So, to solve an argument between a friend and I about whether UTV’s Belfast station is called U103 or U105 (I know. Rock and roll. I was right, by the way), I went on their website tonight – where I came across the following amazing track information.

Now Playing: Fun Boy Three/It Ain’t What You Do, It’s the Way that you Do It

Next: Lemon Pipers/Green Tambourine

.. Both of which are clearly spicier than Geri Halliwell smothered in Vindaloo. Back to back. Is this a radio station confident enough in its ‘Where Great Music Lives’ position not to worry too much about how that ‘Great Music’ is actually scheduled? Sadly ‘Jerry’s Jukebox’ was off by the time I got home – but we Listened In to the following show.

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      Ken Bruce .. no, not that one.

WHAT    The Wireless Set on U105

WHEN   19 March 2013

The OTHER Ken Bruce

The OTHER Ken Bruce


Shy Girl/Mark Wynter

Funny How Love Can Be/Ivy League

Back Anno. Ken is talking to a ‘Mr D’. “Can you play a Buddy Holly track especially for me?”, he asks.

Brown Eyed Handsome Man/Buddy Holly

(No link into) ADS: UTV Connect Broadband/Kennedy Centre ‘with Ireland’s largest Sainsburys’/Phone A Cab App

ID: 105.8FM (Ken Bruce – NJ Williams VO?) Where Great Music Lives U105

Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter/Billy Williams

(Maries the Name of) His Latest Flame/Elvis Presley

“That’s Elvis Presley, who on this day in 1957, bought Gracelands from Mrs Ruth Brown Moore. The things you learn on this programme.”


Island of Dreams/Springfields

Hello Mary Lou/Ricky Nelson

DRY ID: The Wireless Set with Ken Bruce on U105

Picture of You/Joe Brown

“Joe Brown and the Bruvvers, THAT wonderful picture of you,” and a round of dedications over a nasty old bed. A bit of fader-wanking going on. But plenty of interest. Someone says they are still thawing out “after a weekend in Donegal”. Another woman said she’s tucked up with a hot water bottle and Ken. “Do you have a playlist for this show?”, asks a texter. “No”, says Ken, slightly wearily. “We don’t do playlists. They just come tumbling out of the box”. Mentions for Estelle, Liam. “Hope you’re keeping well.” Any chance of Bobby Darin says Marty? “Hope this one will fit the bill.”

Mack the Knife/Bobby Darin, plays for a bit. Drops out a lot.

“I think the sharks got Bobby Darin”, says Ken, somewhat obliquely. “I’ll try and find another CD with that track on it.”

ADS: Dynarod/Lifeline/NI Beef

ID: 105.8FM Where Great Music Lives U105

“OK take two with this one ..”

Mack the Knife/Bobby Darin


So that’s where old school ILR went. Belfast! A cursory glance at the schedule shows programme’s like Ken’s Country, Soulfood and ‘Not the Top 40’, all of which could have been signed off in Brompton Road in 1983. This Ken Bruce, though, is no pop master. In this 20 minutes, there was nothing from after 1964 but it’s clear from the levels of interaction that his loyal audience are lapping it up.

There’s an undeniable upward trend going on with this station, so maybe this is what Northern Ireland wants? A recent Radio Talk panel certainly seemed to suggest that commercial radio for grown-ups needed to be more quirk, less network to compete with the might of Radio 2.

Ken’s is a languid and unthreatening style. Every word was about the music or the listeners. Nothing about him. Or even the name of the radio station. Non sequiturs like the shark line, or the Elvis fact, are the kind of thing we used to do before we realised we were allowed to put our actual lives and personalities on the air. The ghost of X-Trax is clearly alive and well in a small dark room in Havelock House.

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