Hitting the peak 

17 August 2020 tbs.pm/70925

Branded mugs for High Peak Radio


Great Decisions are sometimes made at family barbecues; Very Great Decisions are made when there is beer…

So it was, way back in the 1990s, that English teacher Steve Jenner said to his DJ brother, Paul, over a burger, “Why don’t we run a radio station here in Hucknall?” It may, or may not, have been followed by, “Do you want another beer?” But history was being made.

And thus it came to pass on 1st May 1996, that the good people of Hucknall, an ex-mining town in Nottinghamshire, woke up to the sounds of W.H.A.M. – Wonderful Hucknall AM! A Restricted Service Licence (RSL) permitted broadcasts for 28 days on 1413 kHz, and Hucknall people loved it.

High Peak Radio 4-second cuts

Man and dog

The author at work

My connection with W.H.A.M? I’d just secured early retirement from a comprehensive school in Hucknall, I needed something to fill my time, and I pitched the idea to Steve and Paul, soon to be known as the Broadcast Brothers, that I should provide news bulletins for the station. They accepted my offer, and we worked together for the next 20 years or so.

Further RSLs followed – in Hucknall, Nottingham, Moor Green, Ilkeston, and Newark. The Broadcast Brothers set their sights on a full-time commercial radio licence. The Radio Authority invited applications for the licence at Chesterfield. We undertook a huge promotional campaign in the town; we applied for the licence; we came second.

Undaunted, the team began RSLs in North-West Derbyshire. The Brothers had noted that the area around Buxton, Glossop, Whaley Bridge, New Mills and Hope Valley was “white space” in radio reception terms, the only district in England not well served by any local radio station, BBC or ILR. Radio Buxton set up RSLs variously in front of Buxton Town Hall, in the rooms above a pub on Buxton Market Place and in a Portakabin up a sheep track at Buxworth. The Radio Authority invited applications for the licence in the High Peak. We applied for the licence; this time we came first!

High Peak Radio 5-second cuts

On 4 April 2004, High Peak Radio took to the airwaves from studios in Chapel-en-le-Frith, broadcasting 24 hours a day. From the outset, the business model could politely be described as “shoestring”. The station ambitiously had live presenters every weekday for 10 hours between 6am and 7pm, but playout of music and advertisements for both live and recorded programming was organised by an ENCO DAD system, an industry standard. However, the version used was MS-DOS based, not Windows, and reportedly was never upgraded. The management maintained that MS-DOS was more stable than Windows. It was also cheap.

It is true that the system rarely crashed – until it did catastrophically, when the system was so out of date that it failed to function at all. Several days of emergency programming followed, and the station was obliged to buy a modern version. It was a straw that came close to breaking the station’s financial back, a forecast of what was to come.

High Peak Radio 8-second cuts

Before going on air in 2004, the station bought a bespoke jingles package; it used the same package throughout much of its life. A revamp would have been considered extravagant.

As a reward for my loyalty over time, I was offered the weekend overnight pre-recorded slot: on air from after the midnight news until the breakfast show powered up at 6am or 7am. I knew I was not a good radio presenter, and I gratefully accepted the offer – broadcasting to a handful of insomniacs and night-shift workers was still a privilege. As a recently-qualified broadcast journalist, I was keen to provide some features in the small hours. After some discussion, I was allowed one feature per hour, of no more than 3 minutes duration (my stopwatch didn’t always work entirely accurately). I was to have no idea what music I would be playing, so my pre-recorded links had to be random, generic and content-free. Even the jingles were programmed without my knowledge. I was never in the studio when my programmes went out, and therefore could not even offer “up to the hour” or “that’s all from me” links. I found it a very uncomfortable experience. But it was a job.

High Peak Radio ‘donut’

I did rebel over one point – the High Peak Radio “donut” was rarely used by any other presenter, live or pre-recorded. This was a 0:59 jingle, setting out the broadcast area, with a musical interlude in the middle – hence the donut name. I took possession of this and devised a High Peak Radio dance to the jingle. I am no dancer, but I “encouraged” my audience each week to – erm, “throw some shapes” in time with the music. I have no idea if listeners took me up on that challenge, in the privacy of their homes, or otherwise deserted factory floor.

