|City||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Frequency||FM: 96.6 MHz|
|Slogan||The Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks|
Greatest Hits Radio Teesside
First air date
|24 June 1975|
|Radio Tees (1975-88)|
TFM 96.6 (1988-98)
|FM: 95.0 MHz (now BBC Radio Tees) |
MV/AM: 257m, 1170 kHz (now GHR Teesside)
TFM is an Independent local radio station based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, owned and operated by Bauer as part of the Hits Radio network. It broadcasts to Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire.
|Broadcast area||Teesside, parts of both County Durham and North Yorkshire|
|Frequency||257 metres MW|
95 VHF (−1986)
95.6 FM (1986–)
|Owner||1st: Sound Broadcasting (Teesside) Ltd|
2nd: Metro Radio Group
Broadcasting on 257 metres medium wave from the converted Water Board buildings at 74 Dovecot Street, Stockton-on-Tees, Radio Tees was launched at 6 am on Tuesday 24 June 1975 by Les Ross. The first record played, appropriately, was "Everything's Tuesday" by Chairmen of the Board. By the autumn of that year Radio Tees was also broadcasting on 95 VHF, the first local radio station in the area to offer the clarity of FM stereo transmissions.
By the mid-1980s Radio Tees found itself in financial difficulties, and in 1986 its parent company, Sound Broadcasting (Teesside) Ltd, was bought by Metropolitan Broadcasting (or the Metro Radio group as it was known, for it owned Metro Radio in Newcastle upon Tyne). In November that year Radio Tees moved its FM frequency to 96.6 in a direct swap with BBC Radio Cleveland (currently known as BBC Radio Tees). 
In January 1988, 13 years after launch, Radio Tees was rebranded to TFM 96.6 after being taken over by Newcastle upon Tyne-based Metro Radio Group. This relaunch also helped modernise the brand. Shortly after this, in April 1989, its 257 metres, 1170 kHz medium wave frequency was split and this became Great North Radio (GNR). This was launched after broadcasting rules meant TFM could not broadcast on both FM and medium wave.
In July 2007, 96.6 TFM was rebranded TFM Radio and re-adopted the slogan 'Today's Favourite Music' which had first been used in the late 1990s. In 2008, EMAP plc was bought by Bauer Media, a privately owned German-based family business, with the radio group being renamed Bauer Place.
Regional Centralising with Metro Radio
As of Monday 8 April 2013, all programming was shared with sister station Metro Radio in Newcastle. The TFM branding was retained along with separate news bulletins and advertising. Two journalists are based locally for news-gathering in the TFM area. The two stations were able to merge without consultation because both the TFM and Metro licence areas are located in one OFCOM-approved broadcast area (North East England). 
The TFM studios in Thornaby were closed and remaining staff were moved to Newcastle. Most on-air staff were made redundant, including breakfast presenters Wayne Tunnicliffe and Amy McConnell, who were replaced by Metro Radio counterparts Steve Furnell and Karen Wight. Despite the merger, RAJAR reported an increase in weekly listener reach for TFM during the second quarter of 2013.
Bauer's Newcastle newsroom broadcasts local news bulletins hourly from 6am-7pm on weekdays and from 7am-1pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Headlines are broadcast on the half hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows, alongside traffic bulletins.
National bulletins from Sky News Radio are carried overnight with bespoke networked bulletins on weekend afternoons, usually originating from Bauer's Leeds newsroom.
Radio Tees programming
Marketing itself as 'A Friend Who's Always Near' and 'The Sound of Home', Radio Tees offered unique and distinctive local output with a wide variety of programming and an emphasis on community involvement. Many of its presenters, such as Alastair Pirrie, Mark Page, John Simons, Mark Matthews and Graham Robb, derive from the local area.
