A BIT OF BACKGROUND
James Wilson and Mike Long (who later joined the team at Yorkshire Dales Radio & Fresh AM) both joined AA Roadwatch together, to gain further experience of live, on-air broadcasting. Mike fairly quickly decided it wasn’t for him, but James persevered a little longer. It was during this time that James changed from Jim, following a series of incidents involving the morning presenter on BBC Radio Sheffield. EVERY morning the presenter announced the Travel news with TIM Wilson, and every morning James corrected him. It wasn’t long before a rather annoyed managing editor at the station said “Were you christened James?” to which the answer was obviously “Yes”. From that day on it was an instant name change on every BBC local radio station in the north of England – and it stuck. BBC Northern England correspondent Danny Savage was one of the team while James was there – it didn’t do his future prospects any harm!
James Wilson was a member of the original team who launched local radio station Stray FM in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, going on to present a weekend show when the licence was finally awarded in 1994. The station was managed by Peter Wilson in the early days, with a broadly similar format to the RSL broadcasts that had taken place in the years leading to the acquisition of the full-time licence. Following eventual changes in management Stray FM was quickly subject to repeated bids from a major group (TLRC), and eventually shareholders capitulated & sold out when they were offered 14 times their original investment.
With no appetite for being part of a national group, and with truly local radio as his passion, James left the station and became part of a new group (including former Stray FM directors) that came together to launch a bid for a broadcast licence for the Skipton area of North Yorkshire. When THAT licence was eventually advertised it was tagged on to the Yorkshire Dales by the then Radio Authority, giving an area of some 2,500 square miles to cover – AND on Medium Wave. Yorkshire Dales Radio launched in 1997, becoming Fresh AM in 1999, and subsequently Fresh Radio after the Radio Authority reluctantly handed the station a couple of FM frequencies, after we asked government minister William Hague to intervene. James was appointed to the Board of Directors, and became company secretary.
As a director of the company, James was given overall responsibility for local news, and eventually took over as Head of News and News Editor, compiling and presenting all of the local news, and latterly ALL of the news, utilising some audio clips and reports from IRN in London. Having originally presented a daily programme for YDR, then Fresh Radio, that was reduced to just Sunday evening – and Solid Gold Sunday*. This show survives, and can now be heard on local station Drystone Radio, often attracting a multi-national audience.
*(7-10pm, Sunday evenings on 103.5fm in South Craven and around the world via the radio station website; www.drystoneradio.com)
Fresh Radio was eventually sold by its then owner Roger Tempest to UKRD – the same group that had acquired Stray FM – and most staff were made redundant. James was welcomed by the head of Drystone Radio (David Adams) and brought Solid Gold Sunday to the station in 2012. It wasn’t long before he took over responsibility for local news – a position he holds to this day.
James has broadcast on every BBC local radio station in the north of England, presenting travel bulletins; he’s also a former member of the BBC Local Broadcasting Advisory Council, and has provided occasional news cover for other radio stations, including Sunshine FM in the southwest, covering Hereford and Monmouth.