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BBC RADIO LONDON: After pre-launch tests consisting of Radio 1 output plus announcements, this BBC service started on October 6th 1970, three years before the first commercial radio activity (see below).  Initially, broadcasting solely on 95.3, and then, just prior to the commercial stations launching, a medium wave transmitter was used on 206m (1457kHz) from 1973.  FM stereo transmissions began in 1981 with a continuous music programme called 'Music On The Move' - the first stereo programme which came a few days prior to the Stereo launch on February 11th.  The VHF transmitter was relocated to Crystal Palace about a year later due to poor coverage from the Central/West London site of Wrotham.   A later move of FM frequency, due to what was then up and coming new broadcaster, Capital Radio, took it to 94.9 where its successor remains today.  BBC Radio London started broadcasting from studios in Hanover Square, near Oxford Circus - with consoles including rotary faders.  Later, the station moved to new studios in Marylebone High Street, premises without any windows at the back of a BBC Publications building, formerly the warehouse for the Radio Times.  

In 1980, the station celebrated its 10th birthday with a large piece in the Radio TimesThis was in the days when Local Radio stations had a whole page.   A special photo of everyone who could be found in the newsroom was taken to use in the piece.  Laurie Meyer put together a tribute to the mistakes, or boobs, of those first ten years.  

A relaunch in 1981 saw the station take on a softer 'Radio 2' type sound, a move which didn't totally convince the staff.  However, it did lead to an increase in audience figures and a string of awards and accolades.  The line up looked like this: 

06:30     Rush Hour with Susie Barnes and John Waite
09:00     Morning Star
10:00     Robbie Vincent Telephone Programme
12:30     Lunchtime News
12:40     Total Music Show with Tony Fish
14:30     Tony Blackburn
17:00     Evening News
17:15     Music on the Move
18:30     Speech programmes
19:00     Black Londoners
20:00     Parliamentary Question Time

The final programme, just before the station's 18th birthday, was presented by Mike Sparrow and Susie BarnesBBC Radio London closed at 7pm, Friday 7th October 1988 - output was replaced by test transmissions for its successor - see below for more.

BBC GLR/BBC LONDON LIVE/BBC LONDON: GLR launched on the 25th October 1988 broadcasting on 94.9FM with Johnnie Walker at the controls.  At launch, the pretense was to be in no way similar to what went before - to demonstrate this, the presenter line up was completely different.  It is an Adult-oriented station portraying "London life," featuring interviews, phone-ins and news during the day and specialist minority programmes by night.  There is also a lively week-day lunchtime phone-in show and good sports coverage on Saturday afternoons  It was named BBC GLR - Greater London Radio - until 25 March 2000 when the BBC renamed it, despite much protest, and possibly because of poor RAJAR figures, to BBC London Live.  1st October 2001 saw a further name change, but only slightly to BBC London, merging with web site and TV services ("On TV On Radio On Line"). London traffic cameras on the station website are of great use for Londoners. 

Click here to view BBC London's website. 


A.I.R (Airport Information Radio): Launched June 1990 on 1584AM, by the then owner of Sussex & Surrey's Radio Mercury, John Aumonier, this station was designed to provide a traffic and travel service for Gatwick & Heathrow airport.  The creation of such a station was a brave move in such early days of commercial radio - but, pardon the pun, the service never really took off.  Poor advertising revenue figures and difficulty in monitoring audience figures resulted in a very short life for the station.  Arguably, such a station isn't likely to form the listening habits on a daily basis - more so, only when going on holiday.  Maybe the owner figured the station may have been of appeal to the business fraternity, who may have travelled by air on a regular basis.  It spent just one year on-air ending in June 1991. 


CAPITAL RADIO / 95.8 CAPITAL FM: Having been given a licence (franchise) to broadcast by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in 1973, the now legendary Capital Radio came on air using two frequencies, 95.8vhf FM (at 2kw of power from Croydon) & 539 metres MW at 5:00am on 16th October 1973 as the second commercial radio station in the UK, serving London and surrounding areas.   Later in the 1970s, it moved to 194metres (1548kHz) (27.5kw from Saffron Green's transmitter) where it's AM service remains today.  At the time of launch, it was Britain's first commercial music radio station - the first words read out on-air were from the lips of station Director and Chairman Sir Richard Attenborough who said "This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio...".  The first record played was Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and the first commercial played was for Birds Eye Fish Fingers.  After an uncertain start - the station was immediately confronted with revenue problems stemming from the three day week during the 1973 Miners' Strike - Capital Radio began growing into one of the world's largest commercial radio stations.  Sir Richard Attenborough was quoted in a 'Capital Facts' sheet, speaking about the station's early lean years 'Although one can say it now, one couldn't at the time, there were some weeks when the viability of the whole operation was in question and we might had had to close down.  We almost didn't make ends meet."

During the 1970s, 1975 saw the launch of the station's Help A London Child Charity, which has since grown to be one of London's most popular fundraising causes, with millions of pounds raised to date through a wide variety of events and initiatives, including the release of records under the PWL record label by then Capital presenters Pat Sharp & Mick Brown.  In 1976, the station information Helpline was launched for a wide-reaching range of use and on 11th June 1979, Britain's first ever traffic spotting plane, the 'Flying Eye' took off, first as a Piper Seneca, and latterly as a twin-engined Cirumma Cougar.    The station has also lent its support to London based Orchestras, Choral Societies, the BFI Children's Film Festival and many other ventures.  

Some of the early presenters included Kenny Everett, Brian Hayes, Michael Aspel, David Symonds, Dave Cash, Gerald Harper, Graham Dene, Tony Myatt, Roger Scott, Mike Allen, Nicky Horne, Gary Crowley and Peter Young.   In the mid-seventies, there was even a link up with hospital radio in a show called 'Hullaballoo' presented by Joan Shenton.  

(There are various other stations of the same name around the world.  Capital 604 for example in South Africa, which shared a similar if not the same typeface as the 70's London station and the jingles were copies too!  The station is not on-air now, having ceased broadcasting in 1996, when the Government questioned its financial viability, but it could return after pressure from an action group of fans and other parties led to the authorities advertising the licence in late 2002.  However, a website remains on line which features some of the jingles. Click here to make a visit to Capital 604's website.)

Capital FM's current remit is to play popular contemporary music and classic hits and feature local and national news for a target audience of 15-34 year olds around London.  The station is renowned for being based at the massive Euston Tower, just down the road from Euston Station, where it had five different studios around the main control room.  On-air was Studio 1, 2 was a stand-by, 3 handled chat shows and was a standby incase of a problem with Studio 2, 4 was the music studio for live performances and 5 was for commercial production.  Capital Radio moved to Central London and prestigious new studios above the Capital Cafe (now sold off) in Leicester Square in January 1997.  It is perhaps the only commercial station to retain a celebrity line up of nationally known presenters like Radio 1 used to have years ago - names such as Chris Tarrant, Neil 'Dr' Fox, Cat Deeley, Dermot O'Leary and Mike Osman.  

