Real Radio North East
|Broadcast area||North East England|
|Branding||Real Radio 100–102 FM|
|Slogan||The Heart of the North East|
|Frequency||FM: 101.8 MHz (Main)
FM: 96.2 MHz (Fenham)
FM: 96.4 MHz (Hexham)
FM: 100.7 MHz (Teesside)
DAB: 12C (MXR North East)
|First air date||1 September 1994 (as Century Radio)|
|Audience share||4.1% (September 2013, RAJAR)|
|Sister stations||Rock Radio (North East), 97.5 Smooth Radio|
|Webcast||Windows Media Audio|
|Website||Real Radio North East|
The station was launched in 1994 as Century Radio, the first station in Border Radio Holding's Century Network. The station was taken over by Capital Radio Group, and then by GCap Media in 2005. GMG Radio acquired the Century stations in 2006, rebranding them in 2009 to conform to the branding and network programming of the other stations in the Real Radio network. Global Radio acquired GMG Radio on 25 June 2012 with Real Radio now operated in a "hold separate" situation known as Real and Smooth Ltd.
Conceived as the second regional station for North East England, it was also the first to use the Century brand, which followed a 'personality' format, mixing speech and music. The station was originally based beside the Tyne Bridge in Gateshead, before relocating to Team Valley in 2008 to share a building with GMG stations Smooth Radio and Rock Radio. The station was originally called Century Radio, before changing its name to Century FM and finally reverting to the original moniker in 2008.
The station was set up by Border Television, with John Myers as managing director and John Simons as programme director. Myers presented the breakfast show under the pseudonym of John Morgan. The first song played on air was "A Star is Born" (also used to launch the North West's Century FM).
A 'listener's club' was formed, with parties at locations around the region attended by the station's presenters. The Jingling Gate in Stanley, County Durham was the most common location, but other events were held at the Stadium of Light and the Dolphin Centre in Darlington.
Late-night phone-in presenter Mike 'The Mouth' Elliott once caused controversy by walking out during his show. Elliot took an extended break after this controversy, during which time he appeared in the film Billy Elliot as boxing coach George Watson. He was also fired in January 2000 when bosses claimed that he was intoxicated on air. However, Elliott claims that he was "stoned out of his tree" on Benylin while trying to fight off a heavy cold. He was reemployed when Capital Radio took over the station.
Ex-Metro Radio presenter Steve Colman's highly marketed introduction to the breakfast show was very unpopular, and he was sacked after just three weeks in August 1996. It was revealed that audiences had decreased rapidly, and businesses had threatened to pull their advertising. Colman is now with Magic.
Jeff Stephenson replaced Myers as Managing Director, and John Caine replaced Simons. Simons left the station for talkSPORT, and Myers left Gateshead to concentrate on setting up 105.4 Century FM in Salford and relaunching 106 Century FM in Nottingham.
Border sold the Century brand to GCap Media, and Myers left the group to head GMG Radio, where he set up the similar Real Radio network. Simons rejoined Myers to establish the Real and Smooth FM regional stations. In October 2006 GMG Radio acquired the Century brand from GCap. Paul Smith, a former BBC and commercial radio producer, then joined Century as Programme Controller, and Sales Director Debbie Bowman was promoted to Managing Director. Smith left the company after the current Programme Director Kevin Howard joined the company in Sept 2007.
Real Radio North East
On 25 June 2012 it was announced Global Radio (the owner of stations such as Capital and Heart) had bought GMG Radio. The former GMG stations, including Real Radio, were placed under a hold separate company known as Real and Smooth Limited.
On 6 February 2014, Global Radio announced it would be rebranding all Real Radio stations as Heart. Real Radio Scotland began a gradual transition to the Heart branding on 24 March 2014. The full launch is due to take place early in May.
The station has previously broadcast extensively on football, a passion in the north east, and had a particularly close relationship with both Newcastle United and Middlesbrough. The station began its association with the game with the 1994 launch of 'The Big Mal Football Phone-In' hosted by Teesside presenter and Boro fan Dave Roberts and flamboyant ex-manager Malcolm Allison. The station then signed an exclusive radio rights deal with Middlesbrough FC with Roberts and Allison joined by local BBC broadcaster Alistair Brownlee and the resultant 'Roberts & Brownlee Show' was born - a radio show biased in its commentary style towards Middlesbrough, so much so that Roberts was attacked in his commentary position by a disgruntled Newcastle fan at half time during a Tyne Tees derby at St James' Park.
Two famous ex-players for local sides, Malcolm Macdonald, who played for Newcastle United and Bernie Slaven, who played for Middlesbrough, presented the Legends Football Phone-In on weekday evenings, alongside ex-Sunderland player Eric Gates, and latterly, FA Cup Final 1973 winner Micky Horswill. Live match commentaries on Newcastle United and Sunderland matches aired until the end of the 2010-11 season. The Legends Football Phone In was dropped following the end of the 2011-12 season. The phone-in later moved to Star Radio North East and several community radio stations but was axed within a year.
Local presenters broadcast from Real Radio North East's main studios are based in Team Valley, Gateshead. Networked output is broadcast from Real Radio North West based in Salford Quays, Salford. The Vodafone Big Top 40 is a networked chart show and is produced by Global Radio at their Capital studios in Leicester Square, London.
Real Radio North East has their own dedicated team of broadcast journalists and newsreaders:
- Mike Elliott interview lindisfarne.co.uk
- "End of an Era for Century". Radio Today. 18 Dec 2008.
- GMG Radio sold to Global for £50m Mark Sweeney, The Guardian, 25 June 2012
- Global Radio seals £50m purchase of GMG Radio Maisie McCabe, Media Week, 25 June 2012
- Martin, Roy (2014-02-06). "Communicorp buys 8 Global stations". RadioToday. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
- Real Radio starts Heart transformation, RadioToday, 24 March 2014/
- Real Radio drops Newcastle Sunderland Radio Today, 13 June 2011
- Legends programme changes, Real Radio North East, 23 July 2012
- Star Radio boss leaves, Legends cancelled, RadioToday, 9 October 2013
- Real Radio introduces networked daytimes, Radio Today, 15 October 2012
- West, Gillian (8 March 2013). "Boots UK launches radio and online programme hosted by Kate Thornton". The Drum. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- Real News team Real Radio North East