Piccadilly Radio: Nobody Did It Better

Remembering the halcyon days of Greater Manchester’s foremost independent local radio station.


In the most part of my formative years, Piccadilly Radio formed a great part of my radio listening habits. From my recollections in the 1980s I can remember listening to The Bradshaws at about five in the morning before setting off for school.  The soundtrack to Saturday nights would be Magic Music with Steve Penk instead of some film after the 8.45 pm ITN News bulletin.

Chez Vallantine (and the people which make up the happy home) were heavy Piccadilly Radio listeners since the start. For example, Dad spent many a happy morning roaring with laughter to Phil Wood’s programme. I could remember the night when Dodgy Dave parked outside a ‘phone box at The Albion Hotel (Dukinfield) one night in 1988 (as part of Paul Carrington’s late night show).

1988 was also the year when Piccadilly Radio was split into two, leading to today’s situation where the original commercial stations have been taken over by conglomerates with interests in other media, such as newspapers and satellite television channels.

Greater Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio was obviously no exception with its stations being taken over by EMAP and Bauer Media (German owners of Take a Break magazine). Key 103 would retain its moniker with Piccadilly 1152 being renamed ‘Magic 1152′ then ‘Piccadilly Magic 1152′.Almost from that moment, we switched over to Capital Gold on 1458AM. In 2007, we started listening to Tameside Radio on 103.6FM, and not looked back since.

Today, East of the M60 will take you back to a time when Phil Wood cajoled listeners to squash inside ‘phone boxes, when James Stannage introduced us to Jasper Carrott, and towards a time when ringing 261 got you the dulcet tones of Ray Teret.

The dawn of Piccadilly Radio

Most radio stations prior to 1974 was London-centric, with the exception of the pirate stations. Local stations were the sole preserve of the BBC till LBC and Capital Radio changed all that in 1973. North of the M25, BRMB became the first ILR station outside London.

The 2 April 1974 saw the start of Piccadilly Radio. Roger Day (aka Twiggy from Pirate radio days) was the first DJ, playing ‘Good Vibrations’ by The Beach Boys. Its early jingles were recorded by CCS, famed for the Top of the Pops signature tune used between 1971 – 1981. Formed by Philip Birch, the station took its name from the Piccadilly Gardens area of Manchester, and its base at Piccadilly Plaza.

As well as playing the latest chart hits, Piccadilly’s remit covered local factual programming and sports coverage. This included an early phone-in programme ‘The Piccadilly Line’, Sunday morning religious programmes (Square One) and in-depth news programmes as well as daily bulletins. News bulletins at the top of the hour were accompanied by headlines of the main stories on the half hour. Though the station had a few teething problems to begin with (mainly technical gremlins), the station was an instant hit with Mancunians seeking a local alternative to the BBC’s service from the opposite end of Piccadilly Gardens.

Piccadilly personalities

Almost instantaneously, Piccadilly Radio’s DJs became personalities in their own right:

James Stannage as well cementing his reputation as an outspoken talk show host brought Bob Williamson and Jasper Carrott to national attention;

Steve Penk, after starting out in 1978 became a television presenter in the late 1990s after moving to Capital FM via Key 103. He now owns and broadcasts on Revolution 96.2FM;

Roger Day, prior to joining Piccadilly Radio, had already been famed as a DJ for pirate stations Radio England, Radio Caroline South and Radio Northsea International. He was known as ‘Twiggy’, due to his build and the popular 1960s model with the same name;

Both Gary Davies and Andy Kershaw moved from Piccadilly Radio to become successful BBC Radio One disc jockeys in their own right;

Chris Evans has since moved on from being Timmy Mallett’s right-hand man to at one point owning Virgin Radio and taking over from Terry Wogan’s BBC Radio Two breakfast slot.

The Great (Radio) Schism

By Government diktat, independent local radio stations were obliged to offer a second competing station, offering the listener more choice. Piccadilly, like several other stations, decided to use the 103 FM frequency for contemporary music, with ‘golden oldies’ being played on 1152 AM. On the 03 September 1988, Key 103 was formed, taking the bold step of attracting the Yuppie audience. Programmes would attract the young affluent listener living in Salford Quays, and audience sector which would prove fruitful for its advertisers.

Alas this didn’t materialise. 1990 saw Key 103 refocus its audience towards the mainstream. It paid off, and Key 103 shortly became Greater Manchester’s most popular independent radio station. Also in the same year, Piccadilly 1152 was renamed Piccadilly Gold. After failing to purchase BRMB, Transworld Radio Group was sold to EMAP Radio in 1994. Five years later, Piccadilly Gold, in line with similar stations adopted the Magic moniker, being known as Piccadilly Magic 1152.

