Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Comedy of Errors

Ten Great Notts Radio Presenters

1 February 06 words: Al Needham
illustrations: Rob White

There's been plenty of great Notts chaps on the radio, don't you know?

1. Dennis McCarthy
An absolute shoo-in for No.1. The Voice of Sunday Dinner, the most listened-to local DJ in the entire British Isles, and an absolute Notts legend. Dennis ruled the local airwaves like an benevolent tyrant for nearly 30 years.

In the week, he manned the decks for Radio Nottingham on the afternoon slot. But it was the Sunday Show that he was best renowned for, which was an all-powerful Nana-magnet. How popular was it? Well, the phone number for the show (44444) was dialled so regularly during broadcasts that the GPO had to announce that if you lived in Nottingham, your own number began with four, and you were waiting for an important call on Sunday afternoons, you were fucked, mate. The rather nepotistic ploy of drafting in his daughter Tara absolutely smashed it with his elderly audience, even though she became a hate figure amongst jealous kids. Wonder what she’s doing now? 
 
In between making annual appearances on the BBC whenever Crufts rolled around, Dennis wrote a best-selling book about a spaniel and bagged an MBE in 1991. When he died in ’96, 20,000 people clogged the streets of Nottingham to see his funeral cortege pass through the city centre. One of the trams is named in his honour.

Yes indeed, the King of Camp started his career in little old Nottingham (after a stint as a DJ at a biscuit factory... seriously). One of the original DJ’s on Radio Trent when it first started, Dale became the Typing Pool heart-throb and Housewives Choice with his mid-morning stint. Even then, however, you could tell that said typists and housewives were gonna be shit out of luck if they ever tried to cop off with him at one of his Funk Nights at Rock City.

He seemingly dropped off the map when he tried to kickstart a TV career and ended up as a warm-up man for TV shows in the eighties. His role as presenter of Supermarket Sweep in the early nineties, however, confirmed him as a star of daytime TV and subsequent appearances presenting the National Lottery on Saturday nights have made him a household institution.

One of his greatest recent moments must be his hoax wedding to Nell McAndrew for a BBC Three spoof. Graeme Souness was best man and Cilla Black was on hand as maid of honour alongside a host of other celebrity guests. It was so suprisingly well done that it wasn't even obvious it was a spoof. Our money is on Dale appearing in a celebrity-reality TV show soon...

3. Chris Ashley
In the late-seventies and early-eighties, this Australian-born preacher of bile was Hate Figure No.1 in the red half of Nottingham as Radio Trent’s Forest-hating sports host. Once rammed out the Broadmarsh Centre when he promised to have his head shaved there if Forest beat Leeds in the 1978 League Cup Semi-Final, and would deliberately go through kids’ autograph books, look for where Brian Clough had signed with his trademark ‘Be Good’, and would write ‘Be Bad. Chris Ashley’. His Forest-hatred went to the extremes of making a guest appearance on Tristram Shandy’s Magic In Madrid (a pre 1980 European Cup Final record), popping up to shout “They’ve got more jam than Hartleys!” and whatnot amidst the castanets. Now on Radio Shropshire, probably pissing himself with glee every time he picks up the paper and looks at the League One standings.

4. Kid Jensen
Oh yes. David ‘Kid’ Jensen was the star transfer on the original Trent line-up in 1975, before pissing off sharpish to Radio One after just a year. Jensen earned the name ‘Kid’ while working his debut slot for Radio Luxembourg, because he was the youngest of all the deejays at the station. The Canadian-born DJ went on to present Top Of The Pops every other week and became a champion of many a New Wave band. He was also an original member of CNN at its launch and a descendent of Robert Louis Stephenson.

5. John Peters 
Possessor of the deepest voice in radio, a fashionably Transatlantic boom that would make whales instantly start breeding, John Peters was the first voice ever heard on Trent and was original pirate material, having cut his teeth on a ship in Essex for Radio London with his mate Kenny Everett. Peters was an absolute stalwart for Trent for thirteen years before moving on to whatever they’re calling the oldies station these days. Gem? Century? Fucked if I know…
 
6. Brian Tansley 
Radio Nottingham’s Voice of Sport since the year nineteenlongtime, so much so that just the sound of his voice reminds you of being in Meadows chip shop at 5pm on a Saturday. A long-time Bridgford boy and a County fan, although he hides it well. 

7. Steve Merike 
Another pirate radio veteran (who actually got into the Top 50 in the sixties with a cover of the Stones’ Lady Jane), Merike jumped ship from Radio Caroline to Radio One, becoming the only DJ to fill in for the massively popular Tony Blackburn’s breakfast show without seeing a dip in listening figures. After a spell at pretty much every other independent station in the country he finally settled at Trent doing the late night slot, which involved putting his best reassuring voice on and endlessly playing Judy Tzuke and Moody Blues records for distressed aunties in Sneinton whose husbands had ran off with barmaids. Sounded a lot like Steve Wright, without the tediously vacuous ‘Posse’.
8. Graham Neale
Very controversial choice, this, but he’s in because he was one of very few local DJs to actively take an interest in local bands (in this case of the metal persuasion). Graham Neale’s Castle Rock show on Radio Trent was a must-listen in the early eighties if you had hair below your arse and drank in the Salutation. Regular interviewing stints on Tommy Vance’s Radio One show garnered him a serious rep, but it all went horribly wrong when he was convicted of his girlfriend’s murder (which is still disputed by some people who knew him) and committed suicide in prison.

9. Simon Mayo 
Another local lad who went on to The Big Show, Mayo started off at Radio Nottingham (with a bit of help from his mam, who worked there) and did a four-year stint there before being poached by Radio One in 1988. Two years later, he landed the most important job in all of Radioland, the One FM Breakfast slot. Never one to hide his Christian beliefs, he also nearly lost his job when he played KLF’s Get On The Dancefloor, unaware that the first line of the song was “Get on the dancefloor, motherfuckers”. Now handling the afternoon slot on Radio Five Live, he would have placed higher if he wasn’t a Spurs fan.

10. Colin Slater
The man they call ’Mr Notts County’ was actually born in Bradford in 1934. He cut his journalist career working on local newspapers in West Yorkshire and moved to Notts in 1959 to cover football for the Evening Post and the Football News (a then more popular rival to The Football Post). In 1968 he joined the original cast of BBC radio Nottingham broadcasters to provide reports on Notts County FC and Notts County Cricket and has not looked back since. In that time he has clocked up almost 2,000 matches for Notts including his classic commentary of the club’s play-off final victories in the early nineties. Now 71, he’s still going strong and was awarded the MBE in 2001. His eloquence on the mic has sadly never quite been matched by the standard of football at Meadow Lane.
 

 

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now