Alongside specialist soul, blues and country music shows, Radio Tees programmes included the hi-fi show Sounds Superb, the motoring show Sidelight and the holiday show Trains and Boats and Planes in which Radio Tees presenters would travel to destinations around the world and record reports interviewing local people and giving tourist advice and information.
Radio Tees also met and interviewed artists over the years both in mainstream and specialist music genres including soul music legend Bobby Womack interviewed in 1985 by the then Nightlife show presenter, Mike Prior.
A notable programme from the Radio Tees era was Late On, presented by Graham Robb, which ran from 10 pm to 1 am every weekday evening in 1984. The show featured characters such as Rita the cleaner, Mad Tom the handyman, Ginger Johnson (ex-RAF) and Superstar Cecil, the proprietor of 'The Balloon and Feather' pub.
Around the time of Late On, the station briefly experimented with over-the-air software downloads for popular home computers of the time, usually broadcasting them after Robb's show finished at 1am.
Radio Tees reported at local events, broadcasting from the Cleveland and Darlington Shows, the Teesside Air Show and the Teesside Steel Family Gala.
The station often organized its own outside broadcast events as well, many of which took place in John Walker Square, off Stockton-on-Tees High Street. For a few months during 1985, Radio Tees had its own light aircraft for traffic, named Flying Eye, kept at Teesside Airport, from which Graham Robb reported on traffic conditions and which featured daily on John Simons' breakfast show.
Some former TFM Radio/Radio Tees presenters have gone on to work in the UK national media. These include Mark Page, who briefly worked as a presenter for BBC Radio 1 in the 1980s; Tony Gillham, who later went to BBC Radio 2 and now runs his own station, Black Radio; Roger Lewis, who was Head of Music at BBC Radio 1 and is now Managing Director of ITV Wales; and Alex Lester, who presented the 3 am – 6 am show on BBC Radio 2 from 1990 to 2016.
Brian Anderson moved to Scotland to oversee programmes at the launch of Moray Firth Radio, and now presents a weekend programme on Aberdeen's Original 106.
The late Alastair Pirrie, 'The Big P on the Big T' – host of afternoon show Pirrie PM, which was part of the opening day's schedule – went on to host cult Tyne Tees TV children's pop show Razzamatazz between 1981 and 1987.
It is in the areas of news and sport, though, that Radio Tees has given many well-known figures in the UK broadcasting industry. The inaugural news editor Bill Hamilton became a senior correspondent for BBC TV. Kent Barker became a reporter with BBC Radio and Home Affairs Correspondent for Channel Four News. Libby Fawbert joined The World at One and was an occasional presenter of the PM programme on BBC Radio 4. David Stevenson went to Piccadilly Radio before joining BBC Radio 4's Today and The World Tonight programmes. John Andrew had a career with BBC Radio News. Kate Fawcett worked for BBC Radio Scotland. Peter Bowes was BBC Los Angeles Correspondent, Kim Barnes a BBC Television News reporter, Jeff Stelling a Sky Sports presenter, Helen Boaden Director of BBC News, and Mark Mardell BBC Europe Editor.
- https://www.radiocentre.org/files/music_week_supplement.pdf | Pg4
- https://radiotoday.co.uk/2007/10/emaps-network-up-and-down/ | EMAP's Ups and Downs| Retrieved: 3rd September
- TFM leaves Teesside to share with Metro, RadioToday, 5 April 2013
- Leading MEP to demand action from Ofcom over TFM/Metro merger The Northern Echo, 7 April 2013
- Former DJ 'Goffy' hits out at TFM Radio and Metro Radio's merger Chronicle Live, 7 April 2013
- Backlash from listeners as Bauer moves TFM out of Teesside Prolific North, 8 April 2013
- Around the stations for RAJAR Q2, 2013 Radio Today, 1 August 2013
- Hits Radio Network stations drop local weekend programmes, Radio Today, 30 May 2019
- Bauer to network drivetime across 11 licences in North and Midlands, Radio Today, 5 August 2019
- TFM – Public File