Today, Piccadilly Magic 1152, has seen a rapid decline in the number of listeners, who have since defected to other commercial stations such as XFM and Rock FM. Also having an effect was the launch of smaller scale local stations such as Tameside Radio, Revolution 96.2 FM (owned by ex-Piccadilly DJ Steve Penk) and Tower FM. Key 103 however has continued to hold its own, though again lost listeners to the younger local stations. Both stations broadcast from Castle Quay in Castleford, Manchester, having moved from the cramped Piccadilly Plaza studios which gave the station its birthright.


As with the pirate stations, DJs became personalities in their own right, went out on the road to see its listeners and even spawned merchandise. 1975 saw the station offer a pendant radio. Worn like a medallion, the AM radio included the station’s ‘261’ logo and was reputed to be quite heavy around the neck (due to the transistors used). Subsequent merchandise included the Piccadilly Radio Football Annual, edited by Tom Tyrell, who joined Piccadilly Radio from BBC Radio Manchester. All of which were available from the Piccadilly Radio reception. As with most independent radio stations were the usual car stickers.


If like myself you used to listen to Piccadilly Radio, feel free to share your memories. Whether you took place in the Manchester Run, rang James Stannage or owned a Piccadilly Radio 261 pendant radio, East of the M60 would like to hear from you.



S.V., 21 June 2010.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Chris Sievey, better known as comic creation Frank Sidebottom who passed away early this morning. His contribution to Piccadilly Radio was the ‘Radio Timperley’ show, a weekly 10 minute slot within Paul Carrington’s show in 1988.

RIP Chris Sievey (1956 – 2010).

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66 thoughts on “Piccadilly Radio: Nobody Did It Better

  1. Hello again Stuart,
    Wow what a great article.

    Its sad thats it written on the day Frank Sidebottom has apparently died, another legend that began on Piccadilly Radio.

    I like you grew up with Piccadilly Radio, but so many memories its hard to know where to start.
    I went to school in the 90’s and every morning i would get up at 6am and listen to Dave and Umberto on Piccadilly 1152. They had me in stitches every morning with there rather camp banter with Joe Blakeway – the ‘eye in the sky’. On one occassion they convinced all the listeners there was a national shortage of toliet rolls, with many people beliving them and buying there rolls in bulk.

    James Stannage was another of my legends.
    He was the origional ‘shock jock’ and didn’t mince his words, which his regular callers loved. Everyone at my school would listen to his show and talk about it the next morning, his paranormal phone-ins a big favourite.

    The big mistake they made with James is moving him to Key 103. This was because Century Radio had tried to launch there own ‘shock jock’ Scottie Mcclue, and it was felt James would recieve a bigger audience on FM instead of AM.

    For the many years he was on Piccadilly 1152 James would often not allow younger listeners to phone in after 10.30 as he thought they should have been in bed, and this for me gave a grown up feel to the show, unlike when he moved to Key 103 and it seemed he was forced to make pointless chat to kids who just wanted to ‘be on the radio’.

    Did you know Stewart that James Stannage was actually a teacher and for many years worked at Manor Road school in Droylsden and Egerton High School in Denton.

    I like you switched to Capital Gold when Piccadilly became Magic but i have now switched back to Magic and it does now have a local feel again. Dave Lee Travis at weekends is fantastic and well worth a listen.

    Another memory i have is when the IRA Bomb went off. Because Key 103 and Piccadilly Gold were slap bang in the middle of Manchester, the studios were cleared and an emergency tape was played for 12 hours until a tempory studio could be found.

    Magic 1152 has had some more recent legends as well, Geoff George was always a personal favorite of mine and for many years he had a fantastic Saturday evening show, and there was a guy called Richard Jardine who presnted ‘magic love’ in a very unique style, where listeners were invited to call, text and email in and share there views. Both sadly missed.

    I have tried Tamside Radio in the past but didnt really connect to it, in my opinion radio has changed to compete with the interent and will never be quite the same again.


  2. FelixFind, hello again.

    My early breakfast show memories too came from Curly Shirley, with James H Reeve rather than Umberto in the late 1980s. In the mid-1980s we always watched TV-am instead. James Stannage for me was a real ‘appointment to listen’, having spent many hours on a school day listening to him. The paranormal ones were good (Stockport Ghost Society were returning guests), but better still were the Bank Holiday shows when he had Tremendous Knowledge Dave answering obscure trivia questions. He was last seen on ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’ and won £500,000.

    I last saw James Stannage at the Water House in Manchester having a heated discussion with a few friends of his. You can still listen to him on Manchester Radio Online. Of course, I do know about him being a teacher, and have as a volunteer for a local theatre group worked with Dominic and Darren Stannage.

    I too remember the emergency tape they played from the backup unit on the 15 June 1996. Geoff George was one of the more recent greats. Brendan Kearney and Spence MacDonald were pretty good as well in the early 1990s.

    You can now listen to Umberto’s show on Real Radio. He has the breakfast show and has been reunited with Dave Ward – aka Curly Shirley.

