Thursday, November 30, 2023

Manx Radio Turning Up the Wick 1970-1972


Following on from the post about Manx Radio's overnight closedown 6 months ago I bought second hand on the history of Manx Radio, A Nations Station by Derek Winterbottom published in 2014 for it's 40th anniversary. 223 pages and a balanced account  They'd been awarded a licence in July 1965 to broadcast with 2kw with a directional aerial. Chapter 3, Turning Up the Wick (1970-76) had some information I wasn't aware of, edited summary:

The station was barely profitable. When the Conservatives won the 1970 election they hoped to get permission to turn up the power and persuade Chris Chataway to nominate Manx Radio as the regional station for NW England. He refused as it would hit revenue for English commercial companies. Tynwald did vote to buy a more powerful transmitter. When the transmitter arrived in October 71 they planned to test it at its full power 10kw but it developed a fault. Post Office got to hear of this and warned them that transmitting at more than 2kw would be a breach of their licence. On January 20th 1972 without any announcement they transmitted at 10kw so were heard loud and clear in many parts of the UK. The BBC complained to the Home Office, Home Office complained to the Isle of Man Governor and on January 28th he told them to return to 2kw forthwith.

Their new strategy was to argue that if the UK refused to allow spillage from Manx Radio transmissions then they would complain about any interference from new commercial stations in Manchester and Liverpool. They requested a meeting with Chris Chataway which took place in March 1972. Just before the meeting Post Office technicians completed a survey and advised that they could achieve perfect coverage of the Isle of Man using low power relay stations. Chataway used this as his main argument at the meeting insisting that Manx Radio broadcasts should be restricted to the Isle of Man. He suggested as an alternative that the Isle of Man could join a new consortium which was applying for the Liverpool commercial licence. They put an advert in the Liverpool Daily Post on August 24 1972 saying they wished to apply for that licence and asking interested parties to contact them, clipping here.

There was a good response and links were established with Sir Max Entwhistle, former leader of the City Council, David Moores of Littlewoods, former Postmaster General Reginald Bevins and performers such as Ringo Starr, Cilla Black and Arthur Askey, They set up The Liverpool Broadcasting Company. Their hopes were dashed when the IBA concession was given to rival company Radio City.

IBA Technical Review 5 on Independent Local Radio Planning September 1974 states "By March 1972 there was substantial development of MF planning. A new factor was that because the Isle of Man commercial radio service was not permitted to provide coverage in England the IBA transmissions had to be restricted in a reciprocal manner." The Mb21 Transmission Gallery for the Piccadilly Radio MW transmitter site at Ashton Moss includes an article by E.T Ford on Directional MF arrays for IBA station  with detailed information on directional aerial. 

The Radio City MW transmitter site at Rainford near St. Helens was directional to the South West. Manx Radio 1368 was granted permission in 1980 to use a 10kw transmitter on 1368 a directional aerial with nulls of 7-9 db towards 110-140 degrees and 300-330 degrees, effective radiated power 20kw.
(Mike Barraclough/BDXC)