Tim’s personal career highlights

It was the summer of 1967 when the UK government pressured the BBC to create a new radio station to mop up the demand for all day music that had been created by the “Pirate” stations. I was lucky enough to be employed to work on the all new breakfast show presented by Tony Blackburn. I was 23 and Tony was 24 and we both thought we’d hit the jackpot. For the next four years we were in Tony’s immortal words “Fun Pioneers”. Choosing the tracks to which tens of millions of Brits awoke each morning was a labour of love and to be young and in the heart of ‘Swinging London’ at that time, felt like the golden era it truly was. Tony explained the programming methods they’d used on Radio “Big L” London and as a result, ours became the first BBC daily programme to use a playlist and a regular format.

When Noel Edmonds and I launched his Sunday morning show on Radio One, it replaced a conventional pop programme, but it was 1971 and a new breed of singer/songwriter was emerging. In an effort to give the new programme a distinctive style, I pushed for the chance to champion the genre, and although the conventional wisdom suggested that Radio One’s broadcast music should be “two minutes thirty, and bright”, we launched with a strong musical bias to tracks that tended to be longer and often more thoughtful than simply “bright”. Over the next two years we gave a peak time airing to the music of artists such as Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills and Nash, Cat Stevens, The Strawbs, Harry Chapin, Jim Croce and Carly Simon. The programme set a style that became known as The ‘Sunday Morning sound’ and its success owed much to its staunch defence by Executive Producer Teddy Warrick.

At the end of 1972, Radio One Controller Douglas Muggeridge decided that Radio One needed to embark on some more “serious” programming and it was decided that the network should create a prestigious 26 part series documenting the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll and its development into the popular music of the subsequent two decades – it was to be called “The Story of Pop”. Head of Programmes Derek Chinnery asked me to write and produce it. I’d just read Charlie Gillett’s ‘Sound of the City’ and realised Charlie had exactly the knowledge I would need to complete the task. Johnny Beerling, the series’ Executive Producer, contacted Charlie who agreed to serve as Series Consultant and eventually as my co-writer. John Pidgeon was recruited to work on the British based programmes and for the next 18 months we researched, wrote and recorded the 26 programmes that as well as being broadcast in the UK were exported to more than 70 territories around the world. In addition to existing archive material, more than 240 new interviews were recorded by the production team and in doing so, I got to meet music industry giants such as Jerry Wexler, Bob Crewe, Jac Holzman, and Phil Spector as well as artists such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens.

In 1987 I was asked to write and produce the annual Ivor Novello Awards Show for the British Academy of Songwriters and Composers (BASCA). I invited former colleague Mike Smith to handle the presentation and we were invited back for a second year. Sadly Mike was not available in ’88 but that proved a blessing in disguise because my next choice as host was the inimitable Paul Gambaccini. Paul and I handled the Show for the next 20 years and Paul remains as host to this day. Subsequently I was able to recruit him as presenter of the Sony Radio Awards for ten years, and when I served on the committee for what was known as ‘The Man of the Year Show” (now ‘The Music Industry Trusts’ Award’), we brought Paul in to handle that event as well. Working with PG is always a rewarding and trouble free experience. His presentational skills at live events, especially his ability to handle both gravity and humour with equal skill, are without comparison.

It was the then MD of BBC Radio, Dick Francis who floated the idea of a Radio Academy to further the interests of what by the early ‘80s was starting to be seen as the Radio ”Industry”. In 1984 I was elected to the first Council of the Academy and in 1987 was persuaded by the first Chairman, Caroline Millington, to apply for the post of Director of the Academy. After a series of interviews I got the job and in conjunction with the brilliant Academy Administrator Maureen Winnall, we worked to put down roots for the fledgling organisation. We found sponsors and launched the annual ‘Music Radio Conference’ which brought the Music industry together with the Radio industry to consider our mutual interests, and we took over responsibility for  the annual Radio Festival previously organised by Broadcast Magazine.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet so many colleagues from all sides of the radio world and led to my being asked to chair conferences across Europe for a variety of organisations including the EBU.

It was as a judge for the Sony Radio Awards Classical Music category that I first met Simon Cole. The winning programme was called “Mr Halle’s Band” and at the ceremony in the Spring of 1984 I asked to meet its producer. Simon and I met again when he next visited London and we stayed in touch . When he was granted £50,000 by Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio to experiment with the concept of Independent production, he called me. I agreed to work as part time Production Director for his new project, PPM. When that company was bought by Owen Oyston, Simon and I agreed it was time to start our own and to name it The Unique Broadcasting Company. Over the next 25 years we created dozens of programme concepts for both BBC and commercial radio stations. Our business partnership worked brilliantly, confirming that the very best ones are between people who do not wish to occupy the same ground. Simon wanted to be a business leader whilst I wanted to shape programme ideas and to work with creative people. I’m sure we’d agree that we both got what we wanted.

In 1982, events producer Alan Zafer had come up with the idea of creating an Awards scheme for Radio. He raised sponsorship funding from Sony UK and recruited an organising committee of radio professionals under the Chairmanship of ex BBC Executive Gerard Mansell. I served on that first committee and our first Awards Show took place in the spring of 1983 hosted by Noel Edmonds. After a break, in 1991 I re-joined the committee under Gillian Reynolds’ chairmanship and from 1999 until 2011 I took over from John Whitney as Chairman of what by then was ‘The Sony Radio Academy Awards’. It was probably the most challenging task I ever undertook; at times there were up to twenty participants at our monthly meetings. They were the Controllers of National BBC stations, Managing Directors and Programme Directors from Commercial Radio groups as well as broadcasters and representatives of local stations.  I tried to make meetings both efficient (never longer than 90 minutes) and enjoyable, whilst seeking to develop the Awards to meet as closely as possible the sometimes very different priorities of the committee members - and I loved it …..