Radio Birmingham Carnival Float – photo by Annie Gumbley

Photo by Annie Gumbley, no reproduction without permission.

This photo is of the Radio Birmingham float, from the Birmingham Carnival, dating from the 1970s.

Producer and presenter Pete Simpkin is on the right handside, in the white shirt. In the red jacket at the back is Early Show and Traffic presenter Peter York,next to him Alex Lester (now the Radio 2 Thro’ the night presenter), just behing Annie G is David Lowe who was a tech op, now writes TV theme tunes. Next to Annie, is Kathy Nelson (Kathy Scott then), behind to the left is Crol McLeod and to the left Clair ? ex copy taker in the Newsroom.

Please add a comment if you can identify the others.  Thanks to Pete Simpkin and Annie Gumbley-Williams for identifying many in the photo.


Radio Birmingham – ‘206’ relaunch

This is a report from the Sandwell Evening Mail in November 1980 about the re-branding of Radio Birmingham as “206”, and the tag line ‘Five Star Listening’.  According to the article the ‘five star’ could refer to the 5 main presenters, the five counties ‘206’ broadcast to, or to the quality of the station!  The article features a photo of Tim Manning, Radio Birmingham’s Community Relations Officer.

Thanks to Tim Manning for making the article available.

Radio WM information card

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

The Radio WM information cards were distributed to promote the station, and make sure people knew the right frequencies to tune in to. The cards were given out around the time of the official relaunch of the station with its new name – BBC Radio WM, instead of Radio Birmingham (which took place on November 23rd 1981), and were designed to publicise the additional medium wave transmitter on 828 khz at Sedgley, aimed at improving the signal in Wolverhampton and across the Black Country.

‎”Five Star Listening” was the tag line for the station, it was used before the official name change as well.  From late 1980 onwards when the name Radio Birmingham was played down and the station started to refer to itself wherever possible as “206”. There was a lengthy discussion going on between BBC Local Radio HQ in London and the management at Pebble Mill about what the new name for the station would be. John Pickles was determined that the re-vamping of the station wasn’t going to be delayed forever by internal debate, and so the 206 strategy (the MW frequency) was adopted.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for making this card available, and to Tim Manning for providing all the information.

‘Yorkie’ – Radio Birmingham, by Pete Simpkin

Here’s someone else you may recall from the Radio Birmingham days……’Yorkie’ (Peter York) was a regular presenter of many programmes especially the old 5am show which I often followed at 7am. He was also a speedway announcer and reporter and still appears at the remaining tracks around the UK. We shared the dubious honour of covering the first night of nude bathing sessions at the old Handsworth baths……he had been comissioned to ‘cover’ it for the breakfast ‘Heart of the Nation’ News programme but as the organisers would only allow him in if he too appeared ‘au naturel’ he refused to go unless I (as presenter) accompanied him in a similar fashion. Unfortunately no photographs were allowed but we still have the tape!

Pete Simpkin

Frances Coverdale – Radio Birmingham

Copyright resides with the original holder.

Thanks to Annie Gumbley-Williams for making the photo available.

Frances Coverdale was a BBC East Midlands reporter 1977-80, before joining the BBC national news, first as a reporter and then as a presenter.  She also presented Radio 4’s PM programme.  She is currently involved in media training, of people whose jobs require them to be interviewed on camera etc.

I understand that Frances Coverdale was a news presenter at BBC Pebble Mill on Radio Birmingham in the 1970s.

The following comments and information have been added by former colleagues:

Hedli Nik: She was a news reader and the then editor of The Archers. William Smethurst, called a PC in The Archers James Coverdale in her honour! I know this because reader, I married him!

Michael Fisher: Frances was a news producer (i.e. reporter/newsreader/produc​er) with BBC Radio Birmingham when I joined as a News Trainee in 1975. She was the only female reporter and Pete Simpkin might recall that management had to get special arrangements made for her by the RN when she went to do a programme about HMS Birmingham. She drove a flashy convertible sports car. She also took me out on my first murder story: a man’s body found in a coal bunker. She was given the role of presenting the breakfast programme ‘Heart of the Nation’ (possibly along with David Lloyd if memory serves me correctly). Her skills were recognised and she was taken on by Midlands Today, I think, before moving up the ladder to London. She should be credited with being one of the first female reporters to make the breakthrough on national tv in what was still in the late 1970s a very male-dominated newsroom environment. Thanks for all youe help, Frances. in taking a new lad under your wing and showing him how to report.

Pete Simpkin: We were indeed very proud to see her reading the BBC National News on TV for a short time………..she was the second person from BBC Pebble Mill to achieve this, the other being the late Barry Lankester.

Jo Dewar: When I was an News Transmission Assistant on ‘Midlands Today’ I used to sit inbetween Frances Coverdale and Tom Coyne. It was the first time the programme had 2 presenters and autocue … interesting!