BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Infobox Radio Station
name = BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

city = Cambridge
area = Cambridgeshire
branding =
slogan =
airdate = 1 May 1982
frequency = 95.7 MHz (Peterborough), 96.0 MHz (Cambridge), DAB
share = 8.4%
share as of = March 2008
share source = []
format = Local news, talk and music
power =
erp =
class =
callsign_meaning =
owner = BBC Local Radio,
BBC East
website = [ BBC Radio Cambridgeshire]

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Cambridgeshire. It broadcasts from studios on "Hills Road" (A1307) close to the train station in Cambridge and a studio on "Priestgate" in Peterborough. It broadcasts on 96 (Madingley, close to the A428-A1303 junction five miles west of Cambridge) and 95.7 (Morborne, south-west of Peterborough, two miles west of the A1 near Norman Cross) FM, 1026MW (Chesterton Fen, close to the A14 and Fen Ditton north-east of Cambridge), DAB, and via its web page using Real Player. It started broadcasting on 1 May 1982.

Chris Morris started his radio career at Radio Cambridgeshire, testing the management's level of humour. Other national broadcasters who started their careers at the station include Matthew Amroliwala (BBC News 24), Nick Barraclough (BBC Radio 2), Ian Peacock (BBC Radio 4), Martin Popplewell (Sky News) and Mark Saggers (BBC Radio 5 Live).

Original schedule

Under the first manager, Hal Bethell, the station broadcast only in the mornings.

The opening day was broadcast mainly from Cambridge but also from the district office in Broadway Court, Peterborough, where the BBC first planned to base the station - Peterborough being the county's largest city - until the move from city to county-based stations led it to choose the county town. The first programme was presented by Gina Madgett (formerly Radio Nottingham) and the first record played on-air was "Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

The original weekday broadcasters were:
*Julian Dunn (New Day, an all-speech news service that ran at the same hours as Today on Radio 4, on which it was based)
* Anne Bristow and Jane Solomons, alternately (The Light Programme, a mixture of music and light interviews)
*Gina Madgett (The Home Service, a largely speech programme with interviews intended to interest listeners at home)

When Hal Bethell left the station because of his health, he was replaced by the deputy manager of Radio Lincolnshire, Dave Wilkinson. He extended broadcasting into the afternoon by hiring Radio Lincolnshire presenter, John Richards. Wilkinson returned to Radio Lincolnshire as manager and was replaced by Ian Masters, previously presenter of BBC East's regional television news programme, Look East.


The Peterborough studio opened in a single office in Broadway Court, rented from Peterborough Development Corporation, the body responsible for the city's expansion as a New Town. The broadcasting equipment was two Studer tape recorders, a four-channel mixer and two microphones, which were placed on a table surrounded by mobile sound baffles. Ian Cameron, the first broadcaster from there the day Radio Cambridgeshire opened, realised at the last moment that the wall behind the temporary studio abutted the office block's lavatories and asked the staff in Cambridge to listen while he flushed the cistern. Nothing could be heard and the broadcast went ahead without fear of others in the office block inadvertently disturbing it.

In 1983, Peterborough was equipped with its own studio, using a 12-channel Audix mixing desk made in the county and two Studer B67 tape machines, with a third machine for editing in a neighbouring office. That office later become a studio as well, although it could go on the air only from the main studio alongside. The first complete programme from Peterborough was broadcast by Julia Booth (formerly of "BBC Radio London") while the studio's opening party was going on on the floor below.

In 1987, the studio gained the ability to broadcast independently of Cambridge. At first, the opt-out as used only for traffic information in the morning news programme and, later in the day, for five-minute spots of purely local information. The first entire programme to be broadcast from Peterborough without also being transmitted in the Cambridge region was presented by Les Woodland in the afternoon while John Richards broadcast from Cambridge. The next programme to opt out was "Sounds Eastern", two hours of music and commentary aimed at Peterborough's Indian, Pakistani, Sikh and Bengali population and presented by Ansar Ali.

Outside broadcasts

The station's first outside broadcasts were of results from local elections held soon after the station went on the air. The station's radio car was used from the back doors of the town hall in Peterborough. The reporter was Ian Cameron. The first complete programme broadcast away from the studio was the same year, from the [ East of England Show] in Peterborough, when the presenter was Anne Bristow.

