Radio Orwell in 1979 

11 November 2017

Radio Orwell・28 October 1975

Radio Orwell Ltd, Electric House, Lloyds Avenue, IPSWICH IP1 3HZ
Tel: 0473 216971. Telex: 98548

Directors Commander John Jacob (Chairman); Donald Brooks (Managing Director); R Blythen; A H Catchpole; G H C Cope-man; T R Edmondson; W Le G Jacob; J P Margetson; D H S Missen; Mrs R A Skerritt; S F Weston.

Executives Bernard Mulhern (Programme Controller); Chris Opperman (Head of News); David Cocks (Head of Sales); Nigel Hunt (Chief Engineer).

IBA Local Advisory Committee for Independent Local Radio in Ipswich G T Allen (Chairman); N R Arbon; Cllr J P Carter; Miss Green; M W Sheppard; Cllr R S Strutt; Cllr Mrs D E Thomas; Mrs C Watt.

An outside broadcast with Radio Orwell’s D.J. Greg Bance, with engineer Simon Foster in the background.

‘This is Mike Salts at Suffolk Police Headquarters. Good morning again Patrick. I’d like to say that the Ford Cortina which I reported stolen in my last broadcast was recovered five minutes later in Stowmarket.’

That transcript of one of the regular Police broadcasts on Orwell exemplifies the value of ILR in the community – not just to the Police of course – but to every individual and organisation that wants to get information and requests for help across to listeners in the towns and villages of Suffolk and Essex. Whether it be news of a village fete, or a plea for a lost pet, a discussion among local county, district or parish councillors or warnings of storms and coastal floods. Radio Orwell reaches a large and loyal audience fast and effectively.

In the 1978 JICRAR audience survey, 81 per cent of the population of Ipswich were found to listen to Orwell every week – in three wards of the town the figure was 100 per cent – in the primary vhf area of the station the weekly reach was 69 per cent and in areas as far away as South Essex and North Suffolk, 43 per cent.

The main appeal of Radio Orwell is its ‘localness’ and it’s reputation for credibility: overheard in a bus queue: ‘it was on Orwell, it must be true.’ This local appeal and credibility comes in programmes such as local news and sports bulletins, nightly discussion programmes on local affairs, weekly interviews and phone-ins with MPs and Councillors in the area, weekly gardening, farming, arts, angling, motoring and religious programmes – all produced by local people.

Without doubt, the local broadcasting highlight of 1978 was when Ipswich Town Football Club trounced Arsenal in the Cup Final: Orwell was at Wembley, at the Club’s hotel in London and in Ipswich when the team returned triumphant to a turnout that filled the streets of Ipswich to overflowing.

This local appeal is made against a backcloth of appealing music: pop, middle of the road, soul and classical, welded into a total service by a long-standing team of presenters.

In 1977, Orwell was chosen by the IBA as the study subject for the first IBA Radio Research Fellowship. The Fellowship was awarded to Jeremy Booth, a sociologist of the University of Essex, and during 1977 and 1978 Orwell worked closely with him in providing information on the community activities of the station, in assisting at seminars attended by representatives of voluntary organisations and societies of all kinds and in making available to him full documentation on the station’s activities in such areas as charity fund raising, and the ventilation of local issues.

Jeremy Booth’s study, due to be published at the end of 1978 should be of great interest to all ILR stations and of help in ensuring that ILR consolidates its position in the community as it moves into its sixth year of operation.

IBA Transmitters
VHF Transmitter
(FM with stereo capability)
Foxhall Heath (NGR: TM 212 445)
Max erp 1 kW
Circular polarisation
Aerial ht. 265 ft aod

MF Transmitter
(medium wave, mono only)
Foxhall Heath (NGR: TM 212 445)
257 m (1170 kHz)
Transmitter power 0.3 kW
(MF omnidirectional aerial)

Air Date: 28.10.75

VHF COVERAGE. The map shows the area within which most listeners should obtain satisfactory mono reception on VHF and, with adequate aerials, good stereo reception. Medium wave coverage is designed as far as possible to match VHF.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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3 responses to this article

Ivan 21 November 2017 at 8:33 pm

Great article; Orwell is undoubtedly my favourite of the original nineteen ILR stations (I own some vintage Radio Orwell paraphernalia!). Was the study mentioned in the article ever released to the public? If so, I would be very interested in reading it.

Jonathan 11 November 2019 at 11:13 am

I clearly remember a spoof UFO story breaking into the music on 257 Radio Orwell one Christmas, which I believe to be 1980. It seemed to be a joint venture between Radio Orwell & the local USAF Airbase of RAF Bentwaters, who allegedly sent an A10 aircraft to intercept the UFO, only to find it was Santa Clause & his sleigh being pulled by Reindeer.
This program must have been quite well organised & the timing was extremely interesting given the now infamous events taking place at the time in Rendlesham forest, involving the twin bases of Woodbridge & Bentwaters, as well as many other local sightings of strange lights, from Battisford near RAF Wattisham to Sudbourne. Furthermore, my own, & very skeptical, Brother had even appeared in an interview explaining what had been seen over Battisford during this time. Even more curious is the story didn’t become public until October 1983 in the News Of The World with the headline ‘UFO Lands in Suffolk- And That’s Official’.
Perhaps 257 Radio Orwell was already involved in breaking the news long before?
Surely somebody, somewhere remembers something about this, especially as it involved such close co-operation between both Radio Orwell & RAF Bentwaters. Or indeed who may have interviewed my Brother, David.
If anyone can shed any light on this, or who the presenters were etc, I would be most grateful.

Stuart St Paul 9 February 2023 at 5:38 am

About 1980, I took over from Steve Wright when he moved to Radio 1. I moved down from Metro where I was hosting the breakfast show, and I stayed doing weekends and holiday relief until I joined TVS as the DJ on Radio Phoenix, a TV soap about a Radio Station. By default I became an actor, but that was pretty boring compared to radio, so I became a stuntman, stunt coordinator then director. Now, I tour a talk and after dinner sessions as a celebrity stuntman and crime author. Spending a lot of time as a guest on cruise ships, I film the cruise ports.

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