Courtesy of John Hindhaugh
Radio Show Limited move into year 4 of the ‘new’ Radio Le Mans and most of the changes for this year concern the service away from the track. Spectators at Le Mans for test day and race week will still be able to hear the popular mix of music, competitions and live commentary via FM transmitter. Further afield fans have even more to choose from to keep them entertained, both during the week of the race and the rest of the year. The portal to this information is the new look www.RadioLeMans.com.
RadioLeMans.com was re-launched in March 2008 and now boasts year-round audio streaming as well as an extensive free archive of ALMS, Le Mans and other endurance content. During three weeks in March the site attracted almost 100,000 visitors and that number was bettered in April thanks to some new, live, exclusive coverage of sportscar racing.
The classic Monza circuit was the first time the RSL team had attended a Le Mans Series race, indeed this was the first time that any commentators had been at a LMS venue for live coverage of the event. Bolstered by the new features, including video content from partner SpeedTV.com, April 1st to 28th saw over 236,000 visitors on the site.
Of course the biggest draw is still the Le Mans 24 Hours. In race week 2007 over 900,000 visitors found their way to www.radiolemans.com - adding that to our monthly numbers should mean that by the end of 2008 around 2 million people will have been exposed to the world of sportscar racing via www.radiolemans.com
This is all a far cry from the formative years of Radio Le Mans. Back then Radio Le Mans was only on air for a few days in June and existed (barely) from year to year and often scrambling for sponsors right up until (and sometimes during) race week. As early as the mid 80s the benefit of reaching spectators who didn’t normally listen to commentary, or who were away from the core ‘track-activity’ times, was becoming clear. There were those who realized that appetites could be whetted by playing pre-recorded driver interviews early on raceday morning, and traffic news and other sports news round-ups could be provided at the end of the day as spectators made their way home. In 1986, Le Mans followed the trend and broadcast the French public address commentary on FM airwaves. This was pretty unadulterated stuff, with long periods of silence and the announcer often having to speak over background music. (Interestingly the French Service has never moved on – it’s still just like that!) Fine for the locals but this wasn’t helpful to the biggest single national group at the race – the British.
In 1987, spurred on by sportscar enthusiast Harry Turner, backed by Jaguar and produced by Studio 6 Marketing, a rather shabby caravan was brought from England and set up in the paddock with a radio transmitter and some dodgy phone lines to link the studio to the commentary booth in the tribune. Neville and Richard Hay provided the commentary assisted by Bob Constanduros from the pits. It’s worth remembering that during the night the whole show shut down while a music loop was played.
In later years Haymarket’s Autosport Magazine recognized the potential and provided some advertising for the station which enabled significantly more personnel to be brought on board
Over the years there have been numerous backers of the radio station with Unipart, Chrysler, BMW and Audi perhaps the most prominent. Haymarket’s decision to bow out after the 2005 race saw Radio Show Limited – a company formed solely to ensure the continuation of the station – take over as rights holders. Radio Show Ltd continues to hold true to the tradition of Radio Le Mans whilst continuing to grow the audience and the fan base through the expansion of the website into a year–round resource.
For this year expect all the usual suspects: In essence the broadcast team remains very similar with regulars such as Paul Truswell, Graham Tyler along with USA’s finest Charles Dressing and Jim Roller, all providing their usual brand of passion mixed with informative insight. Paul is famous for putting his bodily functions on hold for upwards of 30 hours (covering the build up and the race itself) as he never moves from his eyrie in the tribunes from the moment he arrives on Saturday morning until the end of the race. He manages this armed only with finger food, a blank exercise book, lots of pens and his encyclopaedic knowledge.
As usual the station will be on-air in the vicinity of the circuit, starting with the live coverage on Tuesday of the race week.