It is the group's flagship station and forms the headquarters of what is now Capital Radio plc- from one London station, the group has grown to include sister London station X-FM, initially quite a troubled station, but now secure under Capital's tenure, and a core of stations based in major cities around the UK.  Altogether there are over 20 analogue licences which broadcast to over half the UK's population.  There are also 40 Digital Licences in the group's portfolio.  Capital describes itself as the UK's leading radio group, due to the fact that is is the largest in terms of revenue and profit.  Their ambition is to establish a national presence for the business by continuing to acquire new stations and by expanding the digital side of the business also.  

The purchase of Border Radio Holdings' interests (Century Network) was of great importance in building the national presence they so importantly seek and this gave them coverage of every major metropolitan area in the England and Wales.  They will continue to keep a keen eye on new licences and potential acquisitions to build further, and believe in a policy of communication with honesty, openness and transparency included.  The music format of each station is targeted at the most commercially attractive - i.e. the listeners that advertisers want to hit. 


CAPITAL RADIO / CAPITAL GOLD (London): Having been given a licence (franchise) to broadcast by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in 1973, the now legendary Capital Radio came on air using two frequencies, 95.8vhf FM (at 2kw of power from Croydon) & 539 metres MW at 5:00am on 16th October 1973 as the second commercial radio station in the UK, serving London and surrounding areas.   Later in the 1970s, it moved to 194metres (1548kHz) (27.5kw from Saffron Green's transmitter) where it's AM service remains today.  At the time of launch, it was Britain's first commercial music radio station - the first words read out on-air were from the lips of station Director and Chairman Sir Richard Attenborough who said "This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio...".  The first record played was Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and the first commercial played was for Birds Eye Fish Fingers.  After an uncertain start - the station was immediately confronted with revenue problems stemming from the three day week during the 1973 Miners' Strike - Capital Radio began growing into one of the world's largest commercial radio stations.  Sir Richard Attenborough was quoted in a 'Capital Facts' sheet, speaking about the station's early lean years 'Although one can say it now, one couldn't at the time, there were some weeks when the viability of the whole operation was in question and we might had had to close down.  We almost didn't make ends meet."

During the 1970s, 1975 saw the launch of the station's Help A London Child Charity, which has since grown to be one of London's most popular fundraising causes, with millions of pounds raised to date through a wide variety of events and initiatives, including the release of records under the PWL record label by then Capital presenters Pat Sharp & Mick Brown.  In 1976, the station information Helpline was launched for a wide-reaching range of use and on 11th June 1979, Britain's first ever traffic spotting plane, the 'Flying Eye' took off, first as a Piper Seneca, and latterly as a twin-engined Cirumma Cougar.    The station has also lent its support to London based Orchestras, Choral Societies, the BFI Children's Film Festival and many other ventures.  

Some of the early presenters included Kenny Everett, Brian Hayes, Michael Aspel, David Symonds, Dave Cash, Gerald Harper, Graham Dene, Tony Myatt, Roger Scott, Mike Allen, Nicky Horne, Gary Crowley and Peter Young.   In the mid-seventies, there was even a link up with hospital radio in a show called 'Hullaballoo' presented by Joan Shenton.  

(There are various other stations of the same name around the world.  Capital 604 for example in South Africa, which shared a similar if not the same typeface as the 70's London station and the jingles were copies too!  The station is not on-air now, having ceased broadcasting in 1996, when the Government questioned its financial viability, but it could return after pressure from an action group of fans and other parties led to the authorities advertising the licence in late 2002.  However, a website remains on line which features some of the jingles. Click here to make a visit to Capital 604's website.)

Capital FM's current remit is to play popular contemporary music and classic hits and feature local and national news for a target audience of 15-34 year olds around London.  The station is renowned for being based at the massive Euston Tower, just down the road from Euston Station, where it had five different studios around the main control room.  On-air was Studio 1, 2 was a stand-by, 3 handled chat shows and was a standby incase of a problem with Studio 2, 4 was the music studio for live performances and 5 was for commercial production.  Capital Radio moved to Central London and prestigious new studios above the Capital Cafe (now sold off) in Leicester Square in January 1997.  It is perhaps the only commercial station to retain a celebrity line up of nationally known presenters like Radio 1 used to have years ago.

With the industry requirement to split frequencies, it was logical that one of the first commercial stations on-air in the 1970s was one of the first radio stations to split services on FM & AM, with the AM frequency of 1548 becoming a standalone GOLD music station from 6:30am, on November 28th 1988.  As the mother group grew, the Capital Gold name became a brand.  At the time, there was an expansion of rival network Classic Gold across the country as the owner, GWR, took over commercial radio station groups and rebranded the AM station.  Capital Gold was rolled out in the West Midlands, South Wales, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Manchester, (not in order) as groups and stations were taken over by Capital Radio plc.  Permission for this roll-out was granted by the broadcast regulator, with only nominal amounts of airtime being broadcast locally, in respective areas.  As at 2005, this is the Breakfast Show, with a networked (i.e. heard in many different areas at the same time) drivetime show aired, with opt ins for news and travel.  Capital Gold plays the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s as well as sport, local and national news  Capital Gold can also be heard on SKY Digital Channel 863, DAB Digital Radio in London, Hampshire, Birmingham, Manchester & South Wales, and through NTL Cable Television networks.


CHOICE FM 96.9 began broadcasting a service to Brixton from inner London on 31st March 1990. It's official format is R&B, Reggae, Rap, Soca, Gospel and local news.  The Choice name is in perhaps a unique position - having two stations of the same name in one city.  

CHOICE 107.1 launched 3rd May 2000 broadcasting a service of Soul, dance, R&B, reggae and local news specifically for North London. 

Both stations broadcast their separate services from 291-299 Borough High Street to a potential audience of six million people.  National and international news is broadcast every hour at peak times during weekdays, followed by local news.  Charity events and non-profit making organisations reflect aims to provide a link with the community, this including a regular community billboard service which is broadcast once every programme.  They even give directions to those who wish to visit the station, reflecting this dedication to the community even further.  

Overall, the music policies of the two stations reflect the diverse multicultural society which exists in London - a 'continuous jams' format attracts a loyal audience.   Interestingly, the stations have been known to operate a 'Peace On The Streets' campaign against the use of guns and for a sense of peace amongst the black community.  They ask for regular feedback on the reasons for such problems, looking for answers of who is to blame, suggesting the education system, the music industry, poverty, parents, and even the black community itself as targets.  