    Bye for now,


  3. Hi Stuart,
    Yes Brendan Kearney was another great presenter, on in the afternoons if i remember. he now prestents the weekend breakfast show on Magic 999 [Red Rose Radio].

    I have listened to Dave and Umberto’s breakfast show on Real Radio but for me its not quite the same, theres something missing.

    Spence Macdonald was another legend of the 90’s, returning to Magic 1152 a few years ago with Mike Maguire to do the breakfast show, only then when there show took off for them to be moved to Key 103 and be a massive flop.

    Geoff was a fantastic presenter and worked at Piccadilly for a long time. He was first drafted in to cover for Umberto’s weekend phone in show while he was away on holiday and was a instant hit with the lady callers. I belive he is from Ashton as he always talked about drinking in the Old Fire Station in Ashton.

    The Stockport Ghost Socity were great and always were a great listen. It was like watching a really spooky horror film, only ten times more spooky.
    Tremendous knowledge Dave was another great listen, and he seemed to know the answers to the most obscure sports questions. I think he was the question setter on one of Channel Five’s early quiz shows – 100% i think.

    Yes i remember James talking about his sons alot on the radio. I think Darren worked for a while on Piccadilly 1152, presenting the show after James’s at 2am.
    I have listened to James’s online show but again it wasn’t as good as the old days, i think Phil Wood also presents on the same online station.

    Ahhh the memories :)


  4. Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day is indeed a great DJ, but he won’t be too pleased to learn that he worked on offshore Radio London! He was aboard Radio England, Radio Caroline South and Radio Northsea International. Roger currently broadcasts on BBC Kent.

  5. Hi Mary,

    I have just corrected that error for you. My Dad remembers Roger Day’s programme during his first stint at Piccadilly Radio as well as with the pirate stations. He returned to Piccadilly Plaza in the early 1990s to work for Piccadilly Gold, and I remember him from that period.

    I am glad to see he’s still a regular fixture of the local radio circuit. It may also be worth my while to listen to his show via the BBC website.

    Bye for now,


  6. FelixFind, hello once more,

    Brendan Kearney did have the afternoon slot on Piccadilly Gold, before the drivetime programme started (Phil Wood I think had it at the time). As for Spence Macdonald, he was sacked during one stint over something with the station’s coffee machine! I didn’t know that Geoff George was an Ashtonian.

    You are right about Tremendous Knowledge Dave. David Rainford was a question compiler for C5’s 100%. I used to enjoy watching 100% and how Robin Houston pioneered the blunt ‘goodbyes’ before Anne Robinson. There was also themed versions of this programme for older contestants and ABBA fanatics.

    Darren Stannage, I do remember his 2am daily show though I was too tired to listen. The last I heard of him on the radio was his later role as a matchday reporter for Key 103. He also worked for the defunct Team Talk radio station on Atlantic 252’s old long wave frequency.

    Keep the memories coming!


  7. Hello Stuart,

    Im not sure if its the same Darren but there is a Darren Stannage that does football reports for various radio stations, presumably its done by Sky news who do all the radio news and sport nowadays. It does sound like the same Darren though!

    There was of course Mike Sweeny as well. For many years he had played with local band ‘the Salford Jets’ and while being interviewed on Piccadilly Radio the big boss at the time thought he had a good radio voice and gave him a trial. He was a massive hit from day one, the housewives loved him.

    What about Susie Mathis. I remember her Sunday morning show where she would highlight various charity events going on at the time. She of course had a very bad time at Piccadilly, although her show pulled in large audiences, station bosses felt it was more Community radio than commercial and decided to sack her, only the story made it into The Sun before she had been told and at the time was apparently very distressing for her. Of course now she is a patron of Francis House and is often seen with little Kirsty Howard.

    A few other presenters i seem to remember, Steve Wells, Paul Smith, Mark Jones, Danny Matthews, and of course Noddy Holder who for many years presented the 70’s show.

  8. Hello again FelixFind,

    It is the same Darren Stannage. According to Wikipedia’s entry on James Stannage, there is reference to Darrens’ role as sports reporter for Sky News Radio.

    I have also had the great pleasure of seeing Mike Sweeney himself with his post-Salford Jets band The Thunderbirds. They played a mostly acoustic set at a gig I went to last March at The Railway pub in Greenfield. His late morning programme was always on at home. Even after Piccadilly Radio, we listened to his breakfast show on Capital Gold/plain Gold.

    It was a shame about Susie Mathis leaving Piccadilly. If I remember rightly, Rebecca Want replaced her. She then went over to BBC Radio Manchester/GMR. Becky Want, via television, also followed Susie Mathis to GMR.

    Noddy Holder’s 1970s show was always worth listening to. It was much better than watching ‘Man O Man’ or any other trash that went out on a Saturday night on television.

