Many thanks to Richard for the following inside story of Bromley Sound.
The Idea of a local radio station had always interested us and as six formers at a local school we had all listened to the land based pirate stations and wondered if we could get one going ourselves. After ringing a few of the stations we met with Keith Rogers who was then working on Radio Jackie but seemed to want to move onto something different. Through a contact of Keith's we managed to buy a 12 watt medium wave transmitter but after a few weeks of short broadcasts and a very limited transmission area we realised that we wanted to move to fm.
At this point Keith introduced us to Mark Ellis who he had worked with on Radio Jackie. Mark had heard the earlier broadcasts and liked what we were trying to do, so he introduced us to the legendary Roger who built transmitters. Roger was only about sixteen at the time. Plans were made, transmitters built, transmission sites chosen and we were ready to go.
The first broadcasts were in April 1980 on 94.2fm and were initially only about 10 watts of power. This was quickly boosted to 60 watts and a better transmission site with a taller and improved mast was selected. The transmission site was in fact a very tall tree on a hill outside Bromley and consisted of a pair of matched "H" antennas that poked about 10 feet out of the top of the tree. We were a bit concerned as the sun would glint off the aerial and could be seen for miles. The transmission area amazed us and the signal was audible from Windsor to South Cambridgeshire.
The Bromley Sound crew at the transmitter location in Keston - September 1980
We were settling into the first broadcasts when Keith first met Johnny Haywood. Johnny was hilarious and was constantly getting nagged by his rather posh girlfriend .We took to him immediately. Johnny had big ambitions to be on the radio and when we heard his voice and professionalism the original station founders gave up their slots. The line up was set and consisted of Johnny Haywood, Keith Rogers and Mark Ellis broadcasting from 1pm to 7pm every Sunday. The music played was themes of pop with the DJs pretty much allowed to play what they wanted.
The station studios were at Selhurst in Croydon and were initially a disco turntable plugged into a tape recorder. Amazingly it sounded better than the other stations at the time, but it was probably helped by the quality of the transmitter which gave us warnings about battery life and over-modulation.
Roger's first transmitter used by Bromley Sound
The station generated an amazing response and by Christmas 1980 we were ready to try a live broadcast using a tower block at Crystal Palace. Unfortunately the link receiver didn't work and things were further complicated by Keith getting locked on the tower block roof.
After this early attempt at using a tower block we went back to the original tree site and carried on as per usual for a few more weeks.
It was becoming apparent that Mark Ellis wanted to move onto something grander so plans were made to change the name to London FM and move to live broadcasts using the new studio in Crystal Palace. At about this time a huge row erupted between Keith and Mark which was caused by a feeling firstly that we were doing fine as we were, and secondly that the subs we were paying towards the stations upkeep were being wasted. The row couldn't be sorted out and Keith and Johnny left the station. Bromley Sound continued on for a few more weeks with some new DJs but the end was insight. In March 1981 Bromley Sound made its last broadcast.
FM was born from the ashes of the station but tensions between Mark Ellis and
Roger (which ended with Roger allegedly throwing the transmitter off the tower
block roof) ended any ambitions of it ever becoming a London wide station.
The staff all dispersed to follow other radio projects with Johnny Haywood working at many commercial stations including most recently Thames Radio.
The Radio Eric archive holds the following recording(s) of this station:
If you have any recordings or photographs of this station you can share please get in touch
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