Another interesting part of the station is that it requests interference reports from it's listeners to combat the problem of pirate radio in the Capital.  Choice don't actually use the word 'illegal' in their information, or hint that the pirates shouldn't be doing it anyway, but do state that pirates use inferior and cheap equipment on their respective frequency, resulting in the spreading of their signal to other frequencies, namely Choice FMChoice also say that they suffer more than other radio stations in London because they use lower signal strength.  The station website gives details of a local Government contact point to whom reports should be made.  

NB: Choice used to have a sister station in Birmingham - Choice 102.2 - which never really got to grips in the Birmingham radio market.  It was bought by Chrysalis who then re-formatted and renamed the station under their Galaxy dance radio format.  

At the beginning of 2004 (January), Choice FM had a new owner - Capital Radio plc took control of the remaining 81% of operator Tainside Limited it didn't already own, in exchange for the issue of 2.5m Capital shares which were valued at the time of announcement at almost £12m.   Overall, Choice FM, which operates on two London frequencies, was finally valued at around £15m.  The 96.9FM service has been operating in the South of the Capital since 1990, with the North franchise on 107.1 being in place since 2000.  RAJAR figures as of September 2003 showed 415,000 listeners in London, 312,000 aged 15-34.  The station can also be heard on Digital networks locally in London, North West, Yorkshire, North East and Severn Estuary areas, as well as a place on the West Midlands Multiplex.  The pre-acquisition Choice FM services showed a potential audience of just under 29m people.  It was 25th October 2001 when Capital Radio plc took control of 19% of Choice FM for £3.3m, with an option put in place for them to acquire the rest in the future.  The acquisition clause was accelerated following talks, with all actions ready for completion in the New Year of 2004.  The Choice brand is seen as one of 'excellent investment' by Capital, and one which 'complements' the existing Capital portfolio of London stations.  Capital already sold Choice advertising air-time before the full takeover, and so there were considerable advantages afterwards.  Patrick Berry, non-executive Chairman of Choice FM retained his post at the station, which promotes Hip Hop, R&B and other similar genres.  The brand grew from a very small beginning to the level it is at today.  Choice management saw the arrival of Capital Radio's involvement as being of great security for the station, allowing the retention of the station's sound whilst developing the business opportunities as well. 


CLUB ASIA: March 2002 - the Radio Authority readvertised Liberty Radio's licence to cover the Greater London area - which was then serving around 6.7million people aged 15+.  The new licence would be offered from 3rd July 2002 - the day after the expiry of the existing licence.  An application deadline of 2:00pm on Tuesday 25th June 2002 was set with a non-refundable application fee of £14,500 due. An announcement was due in the November of 2002.  

All together, there were seven applicants for the Liberty Radio licence.  There were two bids from groups offering a children's radio format - Takeover Radio (operators of a trial Access radio station in Leicester) and Abracadabra! (the latter led by former Magpie presenter Susan Stranks and backed by GWR), with the others being from Asian Talk Radio (backed by Sunrise Radio), Club Asia, Planet AM (another Asian broadcaster), Tap Radio (another Asian broadcaster offering a mix of Asian and Western dance and led by Manchester station Asian Sound Radio boss Shujat Ali - he would have rebranded all ASR stations if he'd been successful) Saga Radio (music for the over 50s, led by SAGA plc) and what was then the existing licence holder Liberty Radio (led by Portuguese operator, Universal Difusao).  

Come the November, cometh the new licence holder - and with the amount of Asian broadcasters offering to provide a service, it should have been no surprise when the Radio Authority announced that Club Asia had been awarded the licence. The RA said that they'd been faced with a difficult decision but said that they were impressed with the winning bidder's proposals for a new service appealing to what it called 'an under-served young Asian community in Greater London'.

The winner commenced its new service for the 15-34 Asian age group from July 3rd 2003, licenced for eight years on both the old Liberty Radio frequencies - 963 & 972 AM.  (See below)  At the time, one out of eight Londoners were revealed in a survey as being Asian, with 70% of them being under 34, a set of statistics which were presented to the Radio Authority by the applicants following research which cost around £60,000.  The station, the brainchild of two sisters, Sumerah and Humerah Ahmad, offers a mix of urban and contemporary Asian music, with the likes of Bhangra, Bollywood, Asian dance and pop and some mainstream R&B and garage also featuring.  The successful application saw the end of almost two years of campaigning with the support of both Asian and mainstream music representatives.   The two sister's father Tofail was the Chairman, but he was barred by the Radio Authority from any involvement with the operation of the station because of a conviction for evading customs and excise duty and VAT  - the Chairman is Baroness Flather.  Further backing comes from the Ethnic Media Group (publishers of Asian newspaper 'Asian Eye', Infinity Radio, Usha Parmar, and ex-Liberty Radio station director John Ogden.  As well as operating on 963 and 972 AM in the Capital, Club Asia also broadcasts on SKY digital channel 895 and via a website at: mainly in English but with some contributions in Asian languages too. 

Sumerah Ahmad has admitted that an AM licence is not ideal for the target audience, but said that Asian listeners realised that an FM station was likely to be a long time coming, and therefore, they were "taking what they could get".  Many Asian broadcasters have found it difficult to get mainstream advertisers to support them - so it remains to be seen how Club Asia will perform and whether it will be sufficiently supported by advertisers from the Asian community.  The station operates from Asia House at 227-247 Gascoigne Road, Barking in Essex.

See also VIVA / 963/972 LIBERTY RADIO below.  


LONDON COUNTRY RADIO / COUNTRY 1035 / RTL COUNTRY 1035 / RITZ COUNTRY 1035 / RITZ 1035 / MEAN COUNTRY 1035 / EASY RADIO LONDON / KISMAT ASIAN TALK RADIO (KATR): Country music lovers would probably be quick to tell you that there is a need for a Country Music Radio Station - and the idea for a commercial country station has appeared in several licence bids around the UK without success.  Perhaps one of the reasons that the Radio Authority has not awarded a licence to a Country Music bidder is due to the history of London station Country 1035 which has arguably been chequered to date.  

Following the licence being awarded to Country 1035 Limited, the station launched on September 1st 1994 at 10:35am, (uncanny wasn't it?).  It originally planned to launch as London Country Radio in the January previously and took backing from the Allied Radio Group.  Its appearance on the radio dial came about due to the release of the AM 1035 frequency by BBC Radio Kent which it ceased using and closed down in the April of 1994.   Country 1035 achieved some initially promising audience figures, hitting 3-4% of the potential London-wide audience - and this with an 'all-country' format.  Costs were high (at one time rated at £800,000 per annum) and advertising revenues reported as low.

Within the first few months of station output, the UK subsidiary of German company RTL embarked on a programme to buy into the UK radio business, including Atlantic 252 and Country 1035.  By the November, RTL UK had acquired full control of the company and this is where the new name RTL Country 1035 was set.  RAJAR audience figures showed 400,000 adults were listening to what was early trial listenership periods - this equated to a 4.3% reach in London - an amount to make the station viable had such figures been sustainable long-term.  Apart from slight short-term up-turns, figures would remain low.  

