|City of license||Gloucester|
|Branding||This is Gloucestershire's Heart|
|Slogan||More Music Variety|
|Frequency||102.4 & 103.0 MHz|
|First air date||23 October 1980|
|Audience share||12.6% (December 2009, )|
|Owner||Heart Network, Global Radio|
Severn Sound started transmissions on 23 October 1980, from its first studio at the "Old Talbot Pub" in Southgate Street, Gloucester. The pub had been bought by local businessmen including Clive Lindley (Chairman of the Roadchef motorway service stations and Chairman of Severn Sound). The station's first employee was Chief Engineer Quentin Howard who converted the pub into the radio station.
The original presenters were Alan Roberts (Head of Music) on Breakfast, Christopher Musk on mid-mornings, Eddie Vickers (Programme Controller) on the Lunchtime News and Topical programme, Laura de Vere on the Afternoon Show and Steve Ellis on Drivetime. There used to be a Sunday lunch show where the presenter would go to various areas of Gloucester and share Sunday lunch with the residents of that house. Jerry Thomas, top Gloucester Comedian, used to host the show, with Christopher Musk.
A variety of local presenters then hosted specialist music shows during the evenings, With Mike Longley's Sunday Gold (now BBC Producer), Roger Tovell on the Late Show. Andy Westgate and Pat Cory joined about a year after the station's launch, as Laura de Vere left the station. Jerry "The Hippo" Hipkiss hosted a Saturday soul show (Now on Gloucester FM) and Ivanhoe Campbell hosted a reggae show. Glen Thompsett (now an ITV Meridian News reporter & presenter) started his career at Severn Sound as one of the engineers, later going on to present the Saturday Rock Show, later working with Ken Goodwin (ITV West News) on the 'Glen & Ken' Kids show - formerly Dr Fosters Medicine show.
The news editor was Geoff Barratt, with Nigel Dean (now at Sky Sports) as head of sport and, amongst other newsroom staff, were Graham Gardner, Ivor Ward-Davies, Peter Cullimore, Judith Dingley & Cornelius Lysaght, all subsequently at the BBC, Ken Goodwin and Mark Dyson, a Lib Dem candidate at the 2010 General Election.
Other past presenters include Tony Wright, who was part of the Breakfast Show, with Lynne Scott, between 1997 & 2000. He stayed at the station until 2002 and is currently the Breakfast presenter at The Breeze South West & Drive Presenter at Heart's competitor The Breeze (Cheltenham & North Gloucestershire)). Also, Russ & Garthy (breakfast presenters 2001–2005), Kate McAllister (previously part of the breakfast trio with Russ & Garthy; left to go to The Breeze (Cheltenham & North Gloucestershire)), Andy Beeley who is now on the radio in Canada, Martin Mills, Andy Henly, Kam Kelly (Radio Aire), Shaun Moore, Nick Carter, Toni Macdonald (Now at BBC Hereford & Worcester), Neil Vincent, Dean Roberts, Robert Kenny (Now at The Breeze Thames Valley), Helen Purcell, Steve Aspey, Paul Seed, Julian Watkins and Steve Wilkinson.
Steve Ellis, who left the station in the early 1990s for Oxford's Fox FM and then Mix 96 in Aylesbury, died in 1995. Ivanhoe Campbell, another of the original Severn Sound line up, died of cancer in 2003.
The Severn Sound owners were a locally based consortium of businessman, with the Managing Director Graham Moon, formerly of DJM Records, who committed suicide just a year after the station launched. He had been asked to resign at a morning board meeting, following poor revenue figures. By the afternoon, he had been sacked and Eddie Vickers took over as MD. That evening, Moon committed suicide on Cleeve Common, using the exhaust gases of his company car. Moon was noted for his launch of the radio station, which used sophisticated brand-marketing techniques in advance of anything seen before in local radio.
