because of some local adverts and announcements, but in many cases it most probably isn't actually the case, with programmed being voice-tracked or piped in from remote studies elsewhere in the country.

In April 2008 GCAP itself was bought for £375 million by Global Radio - owners of the banal Heart FM and Galaxy brands and other stations such as LBC in London. This formed a massive radio conglomerate including Capital 95.8 in London, the XFM brands, Choice FM, Classic FM, the Gold network and the so-called "Hit Music Network" consisting of BRMB, Beacon, Mercia, Wyvern, Chiltern, 
Horizon, Southern FM, Invicta FM, Mercury, Essex FM, Fox FM etc.

However the deal was somewhat too large for the Competition Commission and OFT to allow, so they required Global Radio to dispose of a number of stations. To this end in August 2008 Global put BRMB in Birmingham up for sale along with Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton and Shropshire (97.2 & 103.1), Mercia FM in Coventry (97.0 & 102.9), Wyvern FM in Hereford & Worcester (97.6, 96.7 & 102.8), Heart 106 in the East Midlands along with the associated medium wave, AM licenses in Birmingham (1152),
Coventry (1359), Shrewsbury (1017) and Wolverhampton (990).

Among bidders for these stations were a consortium headed by former BRMB Programme Controller Mike Owen, another group led by former BRMB and Chrysalis Radio executive Phil Riley and another from the German radio and publishing group Bauer - owner of former EMAP stations in the north of the UK.


Orion's BRMB logo 2010 to 2012In mid May 2009 Phil Riley's group, backed by Lloyds TSB venture capital, emerged as the winning buyer of the Midlands stations. The original price asked by Global for these stations was thought to be in the region of £40 million (though this is unconfirmed). Renowned radio expert Phil Riley became Orion's Chief Executive while another industry expert, David Lloyd, took the position of Director of Programming & Marketing with Adrian Serle as the Commercial Director.

From the beginning of 2009 Global Radio started a mass re-branding of the so-called 'Hit Music' network with the non-descript "Heart" brand. Famous heritage stations names - so well known since the inception of ILR - started to be culled: Plymouth Sound, GWR, Hereward, Orchard FM, FOX FM,  2-TEN, Ocean FM, Southern FM, 2CR, Invicta, Chiltern, Horizon, SGR,
Gemini FM, Lantern FM, Q103, Coast, Champion, Marcher Sound - all fell under Global Radio's axe, only to be replaced by the banal Heart network. Power FM in Southampton was replaced by the Galaxy brand.

The further government relaxation of local programming requirements may allow all these essentially local licenses to transmit what will effectively be a full-time nationally networked Heart programme, with the only local content being locally inserted advertising and minimal local news.

Too much competition, too little and ineffectual regulation as well as massive pressure from the commercial radio lobby helped allow the widespread loss of real local radio. The sad thing is that it was allowed to happen by the audience which was seemingly uninterested in community and local (or even national) news, but accepting of meaningless 'prattle' and narrow, focused and repetitive playlists that are increasingly used by commercial radio.

What happened to BRMB and the other Midlands stations from this point remained to be seen.
Enthusiasts hoped that Phil Riley, who had a rather long association with the station, would show a better commitment to local radio in the Midlands than Capital, GCAP and Global before it.

From The Coventry Evening Telegraph.
September 21st 2009

THE boss of the new company which owns Coventry and Warwickshire station Mercia FM has spoken of his plans to put the local back in local radio. Phil Riley, chief executive of Orion Media, which purchased six Midlands stations from Global Radio, believes in closer links with management and the stations themselves.

He has already pushed through a restructuring programme, transforming the group from an outpost of the ex-owner’s empire into a self-contained Birmingham-based company. Mr Riley said: “We will be more focused on playing the right music for our core audience, more focused on local content and more focused on events and personality.”

The private equity-backed takeover also included the purchase of BRMB in Birmingham, Beacon FM in Wolverhampton, Radio Wyvern in Worcester, Gold in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, and Heart 106.


With the Digital Economy Act of 2010 allowing further relaxation of local programming requirements, the UK economy essentially flat-lining since 2008 and with tough competition, particularly from Global's quasi-national stations Heart and Capital, Orion's response was, naturally, to cut back on programming costs. Beacon was at one time a dual area providing separate programming for the Wolverhampton area and the Shropshire area, but Orion dropped this and merged the two areas - Ofcom did not require separate output. Eventually the greater majority of output from Orion's stations was merged across the midlands regions with about 75% of all output from BRMB in Birmingham being shared across Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern. It did seem to not bode well for the future.