By the October of 1998, sufficient time had passed in which RTL had been making efforts to ditch it's UK interests   By this time, programming on the station was distinctly odd, with large if not total swathes of computer-driven programming with no presenters, certainly not live and in the studio at the time.  These were truly dark days for the station, seemingly an orphan in a vast swirling mass of otherwise frantic radio activity.

To the rescue came Ritz Music Group - the record label behind a plethora of niche country and Irish music artists - and, as a separate business, although under the Ritz umbrella, Country 1035 Ltd continued.  As Ritz already had a well known brand in the form of their record label, Country 1035 became Ritz Country 1035 and latterly Ritz 1035, it being an official operating subsidiary under the Ritz Radio Ltd banner.  Costs were similar, audiences also the same.  Ritz ploughed a significant amount of money in, probably confident if not persistent of turning the ship around and/or keeping it afloat.

As of March 2000, when the last set of accounts were published for the company, cumulative losses were revealed at almost £5m.  Further sets of accounts were never filed.  22nd April 2002 was a rather staggering day in the station's history when Ritz Group Chairman Ron Winter dramatically sacked all presenters working for the station, leading to a completely automated service.  Shortly before this, a press release went into circulation, using station letterheads, claiming presenters were owed thousand of pounds for work carried out over the previous months.  Mr. Winter announced the release as being 'fake' and that the document 'completely undermined' the station and his personal aims for it.  Before this, he'd said that the station was costing £60,000 - £70,000 a month to operate without the input of advertising revenue, and that Ritz Music Group had invested £2.5m in the station whilst also insisting it was reorganised to reduce overheads.  In the financial year 2001-2002, Mr. Winter also said that £750,000 had been put into the station.   Presenters to lose their jobs included breakfast show presenter Dave Cash and Randall Lee Rose.  

In May 2002, following receivership for Country 1035 Ltd, the board of Mean Fiddler Music Group, a leading music industry brand,  moved into the radio business, by purchasing the assets of Ritz Radio Ltd, holders of the Ritz 1035 licence, from the receivers, together with responsibility for and all obligations of the station from 1st June 2002.  Upon acquisition, it intended to develop its media division to include recorded music.  This enabled the Group to cross promote its live events over the radio to what was then an estimated five million people likely to attend events.  The company also intended to use the station to sell advertising and sponsorship packages across both platforms - the radio station providing a valuable sales tool for company merchandise.  

By August 2002, the financial state of Country Music Radio in the UK reached meltdown again, and Ritz Radio Ltd, then broadcasting as Ritz 1035 went into receivership with creditors clamouring for cash.  Earlier in the year, June to be precise, Mean Fiddler had acquired the Ltd company only - but Ritz Radio Ltd still functioned - a bitter feud ensued regarding non-payment of debts by the ailing station.  Mean Fiddler denied all responsibility for the debts.  Presenter Miles Long and Steve England Studios took successful court action against Ritz but not Mean Fiddler - with rumours abound of debts for Ritz Radio being close to £100,000, but this wasn't all - an estimated £200,000 was also owed to EMAP to cover the carriage of station programming on the digital radio platform.  Early September 2002 saw the Radio Authority get together to sort out the transfer of the licence to Mean Fiddler.  By this time, they'd already said that “...if the necessary arrangements are not put in place to satisfy creditors by either party, and the licence cannot be transferred, it will be revoked…”   To this extent, Mean Fiddler had arguably taken a huge gamble.  

Here was a station in crisis.  The Radio Authority didn't want an empty and arguably unattractive frequency on the spectrum, and so had to consider all possibilities, including a change of format.  A decision on the subject of AM licences offered a very late twist on the Ritz Country licence - and if a frequency and broadcast licence was available with the possibility of a change in format to something completely different, the whole thing could be considered to more attractive to a potential buyer - so was the thinking in October of 2002.  

Huge credit then to Mean Fiddler, who stuck to their guns (terrible pun just realised...Ed) and carried on with the Country format.  On 11th October 2002, the Radio Authority said it had agreed to transfer the Ritz Country 1035 licence to Mean Fiddler Group plc from Country 1035 Ltd, which was in liquidation.  The transfer was conditional on Mean Fiddler providing a statement of creditors from June 2002, and confirming they would discharge all debts arising since the beginning of June 2002. The transfer also had to be approved by the liquidator of Country 1035 Ltd and the transfer had to be done and dusted within 21 days.  Subsequently, in mid-October 2002, after two months of protracted legal wrangling, and after liquidators approved the final sale despite an last minute hitch, the deal was done - shares, valued at 55p each when Mean acquired the station from Ritz in June 2002 were, at November 1st, valued at 25p each.  Mean picked up the station in exchange for 464,000 new shares.  Mean Fiddler announced that it planned to relaunch the station as Mean Country 1035AM on October 29th of that year.  The licence was then transferred to Mean's wholly-owned subsidiary, Mean Radio Holdings.  

But what of the debts of Ritz Radio / Ritz Music Group pre-June 2002?  It was nothing to do with Mean - and that's all the must have bothered the new licence holder.  After a pre-launch party held on the 28th October 2002, Mean Country 1035 went live the following morning at 10:35am, the very same time it had launched eight years previously.  It replaced the existing Ritz 1035, and broadcast from Wembley studios on AM, Digital, via the web and there was also a planned launch on the SKY Digital Radio platform in the New Year of 2003.  

The Mean Country 1035 playlist included the classics as well as the latest Country Music artists, and this included cross-over artists such as Nora Jones, Beth Orton, Badly Drawn Boy, Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison.  Presenters included ex-Ocean FM breakfast jock Louise Schofield, another Schofield, ex Metro FM breakfast host Ana, therapist Beechy, Ivor Novello award-winner Carl Smith, BBC radio contributor and Rockabilly fan Neil Bob Herd, BBC radio contributor Bob Paterson, ex Q102 & XFM's Neil O'Brien, author and musician Sid Griffin, and ex-XFM drive presenter Adrian Gibson.  To promote the station, Mean Country 1035 sponsored local music events, broadcasting live from the venues.  

The station licence was redefined by the new owners and the Radio Authority - it stipulated that the music mix would be predominantly mainstream country artists, both traditional and modern.  It also allowed Country rock, rock 'n' roll, and roots country, but not more than 40% of the total music output.  Specialist shows featuring country-associated genres, i.e. Bluegrass, Cajun, Tex-Mex, folk, swing and other similar forms were also permitted.  Speech content had to be between 5% and 20% of the output, including country music news, views and what's on plus other genre-related items of information.    By the release of the first official listening figures, data showed the station had increased listener-ship by 25%.