    Bye for now,


  9. Stuart,
    You have a better memory than me, i certainly carnt remember what was on TV while Noddy’s 70’s show was on :)

    Mike Sweeny was always a great listen on Piccadilly. His flirting with lady listeners and his great manc accent made a great show, not to mention the 60’s music.

    There is a tribute website thats been set up by Jeff Cooper, the first news reader on Piccadiily and on there is a number of the jingles and also clips from the first day of broadcasting. Listening back you realise how many mistakes there were but in the day im sure no one noticed.


  10. Hi FelixFind,

    Unfortunately I do. Noddy’s show went out at around 1994 occupying a slot between 8 – 10pm. For the unfortunate folk who didn’t live in Piccadilly Gold’s transmission area, Casualty or Bugs (thriller series starring Craig McLachlan and Jesse Birdsall) followed the National Lottery Live programme/Noel’s House Party. On ITV, Bob Holness presented Raise the Roof, which was a retread of The $64,000 Question with a property theme.

    There used to be a section of Noddy’s programme known as the ‘Handbag Horror’ which he bestowed to the most cheesiest disco tune.

    I’ve been on the Piccadilly Radio tribute site by Jeff Cooper several times. Unlike the national stations or the pirate stations, Piccadilly Radio jingles seem to be much harder to find.

    Bye for now,


  11. Stuart its funny you mention there jingles.
    When Piccadilly radio celebrated there 30th birthday they played a special recorded show over 2 hours which celebrated the last 30 years. As well as playing lots of vintage clips, and of course recolections from the many presenters, they also played alot of the classic jingles from both Piccadilly and Key 103. I taped the whole 2 hour show and but sadly the quality is rather poor.
    Last year when Piccadilly celebrated there 35th birthday they rolled out the same show on Magic 1152.
    I keep meaning to email Piccadilly to see if its possible to get a decent copy of this fantastic show, but as yet haven’t got round to it.

    Steve Penk is very keen on the history of Piccadilly and even hosted the Piccadiily radio years on Key 103 a few years ago, again palying some of there old jingles, until he left. The show was then briefly taken over by Dave Ward but of course he then left so the show was ditched.

  12. Yo FelixFind,

    It took me some finding but you can download the programme in 10 minute segments from the Key 103 website. The link is http://www.key103.co.uk/Article.asp?id=1243276. Obviously they are for personal enjoyment but once you’ve downloaded them you should have no problems adding the MP3s to iTunes, Winamp, VLC, Amarok or Windows Media Player. It was great to rediscover the old jingles listening to the documentary again.

    Each file has the Key 103 ident at the beginning, though you could delete that part by using a good sound editor. Audacity is an excellent free program available for Windows and Linux PCs and Mac OS X systems.

    Bye for now,


  13. wow what a blast from the past

    i was 14 when 261 sprang on air, listerning to James Stanage at night via those little radios with an earphone had me laughing to Monty Python, blaster bates, mike harding, bob williamson, jasper carrott, oh those where the days,,

    later was love can b fun with Mike Shaft the smooth talker, i also remeber 261 at the belle vue rod and custom show, a favourite haurnt of mine and the cars used to hang
    out outside 261 tower on friday nights (rainy city cruisers), i still have a 261 emblem is you want a scan of it.

    breaker one nine,, you got your ears on good buddy,, stannage is on at 9

    1. Hi Dunstall,

      I didn’t know about the Piccadilly Radio Hot Rod and Custom Car show so many thanks for filling me in with this shard of Piccadilly history.

      My early memories of listening to Piccadilly Radio were on a Decca clock radio complete with scary buzzer and green LED numbers. I then had a little transistor type radio, a rather minimalist Amstrad one (red). Which child born between 1950 – 1985 didn’t have one of these radios and try to listen to their favourite DJs? Them and the Walkman democratised the ‘personal soundtrack’ leading us to the iPod and internet radio.

      I have yet to find a talk show DJ as outspoken and as funny as James Stannage on any local station. Sadly, radio’s characters seem to be few and far between.

      Bye for now,


  14. Hi Darren,

    Many thanks for your comment. My aim of this post was to bridge a gap in the market for Piccadilly Radio history. Most historical radio material I have found on the internet has either been aimed at the pirate stations and the London commercial stations, though less so the provincial independent local stations. Given Manchester’s perception of being the Second City, I thought at the time it would be worth readdressing the balance and deservedly so.

    Bye for now,


  15. I used to listen to Richard Jardine on magic 1152 a lovely chap who was replaced quite wrongly and unfairly he had the perfect radio voice and a lovely sweet man his audience figures couldnt be beaten , we spoke often on air he nicknamed me Cobbler bob because i used to visit a brilliant nightclub in whitley bay in the 70s and early 80s called the burgundy cobbler i cant confirm this but i was told by someone who knew him he actually moved back to south africa and retired wish i could contact him again he is very sadly missed

  16. Hi Bob,

    The name rings a bell, but unfortunately for me, I stopped listening to Magic 1152 at the time in favour of Capital Gold and now Tameside Radio. I note he was a familiar face on Radio City along with countless other stations North of Birmingham.

