As Rock FM and Magic 999 (Red Rose Radio) celebrates its 25th Anniversary, I thought I would acknowledge it's pedigree in training local Lancashire people to become media professionals.
If you've been reading my blog you'll know how Red Rose Radio gave me a chance. If it wasn’t for the time taken by its news staff to explain and show me the skills to become a broadcast journalist, I wouldn't be working in my BBC job now. But it's not just me. Many people have passed through the doors of the converted church on St. Paul's Square and gone onto bigger things. Richard Frediani is now the News Editor at ITV Granada, Georgina Bowman presents `Newsbeat` on Radio 1, Paul Kenyon had his own BBC 1 series "Kenyon Confronts" - There are countless other presenters and journalists, too numerous to mention, who owe their successful careers to Red Rose.
It was a great place to work - The fun we had in and out of the office transferred to the airwaves, making an entertaining listen. The unique building of the converted church of St. Paul's helped make it such a special place. I was proud to be a Preston lad working on Preston's own radio station.
Now you are spoilt for choice in radio listening, whatever your favourite music you can generally find a station that plays it. There's thousand of stations from all over the world available on the internet. Back in 1982, there was only the BBC.
Red Rose Radio helped to shake up the world of radio and was just one of the reasons why BBC Radio Blackburn became BBC Radio Lancashire. Red Rose was the first station to form a radio group under the guise of Trans World Communications owning Radio Aire in Leeds, Red Dragon Radio in Cardiff and Piccadilly Radio in Manchester.
My biggest tribute is saved for one of the original people responsible for lobbying for and launching Red Rose Radio, Keith Macklin. Originally the first Programme Controller, then presenter and news/sport reporter. 25 years later Keith still works for Red Rose covering sports stories. He's the foundation stone that's helped secure success. Offering words of advice and wisdom, fighting people's corners, sharing a joke, watching people, like me, learn my craft and build on it. Keith's recently celebrated 50 years as a broadcast journalist and commentator, and Lancashire's radio is all the better for the 25 he's spent in Preston.
Now mainly a music station, Rock FM and Magic 999 are not the same as what Red Rose Radio once was, but times and radio market places change. Lancashire and Preston in particular, should be proud of it's two favourite stations committed to telling you what's happening where you live in its news bulletins, playing great music and making you smile.