Aircheck UK - Norfolk

UPDATED: 16/12/2004

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO: BBC Radio Norfolk began broadcasting 11th September 1980.  Studios were based at Norfolk Tower, Surrey Street, in Norwich.  Programmes are broadcast on 95.1 & 104.4 FM, 855 & 873 AM.  Programming now comes from The Forum on Millennium Plain in Norwich.  The station was one of the first BBC local Radio stations to provide a service to a county rather than a town or city.  

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR) 

AMBER RADIO / CLASSIC GOLD AMBER: See Radio Broadland below.

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103.4 THE BEACH came to air 29 September 1996 and is currently part of Tindle Radio Limited.  The station serves Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Waveney, and the East with adult contemporary music, entertainment, local and national news.  The station is based in Lowestoft studios.

It's present licence expires 28th September 2004, but this has not stopped the management of the station from looking at ways of expansion into neighbouring areas.  The coastal town of Great Yarmouth is actually in Norfolk, an area which is served by the once superb and highly locally based station Radio Broadland, now Broadland 102 as acquired with the rest of the East Anglian Radio Group stations and cloned into 'today's better music mix/today's best mix'  in the early 90s.

This has given 'The Beach' management something to sink their teeth into and use 'North Norfolk Radio is Radio for North Norfolk' as a strapline for it's bid for a new North Norfolk licence which was announced by the Radio Authority in November 2002, and for which applications are due by March 4th 2003.  Tindle has been working on it's proposals for a number of years.  Currently called NNR (formed in 2002 to apply for the licence), the MD of The Beach and Director of NNR David Blake feels they can supply something which reflects local life.  

In the preceeding period prior to the RA's announcement of the advertising of a North Norfolk licence, station management have run trial broadcasts from Studios in North Walsham (November 2000) and Holt (June 2001)

(Tindle Radio is the only family-owned radio operator in the UK. It operates six radio stations across the UK. It owns Channel 103, Jersey; Island FM, Guernsey; The Beach; Dream 100, Colchester/Clacton; Dream 107, Chelmsford; Bridge FM, Bridgend; as well as minority stakes in Kick FM, Newbury, and Kestrel FM, Basingstoke.)

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RADIO BROADLAND / BROADLAND FM / BROADLAND 102: A gem in UK radio history, Radio Broadland was a station from a classic radio mould.  It came to air 1st October 1984, part of the East Anglian Radio Group which also included SGR-FM.  Founded in 1983, amongst it's founders and directors is Baroness Hollis of Heigham.  Great jingles, great music, great presenters - and above all - it was local.  Programming comes from studios at St George's Plain, 47-49 Colegate in Norwich.  Research has revealed little on the history of Radio Broadland, and its arrival on air, but we can quite easily document it's latter life.  In 1997, GWR, who had spent most of the seven years previously, rigorously buying radio stations and groups, made a bid for East Anglian RadioGWR had already carved out a reputation for tearing a station's individuality, personality and style away to form a clone of others.  Amber Radio had only just launched and there was still much to do - still, this was a shareholders thing, because they owned the station in itself.  Following some heavy resistance, the takeover happened and Broadland 102 was the result of a relaunch.  And the rest as they say, is history.  Broadland's service area covers the eastern Norfolk coastal towns of Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Hemsby, Cromer to the North and inland areas as far west as East Dereham and southwards to Diss and Halesworth.  Figures released for local media students shows RAJAR Q1 figures combining Broadland & AM service Classic Gold Amber together to show 221,000 listeners tuning in each week out of 588,000, a 38% reach - typical industry spin when looking at other competitors with figures shown individually as would be the case.  Perhaps one of, if not THE most notable presenter who went on to be the station's Programme Controller is the chirpy Dave Brown.  

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RADIO BROADLAND / AMBER RADIO / CLASSIC GOLD AMBER 1152: A gem in UK radio history, Radio Broadland was a station from a classic radio mould.  It came to air 1st October 1984, part of the East Anglian Radio Group which also included SGR-FM.  Founded in 1983, amongst it's founders and directors is Baroness Hollis of Heigham.  Great jingles, great music, great presenters - and above all - it was local.  Research has revealed little on the history of Radio Broadland, and its arrival on air, but we can quite easily document it's latter life.  