With all of this firmly in place, the Radio Authority probably heaved a huge sigh of relief as it settled down into its final year of legislative life.  Or so it thought.  In the June of 2003, the management of Sunrise Radio, the London-wide Asian broadcaster (amongst others) indicated an intention to purchase Mean Country 1035 and its owner - Mean Fiddler Group's radio subsidiary.   With the change in licence already done and dusted, the opportunity for format change had passed.  So what was in the minds of Sunrise Radio?  Nevertheless, the Radio Authority initiated a public interest test despite stating it was minded to make a positive determination anyway, as the proposed acquisition of Mean Radio Holdings Ltd by Sunrise Radio Ltd would comply with ownership rules proposed under the forthcoming Communications Act, which was then due to come into force by the end of 2003.  The Broadcasting Act states that a licence holder is not permitted to own another licence in the same broadcast area on the same waveband, unless a public interest test determines that such a scenario would not operate against the public interest.  By the end of August 2003, the RA had concluded that the purchase would not lead to any adverse effects on the London radio market.  Before making its decision the RA considered whether the arrangement would lead to a reduction in plurality of ownership in London, whether there would be an effect on the range of available programmes locally, whether there would be less diversity in the sources of information available locally, and whether there would be less diversity in the sources of opinions expressed on the radio locally.   

And so, in September 2003, Sunrise Radio Ltd took control of Mean Country 1035AM - the station that was specifically for enthusiastic Country music listeners of all ages - the station whose format remained the same, regardless of ownership.  The RA said that any request for changes to format had to approved by them, and that the new owners would have to prove, to their satisfaction, that any proposed change would not narrow the range of programmes available to London people, and that the changes would not substantially alter the character of the service.  With all this clearly understood, Mean Fiddler and the London Country Music licence parted company for a figure in the region of £1.5m.  October saw the name of the station's operating company change from Mean Radio Holdings to Easy Radio Limited.  

Sunrise Radio celebrated - both the acquisition of the AM station and the launch of a separate new station - Yaar Radio.  But the question still remained.  Why would Sunrise Radio want to buy a country music station which appeals to a market it must have little experience in?   Tony Lit, recently appointed to the MD post of Sunrise said "We are Radio operators.  We don't really see ourselves as inferior to indigenous radio operators.  We have a lot of experience running radio stations.  We do it in Sri Lanka, we do it in Mauritius, and those radio stations aren't the same - they speak in different languages.  For me, if I was to win an radio award, it would mean more to me if I was competing against the likes of Capital, Heart, Magic, Kiss and Co.  I want to be measured alongside my peers.  In essence, with its leadership in the Asian market still maintained, the company is aiming to expand out of its traditional market."

Mean Country remained on-air, but there were then plans for a re-launch to turn the station around.  It made a loss of £119,000 in 2002.  2003 saw the first approach to the broadcast regulator to change the format of the new station from 'all-country' to 'country flavoured'.  Permission was granted in November 2003.  The station was subsequently moved from Wembley to Sunrise Radio's Southall HQ and was renamed Easy Radio London / Easy 1035, the licence being owned by Easy Radio Limited, continuing to be available on all the same platforms - AM 1035, SKY Digital Channel 923 and on the London Digital Multiplex.  The Mean Country website was still active as of November 2003 but the station was officially relaunched as Easy Radio London as of 1st December 2003.  Disappointingly, the station's website was not up to scratch either visually or content wise, but subject to the link below still operating, you can check on it's progress for yourself.  Also disappointingly, the output was being transmitted in mono only on the DAB networks, there was no active listen live link at the time of relaunch via the website, and evening and overnight output was merely continuous back-to-back music.  The site listed a whole cross section of posts open to recruitment at the time of relaunch, including presenters, and it was hoped things would improve as the new name became established.  However, general feedback from Londoners via the site guestbook gave rave reviews from an early stage.

As Easy Radio, it ran to a format which specified that the music mix should be predominantly mainstream country artists, whether traditional or modern.  At least 55% of music output could be mainstream country artists, country rock & roll, rock 'n' roll and country cross-over tracks.  Speech was limited to between 10-33% of output.  

Tony Lit said that "...the company is aiming to expand out of its traditional market." at the time Sunrise acquired the AM station.  Compare this statement to the action which was taken by group management in late August, early September of 2004.  A document was submitted to broadcast regulator OFCOM to 'change the character' of the service to provide Kismat Asian Talk Radio (KATR) - a station broadcasting a minimum of 55% speech in the day and 33% outside daytime, with music emphasising Ghazals, Qawaalis and Asian Gold hits.  It said that after a promising start in its first year, Easy 1035 listening figures steadily declined to what it called the "lowest ever level".  It never made a profit, nor reached break-even and cumulative losses were set at somewhere between £6 and £7m, these losses covered by all the owners since the Country service began.  And so it was concluded there is a distinct lack of an audience for country music, in whatever way an operator to date has decided to play it - Sunrise concluded that a 'country music' based format isn't sustainable for 1035 AM - those that liked Country disliked the lack of an all-country format, whilst others disliked the country element.  The owners declared that in the period after acquisition up to December 31st 2003, losses amounted to £141,749.  The first half of 2004, they said, showed equally disappointing results - despite increased sales, on-going running costs and investments resulted in further losses of over £250,000 - losses were lower than before, but Sunrise called the financial situation of the station 'unsustainable'.  On the audience side, Quarter 1 of RAJAR's audience figures for the station showed a lowest-ever level - 0.3%, with each listener doing so for just 1.9 hours per week.

OFCOM has the power to allow a change under conditions which were included in Easy 1035 AM's licence, and in accordance with the 1990 Broadcasting Act, if it is satisfied that it wouldn't narrow the range of programmes available locally, if the change would be conducive to maintaining or promotion of fair and effective competition, and if there is evidence of demand for the change.  In line with the Broadcasting Act, OFCOM initiated a consultation exercise of no less than 28 days to gauge views.  

The industry reported disappointing listening and sales figures for Easy 1035 which, OFCOM said, arguably demonstrated a lack of major demand for a country station in London - its weekly reach at the time was just 0.3% with a market share of a nominal 0.025%.  Quality of output wasn't an issue for OFCOM however, just the wavelength which was perceived as a problem for all music stations in London, except Capital GoldSunrise was already on AM and this led management to conclude that an Asian talk station wouldn't come up against such difficulties.  There was some loyalty to the Easy format, with a pledge by Sunrise to maintain the station in the capital on the third London digital multiplex, where it considers it has a better chance of success - effort then to appease all parties.  Along with the under-performing nature of the 'country-flavoured' service, and the fact that Easy would remain in the marketplace, albeit digitally only, OFCOM felt that the reason for change would fit in with the regulator's plans to 'revitalise' the AM band and adhered to criteria in Section 106 of the 1990 Broadcasting Act.

