Radio WM Self-Opt News Studio – Pete Simpkin

Rear of Pebble Mill, showing the 2nd floor bar balcony
Photo by Tim Savage












The recent entries about the old second floor Club at Pebble Mill reminded me that when Radio WM took over the bar area for it’s new Newsroom a self operate news studio was incorporated, a first for us.  Advantage was taken of the, then, new technology which enabled news inserts to be played in by the newsreaders themselves from audio cartridges.  These were prepared by the bulletins editor and handed with the scripts to whoever was presenting.  The increased speed of production and the consequent later deadlines for inserts meant that inevitably there would be a disaster and it was my luck to be the duty reader to delight the listening thousands with it!

Having read the headlines I introduced the first recorded item and fired off the cart only to discover it had been mislabeled and so bore no relationship to the intro. script. After apologizing I went into the next introduction only to find the second cart too had been mislabeled. Having to do something I tried the third one which turned out to be the first story but set halfway through. At this stage I shut the microphone off and intercommed the editor to come in and collect this wrecked pile of scripts and carts and very kindy sort them out……or words to that effect.

He never returned.  To keep the bulletin running I embarked on a reading of the other stories which were in the form of an endless teleprint of national stories subbed in London and sent out by teleprinter, ready to be read at sight. With an ever widening eye of disbelief I saw ahead a row of letters ZCZCZCZC approaching which in teleprint means ‘end of message’, unfortunately this was halfway through a story. Luckily I had read this one in an earlier bulletin so was able to conclude it from memory.

Having only done 5 minutes of a 12 minute bulletin I was left with no alternative but to hand over to the next programme of which the presenter was already in the studio and able to rescue yours truly. Still nothing like that could happen today in this wonder-tech age. Could it.

Pete Simpkin

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

Andy Walters: ‘We were still on carts in 2001. Cart recorders don’t have erase heads. Some readers had a habit of erasing them in a Weircliffe eraser used for tapes and then stacked the erased carts on top of the machine. This would give a lovely swooshing effect to subsequent recordings. Then there was the cardinal sin of erasing carts with the hand that your watch was on.’