When the broadcasting authorities stipulated the requirement to either split AM & FM services or lose one of them, the mother group acted swiftly.  It was 9:00am on the morning of 24th September 1995 that Amber Radio started broadcasting a new service on what was the AM frequencies formerly used by SGR and Radio Broadland, these being 1170kHz for Ipswich (Suffolk), 1251 for Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk) & 1152 for Norwich, thus leaving Radio Broadland and SGR to continue the FM services as a mainstream current rock & pop service.  All of the AM transmitters ran the same service, albeit with locally relevant advertising dropped in.  

But there was a bit of tinkering on day one, as many locals, particularly the local radio fans, noticed a difference.  Whilst the 1170 and 1251 frequencies featured identical output, 1152 from Norwich was carrying something completely different - different meaning the same playlist but a different presenter.  A quick jump between all available frequencies showed that the two sets of output were out of synch completely, i.e. neither tracks nor commercial breaks aired at exactly the same time.  At launch, Amber Radio promoted itself as targeting the over 35s, playing music from the 60s and 70s, along with more melodic new tracks.  

In 1997, GWR, who had spent most of the seven years previously, rigorously buying radio stations and groups, made a bid for East Anglian RadioGWR had already carved out a reputation for tearing a station's individuality, personality and style away to form a clone of others.  Amber Radio had only just launched and there was still much to do - still, this was a shareholders thing, because they owned the station in itself.  Following some heavy resistance, the takeover happened, but not without some ground-rules.  Classic Gold Amber was the result of a relaunch - i.e. the takeover clause being that as the Amber brand had only just been established, the name had to remain..  And the rest as they say, is history.  The service covers Norwich and surrounding areas of Norfolk on 1152, taking in the eastern Norfolk coastal towns of Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Hemsby, Cromer to the North and inland areas as far west as East Dereham and southwards to Diss and Halesworth.  As the new owners rolled out the Classic Gold brand, the local output of Amber presenters disappeared gradually, to just a token few local hours per day.  These token few local hours come from St. George`s Plain, 47-49 Colegate in the centre of Norwich.   www.classicgolddigital.com 

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KL-FM 96.7: This particular station has had quite a chequered history, passing from owner to owner since it's launch on 1st July 1992.  In 1994, the station, along with others in the Mid Anglia Radio Group (Hereward FM Peterborough, CNFM Cambridge) was purchased by GWR.  By March 1997, the station had come out of the ownership of GWR - the change came towards the end of fiiinancial year 1996-1997 - mostly due to the jiggery pokery of selling off stations to balance to points ownership tally with the Radio Authority.   A search of www.google.com discussion groups for reference to KLFM & GWR shows deep annoyance at the 'Greatest Hits, 96.7, The new KLFM Kings Lynn's Better Music Mix, now playing on better radio's all over West Norfolk, have you made the switch?' repeated endlessly after relaunch, but relief from one member of the group who, in June 1997 said 'Out of GWR control and back to normal...good to hear KLFM reverting to the usual stuff, and away from all the GWR cloning......'  

Currently owned by UKRD and operated from studios at 18 Blackfriars Street, King's Lynn, Norfolk, it's licence application describes the station as 'a music-led station for the Kings Lynn area, catering for the tastes and interests of the area through a reasonable amount of local news and information. The music is a spread of hits from across the years (with occasional non-hit album tracks where appropriate). During non daytime specialist programmes of music complementing the main mix may be aired. (During any non-locally produced programming there should be local information slots/drop-ins [at least around three an hour] and local idents)'.  UKRD acquired the station when it took over the radio interests of Dawe Media, which included Cambridge Red (re-launched as 107.9 The Eagle) and Oxygen in Oxford during the early part of 2000.  The same deal also included UKRD becoming a significant shareholder in Peterborough's Lite FM. KLFM operates in the North Norfolk area - Hunstanton in the far north, Wisbech in the West, Fakenham & Swaffham in the East, and down South beyond Downham Market - altogether, 131,000 people aged 25-54.  

