A VETERAN broadcaster who helped to set up Classic FM is behind the latest bid to establish Durham's own radio station.

Nigel Reeve, who was one of a team of three who set up the national station, is launching the bid with his partner Nick Jordan through the Kent-based Laser Broadcasting company.

It follows an announcement by the Radio Authority that it plans to advertise for applicants to run an independent radio service based in Durham in December.

When the service starts broadcasting, likely to be in early 2005, it will mark the first time Durham has had its own permanent station since the early 1970s.

The city's last radio station, BBC Radio Durham, is famous as the launch pad for North-East journalist Kate Adie's career.

Before awarding the licence, the Radio Authority has invited bidders to broadcast on a temporary licence as a trial.

First to go on air was Durham FM, backed by Radio Investments Ltd and led by local radio guru Brian Lister, which broadcast for almost a month from last November.

Now Laser Broadcasting's station, DLR FM, is about to start its trial.

It will begin broadcasting from the Three Tuns Hotel on February 8, continuing 24 hours a day for a month.

The station will begin a second month-long trial in the autumn. Mr Reeve said it would aim to be as local as possible.

He said: "We have set this company up to pick two or three areas where we believe it's absolutely right for local radio. We will be purely targeting a specific community with genuine local news supplied by journalists in that area.

"If there's a traffic jam in Durham, we will be able to say not only that there's a traffic jam, but this is the way round it."

Mr Reeve said the station would be modelled on BBC local radio, but would be less formal, playing music mainly from the 1980s and 1990s.

While the trial broadcasts will cover only a two to three mile radius, the permanent station will reach the surrounding area for ten to 12 miles.