BBC Radio York is heading back to its home city this morning, after 9 months broadcasting from neighbouring Leeds during a studio refit.
The station will be back live from new state-of-the-art studios at 6.30am, after the work to upgrade the facilities at Bootham Row were completed ahead of schedule.
"At one point we were looking at 18 months," Managing Editor Sarah Drummond told RadioToday.co.uk ahead of the move back over the border into North Yorkshire. "When I joined the station nearly 5 years ago," she added. "We were talking about when we would have an upgrade – it’s been on the cards for a long time."
As well as new broadcast desks and updated studio gear, the whole building at BBC York has been given a fresh new look. Sarah told us the layout had been changed so that, for instance, servers are in one place rather than dotted around the building. "Everything’s been rationalized really – it makes more sense. We’ve knocked down a few walls in the production office upstairs so we’ve got an open plan meeting area. In one respect it’s quite a modest refurbishment but in another respect because everywhere’s had a coat of paint and the broadcast equipment is the latest it looks like a really great upgrade. We were using BBC Mark III broadcast desks and when RadioMan was rolled out it just had to be bolted on the side. Now we’ve got full integration of digital playout on our desks so the presenters are really happy!"
Since last summer, presenters and newsreaders have been sharing facilities with BBC Radio Leeds, while reporters carried on being based in York.
"Technically being in Leeds has worked reasonably well and we’ve tried to protect the listener from hearing any different because obviously it’s a backstage issue – I feel we’ve done that pretty well," says Sarah. "In terms of the team here it’s had its difficulties not least because every day you leave your patch and go into someone else’s patch and then broadcast back to your patch."
The BBC's English Regions Training and Engineering teams have spent the last few weeks making sure that the staff and equipment are perfectly aligned for the return of broadcasting from York. The BBC Mark IIIs have been swapped for shiny new Calrec X2s which will go live for the first time with the Adam Tomlinson Breakfast show at 6.30am on Wednesday.
Managing Editor Sarah Drummond concluded: "Someone asked me last week what the first record we were going to play from the new studios was going to be – but of course we do a full speech breakfast show so there won’t be one straight away! The first words spoken from the new place are likely to be ‘Good Morning’ or ‘It’s six o’clock’ I guess."