Heart North East
|Broadcast area||North East England|
|Branding||The North East's Heart|
|Slogan||More Music Variety|
|Frequency||FM: 101.8 MHz (Main)
FM: 96.2 MHz (Fenham)
FM: 96.4 MHz (Hexham)
FM: 100.7 MHz (Teesside)
|First air date||1 September 1994 (as Century Radio)|
|Audience share||3.8% (July 2014, RAJAR)|
|Sister stations||Capital North East
Smooth North East
|Website||Heart North East|
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 September 2007.
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 Ali 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.
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 North East began a gradual transition to the Heart branding on 24 March 2014. The Real Radio branding was phased out a month later ahead of a full relaunch as Heart North East on Tuesday 6 May 2014. Around the time of the rebrand, the station's audience share was 3.8% (as of June 2014).
In May 2015, Heart North East moved to new studios at new studios at Wellbar Central in Newcastle city centre, shared with sister station Capital North East and Communicorp-owned Smooth North East.
Local programming is produced and broadcast from Heart's Newcastle studios from 6-10am and 4-7pm on weekdays, 1-5pm on Saturdays and 12pm-4pm on Sundays. All networked programming originates from Global Radio's London headquarters, including the syndicated Vodafone Big Top 40 on Sunday afternoons.
The station's local presenters include Justin Lockwood and Kelly Scott (Heart Breakfast) and Tom Campbell (weekday drivetime).
Heart North East broadcasts hourly news bulletins each day every day. Regional news bulletins from 6am-7pm on weekdays and 6am-12pm at weekends, including the ten-minute Heart Nightly News at 6.45pm on weeknights and headlines on the half hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows.
Notable former presenters
- Mike Elliott interview lindisfarne.co.uk
- "End of an Era for Century". Radio Today. 18 Dec 2008.
- 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
- 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/
- Global moves to new studios in the North East, Radio Today, 22 May 2015
- West, Gillian (8 March 2013). "Boots UK launches radio and online programme hosted by Kate Thornton". The Drum. Retrieved 11 March 2013.