Remote studios

Radio Cambridgeshire, when it opened, had satellite studios in Huntingdon, Ely and Wisbech, using offices in council buildings. The studios were equipped with a microphone and a small mixing desk and were used to save contributors a journey to Cambridge or to Peterborough.


The first station badge or symbol was a design suggesting Cambridgeshire's three main rivers, the Nene, the Ouse and the Cam. Before the station came on the air, the manager, Hal Bethell, arranged with the Pye radio company, which had long been associated with Cambridge, to use a design based on the sun-through-clouds design which Pye previously cut into the loudspeaker screens of its original radios.

The sun-and-clouds symbol remained until a BBC ruling that all its stations should have a joint logo to underline the national nature of the local service.


The 95.7FM signal is by far the stronger. On 30 October 2004, a fire broke out (thought to be arson) 80ft up the main Peterborough mast, one mile west of Morborne, and the heat caused the whole mast to collapse. A shorter BT Group plc tower with microwave transmission dishes next to it was undamaged. The 95.7FM signal was put out of action for a few weeks. Peterborough has FM BBC national radio, BBC DAB National and Digital One. The Madingley transmitter also carries national FM BBC radio, Five television, Digital One, BBC DAB National, Q103 Cambridge and Kiss 105-108 East on 105.6FM as well as the NOW Cambridge DAB multiplex. Chesterton Fen also has Virgin Radio on 1197MW. The DAB signals come from two multiplexes in Cambridgeshire - a rarity for BBC local radio stations, as some do not yet broadcast on digital. Since 30 November 2002, the NOW Digital Peterborough [ 12D multiplex] has come from Peterborough (main signal), Hitchingbrooke Hospital (Huntingdon) and Stamford (in south Lincolnshire). It covers Peterborough, Huntingdon, Stamford and Spalding. Since 30 September 2004, the NOW Digital Cambridge [ 11C multiplex] has come from Madingley.

Current schedule

From 7-9am, there are two breakfast shows - Jeremy Sallis from Cambridge and Andy Burrows from Peterborough. Andy Burrows then takes both transmitters for the last hour where, under the heading "Cambridgeshire Calling", he switches to an interview show. The mid-morning slot, presented by Andie Harper, has long been the consumer section of the schedule, mixing music, news and gossip with listeners' problems.

Other programmes include the Sue Dougan afternoon show from 1-4pm each weekday. Antonia Brickell presents "Drive" from 4-7pm with travel news read by Matt Rockley every 15 minutes. In the evening on weekdays, BBC local radio stations in the BBC East region join Sue Marchant [] from 7pm and Nick Risby from 10pm. Squadron Leader ex-BBC Radio 1 DJ Keith Skues presents "Pirate Radio Skues" on Sunday nights.

Naked Scientists

BBC Cambridgeshire is the home of multi award-winningFact|date=March 2008 the Naked Scientists, a group of Cambridge University doctors and researchers with a passion for making science fun. They strip down science and lay the facts bare every Sunday evening, inviting listeners to call in and talk science. They are joined in the studio by a succession of guest scientists who talk about their work and take questions live from the audience. The present series of The Naked Scientists launched in October 2005.

The Naked Scientists is supported by a website, [ The Naked Scientists Online] which contains archived editions of their previous programmes in streamed and [ podcast] formats, and they are in the iTunes music store top 100 podcasts internationally, making the Naked Scientists currently one of the most downloaded science shows in the world.

The Naked Scientists is broadcast across the BBC East region comprising eight local BBC radio stations in the east of England. The name of the programme is a nod to Clavering's Jamie Oliver, a cook whose television programme is called the "Naked Chef". Clavering is a village close to Cambridge.

External links

* [ BBC Radio Cambridgeshire]
* [ History of local radio in Cambridgeshire.]
* [ The Naked Scientists.]
* [ MDS975's transmitter coverage.]
* [ Tony Martin visits the station.]
* [ Chesterton Fen mast.]
* [ Madingley mast.]
* [ Peterborough mast.]
* [ East Casterton - Stamford (Digital).]

Audio clips

* [ 2001 jingle]
* [ "The A14 Song"]

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