with RCS

Tribute to first Radio Tees programmer Bob Hopton

Bob Hopton, a pioneer at the beginning of UK commercial radio, has died.

TRIBUTE: Bob launched Radio Tees in 1975 after working at Pebble Mill in Birmingham as a Popular Music Producer for Radio 1 and Radio 2. He was responsible for launching and furthering the careers of many who went on to become key figures within the industry, including tempting Les Ross from Radio Birmingham to be the launch Breakfast jock on Tees.

After five years at Tees he then found his way back to the Midlands where he programmed BRMB and teamed up with Les Ross again.

He was a hard task master, and an innovator who had that inbuilt quality that all great programmers have “Attention to Detail”. He always seemed to be listening and if the XD line started flashing in the studio, you knew “Boris the Boss” as he was known On Air was about to deliver some sage advice without compromise!

He brought BBC values to commercial radio that put content at the forefront but allowed the presenters creative freedom to experiment which fostered a sense of fun, yet in reality he was a disciplinarian who demanded very high standards.

He made it north, for what was the final time, in June of last year for the 40th anniversary of the launch of Radio Tees, and as everyone walked in, his imposing persona in beige jacket and dark glasses brought back the stomach churning emotions from that bygone age when the Programme Controller was King. He’s in the picture above from the event, along with (LtoR) Mark Forrest, Mike Prior, John Simons, Jules Bellerby, Bob, Paul Robinson, Graham Robb and Mark Matthews.

After BRMB, in his own words “he sold his soul to the devil” and entered the world of P.R. but had a brief flirtation again with radio in 1990 when he became General Manager of the ill fated Century Radio in Dublin, which he described as a “poisoned chalice”! From there, he established a computer systems, software and communications company.

We all learnt so much from Bob and so many are in his debt after he gave them their first big break in radio, and we will all miss him.

Hear him in conversation with John Foster on BBC Tees below:

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