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Radio City

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Liverpool's Radio City commenced broadcasting on October 21 1974.  

At its peak and before the start of rival commercial radio stations, Radio City's audience spent 20 million hours a week listening to the Station, and it still has the highest penetration of any Commercial or BBC local service in the UK. 

For 30 years, the station has entertained, informed and amused the people of Merseyside, the North West and North Wales, and has always had a special appeal for the region's many thousands of students. 

It is very appropriate that Terry Smith, the founder and chairman, is here today to accept the Anniversary Achievement Award on behalf of Radio City. 

Born and brought up in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, Terry learned his trade as a journalist first on The Dewsbury Reporter and then on the Leeds-based Yorkshire Post, covering everything from courts to sports. 

Next came the Sunday Express and bigger stories, including a scoop which revealed new information about the controversial James Hanratty case. 

From the Sunday Express, Terry moved to Granada Television and was a journalist associated with The World in Action programme from the outset. 

He had always wanted to work for himself, and all this experience as a journalist proved invaluable when he left Granada in 1974 to set up Mercury Press, an international news and picture agency.

Then came Radio City. Terry Smith formed the group - which included radio critic and new JMU Fellow, Gillian Reynolds in the role of Programme Controller - which won the licence to operate Radio City in 1974.

From its Stanley Street offices, the station went Live with the following words from Terry: "It's two minutes to six on Monday October the 21st 1974. For the very first time, this is 194 Radio City broadcasting to Merseyside."

The jingles package was composed by Gerry Marsden. The first presenter was Arthur Murphy, and the first song was Stevie Wonder's "You are the sunshine of my life"

Other presenters that day included Graham Dene, Dave Lincoln, and Uncle Norman Thomas who had a particular rapport with the students at the then Liverpool Polytechnic. Other presenters over the years have included Billy Butler, Wally Scott, JMU Fellow Roger Philips,  and Keith Chegwin. 

Today, Radio City broadcasts from the St John's Beacon at the heart of the city to a potential audience of 2.5 million people. The main secret of its continuing success is that it keeps very much in touch with its audience. For example, last month, as a mark of respect for Merseyside and England's new hero from Croxteth, Radio City officially changed its name for 12 hours to the entirely appropriate Radio Rooney.

Terry Smith served as Managing Director for 17 years until the station became part of the Emap Performance Group. Since then, he has served as Chairman of Radio City and Chairman of the Divisional Board of Emap which now controls 19 Radio stations, eight satellite TV channels and a number of magazines. He is also Chairman of Independent Radio News which provides news, sport and feature programmes for more than 250 commercial radio services in the UK and abroad. 

And fittingly, Terry Smith himself has been honoured in recognition of his huge contribution to radio: in 2002, he was awarded the Radio Industry's highest honour - the Fellowship of the Radio Academy. 

Under Terry's leadership, Radio City has won more national and international awards than any other commercial or BBC radio service in the UK. Eight times, it has been voted the Best Radio Service in the UK, and in addition has received more than 60 other international and national awards for News, Features, Programs, Promotions, Training Schemes, Community Service, and Promotion of the Arts and Sport.    

And the accolades continue: in the last few weeks, Radio City has won the following awards:  

Outright winners at the 2004 Emap Awards, being voted

  • Best radio station
  • Best news service
  • Best news feature for its anti-bullying campaign
  • Best radio presenter - Pete Price  

Outright winners at the May 2004 NTL National Radio Awards, and voted: The UK's best radio news service.

And most impressive of all, last month at the New York Radio Festival International Awards, open to all Radio services worldwide: Radio City was judged the Best Major Market contemporary music radio station in the world, and was outright gold medal winner.  

After 30 years of outstanding service to the people of Liverpool and the broader region, it is entirely fitting for Radio City to be honoured by Liverpool John Moores University. 

Thus I have great pleasure in inviting Terry Smith, Chairman of Radio City, to receive the Anniversary Achievement Award of this University on behalf of the Company.