One, notable, director was the writer Dennis Potter, who played an active role in the station's early years and lived in Ross on Wye. Potter's Pennies from Heaven producer, Kenith Trodd, presented a Sunday programme of 78 records featuring singers such as Al Bowlly, which Todd and Potter had used in Pennies from Heaven. Another Director was England rugby player, Mike Burton, who also started Gulliver's Travels, a sports travel agency.
In 1983, two of the station's engineers were killed on an outside broadcast. The pneumatic mast of their radio car touched an overhead 11kV power line, whilst they were preparing for a live broadcast from Soudeley Castle, Winchcombe. The inquiry into the accident found Severn Sound guilty of Health and Safety offences and fined the company £2,500. Many new safety procedures for radio cars were introduced across the whole industry as a result of the accident.
In its early years, Severn Sound had a total commitment to its local audience, and endeavoured to "hold up a mirror" to the entire county of Gloucestershire. It achieved this by having a News and Current Affairs team that was very active in reflecting local issues of real importance to Gloucestershire folk, and by having an outside broadcast schedule that took Severn Sound into every corner of Gloucestershire on a regular basis. In an age before the internet, Severn Sound was always at the forefront of providing vital information to its audience during the various flooding, water shortages and snowfall crises that beset the county during the eighties.
Severn Sound was also a key supporter of live music, and made many live recordings of orchestras, local brass bands, and supporting upcoming young musicians and rock bands who were just starting on their music careers by giving early exposure to the radio audience. It covered a broad spectrum of musical taste, including modern jazz.
In 1990, Severn Sound split frequencies, with its 774 kHz AM frequency being renamed Three Counties Radio, expanding to cover Hereford & Worcester. This was an "oldies" station and was a mix of local programmes and networking from Chiltern Radio Network's Supergold service. Presenters who moved from Severn Sound to Three Counties included Tony Peters & Sally Low Hurry. John Hellings was brought in as breakfast presenter. In 1992, Three Counties Radio was re-branded as Severn Sound Supergold (it also stopped being promoted in Hereford & Worcester) and was re-branded again, in 1996, by new owners GWR as Severn Sound Classic Gold. Ownership rules meant that GWR had to sell all their Classic Gold licences to UBC Media and another re-brand to Classic Gold 774 followed. Today, the heritage name "Severn" is no longer mentioned on 774AM after it was re-branded again, in 2007, to Gold, and again on March 24th 2014 to Smooth Radio, all programming on 774am now comes from London.
Past AM presenters include Sally Low Hurry, John Hellings, Nigel Snow, Tony Simon, Nicky James, Alan Thompson, Adrian Ball and Pete Simm.
In September 2008, it was announced that Severn Sound would become Heart Gloucestershire as part of a national re-branding exercise by owners Global Radio, which has seen twenty-nine stations renamed as Heart Radio.
The new Heart Gloucestershire branding was launched at 6am on Monday 23 March 2009 with breakfast and drive-time programming, broadcast from the above-the-street Bridge Studios, part of the Eastgate Shopping Centre (The Mall) in Gloucester. The rest of its output, (1000 - 1600 MF, 1900 - overnight, and all weekend, except 0800-1200 Saturday and Sunday), is shared with the rest of the Heart Network and is broadcast from London. Local news bulletins on the station are now produced by Heart West Country, in Bristol, following the closure of its Gloucester newsroom during the summer of 2010.
During the Gloucester/Tewkesbury flood crisis of Summer 2007, Severn Sound was forced to move, temporarily, to the GWR FM Bristol Studios, due to a loss of electricity and running water.
Heart Gloucestershire broadcasts local news bulletins each day - updates air hourly from 6am to 7pm on weekdays and from 6am to 12pm at weekends. Local bulletins are produced by the Heart West Country news team based in Bristol, which also produces the news service for Heart Wiltshire. National news updates from Global's London headquarters air each hour at all other times, except during The Vodafone Big Top 40.
Senior Broadcast Journalists