The once separate and local radio station for Coventry and Warwickshire, Mercia [Sound], was effectively closed. The Hertford Place studios in Coventry were shut and all programming on its 97.0 and 102.9 MHz transmitters was from then on to come from Orion's studio in Birmingham.

BRMB studios at Brindley Place in
BRMB studios at Brindley Place in Birmingham
Photograph from Radio

2012  -  BRMB is DEAD

RIP BRMB Radio 1974 to
                  2012In January 2012 Orion Media called it a day on heritage radio brands BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern, and Beacon and abandons individual stations names in favour of a one name for all approach across its areas and transmitters.

Under the terms of its franchise, won from the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) in the 1973 BRMB had to offer some content to all interests and sections of the community - it had to be an 'all things to all people' station.

So for the first decade or so the station offered mixed format programming with 'pop' music during the day interspersed with news, sport, interviews, shopping tips and recipes and the like. In the evening specialist programmes were broadcasts. Over the years, as IBA franchises became Ofcom licences, most programming requirements and directives were dropped from the licence conditions.

By 2012, of course, local radio was becoming a distant memory with 75% of all output was shared across the stations, so the once separate stations were essentially a single network in all but name - some local peak time hours remained,
at breakfast and drive time. However having separate local names was becoming meaningless and pointless to the point that it was hampering the marketing of the network.

Having four separate names does not allow a presenter to make a live reference to the station name during networking - he cannot refer to the name "BRMB" while also broadcasting live across Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern! Why indeed make four separate pre-recorded station name identification announcements in a programme that was being shared across the network?

So, by now it was less relevant to have separate a identification of of four 'local' stations; BRMB, Mercia, Beacon and Wyvern. Indeed much of what was once local commercial radio across the rest of the UK was gradually being amalgamated into larger groups with output being shared across regions or even on a quasi-national basis. The traditional 'heritage' ILR stations of the 1970's / 1980's had almost disappeared in their original local format.

Orion Media's stations, however, remained locally owned in the Midlands, but it was a logical conclusion to retire the BRMB and
Mercia / Beacon / Wyvern) identities and formulate one new, all encompassing network brand.

The name chosen was Freeradio which had a soft launch on 26th March 2012.

BRMB, along with the other well known names,
Mercia, Beacon and Wyvern, merely faded inauspiciously from the airwaves; phased out between 21st March and 26th March 2012 when the new name was launched.

R.I.P.  B i R M ingham Broadcasting.

See the headlines from The Guardian newspaper below:

Birmingham's BRMB rebrands to Free Radio

From The Guardian newspaper:
9th January 2012

Owner Orion Media announces name change for Birmingham broadcaster along with three Midlands sister stations Beacon, Wyvern and Mercia.

Nearly 40 years of radio history will be wiped off the dial with the rebrand of Birmingham's BRMB to Free Radio.

Owner Orion Media, run by former Chrysalis Radio boss Phil Riley, announced the rebrand of the Birmingham broadcaster along with three of its sister stations in the Midlands – Mercia, Beacon and Wyvern.

Riley said the content of the stations, which currently share about 75% of their programming outside of breakfast and drivetime, would remain unchanged.

Orion is the latest commercial radio group to relaunch stations under a single brand, beginning with the rollout of Global Radio's Heart followed by sister network Capital and Smooth Radio, which is owned by GMG Radio, part of the group that publishes MediaGuardian.

Riley, the chief executive of Orion Media, said: "The decision to change the name of our stations after each one has been broadcasting in their areas under their original names for so long has not been easy or one that we have taken lightly.

"We have given this a great deal of consideration and undertaken detailed research. The original on air names of each station means a lot to all of us at Orion, and we know and understand the deep affection many people have for those names. However, the radio market has changed dramatically recently and we have to adapt and respond."

BRMB was the UK's fourth commercial radio station when it launched in 1974. It was followed by Beacon in 1976, Mercia in 1980 and Wyvern two years later.

Riley said the "Free Radio" name was chosen because it was "easy to remember, easy to spell, and is flexible enough to work in a number of different ways. It's not free as in cheap, it's free as in freedom to have a bit more character".

