Studio 5 Control Room

Studio 5 control room, BBC Model B

Studio 5 control room, BBC Model B. Photo from Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission












Radio Studio 5 was used by Network Radio shows, including Edwina Currie and Stuart Maconie. These photos are of the control room, and were taken by Martin Fenton in 2003.

“This BBC Model B was still being used as a call-queuing system until it went up in a puff of blue smoke in March 2003.”

Martin Fenton

Control room turntable

Control room turntable


Control room with shortcuts

Control room with shortcuts

Studio 5 tape rack

Studio 5 tape rack

Studio 5 dead room grass

Studio 5 dead room grass

Studio 5 view from control room

Studio 5 view from control room

Radio WM – Sunday Night Party

left to right: Clive Payne (presenter), Ian Wood (main presenter and producer), front Nermin Aaron (presenter), right Paul Flower (presenter)

left to right: Clive Payne (presenter), Ian Wood (main presenter and producer), front Nermin Aaron (presenter), right Paul Flower (presenter)













I presented for Radio WM of a weekend between 1989 and 2000.  I also did some bits for television too but predominantly, my time was spent in radio.

I co-presented a Sunday night locally networked programme called the Sunday Night Party and it’s main presenter, Ian Wood, would occasionally allow me to go off and interview people, some of them famous, for the programme.
For those people who remember the configuration of Radio WM’s studios, they were basically five cubicles or ‘Areas’ as they were locally known.  Areas One and Two were self-op studios, Area Three, although designed as a studio but without self-op desk was used as the telephone answering area.  Area Four was the same as one and two and Area Five was set up with a round discussion table and a number of mic sources, which were controlled as ‘slaves’ from Area four.

The Sunday Night Party was transmitted live from Area Five because of the number of contributors participating in each programme and driven by me, also presenting from Area Four.  It was taken by WM, Hereford and Worcester, Shropshire and Stoke and in the earlier years Coventry and Warwickshire had us too, all under the local branding of ‘Midlands BBC’.  WM’s jingles were re-sung to reflect this.

On one occasion I became aware of a new band gigging in Birmingham and the SNP was a good platform to promote local talent.  I invited the band, whose name I can’t remember now, into the studios to record a couple of songs for the SNP early one evening.  I duly ordered up some extension leads and extra mics from Paul Hunt our engineer in charge and some acoustic screens too, to ‘encase’ the drummer in so the sound didn’t spill.
We cleared the furniture in Area five and prepared for a sound check.  I’m not saying they were loud but I’ve never seen PPM meters on a Mark 3 desk wrap themselves around the stop quite so quick!   Oddly enough the floor seemed to vibrate too.

The evening continued and we were about ready to record the two songs after I’d interviewed the band.
Radio WM provided locally networked programmes during the week too and ready to go out live in Area two was Tony Wadsworth and Julie Mayer.
The band started to play and rocked the first floor.  I heard that Tony and Julie had to apologise to their listeners as the sound of the band could be heard in their studio and therefore by their listeners.
Radio WM’s studios were above the Daytime Live offices downstairs.  Unbeknown to me, there were a couple of people working late in there that evening and they could feel the ceiling vibrate from the sound of the drums from the band immediately above their heads.  Rumour had it that a diffuser shade came loose off a light fitting in their office as a result of the vibration.
I never got to apologise for disturbing their evening so if they know who they are then perhaps this can go some way to being a belated apology.

As this was a one off band session, I did ask WM management if I could hire Studio 2 in Network Radio as this would have been easier but WM were unwilling to spend that kind of money in those days.  I therefore had to resort to the cheap option.

So that was the one and only time I made the earth vibrate for various people in Pebble Mill.

Clive Payne 1Clive Payne




The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Andy Walters: ‘Area 1 was Asian Network, Area 2 was the self op one that looked into Area 3, Phone in room. Area 4 was the other self op cubicle that could also drive the mics in Area 5 which was just a talks studio. Apparently Area 1 was the Editor’s office in the days of BBC Mk2 desks and the third studio was sat next to the record library.

I remember the night of the earthquake well which disrupted WM’s programmes as well as Edwina Currie on Radio 5 Live.’

Tony Wadsworth: ‘If I recall the studio configurations correctly, area one wasn’t a self-op studio. I presented the breakfast show from there 94/95 and Chris Christopher Baxter drove me from area two. And the late show came from area four….I think!’

Ian Wood: ‘So that was what went on when I was elsewhere! Sorry about that, Daytime Live office. And hats off to Clive for the blog and the photo.’

Denis MacShane at Pebble Mill

Labour MP Denis MacShane stepped down as MP for Rotherham last week after an investigation into expenses irregularities.  Before he went into politics he worked as a journalist in radio, and was at BBC Pebble Mill for a while.

The following comments were contributed via the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Pete Simpkin: ‘He was one of the original News reporting team at Radio Birmingham. Sad to hear of his demise when so many Radio Birmingham people went on to great jobs in Network Radio and TV……….and politics.’

Keith Brook: ‘he also, surprisingly, did stuff for Midlands Today because I remember trying to teach him the etiquette of walking in front of a camera.’

Michael Fisher: ‘On the Saturday Night show RTE1 tonight one of the guests will be Edwina Currie a former Tory politician turned broadcaster who got plenty of radio experience on the breakfast show Heart of the Nation at Pebble Mill when she was a Birmingham councillor.’

Norma Scott: ‘I remember Denis when he worked for the Sunday Mercury!’

Conal O’Donnell: ‘Denis was born Denis Matyjaszek apparently changing his name at the behest of the BBC because it was too hard to pronounce (!) A legend amongst phone-in producers Denis enlivened one of his flagging shows by posing as a caller himself -unethical you might think but hey what do u do when the lines are dead?Trouble is he went on to compound the deception by calling Tory politician Reginald “reggie” Maudling a crook on air .Well he was of course but taking full advantage of our rapacious libel laws Maudling sued the Beeb for muchos sponduliks.One can’t help but smile!’