• Joshua Davis

Livewire: Looking through the archives


So I've been browsing – digging really, into the bowels of Livewire 1350 to try to find out more about our little station. I found a trove of brilliant, shiny gems from Livewire's past.

So let's take a look at some of it, eh?

First up, a classic photo, and possibly the oldest photo we have from the station – this photo from 1990 of radio legend John Peel with some of Livewire's original hosts. Check out that old equipment!

John Peel actually opened the station way back in 1989/1990 – which makes Livewire one of the longest running student radio stations in the UK.

Did you know that Livewire 1350 used to be Livewire 945? Me neither! But according to this old newspaper clipping from Karl Chapman, one of Livewire's founding members and the designer of the original logo, it did! (It changed to 1350 when we changed the AM frequency we broadcast on)

This photo also gives us another view of the early studio equipment, including a record player! For records! ON THE RADIO!

Speaking of the Livewire logo, here is our original one! Well, not really, this is a recreation made by the unstoppable Thomas Rees, but it's pretty close to the original. I really like this design, it's simple, but effective and super retro. I wouldn't say no to getting this on a t-shirt.

Holy cow! Is this an actual recording of an actual Livewire show from 1991? Yes it is, and I am unbelievably happy to have found it. Although it's subject matter is pretty mundane, it's amazing to hear how this station began. Although, isn't it weird that the people in the recording sound old, even though they were our age?

Unfortunately, so far my search for Livewire content from the rest of the 1990s and early 2000s has been fruitless. It appears that UEA hadn't bothered to take any pictures of us in those years, and we hadn't quite yet made the great leap into posting about Livewire on the internet.

As a result of this, I have no idea what the Livewire logo was in that period, if it changed at all, and I don't really know anything about the content we made. Which is pretty sad, so if you're an alum, or know someone who went to UEA in that period who might be able to send over some info, or better, pictures, please get in touch.

The internet age, dear reader, is really where my search for Livewire's past began – mainly because it was the easiest place to find stuff, while I am still home for summer break. So, I used archive.org's “Wayback Machine” to see what our website looked like as far back in the past as possible. To my surprise, they had an archive of our site as far back as 2003.

Sadly – the assets for this website have been lost to time, so we are left with only the text of the site. But, from this we can still learn a lot! Like the fact that we were already streaming our station on the internet years before we made the switch to online only. We also did an apparently successful OB (outside broadcast). Go Livewire!

Not much had changed by 2004, a slightly different layout, but we really can't tell much difference without the assets, which are still missing. Although, by then we had seemed to introduce a “text the studio” feature on the website, which is interesting because of course they would need something like that in a pre-twitter world. We also learn that “the Dave, Jez & Oli show” is on, and we see our first reference to our former partnership with then new station, XFM (now Radio X for which one of our former members now hosts a daily morning show!).

Now THAT'S more like it! By 2006 the Wayback machine has a much better copy of our old website, that was still, for the most part, functional. Here on the home page, you can see we've gone all dark and grungy. It's a long way from the 1990s look.

We can also see more reference to XFM and a load of vintage gig reviews, which I trawled through to find some classics.

Here's a review of a tiny, up-and-coming band that nobody has ever heard of, but that you should keep an eye on. This is strange to read now in this post Panic at the Disco world, but equally very cool.

“This band is going to be HUGE!” - you weren't wrong, x3050947 (catchy username). Since this review, the Arctic Monkeys have gone on to become one of the biggest bands in the world, and regularly sell out tours. You can really see why our tagline was “the home of new music”. Anyway, enough about Livewire's hipster cred, let's look at some other interesting finds on the site:

Back in '05 – Livewire hosted a club night in town, reviewed well by the ladies man pretending to be station manager – I wonder if he still talks to the girls? Also, apparently there used to be a club in the city called “Po Na Na” - which is hilarious.

Always on the forefront of what is cool, Livewire had to make sure that they were a part of the extremely popular, “ever growing community” of MySpace.com. You remember Myspace, right? No?

Also – another solid logo. Definitely dated, but we hung on to this logo for a number of years, probably because we painted it on the wall of the old studio, as seen in this vimeo video from 2012. (thanks again to Thomas Rees for recreating this old logo in glorious high definition).

There isn't another site redesign until 2010 and.... this is ugly. What happened in 2010 to make us take such a step back? Who knows, although it is good news for Livewire as in 2010 we got our first SRA award nomination in 3 years.

