For 22 years the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) broadcast a local radio service (Radio 1555) and a local TV service (Channel 7) to the capital of Iran from their studios in Tehran. However in 1976 it was decided by the Iranian government that AFRTS should close down its radio and TV services, which it did on 25 October 1976, the day before the Shah of Iran’s 57th birthday.
Radio 1555 closed with presenter: Airforce Staff Sergeant Barry Cantor playing as the last record: Roger Whittaker’s Durham Town (The Leaving). This was followed by a closing announcement by Chief Master Sergeant and Station Manager: Bob Woodruff, followed by the American National Anthem.
The following morning, the 26th October 1976, the Shah’s birthday, this additional Iranian government owned radio and television service began under the control of NIRT Director General: R. Ghotbi.
The service was initially called 'Tehran Radio' but quite quickly was changed to NIRT International Radio reflecting the fact that although it provided a local service to expatriates and Iranians alike in Tehran and its surroundings, it also broadcast throughout Iran, and to neighbouring countries.
NIRT International Radio was broadcast on: 1555 kHz AM (Medium Wave) and 106 MHz FM (stereo) in Tehran.
Earlier in the year, by way of adverts in international broadcasting magazines a number of (mostly British) broadcasters were brought together to help design the studios, produce and present programmes and provide a local, national and international news service.
The new radio service had a self-operated studio, as used commonly throughout the West, however this was new to Iran and the presentation team advised the NIRT technicians in building the studio and adapting the mixing console to work in this way.
The initial Presentation team comprised:
- Ted Anthony - previously from KLAC, Los Angeles;
- Frank Carpenter - from Radio Hallam, Sheffield, England, and
- Marc Paul (Burden) - freelance and syndicated radio – BBC and Australian radio.
The team was later joined by:
The News Gathering and English Newsreading team comprised:
- Ray Goff - from England, previously broadcasting in Australia and New Zealand;
- Peter Body - previously broadcasting in Bermuda and Australia;
- Mike Russell - from Scotland, and
- John Coulson - from Metro Radio, Newcastle, England (later joined Presentation).
Others on the news team were: Dave Emory, Vahe Potrousian, Rory Sutton and Sheila Mills. News was read in English by those listed above, and by specialist newsreaders in: Persian, French, German and Russian.
The first record played was country artist Charley Pride singing: ‘The Happiness of Having You’. The first news bulletin was read by Englishman Ray Goff at 6.00am. Music and all other programmes were in English and presented live in a calm, friendly manner similar to the output from British and North American local stations at that time, with a mixture of: pop, rock, ‘middle of the road’, soul and oldies music interspersed with syndicated programmes: The American Country Countdown, The Wolfman Jack Show, Jim Pewter etc.