TFM’s been “new” a few times now. The spunky little ‘ninety-six sixty’ as was, that can be heard across a massive swathe of Northern England has often punched above its weight, before and after the acquisition by Metro. But now “Metro and Tees” are back together again, and even if the branding is cleverer nowadays, how are Steve and Karen doing on day two, as social media melts around them?

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


WHO        Steve and Karen at Breakfast

WHAT     The New TFM

WHEN     Tuesday 9 April

0758 Drive By / Train

Steve back annos and lets us know, “it’s almost 8, Si has your news on the way soon.”

IDs: Steve and Karen with Middlesbrough College. “I am TFM”.

ADS: Connect Tees Valley buses/Electoral Commission/Cleveland Fire Brigade/Admiral Littlebox/Darlington College/Helmanis and Howell

IDS: Voxed punters. “Good music, all kinds of music, I love the North East. TFM.”

Steve does that late 90s Heart thing of ‘chatting into’ the top story.

NEWS: Teesside’s Measles outbreak (copy) / Thatcher (copy) / “Next, the all-too-familiar conversation between North East Mums and Dads .. Family Action says parents can’t afford birthday parties (clip). / Durham Police tell TFM about Leadgate power cut (copy). Ant and Dec up for a BAFTA (copy) and “a full list of BAFTA nominations will be on our website later on / Weather

“That is the latest for the North East, the greatest place on earth.”

TFMs continuous Traffic Watch with Atha & Co Solicitors, notably starts with Tees places.

Steve is back to throw forward “If you were at 1D last night, a song they covered brilliantly on the way..”

Beneath Your Beautiful/Labrinth ft Emili Sande (very dirgey mix for out of the 8)

ID: Steve and Karen – The New TFM

Stronger/Kelly Clarkson

“Thanks for listening and getting involved in the show today.” Recaps weather. Solicits texts on 63103 start with SK (for Steve and Karen).

Have you ever been to a wedding where animals were involved? “Not the bride with a dirty doggy,” says Karen. Eww. Steve doesn’t think this will get much reaction. “This will not happen in the North East, it’s from America or “Down South,” although he’s been to wedding where they released white doves.

Karen is going to Tory and Simon’s – “the second wedding of year”. Never been to one where pets involved, though. “Let we know,” says Steve. “This is a long shot, think we’re gonna struggle. Have a listen to this. 1D are playing the Arena. They were there last night and tonight. If you’re going you’ll hear them doing a great cover of this.”

Teenage Dirtbag/Wheatus

“Who wasn’t singing that at the top of their voice?,” they ask, and sing it. “If you’re off to see 1D they will do that and they are brilliant,” says Steve, not exactly convincing me.

Another solicit for pets at wedding.

Caller Claire talks about a wedding where her ex-guide dog labrador was her cousin’s ring bearer and had to wear a purple bow to match the brides dress. Was the dog in the wedding photos too?, she’s asked.

Texts: Not white doves it’s white homing pigeons, says anonymous texter.

ID: The new TFM continuous traffic watch: which leads on Stockton and Darlington before drifting North.


We listened to Steve and Karen eight months ago, and loved them. Now they have their work cut out to make a great show work across two stations. That means you end up with strange links like the one between Wheatus and Kelly Clarkson with no presenter IDs or endorsement. There are little compromises like the SK tag on the text system and this strange ‘North East’ being talked about all the time.

The birthday party story feels a bit over-written from what was a national charity press release. Yawn. Effort clearly being made to lead news and traffic on Tees lines, and the talking into the news device gives Steve a chance to say the words TFM. The really effective and different “I am .. Metro” positioning, voiced by talent, stars and listeners has been ported across cleverly to TFM but I didn’t hear enough of this in these twenty minutes.

Certainly this was not as accomplished a 20 minutes as our (Metro) listen in July. Although caller Claire is OK, the ‘animals at weddings’ subject feels a bit oblique and not really tied to anything “today”. Forgive me if I’m imagining it, but even the presenters don’t “sound” as comfortable in their own skins as before.

Whatever the harsh realities, I guess what has surprised many of us in the last few days is the suddenness of the flip, and the fact it’s Bauer, in what feels like the first dismantling of their cherished ‘Place’ ideal.

So long, then, “old” TFM. This is a show during transition and under fire, if only from the massed ranks of Facebook (we on teesside want oOUR LOCAL radio station back – sic). No doubt in a couple of weeks, Steve and Karen will be back on form and, in a couple of months, as much loved in Crathorne as it they are in Cramlington.

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