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NORTH NORFOLK RADIO: Beating off the opposition of GO-FM, 'North Norfolk Radio' part of the Tindle Group, have been awarded the new licence for the North of Norfolk.  This award takes the number of stations in Sir Ray's group to eight.  Having been awarded the licence, the station will cover an area from Hunstanton & Bacton on the coast, inland as far as Fakenham and around the outlying areas of Norwich.  Ten station posts were filled through recruitment procedures.  The Tindle Group is a family-owned business renowned for its professional but community orientated services.  The geographical area was, up until now, one of only a few left in the country without it's own commercial station.  Other East Anglian Tindle stations are The Beach (Great Yarmouth & Waveney), Dream 100 (Colchester) and Dream 107 (Chelmsford).  The award is the culmination of four years worth of work to reach their goal.  Other group stations are Island FM (Guernsey), Channel 103 (Jersey), Bridge FM (Bridgend) and Midlands Radio (Republic of Ireland).  Tindle own 79% of NNR with local directors taking the rest.  Three transmitters cover the area and following work on installing transmission facilities across the North Norfolk region, the station will broadcast on 96.2 & 103.2 FM from November 10th 2003.  

Tindle Radio, acting under 103.4 The Beach applied for a radio licence for North Norfolk with a working station title of NNR.  The licence is for a brand new service, solely for North Norfolk, advertised by the RA with a closing date of March 2003.  NNR, a community radio station,  proposes to play a wide variety of classic hit songs, along with relevant local speech, comprehensive news bulletins from early morning to late at night, local community news and details on local events and activities on charities, schools, clubs and societies.  They also say: 'There’s a lot to be said for being local'' and 'it is a stand-alone station, run from North Norfolk. It will not have identikit programming from London or elsewhere, but will be a genuinely local service, with local news, local information, local traffic & travel, and local presenters.'

The unsuccessful bidder was Absolute Radio Norfolk Ltd, who intended to broadcast as go-fm - an associated consortium behind the bid included Norwich City FC, Central Norfolk Radio Ltd and Absolute Radio UK Ltd, all of whom had shares - who proposed a new local radio station providing a relevant, full-service schedule combining a strong community theme of news and information with a unique mix of adult music and entertainment primarily for the over 25s in North Norfolk.  

Broadcasting legend Mike Ahern is NNR's Breakfast Show host.  www.northnorfolkradio.com 

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COMMERCIAL:  REGIONAL

VIBE FM: The creation of this East of England regional station was the target of frustration upon launch, as it's sheer power caused a bottleneck on the FM waveband and a forseen lack of available frequencies for RSL groups to reliably use.  Airing first on 22nd November 1997, it was then operated by Essex Radio Group - operators of Breeze, Oasis FM & of course, Essex Radio amongst others, and a subsidiary arm of Daily Mail & General Trust).  But the management and ownership of the station moved on again in June 2000 when GWR made a takeover bid for DMG, to the tune of £146m.  GWR were then right up against the points limit regarding ownership of stations.  The Radio Authority set this points level so as not to create a stranglehold monopoly on the UK radio scene.  GWR responded to the comments of the high points level by declaring of it's intent to dispose of some of it's UK local licences to keep within the points restriction limit.  The takeover of DMG included eight UK licences reaching 3.9m, a 25% stake in almost 60 Australian radio stations, a three year option to acquire the remaining 75% of the same and the acquisition of Hungary's largest commercial radio station, as well as a new Australian Sydney licence which DMG bought at auction. DMG as part of the deal took further shares in GWR, i.e. from 18.8 to 29.9% on completion of the deal.  There were also DMG shares in Mansfield 103.2, Centre FM (Tamworth), The Eagle and Medway FM at the time.  The deal was the culmination of two years worth of efforts by GWR

Over on the opposite side of the country, in the Severn Estuary and Bristol region, Chrysalis were offloading the first Galaxy station, Galaxy 101.  It was acquired by GWR and Scottish Radio Holdings.  Being the home stomping ground of the GWR empire, and the root of all networked programming across the GWR network, the creation of VRSL (Vibe Radio Services Limited) saw the intervention of the Competition Commission, who concluded that this merger would act against the local interests of the radio marketplace.  Despite the deal taking place, the Competition Commission concluded it's findings and ordered GWR to act to their requirements.  The demands of the Commission were concluded to be 'unworkable' by GWR who promptly sold their interests in Vibe, lock, stock and barrel to Scottish Radio Holdings.  The full details of this matter can be read on our Avon/Somerset page.  

