Friday, 29 July 2011

Down Your Local - Capital Radio

This is the second post in a series looking at the original nineteen ILR stations. This week Capital Radio.

Airdate: 16 October 1973
Still on air?: Yes, though now part of a national Capital Group as from January 2011.

Being based in London and being the largest of the ILR stations Capital Radio could draw in the big names that even Northerners like me, that never got to listen, had heard of. Having said that, like LBC, Capital struggled a little in its first year. The music policy was a too American MOR, but then you have to remember that the directors included Richard Attenborough, George Martin (who held formulate the music policy) and David Jacobs, but it changed to be a more commercial version of Radio 1. In came Kenny Everett and Dave Cash to re-create their Kenny and Cash teaming that had been so popular on pirate Radio London and Michael Aspel joined in 1974 to beef up the morning schedules against strong competition from Tony Blackburn. Early attempts at drama serials such as The Bed Sitter, with Peggy Mount, A King and his Mistress, She and Me and Honey Adair were gradually dropped and the Head of Drama resigned when he found he had no drama to produce.

Here’s the Radio Guide programme listings published in December 1977:


A number of Capital’s DJs broadcasting at this time had come from UBN –the United Biscuits Network. Although this was only a closed-circuit station for the company’s factories it was very professionally run and was the breeding ground for many ILR presenters. At Capital they included:
- Roger Scott - who also worked at stations in the States and Canada and was later to join Radio 1.
- Adrian Love – he’d moved from LBC and would eventually go to Radio 1 (Studio B15) and then a weekday afternoon show for Radio 2 in the late 1980s.
- Nicky Horne - with his very popular rock show You’re Mother Wouldn’t Like It, now currently on Planet Rock.
- Graham Dene - who came via Radio City and by late 1977 was hosting The Breakfast Show, having taken over from Kenny Everett.

Kenny Everett by now was on at the weekends leaving Dave Cash with a weekday show at noon. Kenny’s programme featured the adventures of Captain Kremmen and his well-endowed sidekick Carla.

A number of Capital’s DJs had come from the BBC. Of course there was Michael Aspel at that time best know for Crackerjack, Ask Aspel and being the London anchor on Family Favourites. Duncan Johnson had been in the original team at Radio 1, although seemingly given little to do other than present Crack the Clue. Tony Myatt, one of the hosts of The Late Show, had been at Radio 1 where he presented Night Ride.

Another familiar name to Capital Radio in the early days was Joan Shenton, a former reporter on BBC1’s Nationwide, who had been at the station from the start co-presenting, in an unlikely partnership, with Tommy Vance.

Actor turned DJ Gerald Harper (think Adam Adamant and Hadleigh) was by this time presenting his long-running Sunday Affair where he could be found “giving away champagne and roses in between records and dedications”. He later presented a similar show on Radio 2 in the 90s and surely his Sunday Affair was a blueprint for Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs?

Hullabaloo was Capital’s programme for children and had originally been presented by one Susan Stranks (of Magpie fame) who would go on to champion children’s radio, with only limited success, for many years. Presenting the show in 1977 were Maggie Norden, daughter of Denis, who had arrived at the station via Metro Radio’s Night Flight  and a certain David Briggs. David would go on to work with Chris Tarrant at Capital and become one of the richest men in broadcasting when he came up with the idea for Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Presenting Soul Spectrum was Greg Edwards. After DJ’ing in Manchester’s discos Greg broke into broadcasting at BBC Radio Manchester. Whilst subsequently working for CBS Records he was asked to deputise for David Simmonds on his Radio 1 R&B show and then also filled in for Rosko. He joined Capital when it started.

A DJ I have to admit I’m not familiar with is Mike Allen. Mike was the other host of The Late Show and would later go on to champion hip-hop music. There’s an informative interview here.

Back in 1977 Capital was not just a pop station. You’ll notice that the Christmas and New Year’s Day entertainment included performances from the Wren Orchestra and that Sunday’s The Collection was hosted by one George Martin. Mardi Gras, a long-running jazz programme was presented by jazz discographer Brian Rust who died earlier this year.

Capital Radio had some well-known ‘experts’ too: Cyril Fletcher (“odd ode coming up”) talked about gardening, Eve Pollard handled beauty and fashion, Anna Raeburn was the agony aunt and Michael Barry provided recipe ideas. Michael (aka ‘The Crafty Cook’) was in fact Michael Bukht who had been the first Programme Controller at Capital, a role he later performed at Classic FM.

This is the station information published in January 1978:

Note that the Director of Programmes at the time was now Aidan Day who had been a producer at Radio 1 and is surely the only station director to feature in the lyrics of a song, albeit an uncomplimentary mention, that of Capital Radio by The Clash. Managing Director John Whitney would go on to be Director General of the IBA.

Web Links
Capital FM
Tribute Site
Vintage Broadcasting (site now closed)
Roger Scott Tribute Site

3 comments:

qxr963 said...

Wasn't it Honey, rather than Hazel, Adair. Hazel co-authored the storyline for Crossroads!

Andy Walmsley said...

Oops! You're quite right of course. I've edited the post. Thanks.

Paul Robinson said...

ssDAA great article thank you... Graham Dene actually started on the Capita; Breakfast show, originally 6.30am to 9am in 1975 (not 77) and did the show for 10- years (2 five years with Mike Smith in between for 2 years)_
Mike Allen came via BBC Medway, and spent much of his first year on the Capital Fun Bus. He debuted on Nightflight, then got the weekend Late Shows friday to Sunday and saturday became Backseat Boogie plus American Dream once a month. He then went to daytime doing lunch and continued until he was involved in a newspaper debacle. Lovely man... he worked for me at Talk Radio doing weekend lates... a real pleasure to work with...

Paul Robinson

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