Remembering Radio Orwell 257

An original Radio Orwell 257 Badge circa 1975

At the , a very active discussion is taking place on Facebook in which former staff and listeners of Radio Orwell are sharing memories. The nature of Facebook is such that only recent posts are shown and older ones are hard to find, consequently there are already a lot of repeated questions. More importantly, a lot of memories that people have committed to the page are already off the bottom of the page and in danger of being lost.

To save at least some of that discussion, I've created this page as a means to capture some of the discussion in a manner that will make it findable long term.

For the current discussion, see the Facebook Page Remembering Radio Orwell 257.

I'm planning to make available some of my own archive from that time separately (I was commercial script writer, in house voice and off-peak presenter from November 1985 - February 1990) but this page is about the station as a whole.

The First Hour

The first chairman of Radio Orwell Limited, Commander John Jacob

Radio Orwell began broadcasting .

Based at Electric House in Ipswich, it was one of the very first (legal) commerical radio stations in Britain.

The first voice heard was that of chairman Commander John Jacobs, followed by Managing Director Donald Brooks.

The future ITV News Royal Correspondent Tim Ewart read the first news bulletin followed by the first presenter, Keith Rogers (real name Keith Chanter).

Bill Rollins recorded the first hour on a Brennel tape machine at Point Clear, near Clacton, and has kindly let me post it here in full. Bill also recorded the test transmissions from just a few days before the official launch.

The first record was Gladys Kinght and the Pips' The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.

The first commercial was for the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Shipping, voiced by its president, John Young.

The presenter of the first programme, Keith Rogers

Star Quality

The Radio Orwell "It's A Knockout" team circa 1976/7. Left to right: Chris Opperman, Andy Archer, Gail Wickens and Nigel Reeve in a dress!
The Radio Orwell Football X1. March 1976 versus Stowmarket Young Farmers. Left to right: Nigel Reeve (sales), Keith Rogers, Tim Ewart, Patrick Eade, Brian Knights, Richie Gurd, Rob Young, Chris Opperman, Andy Archer, Pete Barraclough, Harry Rowell. Kneeling: Terry Lloyd, Malcom Brabant and Ian Collard.

In its heyday, Radio Orwell was big and its presenters genuine local celebrities — far more so than any of today's local radio folks. Here are some of the many pictures posted on the Facebook page by the biggest star the station produced — and he really was a household name in those days — Andy Archer (no relation, his real name is Andrew Dawson).

Nightly Closedown

This page is about the station, not me, but here's a bit of me…

From launch until April 1989, Radio Orwell (later joined by Saxon Radio in Bury St Edmunds) would close down at night. By 1988, before the station began broadcasting 24 hours a day, that time had been pushed to 01:00. Paul Morris (now on TOWN 102) recorded one such closedown, which I voiced over the then station theme which was part of the jingle package created by David Arnold (who should not be confused with the musician of the same name who is best known as John Barry's successor in making music for the Bond films)*.

Throughout the night we had to broadcast 'something' as much as anything to prevent the transmitters from going into some sort of hibernation mode. As a result there was a tone played every few seconds and then every ten minutes or so you'd hear Nick Coady giving this announcement (in this case over one of the jingles that he produced to follow on from the David Arnold package in 1988).

Nick recorded a special message for Carl Goss to play before the final close down on the night of . Paul Morris caught it on tape.

If you like David Arnold's music, then I recommend you head over to Radio and where, among other goodies, you'll find Arnold's Listen to Essex — neighbouring Essex Radio's 1981 theme.

* I am grateful to Sean Saunders for correcting my earlier confusion over the two David Arnolds. In short, the jingle-maker is not the same as the Bond composer.