If we fast forward a few more weeks though, something interesting appears on the website's homepage.

What is this new section on the left? “Perfect study partner”? Yes, dear reader, that is an advertisement from Apple – yes, that Apple. I know right? But this isn't just a little banner ad, as this post about jailbreak shows.

“Sponsored by Apple” - WHOA! Now that's pretty cool – if the prizes are a little lackluster by modern standards. Also, apparently we used to host a charity event called “Hearing Aid” - which included a load of events that now happen as their own separate things, like Take UEA Out and the Quiz. Also – I really hope “The Full Monty” means that back in 2010 Livewire stripped for charity.

Some more interesting stuff I've found from this period, is a complete run of the James Lillywhite show, with all the songs edited out so that it wouldn't be taken off iTunes.

THE UGLY DUCKING PERIOD (2011 - 2013)

What the hell just happened? Around a year after redesigning the website, somebody seemed to have the bright idea to do this. Those of you who used Tumblr back in the day will recognize this website, because in 2011, Livewire's official website was a tumblr, with one of the default, ugly themes. I will never complain about our website not being done again.

Here are the culprits – the 2011/12 committee, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Although, it is important to note, no Head of Online. (It shows.)

Also Heads of Daytime and Specialist used to be called “Head of Entertainment” and “Head of Alternative” - which sounds kinda rad actually.

It is also notable that we didn't have a head of design/visualisation, because GOSH is this poster for media ball a delightful mess of fonts and tone.

Although, at least we didn't have that hideous UEA:TV logo – who I think were still recovering from suddenly not being “Livewire TV” - oh yeah, that was a thing.

THE MODERN ERA (2014-present)

There are no major changes to the website archived on the WayBack Machine until 2014, where we start to get into what I have called “the Modern Era” - that is, we're now into Living memory territory (that is, there are some people still at Livewire who may remember this time).

Well looky here – a real website again. This is more like it, and in fact, this was basically our website up until 2016, different colour scheme, and a slightly different logo, but essentially, the Livewire you know and love is starting to take shape here.

Those who have been with us for a couple of years might find this logo vaguely familiar, as many design elements of this logo continued into our previous logo before our 2016 rebrand. This is also notable, as our oldest Facebook profile picture uses this logo.

And hey look, their Awards Montage is on our YouTube channel:

Mere months later, the site is once again changed, some lighter colours, and an updated logo, which many of us will remember as the pre-rebrand logo. Let's do a little exploring of this site, see if we can find any familiar shows.

A double station manager bill here, with Issy Panayis (former Livewire Station Manager and current Radio X host) and Matt Maddison (former UEA:TV Station Manager).

Hey look! It's Tom & Tom, the radio show hosted by our former Heads of Daytime and Visualisation, Thomas Little and Thomas Rees. They've both gone on to do great things since 2014, like winning Bronze at the SRA awards, one of them founding a record label and the other one founding the new Livewire Archives. Also this classic:

Oh look! It's Folk on, Livewire's long-running folk show hosted by Adrian Moore, who hosted his final 15 minutes of the show at this year's final countdown. Highlights of his show include having bands to play live sessions on air in the studio with him.

I have no idea who this is.

In 2015 our website got a new header, which showed what shows were on on this day, you might be able to spot some familiar names there – we've caught up with my memory now, and it's pretty cool to revisit this.

Hey look who I found!

The 2015/16 year was a good one for Livewire, in fact, for the first time in a number or years we won an SRA Award for our SRA Chart Show, which you can see the highlights of thanks to UEA:TV.

We also did this for Jailbreak...

THE REBRAND

And now, we're essentially up to the Livewire you should all be familiar with. The rebrand happened in late 2016, and we still use this branding to this day.

In this video made by Thomas Rees, the Head of Visualisation that was the brains behind this rebrand, we take a look at Livewire as a whole and our shiny new logo!

From then on, we got better and better, with Sessions, Vlogs, another Christmas single, and tons of cool stuff which you can see in the Awards Video from this year, which goes over the highlights.

Now I'm not gonna claim that this is a complete history of our station, not by any means, but these are just some of the things I found in my searches. In fact, I would encourage you to look into this stuff yourself, and if you find anything fun, send it to me, I'd love to see it.

#livewire #archives

© Livewire1350 1990-2020.

Part of the UEA Media Collective.

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