I can’t believe that it’s 25 years since I first stepped into a radio studio!

I had been told that there was a new radio station starting up at Dean Clough and why didn’t I give them a call to see if they wanted a Soul Show. I put together a demo using an old-style portable cassette player which I had to record a song into, then record a separate voice link and so on and so forth. If anybody has seen Robert De Niro in The King Of Comedy when he was recording his show reel in the basement, that was me. Although mine was the attic.

The only short-term broadcast from Spark FM took place between the 1st to the 28th of October, 1996 in the space next to Crossley Taxis. Five years later Phoenix was born not, as many thought rising from the ashes of Spark although poetically that would have worked. It was because Phoenix in my mind was phonetically close to Fax. I was scratching my head thinking of a station name that would link to the town and I remember a conversation with a friend who suggested Sweet FM. Genius but rejected by the Directors.

Twenty years on, Phoenix Radio has become an integral part of the community, in some ways we have had to educate people to what we are. When we first launched many radio listeners were used to hearing the slick voices of the BBC or Commercial stations. What we offered was a chance for the community to have a voice and eventually we succeeded.

The same critics who joked about it sounding a bit “Nah then” came on board. Even more recently someone who has worked in the Commercial Radio world for thirty years emailed me and criticised our output. Naturally I waited rather than have a knee jerk reaction, always wise. I replied and said that I understood the comments, having been involved in commercial radio for such a long time but pointed out that that wasn’t us. If we were a little ‘rough round the edges’ then the community we represent can be too. We seek professionalism but will never reach perfection. Phoenix gives voice to many who would not have the opportunity elsewhere.

Over twenty years Phoenix has been a family to many and we have suffered our losses as well as celebrated our achievements. In the past we have been told that radio is dying and yet it has outlasted other methods of communication, re-inventing itself to modern times.

We continue to develop and look for new ways to support our community. One of our latest projects is the Night Shift. Up until now our overnight output has been a mixture of music, jingles and repeated shows but we are now ready to launch ‘The Night Shift’.  This service offers overnight support by broadcasting advice, support lines and positive stories embedded in the station’s overnight broadcast. If anyone would like to contribute to this, contact Howard on 01422 365923 or email [email protected]

Thank you to all those who have supported Phoenix in the past and here’s to the next twenty.

Howard Priestley