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Offbeat

Eccentric British DJ Deke Duncan, whose radio station in garden shed had audience of one for 44 years, gets BBC radio special

  • Deke Duncan has been broadcasting Radio 77 to his wife, Teresa, in their Stevenage house since the 1970s
  • The DJ was tracked down by the BBC and offered an hour-long special on one of its stations
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 5:42am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 6:24am

Deke Duncan has been broadcasting his radio station to an audience of one for 44 years. Now the DJ is finally ready to make a pitch to reach a wider listenership, after being offered the chance to join a BBC local radio station.

As a 29-year-old, Duncan began running his radio station from a garden shed in Hertfordshire in the 1970s. His set-up began broadcasting as Radio 77 and featured its own jingles and fake advertisements. He called in friends to help maintain its dawn-to-midnight weekend programme schedule.

The only problem was that licensing restrictions meant the surprisingly professional output could reach an audience of only one: Duncan’s wife, Teresa, who listened via a speaker in their house.

Despite this, he continued with the eccentric project – a tribute to the pirate radio stations that broadcast from boats off the coast of the UK during the 1960s – with the dream of one day bringing his music choices to the whole of Stevenage.

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His story was covered in a lighthearted film by the TV programme Nationwide in 1974, which showed Duncan complaining that his entire audience disappeared when his wife popped to the shops after doing the housework.

Last month, the BBC’s Archive service rediscovered the clip and posted it on social media, prompting journalists at BBC Three Counties Radio to embark on a quest to find out what happened to the DJ who had a tiny audience but dreamed of reaching the wider New Town area.

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They found him, living in Stockport, and still broadcasting to “the smallest audience in the country”.

Three Counties then invited the 73-year-old on air, and the station editor, Laura Moss, offered him an hour-long special to broadcast to Stevenage – and the station’s wider Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire broadcast area – over the Christmas period.

Duncan accepted the offer, saying: “That feels really nice. For the first time in my life I’m speechless.”