    Bye for now,


    1. hi stuart good to hear from you Richard Jardine i believe had a brother a news reporter i hope some day Richard will return to the airwaves he was brilliant

      1. Hi Cobbler Bob,

        Thank you for your message. I have found that the wee guy finished broadcasting in the UK in 2007 and is now living in South Africa. He was also on Capital Radio 604 (South Aftrica) before moving to Radio City.

        His brother Tony is a motorsport pundit for Sky Sports.

        Bye for now,


  17. thank you Stuart good to hear from you if you ever find out anymore about richard i would love to know i would dearly love to contact him again he was a lovely chap and great friend take care best wishes Bob many thanks once again for your help

  18. I always looked forward to listening to United on Piccadilly Sport when I was a kid. The ‘It’s a goal!’ and ‘Oh no!’ voice that interrupted records (whenever United or City scored or conceded) only made it more exciting…. Many wonderful memories of Frank Sidebottom… I remember his puppet, Little Frank, doing a whole Radio Timperley show. Because Big Frank ‘hadn’t turned up’… Plenty of great DJs: Timmy Mallett was good fun, Tim Grundy, Umberto, Sweeney, Sexy Bexy, James H Reeve etc…

    I always listened to Joe Fish’s C&W show… I went to school with Joe’s son, John..
    And of course, who could forget that chord at the start of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ followed by ‘I am the God of Hellfire, and I bring you…. Sweeney’s SIxties Classics!’

    It’s dead, good, it’s dead ‘ard, and it’s dead grown up… Job’s a good ‘un….

    Cheers for a great and insiteful article…


  19. Hi Martin,

    Yes, I do remember all of the above. This time 22 years ago I would have been listening to the Paul Carrington show, 45 minutes after Frank Sidebottom’s ‘Radio Timperley’ show.

    I used to listen to the Piccadilly Sport show from the early 1990s, with the excellent Tom Tyrrell behind the mike at Old Trafford. Could you remember the time when Ken Bates refused him entry to Stamford Bridge, when he had to ‘commentate’ from a mobile phone/car phone? Or Stuart Pyke’s commentary of the last ten minutes between Oldham Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday (1990 – 91 season)?

    If that clip doesn’t give you goose pimples, nothing else will. I support both Stalybridge Celtic and Manchester United and it never ceases to give me a lump in the throat even now:

    Bye for now,


  20. Thanks for the memories, guys! Anyonbe know where Umberto is now? Lovred him and Stannage. Those were the days.

    1. Hi Sue,

      You’ll be happy to find that Umberto is gainfully employed at Real Radio, with his show going out to listeners in the North West, or online. As for James Stannage, he has been involved in Manchester Radio Online since leaving Key 103.

      Bye for now,


  21. hi,
    remember listening to the station right from the off.one thing i would like to listen to again was a feature on Phil Wood i think on sundays,was Albert Rackstand.he sounded a bit like Les Dawson,and would discuss the topics of the week.googling the name brings nothing so theres not much chance of ever hearing him again.very funny.

    1. Hi Bob,

      You’ve got me there. Though I do remember – and listened to Phil Wood – Albert Rackstand doesn’t ring any bells to me. If anybody else is reading this thread, feel free to elaborate on the aforementioned alter ego of his.



      1. Hi Bob and Stuart,

        I’ve just discovered this blog after googling for information on Phil Wood. I was listening to his show this Sunday morning on TheRevolution 96.2 (via the internet) and wondered what the final outcome of that unfortunate traffic incident was. Very sad that it cost him his job at the BBC.

        Anyway, on a happier note I have some good news for Bob, who was querying about Albert Rackstand! The name doesn’t ring a bell but the character and voice certainly does. When I lived in Manchester in the eighties Phil Wood’s Sunday morning show on Piccadilly was an essential listen. It was very nostalgic listening to him today, again on a Sunday morning but 30 years later!

        His Piccadilly shows were full of characters and I distinctly remember the guy with the gruff Les Dawson voice. I think he was supposed to be an agent of some sort, always introducing bizarre and hopeless acts. Another regular contributor to the show was James H Reeve, who played the part of lowly assistant to Phil Wood. It was his job to bring the wine every week and he kept bringing the wrong type, earning rebukes from Phil! It was all very funny and inventive. It’s a shame that Phil’s current show on TheRevolution is rather tame, with only ‘Doris’ surviving from the old days. Having said that, I only heard it for the first time today so perhaps it’s sometimes more lively.

        A few years ago I was having a tidy up and found two audio cassette recordings, each containing large chunks of Phil’s Sunday shows on Piccadilly. I’ve still got the tapes so I’ll dig them out again and transfer them to MP3 format. I’d be happy to pass them on to you both if you’d like a copy. I know that Albert Rackstand is featured, as is James H.