In short, it's a classic, contemporary dance and R&B station we're talking about here, now owned solely by Scottish Radio Holdings, and operating from the Alpha Business Park, 6-12 White House Road, Ipswich on a wide variety of 'top of the dial' frequencies, hence the irritation referred to at the head of this profile, those being 105.6 (Cambridge), 106.1 (Norwich), 106.4 (Ipswich) and 107.7 (Peterborough), and reaching around 1.7million across East Anglia alone.    www.vibefm.co.uk 

THE FUTURE:   

NORWICH: OFCOM is offering a 12 year FM licence to cover the City of Norwich and surrounding areas, an area it estimates could provide a station with around a quarter of a million adults aged 15 or over - this being less than a nearby service, Broadland 102, licenced to cover a much larger area including coastal regions.  As with other advertised licences, the exact broadcast radius will be determined by the exact location of the transmitter, which will be permitted to operate on 99.9FM, subject to international agreement on radio spectrum usage.  Bids must be in by Wednesday 9th March 2005, along with a non-refundable fee of £1,500 for each application submitted.  

The area has seen it's fair share of short-term broadcasters running for 28-days up to twice a year.  These include Future Radio, the last short-term licence holder (October 2004) before the new full-time licence was advertised, and which had previously operated for the first time in May.  However, this group have applied for a Community Licence in the area instead.  

AIRCHECK knows of two bidders so far, in the running for the licence.  

CROWN FM:  R responsible for the original campaign to establish a new, fresh radio service for Norwich.  Consisting of professional broadcaster who were born and raised in the City, the campaign started in the mid-nineties and saw preparations for the first of five RSLs in 1998.  Since then, the group has single-handedly managed to convince OFCOM to place the area on their licence working list.  More recently, the group was delighted to appoint the best possible board of directors for such a venture and especially welcomes the help of two large broadcasting companies, including Tindle Radio Ltd, whose passion and commitment for local radio is proving to be the perfect complement to the group's ongoing campaign.  

In July 2004, the group formerly welcomed OFCOM's confirmation that a new radio licence for Norwich was to be advertised in December 2004.  As a result, the Crown FM team hope to have a new station on-air serving listeners in Norwich and the surrounding area, to include Wymondham, Taverham, Spixworth, Brundall and Aylsham by the Autumn of 2005.   OFCOM is seeking agreement to use a frequency of 99.9 FM for this service.  Investors include Tindle Radio Ltd, local news personality Helen McDermott, and Town and Country Broadcasting and former Chairman of Anglia Television, David McCall.  Commenting on OFCOM's July decision, 

David McCall said: "Crown FM is delighted that OFCOM has now set a firm date for the advertisement of the new Norwich radio licence, and we are confident that we are extremely well placed to deliver a compelling application against the statutory criteria.  Our team has worked towards this new station for many years now, clearly demonstrating it's commitment to a new radio service for Norwich and the surrounding areas.  OFCOM has said it intends to encourage innovators and create diversity of market supply.  As pioneers of a new local radio service, and with no existing media links to Norwich, we are confident of delivering these objectives."