The consultation exercise continued for a total of 38-days, ten longer than required, until Thursday 14th October 2004, with views and comments welcome from all parties until that date.  Although there were 70 letter of support, undoubtedly, the majority of which were from members of the capital's Asian community, a total of 135 letters of objection were received at Riverside House, the HQ of OFCOM in London - many of the objections stating that the content of Kismat could be carried on the existing station, Sunrise Radio and that the loss of Easy 1035 would narrow the range of services on offer in the commercial sector.   Narrow for non-Asians, not for Asians themselves - despite the consultation exercise takiing place, the majority of objections mattered little.  Was the exercise merely a formality and something OFCOM had to pay lip-service to?

Early in 2004, OFCOM released a trio of controversial decisions allowing changes to format and licences - one of them being the decision to allow the AM demise of Easy 1035, by far the most controversial.  Many argued that it was always Sunrise's intention to buy Asian-targeted radio licences by the back door - so it has came as no surprise that OFCOM allowed the service to convert to Kismat Asian Talk Radio, a heavy speech Asian radio station covering the same area.  There was no requirement to apply for a new licence, despite this basically being a new station and in no way similar to the old one.  Chairman and Chief Exec of Sunrise Radio Group, Avtar Lit, blamed the "failure" of Easy 1035 on the "..inferior sound quality.." of it's wavelength.  "AM is not exactly top of the agenda for people, but on DAB, it will stand a good chance.  The launch of Kismat is excellent news for the Asian community in Greater London, and we are extremely pleased at OFCOM's decision.  It has been a long-winded process." Mr. Lit promised the successor would begin test transmissions shortly, with a full launch in the New Year of 2005.  He said that KATR would '...bring real radio listening choice to Asian Londoners...' and '...will assist in accelerating the assimilation of the Asian community into the national fabric of life.'

Sunrise justified its turn around from it's MD Tony Lit's earlier statement ("...the company is aiming to expand out of its traditional market") by stating that a total of five different owners had failed to make Easy 1035 a success during a decade of transmission history.  One could argue that they'd hardly owned the station for that long themselves, and as a result, hadn't given anywhere near enough time to make a go of it on AM, especially considering it's original licence remit and the early application to change it from 'all-country' to 'country-flavoured' which by it's very nature could be argued was making the station sound more like other London stations, and therefore more justifiable to apply for a change.  

KATR is aimed at Asian adults aged 35 or over around London - there are around 892,000 Asian adults aged 15+, and around 400,000 are aged 35 according to station research.  Sunrise concluded that with 16 city-wide services and many localised stations, the range of programmes offered wouldn't be significantly narrowed by the arrival of the new more narrow targeted service, and would infact offer greater real choice to a wider selection of the population.  A survey conducted in June 2004 showed a preference for music on FM and speech on AM, this, they say, concluded a feeling that the City of London already had enough music stations compared with speech services.  80% of respondents said they would be highly likely to listen to the new service - its own survey concluded Asians would have much less of a problem in listening to an AM station, with more likely to listen the older they get.   Kismat means "essence and surprises of life".  Speech accounts for over half of daytime output, one third at all other times, in both English and Asian.  

The AM 1035 licence is due to expire on 31st August 2009 - it was renewed on 1st September 2001 - part of the remit of the renewal is that the management must do all they can to ensure services continue on the Greater London 3 digital radio multiplex. / 


FLR 107.3 / FUSION 107.3 / TIME 107.3: Having carried out four RSL broadcasts from 1992, (one of them traced to 01/07/1993-28/07/93), much of the First Love Radio (FLR) off-air time was spent campaigning for a full-time licence for South East London.  On 8th January 1998, the Radio Authority finished sifting through a total of eight applications for a new FM licence serving South-East London.  It was the work of First Love Radio, led by station founder and Lewisham resident Stella Headley, along with her application team, that had paid off.   In its application, a full service local radio station was promised, representing the diverse tastes and interests of its target audience by providing a dynamic music mix from the 60s through to the 90s with high quality news and information for the London borough of Lewisham.  

This was the 22nd ILR service to be awarded for Greater London, and came into force as soon as the station took to the air on 8th February 1999.  Providing the London borough of Lewisham with Soul, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Dance, chart hits from the 60s to the 90s, Global, African, Funk, Gospel, Britpop and local news and community info, this is perhaps as diverse as a radio station can get.  In its former guise as FLR 107.3 it commenced broadcasting from studios at Astra House, Arklow Road in the SE14 district of the capital.  UKRD held ownership of the station on the award of the licence in January 1998, however, they disposed of their interests fully in April 2000, and this is where Fusion Radio Holdings came in and the transition to its 2nd on-air name/brand, Fusion 107.3, took place on Monday 4th December of the same year.  It was around this time that the legendary Roger Day joined the Fusion group as Managing Director - this took him to FLR/Fusion as Programme Controller.  

April 2003 saw another owner for the station, when Fusion Radio Holdings were the target of a takeover by the Milestone Group.  The Oxford sister Fusion station was renamed Passion 107.9 under Radio Authority permission.  The Milestone Group then had control of Fusion 107.3 (Lewisham, London), 107.6 Kestrel FM (Basingstoke),  Kick FM (Newbury), Passion 107.9 (Oxford), 107.1 Rugby FM (Rugby), 106.8 Time FM (Thamesmead, London) and Reading 107 (Reading).  

In February 2004, Sunrise Radio Holdings, which already held two London analogue radio licences at the time, plus digital radio services, bought Time 106.8 (Thamesmead), and Fusion 107.3 from Milestone Group for £1.2m.  Both stations had been for sale for twelve months previously - Sunrise also later bought Havering's Soul City FM, rebranding both that station and Fusion 107.3 as Time FM.   The newly acquired stations form part of the Sunrise Empire, but under the separate heading of the London Media Company.  Another station joined the group in May 2004 when Sunrise bought Slough's Star 106.6FM.  

Today, programmes for Time 107.3, which are also targeted at Southwark as well as Lewisham, are broadcast from premises at 2-6 Basildon Road, London to a potential audience of 322,000 adults aged 15+. 


HEART 106.2: Broadcasting from The Chrysalis Building in London's Bramley Road, this slightly up-tempo sister station to the West Midlands first regional (100.7 Heart FM), commenced broadcasting after its counterpart, on 5th September 1995.  Operating an adult contemporary music format, it has made some inroads to the London audience, under the tutorship of Chrysalis Radio.  Prior to this, the record label division was sold to EMI in 1991, and Chrysalis Radio division was set up in 1993.  Since its 1995 launch, Heart 106.2 has become the home to mostly ex-Capital FM jocks.   According to 2003 Quarter 4 RAJAR audience research, Heart 106.2 reaches around 1,901,000 adults, 18% of it's potential audience of 10,343,000 and commands 7% of the London audience aged 25-44.  Residents of the seaside resort of Canvey Island once took offence at a station competition advert, which showed a nice looking tropical beach but with a negative slant towards Canvey Island in the text.  Complaints flooded in to the station as a result of the ad for its 'Dream Ticket' promotion.  As well as broadcasting on 106.2 in London, Heart 106.2 can also be heard on various local cable networks, Sky Digital Channel 874 and on the Greater London DAB Digital Radio Network. 




