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|talkSPORT Station History
From Talk Radio UK to talkSPORT
January: Siemens Mobile sign up to a sponsorship deal worth in excess of £250,000 with talkSPORT, in order for them to sponsor the Richard Kaufman show and to become talkSPORT's mobile phone partner.
February: talkSPORT receive over 200 complaints for giving a platform to the controversial Muslim extremist cleric Abu Hamza. Hamza and his aides are invited into the talkSPORT studios to contribute to a religious debate on The James Whale Show, alongside other Christian, Jewish and Muslim delegates. On the night of the live broadcast, Monday 24th February, a mass of protesters gather outside the stations London studios. Despite this, both presenter James Whale and talkSPORT’s Head Of Programming Bill Ridley defend the station for having invited Hamza onto the programme.
talkSPORT’s Programme Director Mike Parry announces plans for himself and Alan Brazil to fly out to Kuwait to broadcast The No Nonsense Sports Breakfast live from the nations capital Kuwait City in order to promote the Desert Golf Classic in Dubai, despite the Foreign Office having advised citizens to stay away from the Gulf. However, days later, the station decides to pull out of this arrangement due to forces beyond their control.
March: Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles announce the latest big sponsorship deal made with talkSPORT, confirming that they are to sponsor the Sportswatch slot. The Fiat Vans Sportswatch with Andrew McKenna is now to be a twice daily sports news bulletin, aired live at both 1:00pm and 6:00pm each weekday.
April: The Wireless Group are ordered to pay a further £25,000 in damages to Jaguar Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine after an appeal court ruled that the group had been wrong to use the formula one racing driver's image without his permission. TWG, who also had to be made to pay a further £250,000 in legal bills to Irvine, were being successfully sued by Irvine for using a doctored photograph of him on the front of an advertising brochure for the old Talk Radio back in 1999 in the continuation of the High Court Case from March 2002.
Despite getting special dispensation from The Radio Authority in order to air a larger amount of music under there licence, talkSPORT management decide to axe the stations easy listening show Champagne & Roses with Gerald Harper, which had already been taken out of the schedule due to the beginning of the Iraq war period. The Saturday night programme is to be replaced by a further 3 hours of Ian Collins: Unbranded, which now airs between 8:00pm-1:00am..
May: The Conservative’s London Mayoral Election candidate Steve Norris is sensationally dropped from his Sunday night slot on talkSPORT, with the decision to replace him being put down to “failing ratings” by a talkSPORT insider. Norris is to be replaced by a further three hours of Ian Collins: Unbranded.
The first ever electronically measured radio audience figures are published by Swiss based arbitration group GfK. They show talkSPORT to be getting nearly 6 million more listeners per week than they got under the RAJAR system. The system, backed by The Wireless Group, shows the station to be getting 8.1 million listeners according to the electronic measurements, as opposed to just 2.2 million under the official system.
June: On Wednesday June 25th, talkSPORT’s sensationally sack overnight show presenter Mark Green and his producer Scott Bonner from the Creatures of the Night programme. According to Bonner, both himself and Green “had already quit earlier anyway”. They are immediately replaced on the overnight show by John Kearns, a presenter who had last appeared on talkSPORT in 2001.
Having presented his first few shows on the station, former Hawksbee & Jacobs horse racing correspondent Patrick Kinghorn decides to leave his presenting job with racing TV channel attheraces in order to concentrate on his growing commitments with talkSPORT.
July: talkSPORT decide to totally revamp their weekday drivetime show, as Richard Kaufman announces live on air during what was to be his final week at talkSPORT, that he will present his final show on Friday July 4th. He is to be replaced by Bill Young, a Scottish presenter who had previously presented on talkSPORT as a fill-in presenter, with him being brought in from Real Radio Scotland.
John Smiths’ Extra Smooth Bitter end their association with talkSPORT, by ending the biggest sponsorship deal in the station’s history. John Smiths’, who had been sponsoring the stations No Nonsense Sports Breakfast show since June 2001, decide not to renew their contract, which was worth £1 million for the original two-year deal, when it expired after their final show as sponsors, on Saturday 5th July. The show is to be renamed the Alan Brazil and Mike Parry Sports Breakfast.
