“The station formerly known as BRMB” arrived forty years ago. Free Radio has been celebrating this morning.

Listened In is 2ZY’s regular air-check blog, where we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHO   Foxy & Giuliano

WHAT   Free Radio Birmingham

WHEN   19 February 2014, 0737

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“Shall we give away a grand? Here we go.” Into the thousand pound minute with Amy from Sutton. “She had Frosties for Breakfast. She’s a physiotherapist and her best friends at work are Harriet and Lisa.” She wishes them Happy 40th birthday. The guys remind her it’s not THEIR birthday, but ‘commercial radio in this fine city,’ obviously an ‘approved phrase’ as they use it verbatim 4 times in this twenty minutes. “You remember Les Ross? He’s the boss! .. He’s on the show an hour from now.”

Amy gets 7/10 questions right (she spells caravan wrong, doesn’t know who directed Reservoir Dogs or which beer is ‘probably the best in the world’.)

Slightly rambly off the back, long goodbye, throw forward to Thousand Pound mechanic tomorrow.

“People starting to text in now with memories of ‘this radio station’ over the last 40 years, we’re celebrating 40 years of commercial radio in this fine city. Morning guys, used to love listening to Les Ross and his daily story Yesterday Never Comes, texts Parky in Knowle. Keep your memories coming in.”

ADS: Renault Clio / ASDA Half Term / Weight Watchers (including voiceover eating. Nice.) / EH Smith Builders Merchants / BMW “It makes you wonder why anyone would pay 309 a month and NOT choose a BMW.” Renault perhaps? / Eastern Airways to Newcastle Cross Promo

“Texts are coming in now. Memories of this radio station after the last 40 years. Because today is our 40th Birthday of commercial radio in this fine city. We were the first. This radio station right here. Of course, we’re now known as Free, but before we were called (comedy sound effect).” “It was a unique name.” “I’ve had to bleep it out. Lisa says was it this radio station that did the 7 o’clock scream .. I dunno, but that sounds like something I would like to do.” “Let’s hope it’s not another radio station ..” “D’you know what, we should read some of these out, cos there’s a lot of memories coming in, we got Les Ross on the show after 8.30.”

AD: Halfords

TRAFFIC: “Birmingham’s most accurate travel on Free Radio with Trust Group UK dot com. See their used car offer online or visit them in Redditch, Stourbridge or Wolverhampton.” M6 South at Spaghetti / Walsall accident / Trains back to normal at Kidderminster.

More Les Ross memories. “I won tickets to go into the cage on Tiswas on Les Ross’s show in April 1976.” They mention the Phantom Flan Flinger. Her husband also won the £10k birthday bonanza in 1998 and they went to New York and blew the lot.

“Imagine Re Tuner man getting together with the Phantom Flan Flinger?” Laughs.

“Alright, who wants Gary Barlow?” “What if I say no?” “I’ll have him!” says Kiara. “Well I’m gonna play a bit of Gary Barlow before 8. Guess the Year from 9, with Les Ross, this song is from the same year as his records as well.”

Common People/Pulp

Back anno. “This record from the same year as the year as the records Les Ross will be playing from 9 cos he’s doing Guess the Year right here on Free Radio.”

Gail is a caller from Smethwick, she has a funny story about staying in a caravan, about putting bread on the roof of your neighbours caravan to make birds peck and pooh on it. (This is part of a running gag as Giuliano has admitted to never staying in a caravan before.)

ADS: Renault Vans / London Midland / McDonalds Breakfast / Go Compare / British Gas / Lego Move / Bristol Street Motors Ford

SUMMARY

So the four horsemen of the apocalypse DIDN’T come galloping down the Aston Expressway the moment the four letters that dare not speak their name were unscrewed from Oozells Square. You could call your heritage radio station ‘Giraffe Octopus Cushion’ if you like … if you get the content right, they will come.

And this is a bright, confident, relaxed breakfast show. I’d have liked another song or two maybe. Everything could tighten a bit – there were 56” off Gail’s bird pooh punchline before the song for example – and are most double heads boy-girl for a reason? Easier to cast and differentiate, something for everyone? But clearly here Foxy and Guliano have an authentic off air friendship too.

brmb

It’s a difficult tightrope on a morning like this one. Les Ross certainly got more coverage in this twenty minutes than the current incumbents – particularly Kiara, who’s notably absent from imaging, web pics etc. Les, legend though he is, DID leave 96.4 nearly 14 years ago now … despite making Many Happy Returns ever since.

Whether to actually say the words BRMB is a moot point. Can you do both? Luxuriate in unfettered nostalgia but fail to say the name of the station for 38 of those 40 years? Forty sounds so much more worthy of celebrating than nearly two. But hey. Happy Birthday ‘commercial radio in this fine city.’

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