Keith Stewart, Crown FM Director and Chief Executive of Tindle Radio Ltd, said: "I believe we are in a uniquely strong position in Norwich, given OFCOM's determination to promote competition and the importance of maintaining the service in small areas.  Tindle Radio is already an established and committed radio operator and investor in local radio in East Anglia and can clearly demonstrate that consumers in Norwich will be well served by an awards to Crown FM"   Further details can be found at www.crownfm.co.uk 

NORWICH RADIO GROUP (NRG) have also thrown their name into the hat to win the FM radio licence for Norwich.  However, the group began preparations for such an opportunity as far back as two years ago, structuring business and programming plans, building up relationships with local businesses and advising the locals of the group's aims.  Midnight on July 13th 2003 saw the end of a trial broadcast in preparation for an anticipated Norwich radio licence.  Response to the station was said to have delighted the organisers.  Norwich Radio Group set up the 23-day trial as part of it's bid to win a permanent licence due to be advertised in 2004.  Station management concluded that the area really did need another local station, one aimed at adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s.  Research was carried out during the broadcast to enhance this line of thinking and to back up the pending application.  The broadcast featured guest appearances including Murray Walker, Blue Peter presenter Connie Huq. Linda Barker and Paul Nicholas as well as appearances from local civic representatives and politicians   The station's 2003 broadcast featuring interviews and reports on events in the City including the County Show and Lord Mayor Celebrations as well as community action campaigns and fundraising events for charity.  

The group Chairman Mike Hughes has openly welcomed the announcement of the forthcoming application process: "We welcome OFCOM's decision to go ahead with the new licence for the city, as it is something which Norwich has needed for some time.  We feel that our plans will help to fill a large gap in current radio listening for people in the older age groups and listeners who want truly local radio.  We are delighted that there is now a definite timetable for the new station.  After nearly three years of preparation, including our successful trial broadcast in 2003, we now have until March next year to refine and finalise our plans to restore a truly local radio service to the Norwich area.  We are also please that OFCOM has confirmed a broadcast area for the new station of around 240,000 people.  This is very much in line with our expectations and offers an opportunity for a sustainable business.  Undoubtedly, there will be competition for the licence, but as a local group, with considerable experience and expertise, NRG believes it is well placed for success."

However, this is in stark contrast to earlier comments from Mr. Hughes which expressed considerable disappointment at OFCOM's expectancy that Dereham and North Walsham will not be covered by the new licence.  He said that research showed a number of people in each area work and play in Norwich - and that their service would be a valuable one for the same people if included in the licence remit.  As a result NRG aimed to lobby the regulator to review it's decision, although, even in light of Mr. Hughes' most recent comments, it's not known whether their campaign was successful.  

The station was specifically set up with a full-time licence in mind, and has operated one, extremely successful trial broadcast in June 2003 using 107.3FM.  If awarded the licence, NRG's station will target adults aged between 30 and 60 with four decades worth of hits plus local and national news and information.  www.norwichradio.com

HOSPITAL RADIO:  

RSL:  

NORWICH: 

FUTURE RADIO ran it's first Restricted Service License for Norwich from 3rd-29th May 2004 on 105.1FM.  Future Radio is a new community based radio station for and by the people of Norwich, being supported by the involvement of agencies and businesses in the area.  This new development for the city is the brainchild of The NR5
Project, an initiative founded by Dawn Codling and Sonia Bush which helps young people from the NR5 postcode area.  The NR5 Project receives funding from the NELM Development Trust, Norwich City and Norfolk County Councils and enjoys an especially harmonious relationship with the local police.  

The station is a truly community affair. Music programming ranges from top chart tunes, r'n'b and dance, through jazz, classical and blues to local bands and world music. There is also community based speech programmes with contributions from the police, Norwich Job Centre and arts features including film and theatre reviews and interviews.  Tom Buckham of Future Radio said: 'We certainly don't see ourselves as being in competition with other broadcasters in the area. As a not for profit project we seek to provide a service that is very different as providers of community programming. Most of our presenters and programme ideas came as a result of an appeal for people to get involved'.  A further Restricted Service License is in the application stage for later in 2004.

DIGITAL: The UK's 11th NOWdigital radio licence, this one for Norfolk, launched on Monday 31st March 2003.  NOWdigital, owned by GWR, are supplying the following network line up: (Analogue stations) Broadland 102 (GWR), Classic Gold Amber (UBC), BBC Norfolk, The Beach (Tindle Radio), Vibe (GWR), and digital exclusive stations The Storm (GWR), SBN (Student Broadcast Network), Passion, 3C Continous Cool Country (SRH) and a digital exclusive station for the teen market which has not formally been named.

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