Stalker joins MacKenzie in new radio bid

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The Independent Online

John Stalker, the former senior police officer who was at the centre of the "shoot to kill" controversy in Northern Ireland, is to lead Wireless Group's bid for a new FM radio licence for Manchester.

Wireless, where former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie is the chief executive, announced yesterday that Mr Stalker would chair its effort to win the licence, which has been put up for grabs by the media regulator, Ofcom.

Like the Wireless national talkSPORT brand, which is broadcast on the AM frequency, the Greater Manchester bid is also for a speech-only station.

Mr Stalker was formerly the deputy chief constable of the Greater Manchester police force in the 1980s, as head of its anti-terrorism unit, when he shot to fame. He was asked to investigate the murder of six people in Northern Ireland on a secondment.

His investigation got caught up in the controversy over whether British forces in the province employed a "shoot to kill" policy. Mr Stalker left the police force in 1988 and subsequently wrote a book about the affair, which has sold 600,000 copies.

He said of the Wireless bid: "There is nothing of this nature in the commercial radio in the north-west. It would be unique."

He said that the people of the region had strong opinions "and we like to make them known". The Wireless station would offer intelligent discussion of issues without the "pretension" of BBC's Radio 4, Mr Stalker said. He would have an ongoing role if the bid wins.

It is thought that about half a dozen radio groups will fight it out for the Manchester licence, which will reach a population of more than 1.3 million adults.

Since leaving the police, Mr Stalker has carved out a career in the media, as a crime pundit, and as a consultant in the security industry. He has had a crime column in a national tabloid newspaper and for eight years he has hosted a regional television show on Central TV called Crime Stalker.

Last year, he took part in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cult musical which involves some outrageous costumes.Mr Stalker however had the role of narrator and wore a dinner jacket. "I made clear that under no circumstances would I wear fishnets."

Calum Macaulay, the business development director at Wireless, said of Mr Stalker: "He has an unrivalled knowledge of the area and shares our passion for creating compelling speech-based radio."

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