        I remember being delighted to find them out of the blue. Listening to them again took me right back to a typical Sunday morning in Prestwich – usually lying in bed with a hangover, listening to Phil and contemplating a ‘hair of the dog’ visit to The Church pub!

      2. Hi TonyB,

        Good to see Phil Wood is still active, though I wonder how long it will be before he introduces other characters on Revolution. I don’t listen to Revolution 96.2, though it might be worth reacquainting myself with Tameside’s other local station (plus Oldham’s and Rochdale’s of course).

        I shall be looking forward to listening to the archive recordings of Phil Wood’s show. As for The Church, I am familiar with that pub in Prestwich. I called in once for a quick pint of Moorhouse’s finest (Pride of Pendle) and well served it was too. Couldn’t believe The Longford Centre was only ten minutes walk away – it was like being in a pocket of rural England.

        Bye for now,


      3. I remember giggling so much listening to Philip Wood in the morning….I wanted to stay off school as I was missing a great programme. The best ever had to be his Sunday morning show and “the sunday lie in”…. I hope someone posts a back clip as Albert was brilliant x

      4. Hi Jacqui and Stuart, further to my post above I’ve now transferred my recording of Phil’s Sunday show to MP3 and I’ll post a link over the weekend. It’s from 1981 and has plenty of Albert Rackstand! I have another 1981 recording – this consists of two 45-minute chunks of James H Reeve’s evening show. Great fun! I’ll transfer that to MP3 soon and distribute the link.

      5. As promised, here’s the download link to the MP3 of the Phil Wood Show, recorded on Sunday 12th April 1981. Were you even born then, Stuart?! It’s nearly 32 years ago lol, I was in my early 20s, living in Prestwich and working for Granada.

        It’s the final 80 minutes or so of the show and leads into the 1pm news bulletin. Unfortunately the ‘1981 me’ cut off the recording rather quickly, but at least it included news of the space shuttle launch. It’s so nostalgic to hear all the adverts and jingles of the period. I thought this recording also featured James H Reeve but it doesn’t. There’s plenty of Albert Rackstand though. The quality’s not too bad – it was recorded in FM stereo but on a very cheap cassette (I’m amazed the tape’s lasted this long!) so the levels are a bit variable.

        I’ll send the link out to other Piccadilly nostalgia sites and I’ll get to work transferring my recording of James H Reeve to MP3.

        Here’s the Phil Wood link. The file size is 80MB so it’ll take a while to download:


      6. Hi TonyB,

        Thanks for the link. I am listening to it at the moment and the sound quality – even with the limitations of cheapo audio tape – is pretty good.



        P.S. 10 minutes in: an advert for the Hyde branch of Fine Fare – ooh yes!

      7. Hi Stuart, I’m pleased that the quality is ok. Phil Wood was so inventive in those days, wasn’t he! I hope you enjoyed the show and that other posters in this thread have a listen too. I’ll be in touch again soon regarding the James H Reeve recordings.

  22. Hi Guys,
    Anyone remember”he wh must be obeyed” Colin Walters”. Think he was a programme controller. Where did he go?
    Love all ths reminiscing. Can’t find any late night talk shows now. Anyone found one. Remember Graham a regular contributor to Stannage and loved listening to Dennis the Chemist and I think Moyshe (could be wrong about that name). Think they also appeared with Umberto. Keep the memories going. Radio no the same anymore. Cheers. Sue

  23. Hi Guys, anyone know where or if Umberto is broadcasting now. Miss his late night show. Any news gratefully received. Sue

      1. Still no news about Umberto, can anyone enlighten me. Tried google etc. even tried to contact him on Facebook but no reply. Cheers Sue

      2. Hi Sue,

        The most up to date information I’ve found on Umberto is an August 2011 BBC article on him and a December 2011 posting on Digital Spy, followed by an earlier one from April 2011:


        I would assume his health may be why he’s taken a back seat from the presenting side. He is now raising awareness of diabetes.

        Bye for now,


      3. Hi Stuart,
        Many thanks for your reply re Umberto. I watched the video and it is so sad to see he is now having all thes health problems. He was so kind to people who rang him on his show that I hope he realises how much pleasure and comfort he gave to people. Wish we could do something in return for him. Lovely man. I miss hearing his kind voice.
        Thanks for the info Stuart.
        Cheers, Sue

    1. Hi Jacki,

      It was a really nervy last five minutes of the season, and one which had similar parallels to Oldham Athletic’s did in 1991. Not least the last minute display by Dzeko and Co (or should that be Ko.?) in the two minutes after the Sunderland fixture finished (even though it seemed that Manchester United would win their 20th title). So similar parallels, save for the fact that Joe Royle’s wage bill, even allowing for inflation rates, would have barely covered Balotelli’s drinks bill.

