Yorkshire RadioLeeds United surprised everyone today by shutting down their in-house radio station, Yorkshire Radio.

The air went silent at 6pm after Yorkshire Radio ended their broadcast with I Predict A Riot by Leeds band, The Kaiser Chiefs, the same band they launched the station with in 2006.

News of the stations closure seemed to take staff completely by surprise. Recorded just 24 hours before the station ceased broadcasting, Thom Kirwin and Eddie Gray can be heard below discussing plans for the new season.

Dubbed “Radio Bates” by fans, the DAB-only station was launched seven years ago and featured interviews with Leeds United players and management, alongside regular news updates and exclusive matchday coverage.

The station was famous for controversial interviews with Ken Bates, in which the former Leeds United owner answered pre-scripted questions (without challenge or follow-up) on a whole range of subjects such as Chinese Olympians setting up base in Leeds and the latest special offers at his now closed down Howards’ restaurant.

On matters relating to the club, Bates used the station to put across his own point of view. It gave the former Leeds chairman the freedom to write his own version of history while avoiding the harder questions he would have been asked by independent journalists, leading some fans to dismiss the radio station as nothing more than a propaganda machine for Bates’ unpopular regime.

But when Ken Bates wasn’t using the radio station to attack fans and former directors, or to spread his lies and propaganda, Yorkshire Radio was a service that Whites fans across the world used to keep up on events here in Leeds. Thom Kirwin and Eddie Gray became a treasured part of the matchday experience for many Leeds fans and their presence will be greatly missed, as is clearly evident from the hundreds of tweets fans have been sending to the station and its staff all day.

In a statement earlier today, David Haigh described the closure of the radio station as one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make. Bringing an end to a loss-making radio station may make good business sense, but it’s a shame the new owners couldn’t find a place for the staff on LUTV or elsewhere at the club, particularly Kirwin who is clearly a die-hard fan who seemed to genuinely love working for Leeds United.

Below you can hear highlights of Yorkshire Radio’s commentary from Leeds United’s promotion clash against Bristol Rovers.

42 Responses

  1. Matt BB

    Despite their provenance as a Bates-erprise Yorkshire Radio provided some top notch match commentary, and lets not forget all the other presenters and staff now looking for a job. This is very sad news. The station though was a loss making business, and appeared to stay open only at Bates’ behest. Perhaps when we’ve invested the saved money into the team we’ll see a return in cash from a promotion which can result in a new similar enterprise being set up?

    • Mark Richardson

      I doubt it very much. It’s not financially viable, as proven by radio bates

      • Chapel A

        For the record, I think Yorkshire Radio’s coverage was excellent. The Friday and Monday evening shows in particular made its coverage as good as that of any team by any radio station. Thom Kirwin was outstanding; and Eddie Gray was a objective and unsentimental pundit. Well done to them -and thanks. Radio Leeds have a hard act to follow. Chapel A

  2. mylifeinleeds

    Very sad for the staff including Thom who is Leeds through and through. From a business perspective, if it was making a loss then it either had to go, or restructured. I think the writing was on the wall a little when BBC signed a deal, but I just hope that this decision wasn’t made to get one over Bates – i doubt it was, GFH seem pretty switched on from what I have seen of them so far, but I cannot help thinking it.

    • TSS

      I thought the same thing when BBC deal was announced, but then YR started talking about plans for next season so assumed it was going to stay for the purpose of LUTV.

  3. Colin

    I’m frankly sick of some of the ‘love-in’ I’ve seen today on Twitter for Yorkshire Radio. It was a Bates propaganda machine, pure and simple.
    To those who say Yorkshire Radio’s coverage of Leeds United was good, did you actually listen to it? It was the most biased football coverage I have ever heard. Did you ever get selected to be a member of the fans panel? Did your questions on the running of the club ever get answered or was it just filtered out because you asked real questions of what Bates was doing to the club?
    The answer is no, because you’re not a Bates patsy, a suck up. And yes, it was filtered. Do you remember how that woman always got onto the phone in, EVERY WEEK, because she always said “us fans have to remember Eddie that Ken saved our club”?

    Yorkshire Radio was shit. Tin-pot. Never made a profit, and WE paid them to lose hundreds of thousands of OUR pounds. If it was a private station, it would have shut down after 6 months because no-one listened to it apart from the Leeds games.

    • TSS

      “It was the most biased football coverage I have ever heard.”

      You obviously never heard the guy who used to do BBC Radio Leeds commentary. It should be biased.

      • Colin

        I presume you mean Adam Pope, the Everton fan, the guy who commentates on lots of matches for the Football League show? The BBC who were banned by Bates from covering games at Elland Road?
        Was he biased? No. I clearly remember that he and Eddie told it how it was during the disaster that was the Blackwell/Wise season.
        And they had a phone in that accepted ALL callers. No filters.

      • TSS

        Further back than him I think. There used to be a really, really biased guy doing the commentary on there (or co-commentary? Some years back now…)

        On all matters except Bates, Yorkshire Radio always seemed fair in their assessment from what I heard. I didn’t catch match commentary as I was always at the game, but did hear plenty of after-match stuff and midweek news bulletins and if we’d been dreadful, Thom and Eddie always said so.

