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Big T remembers … Discos and Downtown Radio


Minister. My old friend Don Allen, of Radio North Sea International fame, called to congratulate me on a success- ful debut behind the microphone, adding: “Harold always threatened he’d quit the day you got your own show!” Forty years later I’m still there – the last presenter from


T


Big T, alias Trevor Campbell, cel- ebrates his 70th birthday in 2016, the same year that marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Downtown Radio. Despite starting his working life


as a civil servant, a lifelong love for music saw him hankering for a career as a DJ. This became a reality on a part-time basis at lo- cal nightspots such as the T’nC in Newtownards in the early 1970s, before getting a full-time job with Downtown Radio when it was launched on 16 March 1976. When the big stars visited


Northern Ireland they would invar- iably include a visit to Downtown Radio on their itinerary for a studio interview with Big T. Memorably, he was able to introduce Johnny Cash at Downtown to his late wife and fellow broadcaster Lynda Jayne. Today Trevor is the sole surviving


presenter from those early days of commercial radio in Northern Ireland and he is still notching up enviable audience ratings.


the original team – and I’ve never regretted for a minute my decision to leave a secure job to take my chances with Northern Ireland’s first commercial radio station. I’d always been interested in music. Growing up in the 1950s, my parents had a radiogram and we were always listening to records. My uncle William had a radio and record shop, so we had an endless supply of 78s. Another uncle used to set up a microphone in my grandmother’s parlour, which he plugged into the back of her radio in the dining room. My party piece was to speak into the microphone and


my voice would come out of the radio. It was the first microphone I ever spoke into and, like a DJ on the radio, I was unseen. I would make up news stories about the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and those public serv- ice announcements urging anyone knowing the wherea- bouts of a particular person to “contact their nearest police station or call Whitehall 1212.”


40


he day Downtown went on the air we led with the news that Harold Wilson had resigned as Prime


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