      I wonder what Brian Clarke would have made of Manchester City’s recent success? I could have imagined him doing a Stuart Pyke if he was still commentating today!

      Bye for now,


  24. I worked in the car hire garage below the studios in the early eighties and all the DJ’s used to park their sponsored cars on the forecourt which wasn’t a problem from my employers point of view because they were nice cars until one day the CEO of the company (in Manchester for a conference) came in to the office. He was storming and demanded to know why cars were parked on HIS forecourt that weren’t hire cars. As I tried to explain that they belonged to the Radio station and that it was customer relations because they hired cars from us,he fired me down and shouted “Get that travesty off my forecourt and pointed to Chris Evans little Skoda that was signwritten up with ‘Chris Evans (DJ’s name) Coffee boy’ I had to run up to the reception and get all the DJ’s to move their cars because I couldnt for shame single Chris out. I’d love to go back to the boss now and say you run and tell Chris to move his car and see what he says.
    I was also there when Chris came down to my office devastated that he had just lost his job,virtually in tears and saying what do I do now and i said “Chris what’s your dream in life?” and he replied “I want to be a Radio One DJ” and I said well go and do it, send them tapes just go for it and he just shook his head and walked out before he burst into tears. I never saw him again until years later I saw a new show Dont Forget Your Toothbrush and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I dont supose he’ll remember that but I also know why he left Piccadilly. Well done Chris Evans you got there and the best thing that ever happened to you was walking away from Piccadilly.

    1. Hi Jill,

      It seems the then upstart DJ took heed of your wise words in 1990, and it didn’t do him any harm whatsoever. Firstly he came up trumps during Radio One’s 1994 reshuffle, which saw the loss of numerous familiar faces like Dave Lee Travis and Simon Bates. It is gratifying to hear him on Radio Two, and think each time ‘he was on Piccadilly… one of ours’. Suffice to say, quite a few DJs went national after working for Piccadilly Radio and Key 103. For example, Pete Mitchell when he moved to Virgin Radio; Mark Radcliffe and Lard to Radio One; JK and Joel even moved to Virgin Radio too; and, Gary Davies to Radio One.

      This time 19 years ago, I could tune into to Key 103 and listen to Stu Allan, and make sure I’ve set the video for ‘Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush’ earlier today. I used to enjoy watching The Big Breakfast, and it was the irreverent nature of the programme as well as Chris Evans himself which made for essential viewing before setting off for school.

      Bye for now,


  25. For those of you who remember, I worked with Suzie Mathis on a Monday morning as Jobsworth John, where she would link live to me at someone’s house, where I was supposed to be cleaning etc. while the owner was in the studio with Suzie, instead I would open their mail, go through their drawers, get the gossip off the neighbours and describe what was in their bedroom drawers, this won the station the Sony Award for “Best Show” I also worked with Dave Ward & Phil Wood as “Lionel Lust” another one of my other creations, where I would ask courting couples to meet me in their cars (Lust mobiles) in some discreet car park etc., late at night. I was camp as a row of tents, long before Umberto came along, in fact I was the 1st camp presenter on Piccadilly Radio, James Stannage can vouch for this as he was a massive fan. Happy memories. John Barry.

    1. Hi John,

      Please accept my apologies for my rather late reply. Some of the stuff Lionel Lust and Jobsworth John got up to wouldn’t be acceptable to today’s more PC ears. Today, if you met courting couples in their cars at night time, they’d have you done for voyeurism! Some people may be a bit apprehensive about having their mail opened citing fears of identity theft. Then again, the pranks detailed are no worse than anything which would have appeared on ‘Game For A Laugh’ or ‘Beadle’s About’.

      How I wish today’s radio stations had the same amount of daftness which Piccadilly Radio had. In such unhappy times, we need to start laughing again.

      Bye for now,


      1. Thanks Stuart,
        You are right, today people are held back because of political correctness, if I did that today I would have everyone on my case, the people who make an impact are the one’s who arn’t scared to push the boundaries, I have always been like that, as a person & in my way forward, I started the Manchester Mardi Gras & wouldn’t take no for an answer, you have to stand up & be counted. I loved my my time at Piccadilly Radio, it was unique. I met up a few years back with my mate Chris Evans, we were both presenting a huge event in London. We chatted for ages about Piccadilly Radio, as we were there at the same time. Manchester Radio needs to laugh again.
        Take care.

      2. Hi John,

        Once more, thank you for your comments. I am amazed to find you started the Manchester Mardi Gras, which has become as part of the city’s calendar along with the Lord Mayor’s Parade/Manchester Day celebrations and the Christmas Markets.

        The only thing I’ve laughed at on a Manchester/Greater Manchester radio station in recent times has been the reruns of The Bradshaws on Tameside Radio (0930 and 1530, Monday to Friday). Even though I’ve heard some episodes before on Piccadilly Radio (and on CD), they are still funny.