The four stations have a reach of 889,000 listeners between them, according to the latest official Rajar figures, with BRMB the biggest with an average weekly reach of 359,000.

Riley said the new name would make the stations a better to sell to advertisers. He said no content would be changed – or jobs lost – as a result of the rebrand.

He added: "Although the names are changing, the commitment we have to provide the best mix of music and presenters along with local news, sport, weather and traffic remains our No 1 priority.

"Even when we are in network mode on Free Radio, we will be broadcasting from and ensuring the station serves only the needs of the region."

Orion Media also owns Gem 106 in the east Midlands and the Gold AM station in the west Midlands, which will not be rebranding.



Two months after the closure of BRMB and the launch of Free Radio on FM and DAB, there was some brighter news from Orion Media.

In May 2012 it was announced that Gold, the oldies station produced by Global Radio in London and relayed by Orion Media to the Midlands on medium wave and DAB, would be replaced by a locally produced station to be called Free Radio 80's. 

Read more about Free Radio 80's here


Keith Brown writes:

Mike, Terry returned to Birmingham this week for a holiday - first time in 33 years .Today we visited Radio House. Please include the photo on your great site.
Cheers, Keith.  [ Thanks Keith - that's great. Cheers, Mike ]

Terry Griffiths outside Radio House in 2013.
                  Photo by Keith Brown
Terry Griffiths outside Radio House in July 2013. Photo by Keith Brown

A comment from reader, James Young:  


What a fabulous website on the history of BRMB and so many memories. I started at Lanchester Polytechnic in Sept 1974 and BRMB was the station of choice. It is only now when you look at what is called commercial radio with the homogeneous  pap programmed by computers and distributed from a central source to so-called 'local' stations you realise how pioneering it all was in the 70s.

Your website concentrated quite rightly on how strong BRMB was in the community and I'm sure John Russell used to do a Sunday classical music programme. No space for that now in the schedules.

My 3rd year was a year in industry, so 76/77 found me living in Shrewsbury listening to Beacon 303. Pioneering in many different ways with a very N American approach from ND Jay White. Rock show host KKJ and Mike Baker's American Billboard Chart Show - the fastest show on two turntables. My 4th year was back in Coventry where I subsequently worked for a couple of years. A choice now from BRMB and Mercia Sound with the talented Gordon Astley on breakfast.

You have amassed so much information on BRMB - its greatest stars undoubtedly Les Ross (absolutely the best at breakfast anywhere) Ed Doolan and Tony Butler. I remember the classic 2 way with Tony Trethewey. I also heard that the bleep loop was used more often in Tony's programme than it ever was in general election campaigns with the need to maintain political neutrality. I ended up working in Engineering at Pebble Mill in the 80s (another great time and place) and knew Tony Butler when he was in the newsroom on earlys for Breakfast. A totally fascinating person to talk to.

Sadly the iconic Pebble Mill is no more; apparently the old ATV/Central studios on Bridge St are slated to come down as well, as that area is re-developed but, a quick look at Google Earth and a check in the postcode directory shows Radio House is still there, but now B6 4DA has replaced B6 4BX. I wonder why?

Thanks again for a wonderful website

James Young

Ian Edwards adds:

Hi,  I've just stumbled across your site and have whiled away an hour reading through some of your pages on ILR. I was an engineer at Radio Luxembourg (1973-1976) Beacon Radio (1976-1980) and BRMB/Capital (1980-2005) and so have lived through, but forgotten, much of it. You have gathered more archive material than the radio stations themselves which is commendable, how have you done it!
I have quite a library of original audio around the house, and some home video clips from BRMB days (mid 80's) if I ever get round to it I'll have a sort through and see if there is anything I can contribute to your collection.  It's also good to see that you still seem to be maintaining the site - keep up the good work, I'll be back as there is a lot I haven't looked at yet.
Regards,  Ian Edwards

Keith Burson adds:

Hello Mike, I have a 40 min abridged version of Radio Acocks Green introduced by Ed Doolan and is complete as broadcast apart from the removal of a couple of records that seemed unnessasary as they were standard hits of the time. My MP3 is resampled to 32K giving a filesize of 9.586MB.

