BBC Radio Cambridgeshire is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Cambridgeshire. It originally broadcast from studios on Hills Road (A1307) close to the railway station in Cambridge - which have now moved (with the local BBC Look East opt-out) to a new multi-million pound centre at the Cambridge Business Park on Cowley Road - and a studio on Priestgate in Peterborough. It broadcasts on 96 (Madingley, close to the A428-A1303 junction five miles west of Cambridge) and 95.7 (Morborne, south-west of Peterborough, two miles west of the A1 near Norman Cross) FM, 1026MW (Chesterton Fen, close to the A14 and Fen Ditton north-east of Cambridge), DAB, and via its web page using RealPlayer. It started broadcasting on 1 May 1982 and was originally known as Radio Cambridge.
Chris Morris started his radio career at Radio Cambridgeshire, testing the management's level of humour. Other national broadcasters who started their careers at the station include Matthew Amroliwala (BBC News 24), Nick Barraclough (BBC Radio 2), Ian Peacock (BBC Radio 4), Martin Popplewell (Sky News) and Mark Saggers (talkSPORT).
- 2 Peterborough studios
- 3 Outside broadcasts
- 4 Remote studios
- 5 Symbol
- 6 Transmitters
- 7 Programming
- 8 Naked Scientists
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Under the first manager, Hal Bethell, Radio Cambridgeshire's early broadcasts were restricted to a few hours at breakfast and two hours in the afternoon.
The opening day was broadcast from Cambridge and all the district offices — Peterborough, Wisbech, March, Huntingdon and Ely. The first programme was presented by Gina Madgett (formerly Radio Nottingham) and the first record played on-air was Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.
The original weekday broadcasters were:
- Julian Dunne (New Day, an all-speech news service that ran at the same hours as Today on Radio 4, on which it was based)
- Anne Bristow and Jane Solomons, alternately (The Light Programme, a mixture of music and light interviews)
- Gina Madgett (The Home Service, a largely speech programme with interviews intended to interest listeners at home)
When Hal Bethell left the station because of his health, he was replaced by the deputy manager of Radio Lincolnshire, Dave Wilkinson. He extended broadcasting into the afternoon by hiring Radio Lincolnshire presenter, John Richards. Wilkinson returned to Radio Lincolnshire as manager and was replaced by Ian Masters, previously presenter of BBC East's regional television news programme, Look East.
The Peterborough studio opened in a single office in Broadway Court, rented from Peterborough Development Corporation, the body responsible for the city's expansion as a New Town. The broadcasting equipment was two Studer tape recorders, a four-channel mixer and two microphones, which were placed on a table surrounded by mobile sound baffles. Ian Cameron, the first broadcaster from there the day Radio Cambridgeshire opened, realised at the last moment that the wall behind the temporary studio abutted the office block's lavatories and asked the staff in Cambridge to listen while he flushed the cistern. Nothing could be heard and the broadcast went ahead without fear of others in the office block inadvertently disturbing it.
In 1983, Peterborough was equipped with its own studio, using a 12-channel Audix mixing desk made in the county and two Studer B67 tape machines, with a third machine for editing in a neighbouring office. That office later become a studio as well, although it could go on the air only from the main studio alongside. The first complete programme from Peterborough was presented by Julia Booth (formerly of BBC Radio London) while the studio's opening party was going on on the floor below.
In 1987, the studio gained the ability to broadcast localised opt-outs. At first, the opt-out was used only for traffic information in the morning news programme and, later in the day, for five-minute spots of purely local information. The first full opt-out programme from Peterborough was presented by Les Woodland in the afternoon while John Richards broadcast from Cambridge. Steve Somers presented the BBC Radio Peterborough daily Breakfast show. Production assistant for the opt-in station was Darren Deans. The next programme to opt out was Sounds Eastern, two hours of music and commentary aimed at Peterborough's Indian, Pakistani, Sikh and Bengali population and presented by Ansar Ali.
The station's first outside broadcasts were of results from local elections held soon after the station went on the air. The station's radio car was used from the back doors of the town hall in Peterborough. The reporter was Ian Cameron. The first complete programme broadcast away from the studio was the same year, from the East of England Show in Peterborough, presented by Anne Bristow.
Radio Cambridgeshire, when it opened, had satellite studios in Huntingdon, Ely and Wisbech, using offices in council buildings. The studios were equipped with a microphone and a small mixing desk and were used to save contributors a journey to Cambridge or to Peterborough.
The first station badge or symbol was a design suggesting Cambridgeshire's three main rivers, the Nene, the Ouse and the Cam. Before the station came on the air, the manager, Hal Bethell, arranged with the Pye radio company, which had long been associated with Cambridge, to use a design based on the sun-through-clouds design which Pye previously cut into the loudspeaker screens of its original radios.
The sun-and-clouds symbol remained until a BBC ruling that all its stations should have a joint logo to underline the national nature of the local service.Madingley transmitter
The 95.7FM signal, directional eastwards across North Cambridgeshire, is by far the stronger. On 30 October 2004, a fire broke out (thought to be arson) 80 ft up the main Peterborough mast, one mile west of Morborne, and the heat caused the whole mast to collapse. A shorter BT Group plc tower with microwave transmission dishes next to it was undamaged. The 95.7FM signal was put out of action for a few weeks. Peterborough has FM BBC national radio, BBC National DAB, Classic FM and Digital One. The Madingley transmitter also carries national FM BBC radio, analogue Five television, Digital One, BBC National DAB, Heart Cambridgeshire and Kiss 105-108 East on 105.6FM as well as the NOW Cambridge DAB multiplex. Chesterton Fen also has Virgin Radio on 1197MW. The DAB signals come from two multiplexes in Cambridgeshire — a rarity for BBC local radio stations, as some do not yet broadcast on digital. Since 30 November 2002, the NOW Digital Peterborough 12D multiplex has come from Peterborough (main signal), plus Hitchingbrooke Hospital (Huntingdon). A planned DAB transmitter for Stamford (in south Lincolnshire) was not launched for this multiplex. NOW Peterborough covers Peterborough, Huntingdon, Stamford and Spalding. Since 30 September 2004, the NOW Digital Cambridge 11C multiplex has come from Madingley. BBC Asian Network is transmitted for Peterborough and North Cambs on 1449 kHz from the Gunthorpe, Peterborough mast. This was originally BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's AM frequency for Peterborough.
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