JAZZ FM London / JFM / JAZZ FM 102.2: Broadcasting from 26-27 Castlereagh Street in London, this specialist station began broadcasting on 4th March 1990 as Jazz FM (London).   Its sister station in the North West started four years later.  This particular station's format is one of jazz, soul, blues and R&B, with regional, national and world news in with the speech content.  The Jazz FM brand belongs to the Guardian Media Group - the 100.4 North West Independent Regional Radio (IRR) MD is the ex-Border Radio/Century boss John Myers.  The service is also available to DTT Freeview customers, on SKY Digital channel 917, via cable TV operators, DAB Digital Radio and on line at  Daytime output includes a general mix of popular jazz and soul music - with evening programming taking on an increasingly more laid back feel as the night progresses.  Specialist shows also feature.  Among well known presenters to appear, there's Tony Blackburn, Paul Jones (Manfred Mann & Radio 2),  and Jim Colvin (Chiltern Radio & Choice FM).  There are also experienced Jazz musicians in the presenter line-up.  As far as regional coverage is concerned, we're talking outwards from the Capital, as far as Stevenage & Luton in Bedfordshire in the North, Chelmsford and Essex, Maidstone & Kent in the East, Camberley & Woking, Guildford, Reigate & Crawley in Surrey to the South, High Wycombe & Hemel Hempstead in Buckinghamshire, and all points in-between, to approximately 10million people.  Although it was known as JFM for a short time, it has now reverted back to it's original branding, albeit with an additional frequency tag.

Would you expect a station called Jazz FM to play Jazz music?  OFCOM don't seem to think so, as it agreed that from Monday 15th November 2004, traditional Jazz can disappear from daytime schedules on the London station and North West 100.4 Smooth FM station previously known as Jazz FM, after the regulator agreed to a  station request for a change of format.  Instead, the station now plays more soul and R&B in daytime hours in a bid to appeal to more listeners and advertisers, however, modern jazz singers, described as being of the likes of Jamie Cullum and Joss Stone, arguably cross over artists anyway, can be heard in the daytime.  Chief Exec of the station owners, Guardian Media Group, John Myers said: "The policy we are going on is ratings by day, reputation by night  Jazz is much more of a night-time listen so the changes fit well."   The station has increased evening Jazz output from 40 to 45 hours per week, with the flagship 'Dinner Jazz' show, lasting three hours per night rather than two.  OFCOM authority for the changes has seen the scrapping of its licence provision stating that '50% of the output in daytime sits well with the term 'Jazz'.  

Audience figures for Jazz FM reached a new high for the three months up to September 2004, with 131,000 new listeners taking total listenership to 845,000.  It aims to have 10% of the audience listening for an average of seven hours per week.  Despite the fact that the station owners have never made a profit in it's 13 year lifetime, Myers expected GMG Radio would record a profit for the first time in 2004 - it reported only a £2.1m loss in 2003, down from £6.3m the year before.  Myers refrained from commenting on suggestions that the group could merge with Chrysalis who, in November 2004, reported flat advertising revenues over recent months and in the wake of the suggestion of a Capital / GWR Merger. 


KINGSTON FM / PALACE FM / 107.8 THAMES FM / 107.8 THAMES RADIO / THAMES 107.8 / 107.8 RADIO JACKIE:  AIRCHECK introduces you to the Dr. Who of radio - the time travelling station.  The initial history of this station can be traced back to 29th June 1992 when a station by the name of Palace FM went on the air to cover the International Flower Show at London's Hampton Court Palace, using a Restricted Service Licence (RSL) from the Radio Authority (RA).  It returned again for the same event for another 28 days, from 25th June 1994.  In between, Kingston FM broadcast across the Kingston district from 27th November 1993.  Following the final Palace FM broadcast, the group concentrated on working towards a full-time licence with further RSL broadcasts coming from 1st May 1994, 28th November 1994 and finally 1st May 1995.  

Having proved the ability to operate, it subsequently won a radio licence to cover South-West London from 1st March 1997 as Thames FM.  As quickly as a year later, 20th April 1998 to be precise, it re-launched in a completely opposite way to other FM stations, who had previously dropped the word 'Radio' to be replaced with FM.  Thames FM became Thames Radio.

Licenced to cover Kingston-Upon-Thames and surrounding areas, the licence covered 24 hour programming, locally produced and presented for at least 18 hours a day during the week, and 12 hours at weekends, with general output being of a full service of music, news, community issues, and information for 25-54 year olds in the broadcast area.  The licence also included a strong focus on news and information - speech not dipping below 25% of the daytime output, 10% off-peak, hourly local news bulletins to run during daytime with national and international news at other times, and an extended news bulletin each weekday.  Musically, Thames was licenced to include popular tracks, half less than seven years old, and half for the 7-35 year age range.  Easy listening and album tracks also featured in the licence.  In addition, country, light classical and tracks older than 35 years were also permitted.  A comforting 16 hours of specialist music featured during off-peak evening programming.  

In July 2002, the Radio Authority published it's 'Programming & Advertising Review' for the second quarter of the year.  Thames Radio featured, but not in a positive light.  The RA had cause to issue what it called a 'yellow-card' because of what it felt was a drop in the level of speech to below the levels quoted in the licence.  It also concluded that the station was including too much recent music and neglecting the older material.  The broadcasting authorities can issue a 'yellow card' if it is felt that the character of service as defined in its licence, is being breached - the 'card' is designed to act as an early warning to stations with the requirement to return within the boundaries of the station format to avoid any further punitive action.  

During its time on-air, the station was affected to some considerable extent by pirates - management claimed that London based pirate interference to it's 107.8 frequency was limiting transmitter range, losing advertising revenue and listeners.  However, complaint to the Authorities came at a price - Thames Radio received what could have been the pirate's payback when a presenter's car was vandalised.  

Now, the time travelling begins.  In March 1969, a station by the name of Radio Jackie spent just 30 minutes on-air, illegally, from a studio in Sutton.  Very soon afterwards, the station returned for longer each Sunday - providing the very first opportunity ffor listeners to enjoy local radio.  Such were the achievements of the station, Parliament heard a recording of station output three years later, as the Sound Broadcasting Bill was considered by a Parliamentary Committee.  The recording was presented as a demonstration of how local radio could be.  1983 saw Radio Jackie go 24 hours - spawning the radio careers of TV illusionist Paul McKenna and BBC Radio 1's Dave Pearce - programmes coming from studios in Worcester Park, South West London, and beamed to a transmitter at North Cheam.  Such was the prominence of the station, a shop, manned by paid staff, was opened, providing listeners to opportunity to wear station colours to demonstrate their support.  There were regular community events and opportunities to raise money for local charity - and local business had the opportunity to advertise to people likely to put custom their way.  The station was VAT registered and could be found in the local phone book.  