Also I have the first part of the opening broadcast of BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970. I was working at Pebble Mill at the time, it includes the news of the time plus how the station was planned. I was 19 years old when I recorded this clip, I was one of the many engineers that were involved in the new studios, we felt we were breaking new ground with a true local radio station, as indeed we were. I think the best time of my professional career in electronics was my time at Pebble Mill, I have many happy memories to look back on.

Hope you find the clip interesting, they were both recorded on cassette so quality is not so good but brings back the times when radio and tv studios were something special.

Love the site.

Best wishes,
Keith Burson
[March 2010]

Thank you Keith for generously sending the mp3 clips of Radio Acocks Green and the opening of BBC Radio Birmingham. It is most generous and kind of you.
Radio Acocks Green, from 1979, can be found on the BRMB Audio Page here > and the opening of BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970 can be found on the Airwaves page here >

Glyn writes:

Hello Mike, What a great site I compliment you on all your hard work. I remember
BRMB back in 1974 when I lived in Stratford upon Avon. In fact I won a record and tee shirt!! I also did a lot of charity work for the blind driving a narrow boat up the cut to give the people a day out; I heard the appeal on BRMB.

I write to ask if I can put a link onto our club web site, the Barry Amateur Radio Society

Again my thanks and appreciation for a very informative site.

73  Glyn GW0ANA, Chairman, B.A.R.S.
[March 2011]

Stan Drew writes:

Many congratulations on your excellent site about BRMB, which brings back many memories. I came across this interview with John Slater, in which he talks about his time at BRMB:  career-profile-john-slater-a-life-of-drive-time-162478

Regards, Stan Drew
[April 2011]

From Bobby:

Hi Mike, I would like to congratulate you and thank you for your uploads of BRMB recordings from 80s and 90s. I was particularly interested in the George Gavin and Tom Ross football phone ins. I was a keen listener and never missed a show and never thought that I would hear them again until I came across your website.

Kind Regards, Bobby.
[June 2011]

Keith Brown writes:

Mike, I must congratulate you on your site capturing the golden days of BRMB. I was there listening on day one and up until the early Eighties had struck up friendships with a few of the presenters. Dave Jamieson and Adrian Juste to mention two. The staff at Radio House used to use a local pub called The Avenue, I can remember chatting to Tony Butler about the Birmingham Brummies Speedway team over a pint. Actually it was a half as Butler only drank halves!

Shirley, West Midlands
[July 2011]

From Lynne Holden:

Hi, I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed your site. I joined BRMB in May 1974 as record librarian and left in September 1997 after 23 years. I think I was Programmes Co-Ordinator by then. I am still in touch with almost all my ex-colleagues (I joined Radio 2 after leaving BRMB and I am still at the BBC).  Even though I’ve been with the BBC for over 14 years, BRMB will always be my spiritual home – it was a very special place and we were, and continue to be, a family.

Thanks for the lovely memories.

Lynne Holden [December 2011]

From Jon Dell:

Just to say a big thank you for putting the Les Ross "Yesterday Never Comes" recordings on line!

Really enjoyed them!   Nim Nim Nim!
John Dell
[September 2012]

Terry Hughes writes:

Hi Mike,

GREAT website.  Although I now live in Canada, I was a Black Country kid and started listening to BRMB in 1976 I think.  I was a Hospital Radio DJ in Dudley and I got to know some of the presenters including Roger Day, Les Ross, and others.  I am still in touch with Roger Day.

I was on BRMB a few times myself, as a guest DJ.  I have one of those as an MP3 file (it's me and Roger Day doing a Sunday morning show in 1982), let me know the best way to send it to you and you can put it on your site.  I also have a Les Ross breakfast show from 1987.  You are welcome to both files.  I also have an MP3 of radio jingles from the 1970s and there's a lot of Midlands stuff on there.

Congrats on a great website.

Terry Hughes.
[October 2012]

Martin Benedyk writes:

Hi, I was a reporter and newsreader at BRMB between 1981 and 1984, working under Brian Sheppard and Colin Palmer. I spent three of my happiest years working for the station.

[On adding Martin to the BRMB page] I was hardly up there with the greats like Les Ross or Ed Doolan - but it gives me particular pride and pleasure to see myself listed, through your work, as part of the collective memory of the station, and I still have some bulletins, jingles and general clips on cassette tape. If you're interested, I will get them down from the loft and send them to you.

