The 50th Anniversary of BBC Radio Leicester is on 8th November 2017.

This unofficial blog aims to tell the story of Britain's first UK mainland local radio station, and to celebrate its achievements with the help of former staff, their families and our listeners.

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The Mk 3 Desk

GalleryPosted by Stephen Butt Mon, November 21, 2016 07:52:14
The technical equipment in a radio station is often overlooked - except by engineers - unless it goes wrong. A major leap forward for BBC Radio Leicester was the upgrade to the Mark III configuration. It was a big change from the Mk 1 Peto-Scott desks which had served the station since 1967. It also heralded the gradual move from mono to stereo across the BBC Local Radio network.

In my opinion, Radio Leicester was lucky to have avoided the BBC Mark 2 desk which I operated occasionally at BBC Radio Bristol. I found the methods of selecting channels to groups (A-B,1-2) confusing. I never really worked out what 'clean feed' I was sending - or to whom!

Because the Mk III desks were designed by people who worked on BBC stations and knew what presenters and technical operators needed, and was built in the BBC's own Equipment Centre at Avenue House in Chiswick, it was a robust and easy-to-use desk which also had great flexibility of function.

I am not sure who took this image. It is of myself pretending I knew how to use the desk, and it is in the upgraded Studio 1 at Epic House, clearly sometime after we had begun logging broadcast music using barcode readers.

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The Gramophone Library

GalleryPosted by Stephen Butt Sun, November 13, 2016 07:18:19
Even in the 1960s, the word 'Gramophone' was out-of-date and rarely used outside the BBC. Ordinary folk had 'record players'; but the BBC still had Gramophone Libraries.

This is a photograph of the original Gramophone Library at Epic House in August 1971 (according to the BBC Calendar pinned on the shelving). The Library was on the Charles Street side of Floor 8, and doubled as the Station Assistants' Office. When the station was upgraded to Mark III, this became Studio 2, and the Library was moved to the Lee Circle side of Floor 9.

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More from the Morgue

GalleryPosted by Stephen Butt Tue, November 08, 2016 11:48:18
In the 1960s and 70s, the Morgue studio was a busy place with space for music recordngs and school visits as part of the station's education out under Hal Bethel and Paul Cobley.

Here are some young programme-makers from 1970, which may bring back some memories.

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Leicester skyline at dawn

GalleryPosted by Stephen Butt Sun, November 06, 2016 07:32:24
This is the ever-changing view of Leicester's skyline looking south-east from Floor 9 of Epic House. A view that greeted everyone who ever worked on an early shift in the 37 years in which BBC Radio Leicester was located here.

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Did it all begin here?

GalleryPosted by Stephen Sat, October 01, 2016 14:20:33

This is the former City Morgue in Leicester. Very few pictures of this building remain. As can be seen from the background, it was located on Freeman's Common. The clocktower marks the settling rooms for the cattle awaiting the auctions in Leicester's cattle market, and the livestock pens can be seen on the left. On the horizon are the chimneys and cooling towers of the Leicester Power Station. The King Power Stadium now stands on that site.

Before Radio Leicester opened, the BBC used the Morgue as a studio connected to its regional headquarters in Birmingham, and it is from here that final-score match reports for Leicester City and Leicester Tigers were filed. When Radio Leicester went on air, the building became its Education Studio. However, in the months leading up to the station's opening, local elections led to a change of political power in Leicester. The new council did not adopt its predecessor's support for BBC local radio including partial funding from local rates. It is said that Roland Orton, owner of the Leicester News Service and a frequent user of the Morgue (as a reporter! organised an evening 'summit meeting' in the building and managed to persuade the new leadership to change its mind.

The Morgue was linked to the main studios at Epic House by a GPO line. To economise on cost, the line could be switched away from the Morgue to the Welford Road rugby ground commentary box, using phantom power. This was commonly referred to as the 'morgue phantom'. The studio mixing desk was a rebuilt 'mobile' desk which could operate in stereo and used low level mixing (so each time you adjusted one fader, you needed to compensate by adjusting all the others at the same time!) After the BBC finally left the morgue, the desk was passed to the University of Lincoln for use in radio training courses.

The morgue was surrounded by a grass verge which was kept trimmed by a local couple using one of Radio Leicester's more unusual assets, a motorised BBC lawnmower. The morgue was demolished in the late 1980s to make way for access roads to the newly-constructed Freeman's Common shopping area.

One of the rare live programmes from the Morgue (if that is not an oxymoron) was with the late Sir Harold Wilson, then Prime Minister, in March 1981. For 'reasons of security' he chose not to visit Epic House.

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