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31 August 2014

Video: Austin Mitchell at Pennine House

Radio is evolving. Those who speak of a 'golden age' of commercial radio in the UK in the seventies and eighties are missing the point.

Yes, those times were great and I was so immensely privileged to be part of them. But the industry is moving on in different ways and I saw both the old and the new on a visit to Bradford yesterday

More importantly I saw plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.

I was part of a group of Pennine old-timers invited to celebrate the welcome investment by UTV in brand new studios for Pulse 1 and Pulse 2 in an office block (with windows) overlooking the city centre.

I met some of the current Pulse presenters. Jacqui Blay and Danny Mylo might be frighteningly young, the same age in fact as some of my students, but it's easy to forget how young we were when the golden age was happening around us. I'm confident the spirit of what we did is in safe hands with people like Danny and Jacqui.

Then we moved on to visit Pennine House for the last time.

The landlord gets the keys back tomorrow, and it's only days until contractors move in to demolish all the internal fittings including the studios, restoring the building to the dank subterranean void it was when Pennine moved in to the former wool warehouse.

I grabbed a few souvenirs - the 'I'm Jack' cart from news, featuring the voice of the hoaxer who taunted detectives hunting the Yorkshire Ripper which was played into so many reports as that story evolved for one poignant memory.

A publicity picture ripped off the corridor wall of the (almost) current Pulse news team, all three journalists my former postgrad students but all three from different years, as a happier keepsake.

Then as we made our way further into the bowels of the building (anyone who remembers the engineering corridor will understand that's more than just a metaphor) Austin Mitchell turned up on the doorstep. The former Yorkshire TV presenter turned Labour MP was the public face of the team that founded the station, and Pennine's first programme controller.

Like the rest of us he wanted a last photo in Studio A before it was ripped apart.

And, reader, that photo opportunity turned into a sort of interview. The last interview 'broadcast' from Pennine House, in fact. You can take the lad out of the newsroom, but .....

So that's Austin's take on it. As we were leaving someone pointed out a forgotten window, well out of public gaze, sporting just about every car sticker the station ever produced. There was talk of getting the demolition guys to remove that carefully and transport it to the new studios as a permanent link with the past.

I for one hope that can happen.

PS - This is how we captured the video (photo: Richard Hizzard, Facebook)

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