      • JayCartay

        You might be thinking of Jon Bradley? Sure he was on Radio Aire though…. He used to make me laugh!

      • Tets

        It was definitely Bryn Law and Norman Hunter – best commentary I ever heard!! Biased and funny with not 1 “ye know”

      • Colin

        I think it was Sky Sports’ Byrn Law before Adam Pope. But in those days I listened to Radio Aire.

        There was Brendan Ormsby who did a bit of coverage on Leeds with Pope when it went fully to Yorkshire Radio. He was painfully annoying to listen to. It might be him you mean. He was awful. I don’t know if he did commentary last season. He might do, probably pretending to be really excited about their Huddersfield Town coverage.

      • henrymouni

        I remember Norman hunter was very biased towards Leeds, which was great.
        He was just like us.
        Eddie seems more even, but sometimes sides with the opposition too much.

      • Lufc1979ish

        Nobody is bothered about the actual matches being biased as 99.9% of listeners will be leeds fans. I think the chap above was referring originally to the post match phone ins where anyone questioning KB would get cut off.

      • henrymouni

        Every other local radio station that covers their team is biased, just as we fans are.
        I loved it when Norman was co-commentating!
        The phone ins have almost disappeared and ‘selected’ texts have replaced them.
        Bring back real phone-ins on Radio Leeds and LUTV!

  4. Colin

    And as for Thom Kirwin, he’s no saint. Bates may have been the puppet master, but that evil dictator has gone and so must his puppets, Anyone remember the Levi vs Bates court case and the part that Yorkshire Radio played in it?

    Here’s a snippet from the case judgement:

    “What therefore was the motive for broadcasting the message? I am prepared to accept that one of the motives was to provide information to assist in the service of Melvyn Levi with the proceedings. I am however convinced that another motive was to harass Melvyn Levi. I reach this decision firstly because the decision to broadcast the message was an entirely unreasonable decision and one which was disproportionate to the problem trying to be solved. There are also two other factors which persuades me that the mischief behind this decision was to “wind up” Melyvn Levi. Firstly, the fact that when Mr Harvey asked Mr Kirwin to broadcast the message Mr Kirwin suggested he could use the “Crimewatch theme”. If the litigation with Melvyn Levi was being treated seriously by the Defendants it seems to me unlikely that this suggestion would be made. Secondly, Ken Bates’ suggestion (which was not put into effect) that anyone providing information would win a free meal for two again suggests a less than serious attitude to the issue more in keeping with a motive to upset the butt of the joke. The fact that the message was broadcast over three days at least six times supports the fact that this was a disproportionate response.”

    Thom Kirwin never apologised for his crass and stupid remarks.

    Oh, and Leeds United lost millions on that court case (Bates lost the case). Some people have short memories.

    • TSS

      Or… people simply blame the man responsible (Bates) and not the employees he dragged down with him?

      • Colin

        Nope, IMHO if you have employees like Shaun Harvey and Kirwin saying “yes sir, anything you say sir” even though they don’t agree with him, then that’s a weak person.
        If you don’t like and/or agree with him, you don’t have to serve him. You’re not a slave. You say the truth and if you get sacked (Ken would do that) you move on and get a job.
        Put Kirwin and Harvey in the same bracket as Peter “Yes Ken, Yes Ken, 2 sugars Ken?” Lorimer. And while I’m stirring put Ben Fry in there too.

      • TSS

        I don’t like some of the stuff the company I work for does, but I aren’t going to publicly slate them for it. They pay my wages and, for the most part, I’m happy in my job.

        Thom clearly enjoyed what he did, why on earth would he attack Bates and jeopardise a job he loved just to get a pat on the back from a few fans who know Bates is a cunt anyway? I wouldn’t.

  5. DCY

    Forgive me for being dumb but will LUTV have commentary for those of us in the US?

    • Colin

      That’s a really good point. If you’ve paid £52 for a year’s subscription for live commentary and there’s no Yorkshire Radio, then who will provide the commentary? Pretty damn sure you won’t get the BBC commentary through LUTV.
      Unless Eddie and Thom do the commentary purely through LUTV?

      • DCY

        I have had the service for as long as it has existed. It has been invaluable to me since I left the UK. Fingers crossed they have something in place for the many other fans who cannot get to games for one reason or the other.

      • Dave Mason-Jocksch

        Too right. Paid my subscription, and now want to receive what I paid for.

    • henrymouni

      LUTV will be doing commentary with Tom & Eddie as usual, with improved programs.
      I assume you can listen to Radio Leeds via the internet?

      • DCY

        Thanks for the clarification! BBC Radio Leeds has been hard to find over here. It used to work but not any more. I guess the territorial rights do not stretch this far.

      • Colin

        You can’t listen to football commentary on Radio Leeds via internet even in UK, it’s blocked. Thanks to FA/Football League/SKY for that.
        Can only get it via radio if you can get a signal (you can in West Yorkshire).

      • TSS

        Don’t think that’s true Henry. From what Thom has said, it seems he’s now unemployed.

