I like to attempt to tie the subject of these series of “Sound Archive” articles to something topical happening today and how we can link these to something from the past.
This weekend over in the lovely Calder valley village of Hebden Bridge saw the culmination of a short term ‘RSL’ special event broadcast by a collective from the local community going by the name of Recycle Radio.
To quote, the self proclaimed “UK’s first community website”, HebWeb:
Based on a successful model trialled in Leeds, Salford and Chester, Recycle Radio produced a continuous online streamed broadcast from Hebden Bridge Town Hall in July 2014. This initial 4- day live-streamed webcast covered the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and the Tour De France … Recycle Radio will broadcast to the Hebden Royd area on FM radio … The Upper Calder Valley’s only community radio station, now makes a comeback, two years and one flood later. Brought to you by members of the local community, it will be packed with a huge variety of quality entertainment and local interest.
By way of some back story, there was various administrative and logistical barriers in the way of a FM broadcast the first time around, so on their social media feeds there was clear excitement at the prospect of a real wireless broadcast:
— Recycle Radio (@RecycleRadioHB) September 22, 2016
So were they the first FM radio station? I think you’re on safe ground if your criteria is the village itself.
However community radio in these parts does have a previous FM radio, and AM radio for that matter, history.
From 1994 through 1998 ‘Calderdale Sound’, the brain child of local DJ and businessman David Blaxhall, ran a series of nine RSL’s on FM and later Medium Wave in what the station described as “Upper Calderdale and Border Country”, as the Wikipedia entry for Todmorden explains,
Todmorden … lies along the historic county boundary of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Until the boundary reformation by the Local Government Act 1888, the Lancashire-Yorkshire boundary ran through the centre of Todmorden, following the River Calder to the north-west
So enough of the geography lesson, so for our purposes we won’t get into the 1974 complication of Greater Manchester County….
I’m meant to be bringing you some audio clips dug out of the depths of my archives, so lets start with a couple of cuts from the Calderdale Sound jingle package. Now as a listener to a few of the temporary broadcasts back in the 90s I fondly recall the first cut, in fact I’d go further to say it’s probably my favourite Dave Langer / Thompson Creative jingle (I’m sure Radio Warrington had this cut sung for them as well, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
So back to a back bedroom studio in Todmorden as the clock ticks towards midnight on Friday 28th June 1996, it’s the final minutes of the month long temporary broadcast before the power on the 105.2 FM transmitter is turned off.
Now as anyone who’s been involved in these types of RSL broadcasts before will know you generally only allowed to have a very low power transmitter in the range of 10-30 watts. One thing for sure with the Calderdale Sound FM broadcasts the transmitter antenna was not down in the valley in Todmorden town centre, it was clearly more somewhere ‘up on the tops’ to fire the signal not only down the valley to the likes of Hebden Bridge, but also over the the Lancashire side, as this recording clearly demonstrates. Even if they were running the transmitter on the generous side they were putting in a pretty clear signal into Oldham, where this recording was made. In my research for this piece I couldn’t find much information as to the actual transmitter site, beyond a thanks to “the Helliwells” in the closing acknowledgements of supporters towards the close of the broadcast.
For further reading there’s nostalgia in this Calderdale Sound Facebook Fan Page were I learn of David Blaxhall’s run in with the DTI in Calderdale Sound’s pirate days in the eighties .
Further listening over on Soundcloud, including a this Montage of jingles and Idents, a mix of stuff from various broadcasts and while you listen see if you play the same game of spot the producer, some bits scream ‘Dave Langer production’ and others if not too much mistaken bear all the hallmarks of a Roy Martin production.
Lastly once you’ve finished reminiscing, come back to 2016 and check out some of the Recycle Radio replays on Mixcloud.Photo Credits: Milestone by Tim Green