August: After just over a month into his spell of presenting drivetime, Bill Young is to be replaced in the 4:00pm-7:00pm weekday slot by the duo of Patrick Kinghorn and Tony Cascarino. In order to present the Kinghorn & Cascarino show, Tony has to give up his roles co-hosting the Sunday Sports Breakfast with Lee Clayton and Football First Early Kick-Off with Rob McCaffrey. He is to be replaced by Neil Ruddock.
Other schedule changes are made to the weekend schedule on the return of the football season. On Saturdays, recently retired former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn replaces Ray Houghton on Football First with Adrian Durham, whilst Durham himself and Lawrie McMenemy are replaced by Gary Newbon on 505. Newbon returns to the station’s flagship football phone-in after a two-year absence. On Sunday, Gary Stevens is introduced to the schedule, with him replacing Micky Quinn. Stevens is to present the Sunday Scoreboard show alongside Chris Cooper between 2:00pm-4:00pm, whilst Cooper is to go it alone between 4:00pm-6:00pm, with him presenting a new incarnation of the Sunday Sports Quiz.
September: After his big money move to Real Madrid, talkSPORT’s management decide to keep track of England captain David Beckham’s career in Spain, by sending out Spectrum FM presenter and talkSPORT’s Man In Spain Paul Breen-Turner to report on his new clubs games in La Lig and the Champions League.
October: From Monday 6th October, the Hawksbee & Jacobs show is no longer able to broadcast live horse racing commentary due to sponsors Bet Attheraces pulling out of their sponsorship deal with the show and the station. However, talkSPORT Horse Racing Corespondent Charlie McCann is to be retained by the show, with him giving out his racing tips on the afternoon programme and on Kinghorn & Cascarino.
November: On Saturday 22nd November, talkSPORT provide live and unofficial coverage of the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final between England and Australia, as Alan Brazil, Mike Parry and London Irish player Chris Sheasby present a special Sports Breakfast show from The Sports Café in London. Rupert Bell provides live commentary alongside Sheasby on England’s 20-17 win over Australia after extra time from The Sports Café’s TV monitors. Also, Andrew McKenna reports live from an Australian pub in London to get the Australian perspective on England’s glorious World Cup win.
Due to other commitments and transportation difficulties, Alan Brazil is to be replaced by Graham Beecroft on the Saturday Sports Breakfast programme. Beecroft will still present the show alongside Brazil’s Monday-Friday co-host Mike Parry.
After striking up a ground-breaking sponsorship deal with The Carphone Warehouse in order to promote their new home phone system, from midnight on Monday 10th November until midnight on Sunday 16th November, the station is to be renamed 1089/1053am Talk With Talk Talk From The Carphone Warehouse. However, the stations original name talkSPORT has to be used on news and sports updates and certain trails due to regulations from The Radio Authority.
On Monday 17th November, the station reverts back into its normal talkSPORT guise. However, Talk Talk from The Carphone Warehouse starts its new 29-week sponsorship deal with the Mike Dickin show.
December: talkSPORT reveal that they will not be renewing their £1.5 million, 3 year deal to broadcast exclusive live commentaries of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham on their 1089am frequency in London and the South-East when the current deal expires at the end of the season. A talkSPORT spokesperson said that one of the reason for this move was “that three years ago, at the top of the soccer rights explosion, we heavily overpaid for London rights”. However, he also goes onto say that "we have no intention of bidding at the current prices but if the market readjusts, we would have another look," leaving many unanswered questions towards the stations position in the market.
Nearly a year and a half after leaving the station, Sky Sports football commentator Alan Parry returns to talkSPORT, but this time he is to be only used as a presenter, as he replaces Chris Cooper as the presenter of Friday night’s Football First Preview show alongside Alvin Martin. Another big signing is made by the station, as ITV football pundit Andy Townsend is brought in to replace Neil Ruddock on The Sunday Sports Breakfast alongside Lee Clayton.
2004: Big Sport for a Big Station
January: Football First Early Kick-Off co-host Neil Ruddock is chosen to take part in ITV1’s reality TV show I’m A Celebrity! Get Me Out Of Here. Click here to read talkSPORT Station History for 2004.