        There doesn’t seem to be much clarification either way, but I assume the BBC Radio Leeds coverage will be FM only to protect overseas rights. Much like Yorkshire Radio did, BBC Leeds Online will probably broadcast something else when match is on.

        Where this leaves those of you overseas, I’m not entirely sure, but I think you’ll get some form of coverage via LUTV. It’ll probably be the same BBC coverage FM users get, but it allows the club to charge separately for it, while also protecting one of the key USP’s of LUTV.

      • spellz

        Do you know if BBC radio Leeds will be broadcasted across the uk or just Yorkshire?

      • Gustavo Alvarez

        other option are via ustream, channel: LeedsLeedsLeeds

      • spellz

        Thanks for reply Gus, I usually stream all the televised games that I can’t make (which is the majority of them as I live in London)

        The problem is I usually can only find the ones that have are being aired by sky, I really wanted to watch every single match we play, do you know if that stream you mentioned has that type of access?

      • Gustavo Alvarez

        depend on the game, for me, here in Venezuela the majority of the games were only via radio commentary, in previous seasons all the yorkshire’s radio transmissions were streamed on different channels in ustream. these channels are powered by leeds fans.

        I got used to listening to the games through the radio, just like old times ;-)

        (sorry if my english are incorrect)

      • spellz

        Your English is very good do not worry, ok I understand you can stream the radio commentary’s via channels I need to explore the options this season anyhow need to catch the action somehow, I think one day I will just move to Leeds and be done with it. :) thanks for your replies Gus.

      • henrymouni

        I did not realise they had sacked Thom.
        I have had LUTV for many years, and it must be a great earner for Leeds Utd.’ with our massive, world wide fan base.
        I am sure they will be expanding it giving more coverage, with more live reserve and junior games.
        Also their world wide commentary will continue and improve.
        It has improved greatly since the beginning of last season.
        I am sure they see LUTV becoming like MUTV (only better).
        Radio Leeds FM does have a much better coverage range than Yorkshire radio did.
        I live in Greater Manchester and I can get it.
        An FM roof ariel helps a lot.
        With LUTV you get live commentary, interviews, match highlights, and full match highlights, and live reserve and junior games.
        Also a pre & post match discussions etc!!
        I would not be surprised if they show all home reserve and junior games live.

        LUTV is the future and fees will no doubt increase, but that’s OK, as it goes to the club.

        Maybe they will re-employ Thom and Eddie, unless they have someone else lined up.
        The new season is almost upon us!

  6. Matthew

    As long as it exists, it’d be a hook for Bates to try and get his claws back in LUFC. As I said in the other post, it was nothing but a Trojan horse that Bates had inside the club. Now it’s gone.

    Sorry to see people lost their jobs but this had to go. Any and all costly remnants of the Bates era should go, any and all avenues Bates might want to use to still have an influence in this club need closing.
    Now that Bates has gone, any and every single door, avenue, and possibility for him to influence the club needs sealing, forever. This man is vile, and the club needs to move forward away from him at a very high speed.

  7. Christian Lawley

    I’ll miss people like Thom Kirwin. He spoke intelligently about the club and was an asset to the radio station. Hopefully he will continue to provide an insight in to the club through Twitter and LUTV.

    It’s great that the coverage is more readily available now on the BBC. It clearly made sense to cash in on an asset at a time when the club is clearly light on cash. As people have already stated it’s a shame that people will be losing their jobs but it has been a complaint for a number of years now that ventures such as Yorkshire Radio were costing the club instead of bringing in added revenue.

    I never listened much to the station outside of Leeds games so as a whole it will not be a massive loss. I’ll still have pre and post-match radio from the BBC but it will take some getting used to after years of listening to Thom and Eddie.

  8. Sam 58

    I am pleased that the closing of Yorkshire Radio today demonstrates another nail in the coffin of the Bates regime. However more importantly the current management are trying to create a rational business strategy that has been lacking for a long time as a consequence of Dictator Mr Bates. I hope that the financial losses the club are sustaining can be turned around and that positive cash flow and profits will be invested wisely. It will take time to resolve and the fans and management will need to work hard to deliver a successful future for the club. Here`s to a bright future under BMc D ………………..

  9. Trebor

    You listen to BBC Radio Leeds through the ‘Tune In Radio’ Application

  10. Gustavo Alvarez

    I follow all the games vía radio here in Venezuela…

    Through the years Thom Kirwin and Eddie Gray became the voice of the club for me… it’s a shame if they aren’t part of LUTV staff for the future…

  11. henrymouni

    Great news:-

    “The club are delighted to announce that Thom Kirwin and Elland Road legend Eddie Gray will continue to supply live commentary to LUTV ………….”

  12. Yorkist21

    Absolutely gutting news. As a Canadian, I’ve been to ER twice, both times for League One victories (4-1 v. SouthEnd, 2-1 v. Exeter). The prospects of not being able to hear the match commentary is not something I’m taking easily, with only 8-10 games a season streamable online.

    • henrymouni

      Let us hope that with the emphasis fully on LUTV, they will increase the world wide coverage.
      GFH realise what a big earner LUTV can be.
      Fingers crossed for you!


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