Regatta 2010

...bigger and stronger than ever. Regatta Radio has exclusive coverage of the Henley Royal Regatta.

We will be covering the Henley Royal Regatta in 2012 for the 7th successive year.

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Regatta Radio - the Background

It is now seven years since George Thomas and his father Bob sat down at Regatta to enjoy a pint of Pimms with their long-term friend Adrian Smith.  By the time they drained their glasses a plan had been hatched to set up a radio station to cover the legendary event and so Regatta Radio was born.

Of course that first year was a million miles from the professional operation of today. It included a race commentary provided by just two volunteers and a mobile phone, while the transmitter headquarters was based in a friend’s bedroom at Leander Club. But thanks to the welcome support of Henley Royal Regatta and the station’s sole sponsor, the Daily Telegraph, things began to take off.

By its second year Invesco Perpetual, Henley’s largest employer, had caught the bug for local radio and became the major sponsor on a generous three-year deal.

Two more local worthies joined the Regatta Radio board at this point to add strength to its operation. They included rowing legend Charles Wiggin - a bronze medallist in coxless pairs at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, with extensive links in the rowing world – and Martin Unsworth, who brought his entrepreneurial skills across from rugby to add to the Regatta Radio mix.

Its not just the management team which has grown – so too has the physical set-up required to deliver the quality output of today. Broadcasting is now centred at its studio, accommodated in two large portacabins behind Leander Club for the duration of Regatta.

The commentary team is no longer ‘two blokes and a bike’ – a team of more than thirty rowing commentary experts from across Europe are led by ‘The Voice of World Rowing’, Robert Treharne Jones, and now provide stroke-by-stroke coverage of every race across the five days of the event. This is a challenging operation, with relayed broadcasts from commentary points all along the course, sometimes crouched under an umbrella in a severe thunder storm, or fighting off the over-indulged crowds from the top of a scaffolding tower!

This year will see four commentary positions along the Henley Royal Regatta course, covering every one of the 19 events, with up to 90 races a day. The live commentary on this unique event has become the stuff of legends in rowing circles thanks to the breadth of knowledge, expertise and opinions expressed in the short span of minutes taken for a race to complete the course. The fact that Regatta Radio is now heard by more than 20,000 listeners around Henley on 87.7 FM, and is streamed on-line to more than 100 nations around the globe, has helped seal its reputation in rowing circles.

Of course the unique output would not be possible without professional radio expertise and the right kit for the job. The studio arrives on-site for two weeks and is set up and managed by George Thomas, one of the original directors, who works as a presenter on various radio stations, including BBC Radio Oxford and Heart. Coordinating the output, editing sound tracks and interviews and generally keeping a guiding hand on the tiller will be professional radio producer Danny Cox.  The rest of the Regatta Radio team is a crew of enthusiastic staff and volunteers including an annual raft of Henley College students.

Like any commercial radio station Regatta Radio relies heavily on local support from its many advertisers, all of whom value the opportunity to reach out to a new audience in a very cost-effective way.  Henley Royal Regatta continues to offer space in its car park to mount the studio, which has now become a Mecca for anyone wanting to put out information or find out facts.

We can still expect our quota of surprise visitors, who in the past have included Sir Steve Redgrave and sports presenter Steve Rider, but  this year we will miss our regular slot with rowing historian Michael Jones, who sadly passed away in January.

The Regatta Radio schedule will continue to offer a packed schedule to help visitors get a real perspective of the town, the sport and, of course, the Regatta!

Regatta Radio – with you, every stroke of the way!