Thank you for everything you're doing to keep the BRMB memory alive - it was a wonderful station and I am very sad that it has disappeared from the airwaves.

Best regards,

Martin Benedyk (Now working for The Associated Press in London)
[October 2012]

From James Rosson:

Hi Mike, Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the ILR section of your website. I was inspired to write by the recent ‘biopic /docudrama about Kenny Everett on BBC 4 which brought back some great memories.

I used to spend a number of half term holidays in the 1970’s zooming all over the UK with my father usually delivering parts to the great British car industry so BRMB was no stranger to the Ford Cortina’s medium wave only radio. As you well know it was on 261m (seemingly the ILR frequency of choice) so you could leave London on the M1 listening to LBC and almost have an automatic retune to BRMB and then Piccadilly, if you were heading toward the British Leyland factory in Speke.

All those stations were great and put today’s ‘local’ radio to shame. The dumbing down of the original ILR network is nothing short of a disgrace. As for the new digital only stations the less said the better (with the honourable exception of BBC 6 Music) – and the powers that be are surprised by the lack of take up … perhaps they haven’t listened to any of it!

I’m now the one behind the wheel zooming up and down the M1 and I usually take a pile of CDs to listen to rather than listen to the rubbish pumped out by Heart and Capital; Can anyone tell me what ‘ownership’ and ‘involvement’ someone living in Cardiff or Sheffield have of a station called Capital???

It’s interesting to me how much of Radio 2’s output over the last 10 years at times sounds so much like the ‘old’ ILR. It’s equally interesting how they always clean up when the audience figures are released so it proves those stations were on the right track.

Keep up the good work.

Thanks, James Rosson.
[November 2012]

We hope that this page has brought back some great memories of some really wonderful programmes that would have been heard on the Second City's only Independent Radio station in the 1970's and 1980's - BRMB : 261 meters (1152 kilohertz) medium wave and 94.8 VHF / FM stereo

With very grateful thanks to:

Andy Wint (Beacon Radio Manx Radio, Chatsworth Campbell Media, Isle of Man) - BRMB images.

Dave Jamieson who provided many interesting details of his, and other fellow presenters', career details at BRMB and other radio stations.

Rob Golding (BRMB news 1974 to 1979)

Mike Owen of Mike Owen Media -

Phil Riley (BRMB, Free Radio, Orion Media)

David Lloyd (BRMB, Free Radio, Orion Media)

Simon Davies who provided extra details about his time and the programmes at BRMB

Rashida Subedar for taking the trouble to supply additional information regarding the Razzamatazz show.

John Slater for additional material.

John Rogers for additional newsroom names.

Terry Griffiths for additional comments.

John Howard for additional background.

Frazer Sheppard for additional material

Ian Edwards for additional information.

Allan Porter for addition information about the BRMB newsroom.

Quentin Howard for Six Of The Best and other information.

John Russell for The Inside Story of BRMB Radio.

Al Cale for audio files.

John Crump for audio files.

Paul Tang for audio files.

Richard Tucker for audio files.

James Young for comments and information.

Julian Watson for audio files.

Terry Hughes for audio files.

Keith Brown for photographs and audio files.

Keith Burson for information and audio files.

Martin Benedyk for information.

Robert Scott for audio recordings.

Graham Hyde for audio recordings.

Grateful thanks to anyone who I may have forgotten - If I have, please remind me!

Thanks also to all those involved at BRMB for the fine entertainment that you have all provided.

[**] Information from David Lloyd -

RIP BRMB Radio 1974 to


  JOHN RUSSELL's INSIDE STORY   |  More BRMB Archives  |  Radio Acocks Green - 261 and a bit

BRMB in the IBA's year book "Television and Radio" 1976 to 1987


40th Anniversary of Commercial Radio in Birmingham - 19th February 2014



                        Radio Car Sticker BRMB
                        Radio Car Sticker BRMB
                        Radio Car Sticker BRMB
                        Radio Car Sticker BRMB
                        Radio Car Sticker BRMB
                        Radio Car Sticker BRMB
                        Radio Car Sticker


Free Radio, Midlands

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Visit my Amateur Radio pages . . . .

The audio on this site is deliberately low quality - (Specially designed for tinny computer speakers!)
Remember: It's the material that counts - and BRMB was extraordinarily good!
Higher quality mp3 or wav files exist on my own local machine.