Radio Leeds celebrates 50 years of broadcasting

BBC Radio Leeds celebrates its 50th birthday by broadcasting from its original home in a Leeds shopping centre this week.

It was on June 24th 1968, at 5.30pm, that BBC Radio Leeds made its first broadcast to listeners across Leeds, with presenter Liz Ambler being the first voice on the station.

Presenters are live from the Merrion Centre all week, with all the daytime shows coming from a temporary glass box studio in the main mall for all shoppers to see.

Richard Stead started the week’s broadcasts as he presented his breakfast show live from the shopping centre. Other shows coming live from The Merrion Centre are The Stephanie Hirst Show, The Big Yorkshire Phone-In with Liz Green, The Teatime Show with Gayle Lofthouse and West Yorkshire Sport Daily.

Andrew Edwards’ Weekend Breakfast Show will be there on Saturday along with Nick Ahad and, on Sunday July 1st, the week of broadcasts from the Merrion Centre will conclude with Gardening with Tim Crowther.

The station aired a special programme on 24th June to commemorate the occasion.

Called BBC Radio Leeds at 50, the documentary looks back at 50 years of the station. Using archive material, the programme features extracts of the first day of broadcasting in 1968 before working its way through the decades to relay the sound of the radio station as it grew and matured into what it is today. Extracts of old programmes have been gathered following a six-month search for old recordings of the radio station made by former members of staff and even listeners who have sent in their old reels of quarter-inch tape and cassettes.

The material gathered goes as far back as 1968 and paints a picture of how BBC local radio has evolved over the past 50 years.

Sanjiv Buttoo, Managing Editor for BBC Radio Leeds, said: “Radio Leeds has enjoyed 50 wonderful and varied years of broadcasting to West Yorkshire. Our listeners are constantly changing and the station tries to reflect everyone in the content we produce, providing essential information, connecting communities and entertaining them with great music, engaging guests all held together by a talented mix of professional presenters.

“But we’re always looking for ‘what’s next’ and hope that we continue to attract an ever changing audience who we know are now accessing what we do not only on radio, but through their TV’s, computers, tablets and mobile phones.”

Edward Ziff, Chairman and Chief Executive of Town Centre Securities, owners of the Merrion Centre said: “We are pleased to welcome BBC Radio Leeds back to their original home at the Merrion Centre to help celebrate their 50th birthday. Both the station and shopping centre have been part of the city’s history for a significant amount of time, which is testament to the hard work of all involved over the years.

“We wish BBC Radio Leeds all the very best, and look forward to welcoming regular and new visitors to the Merrion Centre during the week to help them celebrate this momentous milestone.”

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