I suppose it all started with the web forum. The Birmingham fans forum. Chris Browne (Webby) and started it in 2003/4 to have a place to talk about the Birmingham Speedway team that had been missing from action since the eighties. Very quickly the forum became something else as they realised there was an opportunity to help Brian Buck and Tony Mole campaign for a return of Speedway to Birmingham. And to provide an excuse to once again not mow the lawn. In 2006 while doing a web search Michael Harris (GA) found the site and to his surprise realised that his first sporting love ‘Birmingham Speedway” had a very real chance of returning and he became a contributing member of the forum. What the original web-search was for has not been documented and perhaps that is for the best. In 2007 Speedway did indeed return successfully to Birmingham and a long chain of events started that lead ultimately to ‘sports-radio.co.uk’.
Webby and GA communicated regularly over the coming years without actually meeting as GA become an important member of the forum. That at least is how GA tells it. Webby has several times stated that GA was more of a nuisance than anything. It was around 2011 that GA started a match updates service on the forum. Using the forum shout-box GA pulled together various sources to keep members informed of how a match was going and this provided an opportunity for fans to not only keep up to date but to have some banter via the shout-box. Much fun was had by all.
Not long after this Webby found himself twiddling his thumbs one day (something he is still trying to perfect!) and came across some amateur internet broadcasting sites. He decided to see if he could put on a show and play some of his favourite music. Using the forum he informed the world, or at least Birmingham, of this impending momentous occasion and proceeded to play some of his favourite music over the internet whilst doing his best (though not very accurate) impression of Smashey and Nicey. There is no record of what music he played that day and as far as we can tell there is no truth in the rumour that this was where Justin Beiber got his big break.
The upshot of all this was that to this day everyone at sports-radio are desperately trying (and failing) to prevent any more Webby impressions and that the seeds of an idea was sown. Not for the last time GA and Webby both had the same idea at the same time. We could use this alongside the shout-box to provide a speedway updates service for our fans. GA contacted Webby and asked him several questions such as “How did you do that” and “Can you please not do any more impressions!”
They realised that they had both had the same idea and not long after GA made his first broadcast providing match-day updates whilst continuing the banter on the shout-box. Much fun was had by all.
This continued for a while until GA had yet another idea and got in touch with Webby. Once again they had both had the same idea at the same time. (This was getting spooky.) They could do a weekly speedway podcast. GA also, at the same time, had some conversations with then Brummie co-promoter Mick Brackley who was very enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged them to go ahead. Our two heroes decided that the new show should be a fans eye view as if chatting over a pint. As Webby and GA continued to work on the format they realised that the podcast could be broadcast live and use the shout-box for live interaction. Soon ambition got the better of them both and they decided why not go the whole hog. Lets have a radio station! November 2012 saw the first broadcast of the five one show on Radio Five One. (Well why not use the same name twice? It worked for New York didn’t it?) A very nervous GA and Webby spent the broadcast shouting at the mike as they only had one to share and they hadn’t yet worked out that just because their listener was a long way away it didn’t mean they couldn’t be heard. For the record the audience for that nights broadcast was a creditable eleven listeners. Right from the start the coupling of the shout-box with live broadcast proved to be a winner as listeners wanted to put their two pence worth in. Much fun was had by all.
Another innovation that both presenters wanted to make was to feature unsigned bands on the show. Both being ex jobbing musicians this was and still is something close to their hearts.
Things continued in this way for a while with Webby making improvements to the stations web site and studio (The Mic count doubled and then trebled!) and GA indulging himself with producing new jingles and intro music and obtaining track-side interviews after the match. The audience slowly increased until on one fateful evening the server said NO MORE. Server improvements were searched for and found and radio five one continued unabated and much fun was had by all.
Things were happening behind the scenes though. One day Webby was contacted by another character in our story. Paul Smith wanted to know if Radio five one would consider doing a programme dedicated to the Birmingham City Football Team. Would He? Being a lifelong bluenose (much to GA’s disgust who was brought up in Aston)Webby took Pauls hand of at the shoulder in his haste to say yes. Not long after this the ‘Forza Blues’ show was broadcasting with Nick DJ Spall, Webby, GA and Paul Smith (Who really has to work on his nick name.) all participating. And, as I am sure you will have realised- much fun was had by all.
It was at this point that GA had yet another eureka moment. The station, now no longer dedicated solely to speedway, needed a new name. Very quickly the name ‘sports-radio’ was decided on and re-launched in December of 2012.
Since that time ‘sports-radio.co.uk’ has gone from strength to strength as new programmes have been added. As well as programmes about speedway and the Blues sports-radio has added a cricket program and a rugby program to its roster, with plans for an Aston Villa and a Ladies football program in the pipeline. The station has stayed close to its roots by broadcasting by the fans for the fans. The station is unique in this concept and in the way listeners can interact with each other and with the show’s via the shoutbox. But most importantly always, having as much fun as possible.