High Peak Radio 11- and 12-second cuts

While training in journalism, one of my coursework assignments was to create a video feature. I took the donut and created a promotional trailer for the radio station, which was later uploaded to the High Peak Radio website.



Ashbourne Radio travel news bed

The station is no more: it and its sister station, Ashbourne Radio, were sold to the Helius Media group, and on 4th November 2019, both stations relaunched as Imagine Radio, sharing off-peak programmes with another Imagine Radio station in Stockport. With this article, though, the jingles of High Peak Radio live on, both in sound and vision.

High Peak Radio 15-second cut

The purists in the UK commercial radio business sing the praises of early ILR stations, such as LBC, Capital, BRMB and Radio City, and I suggest pay little heed to the tiny radio stations that came along later. But High Peak Radio, originally conceived after a beer or two (surely not the first such conception!), clawed its way into existence, the smallest mainland ILR station in the country. It doggedly served North-West Derbyshire for over 15 years, and was much loved by its loyal listeners, before the accountants finally threw in the towel. Good times.

“Where rolling hills meet heritage,
Where people love to stay.
In Glossop, Buxton, Whaley Bridge,
High Peak will make your day.
Hope Valley’s views, New Mills news,
Chapel’s changing scene.
Climb high with us, take in the view,
Breath-taking High Peak country!
From way up here, the future’s clear
Shared with friends that you know,
High Peak Radio.

High Peak Radio!”


(The Broadcast Brothers story from early childhood to the opening of High Peak Radio is described at length in their book.)

You Say

2 responses to this article

Phil Durrant 30 April 2022 at 9:04 am

Ah I remember living in Dinting and Glossop during the period 2004 to 2006 and remember just how quickly High Peak took hold of the area from the distant Key 103. It was a bloody good station with Leighton on breakfast, Road to the Roast quiz on a Sunday morning and the drive time show. Even Norman on a Saturday was entertaining with sport. It was like Plymouth Sound used to be about 15 years earlier- local, informed and relevant and good fun.

Sadly missed when I came
Home to Plymouth but always had 106.4 tuned in for when I went back on holiday. Do you have the High Peak Traffic Jingle like the Ashbourne one as I remember getting to hear that on the Woodhead as I would travel home from work in Rotherham meaning it was nearly home time- and remember clearly one snowy day when it was played nearly every link as roads were closing left right and centre! Happy days!

Ryan 11 May 2023 at 10:29 am

I was 10 years old when High Peak Radio launched in 2004, most of my family worked in a large factory in Glossop. Dad was the director, mum was office clerk, one uncle ran one department, another uncle was the engineer, my siblings and cousins all had part time jobs and my grandad was the van delivery driver.
During the school holidays, I didn’t have a baby sitter and was just free to roam around the different areas and departments of the company.
Each department had their own radios and all departments listened to different stations, Engineers had Galaxy 102 on, other department KEY103, my grandad had BBC radio Manchester on in the van… etc.etc

When High Peak radio launched, it was one of my uncles who found it first, he kept ringing up Leighton morris when the phones lines were opened and always got shout outs for the “Girls in Glossop Thermoplastics”. When the whole company found out that my uncle was on the radio getting shout outs, each department slowly but overtime retuned their radios to 106.4.
The last department to change over the radio was my younger uncle who was a Galaxy fan, but over time the people he worked with kept asking him to change frequency to 106.4

Before you know it, everyone in the company was whistling to the jingle.

In 2005, I rang up one Saturday morning and won teacher of the week for my teacher. I then got sent a certificate for myself and the Teacher for winning. She was chuffed that not only the radio had such a thing, but one of her students rang up and won it for her.

Other memories are tuning in on dark, cold, snowy winter mornings and listening to HPR to see if my school was closed.
The excitement as the presenter started reading the list of closed school was exciting, but also funny considering they’d close the comprehensive but the catholic school less than 900 meters away was to stay open!

High Peak Radio also did a great job over the years, they were live at Glossop North End when we won the semi final of the FA vase.
They also did a great job with the Whaley Bridge Dan collapse and reported so much for the local area.

Programming like this won’t be the same now that Greatest Hits Radio replaced High Peak Radio.

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