  26. Anyone sms me on 07786400272 I’m desperate to know the whereabouts of Tony grey of Piccadilly radio in the 1990s is he still going strong he emigrated to Thailand briefly thanks @B747CHRISACK800

  27. FYI: “Albert Rackstand” was workshy vagabond Nobby Carr. Close friend of Mike Harding and anyone else who might have the price of a pint. When he was on Parkinson’s chat show, Harding made prolonged mention of Nobby, whom Parkinson also knew, and enacted a Nobby-inspired sketch about signing on. For many, many years, Nobby spent his time wandering round Manchester, bumping into people. I just happen to know, that’s all.

      1. Does anyone remember the Sunday “lie in”. I’m sure Phil Woods (never ceased to make me laugh) hosted it but could be wrong. It was an hilarious programme where a group of people had to do a skit Piccadilly suggested they do. Really was funny and makes me smile x

        Have a great day, Jacqueline 😘


      2. Thankyou. I can’t wait to hear it again.

        Thanks for posting

        Have a great day, Jacqueline 😘


  28. I remember in the late eighties and early nineties, enjoying the far superior, open, full, clear (all the detail projecting out loud and full), balanced (with natural deep base), dynamic (loud and quiet), harmonic, musical sound quality on Piccadilly Key 103, as well as the jingles (coming from the heart of Manchester, winner of city of drama 19.., this is..), coming at the right time – coming after songs and before the news, not before and not between each and every song. It is often nice to have mystery – play songs first and maybe identify the songs after playing three of them in a row. The creative and funny presenters were way ahead of their time, and the station had a real local relevance, letting people know of things to do and get involved in, things which are free to do. Distant and anonymous “who cares” ownership which is just after profit, “political correctness”, uniformity, are all so antisocial. It is best to switch the radio, internet and TV off and get living real life now. However, how? Real society is so antisocial and ISOLATING nowadays, more than ever before I feel, for some people or many people.

    I think there’s room and DEMAND for new, up to date, communally /socially creative /constructive, pro social, radio stations. Great sound quality (to the trained /sensitive /musical ear), good aesthetic station presentation /organisation, and brilliantly entertaining, innovative, interesting, informative DJs /presenters /shows, are all important. Maybe it could be part of something else new, like an experimental project which teaches individuals the specific social skills which make them capable of getting close friends and a lover to live and enjoy life with, simultaneously coordinated with resolution of their macro social situation (eg residence, vocations and avocations); this being coordinated so, because you can’t learn and apply social skills if you are in a bad situation, and you can’t progress in a good situation if you lack necessary specific social skills (perhaps a multitude of).

  29. I confess I listen to Key 103 now. I don’t know whether I should still be thinking it is better sound quality? It seems to be not quite what it was though. I’m listening online, lonely in Morecambe at the moment.

    1. Hi Christopher,

      Couldn’t agree with you more. The corporatism of our mass media, particularly with first generation ILR stations could explain why the ‘higher place’ is outside. I cannot bear to listen to the commercial stations now because of today’s unimaginative programming. The only stations I listen to are BBC Radio Two (for Pick of the Pops), BBC Radio Manchester (for a quick blast of Allan Beswick) and my local station, Tameside Radio (http://www.tamesideradio.com).

      I have found this ‘higher place’ in the pubs and live music venues, on the bus, up in the hills, and on the sands. Sometimes, recorded for posterity on memory card or film. You can learn a damn sight more by travelling on public transport, wandering around open markets, going to cinemas or theatres.

      A lot of the above, as stated in your second paragraph (first comment) go beyond the state of our media. I could have taken up driving lessons on turning 17, but thought against it. I didn’t fancy spending Sundays washing the car, watching Top Gear, and becoming an asocial right-winger in the process.

      Most of my music comes from YouTube or my iTunes app these days. Now and then, it’s the CDs. None of these compare with Piccadilly Radio’s heyday, or Key103 during the early to mid 1990s.

      Bye for now,


  30. Thanks for the reply. I absolutely agree about the ‘higher place’. However, whilst walking up a hill on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, it WOULD be nice to hear those high notes projecting out loud, bright and beautiful; or when bored and lonely on a Sunday, it would be nice to have a little radio theatre to take part in (or chuckle to), orchestrated by an ingenious DJ.

    1. Hi Christopher,

      Whilst writing this comment, the weather we have at the moment is nothing short of amazing for walking up to a nearby hill. My locality is framed by the Pennine foothills, with moorland scenery a short bus ride away. The tops of Harridge, Hartshead and Alphin Pikes (a 343 bus ride away) are good for that. Likewise, Rivington Pike off the 125 service from Bolton to Preston.

      Add a decent radio programme with a charismatic presenter and a good picnic… the makings of a good summer weekend.

      Bye for now,


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