Thameside Radio 90.2
The Thameside Radio 90.2 Story
Years of success
After the first year the shows grew to three hours. The final hour was called The Intrepid Birdman Show. Dave (The Birdman) (photo right) had for a while been producing jingles and inserts for the station. He now started producing finely crafted one hour shows which mixed comedy, sketches and music.
The Birdman attracted a number of new listeners who formed a fan club. Characters like Mazzie, Margaret. Neil and the Latymer gang became regular contributors. They supported not only The Birdman but also Bob and the station as a whole. (Photo left shows Sarah, Bob and Alex with some listeners letters large and small) Listeners would contribute material including, notably, a complete set of professional theme tunes. The special broadcasts became more common - some from public venues, some from listeners' homes.
The station's personality grew and matured. The Birdman's jingles added a sense of humour. Listeners could buy Thameside branded t-shirts (costing £3.30) and sweatshirts as well as car stickers, pens and badges. The music policy became more up to date. Slowly there were fewer Beatles tracks and more by bands in the new wave movement like Squeeze and Ultravox. Again in contrast to the other stations now filling the weekend airwaves Thameside was unashamedly populist. Most London pirates had an agenda to promote a particular type of music, usually soul, Thameside simply aimed to give its listeners a good time by going out to actuall meet them and giving us a voice on the station.
Alongside the improved content came an increase in transmission power. Thameside now reached most of London and many areas to the south and west.
In addition to the broadcasts Thameside ran a growing number of special events. For example there was Alex Wright's weekly "fast food survey" where listeners would meet at a fast food restaurant to review the quality of the food - the highlights were broadcast on air. They would promote bands and concerts. The news slot had an increasing number of personality interviews in addition to the light hearted news features presented by Sarah and Alex.
Extended hours also became a more common feature. The Birdman - always a maverick - would tease listeners by announcing the end of his show and then carrying on just before the end of the one minute silence that preceded the transmitter automatically closing down. (photo: The Birdman using the mobile studio). The BBC even featured Thameside Radio on the "B15 Show" hosted by Adrian Love on Radio 1.
After four years as Thameside Radio became a more accepted part of the FM band they started to receive more attention from the DTI who were responsible for patrolling the airwaves. Every so often broadcasts would finish early because a transmitter had been "raided". Because the station used radio links to connect the studio to the transmitters, and could even change transmitters mid way through the broadcast they generally managed to avoid personal attention but simply lost equipment. However transmitters aren't cheap or quick to build - this was beginning to have an effect on the economics of the station. There were a number of new people such as Piers and Ian the engineer who were becoming involved in the technical side of the station.
A high point was the fourth birthday party. Pervious parties had been broadcast live from the open air or from halls. This one was held on a boat cruising up and down the Thames. Not only was the atmosphere wonderful but the sheer technical achievement of linking from a moving boat to a fixed site was incredible. Even the BBC had problems broadcasting the Boat Race live on the Thames, but Thameside managed to pull it off.
After the birthday the shows became longer. Instead of just running from 7-10pm they would go past midnight. There were some technical firsts such as the memorable live linkup with Uptown Radio, another pirate. A number of new presenters such as Paul James, Ian Stewart, Terry Anderson and The Curly Man appeared - and some old ones disappeared. The station began to broadcast in stereo. (photos: Paul James and The Curly Man)
Special thanks for mp3s, writing in or sending pictures to (amongst others) , Carol H, Olaf Star, Jessica D, Pyers E, Warren S, Stephen Sykes, John G, Mike E, itrilby for Radio Eric, Alex Wright, Aidan S, Dave "The Birdman", Alan Dolby, Rachel McIntyre (for Terry Anderson), Al at fmthen.com for the Thameside Radio Revisited podcasts, Terry/Decibel90 and Steve Scribbler.
I know that a lot of Thameside listeners and friends would like to get in touch with each other again. If you are happy to have e-mail forwarded do write in. Even if you don't have any new information it would be great to hear from you.
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