These were truly heady days, and Radio Jackie was arguably showing the big boys how radio should be done.  Local councils passed motions calling for it to be licenced - remember, it was still broadcasting illegally.  In 1984, over 50,000 people signed a petition further adding weight to local support - surveys showed the station to be one of the most popular in the area of South West London - and both national and local television and press jumped on the bandwagon, throwing their support behind the station.   But this positive was not without a negative, and a series of raids by the authorities took their toll.  

In 1985, the man behind the long-serving station, Tony Collis, was forced to shut down 'the sound of South-West London' on 227m, 1332khz - Radio Jackie, after 15 years of operation, albeit illegally on 4th February 1985.  Many people went to the premises of the station in Worcester Park as the final programme went to air - with Radio Jackie determined to fight on for the right to be on-air.  

Ten years after this closedown, in 1996 to be precise, Tony made efforts to bring the station back as a legal broadcaster when the South-West London licence was advertised.  Radio Jackie proposed a very detailed set of plans with a lot of community content, but, possibly due to the fact that the Radio Authority could not be seen to be rewarding illegal broadcasting, Thames FM were awarded the community radio licence for the area.   By all accounts, Radio Jackie looked destined to vanish into broadcasting history.  Meanwhile on-air, and despite the re-branding and re-launching as detailed above, Thames struggled in what is, as you can see from the amount of content on this page, a very competitive radio market.

In the early part of 2003, Thames 107.8 was put up for sale.  After regrouping the original management team, the Radio Authority gave consent for Radio Jackie Ltd to take over the financially struggling Thames Radio for the price of just £1, but they also inherited station debts at the same time.  As at June 2003, an automated service was being aired on 107.8 across the South West of London - and as of late July 2003, the station was expected to relaunch as Radio Jackie, with some of the original presenter team also involved.  It later re-launched as 107.8 Radio Jackie - 'the Sound of South West London', on Sunday 19th October 2003.  Back in the 1980s, research showed a reach of 28%.  Figures from the period of takeover showed Thames Radio to be hitting just 0.2% in audience share - something the Jackie team must be looking to improve on.  

The station broadcasts from studios within The Old Post Office, 110-112 Tolworth Broadway, in Surbiton, 


KISS 100: Certainly a brand name, but on a national basis, it is a name to appeared and then disappear - for example, ex-Kiss stations aare now Galaxy stations.  The only Kiss station to have survived, is not surprisingly in London.  It launched on a legal basis as far back as 1st September 1990, but was previously on the air up to 1988 illegally, with the DTI chasing the 'pirates' around.  In 1988, the station went off the air voluntarily to apply for a legal licence.  The first application failed even though the station could argue a large amount of support was there.  Truth then that once you've been a pirate, just because you go off-air and propose to do it legally, it doesn't mean that you'll be given a licence.  There was obviously some work to do by the Kiss team.  

However, the Radio Authority soon announced further radio spectrum space - once more, the application went in, and on the second attempt, the application was successful, two years after the station went off as a pirate.  Playing with fire, the station launched with a pirate radio anthem - 'Don't Call Us Pirates Cause We Play What The People Want' from studios on Holloway Road in London.  A free station launch concert was staged in Central London - some stories reported that that event had to be cancelled when in excess of 250,000 people turned up, however Stephen Jones told AIRCHECK: '...the launch part wasn't actually cancelled - I was there and it was amazing!  But yes, 250,000 people descended on Highbury and the Police had to close the London Underground, and stop nay more people from coming into the park.  Amazing days.  I used to love Kiss years ago when they were a bonafide soul and dance station, but these days, they have moved towards very mainstream r'n'b and commercial dance sadly.'  The London launch party attendance was a clear indication of the support the station had from its illegal years.  It is nevertheless the only surviving UK Pirate station to be legalised.  Things have got better under Emap's tenure with the launch of a satellite TV music channel using the same name.  

It currently broadcasts a dance, national news, dance-related news & information service for Greater London on 100FM from studios at Mappin House, at 4 Winsley Street London.  It is operated by Emap Performance and is a Sony Award winner having won the 2002 Best Station Sound Award.  Well known presenters to have graced the legal airwaves, include Soul II Soul's Jazzie B, Wyclef Jean, Craig Charles, Dani Behr, Trevor Nelson, Robbie Vincent and Lisa I'Anson.

The audio service is also available via DTT Freeview Channel 82. SKY Digital Channel 928, via the Digital radio networks and on-line at 


LBC/NEWS DIRECT 97.3/CROWN FM/LONDON TALKBACK RADIO/LBC 97.3/LBC NEWS 1152: LBC has the honour of being the first ILR station to open in the UK.  Labour leader Harold Wilson joined a host of other politicians to record audio greetings for the station.  Wilson maintained party opposition to the station, but welcomed the radio equivalent of ITN.  At 6:00am on 8th October 1973, the first words aired were "This is London Broadcasting, the news and information voice of independent radio".  It originally started broadcasting from studios at Gough Square on 791 meters but later moved to 261 metres (1152KHz). (It is a little known fact that news provider IRN was a sister service to LBC, but with the development of the commercial radio network, subscribers became shareholders and so IRN broke away in the late 80s.)  

An attempt to buy LBC/IRN was made by Australian media mogul David Haynes from the Canadian company Selkirk Communications in 1987.  The IBA refused permission for the sale to go through.  LBC was also transmitted on 97.3 until the station was acquired by Crown Communications in 1989 who split the frequencies and moved location to a back street London suburb and a rented office block.  This led to the launch of LBC Crown FM on 97.3FM and London Talkback Radio on 1152AM.  A large amount of rot set in at this stage with a crash in property prices, and a mass exodus of listeners and money.  It had previously paid a peppercorn rent at Gough Square!  The licence was lost in 1994 when the Radio Authority withdrew it.  IRN, still a tenant, moved to the main ITN building in Grays Inn Road.  

In September 1993, the original LBC sought a reversal of the Radio Authority decision to take away its licence and give it to London News Radio. Dame Shirley Porter, Chairperson of the station, launched a petition and planned to campaign on air for LBC to be allowed to keep its licence.  In October of the same year, LBC abandoned plans to launch a judicial review of the decision to remove its licence.  It said at the time that the procedure would be too expensive,  time consuming and with little chance of success.  Instead it planned to focus on applying for the third Independent National Radio licence, to be advertised in December of 1993.  LBC's decision was presented to 1500 listeners at a rally held in the September.   The RA warned LBC about possible sanctions because of its planned protest campaign, saying it was concerned that LBC was breaching impartiality rules by giving the high level of time to the campaign and associated problems.  Station management subsequently told presenters that direct attacks on the RA would have to stop. 

Complaints about the treatment of LBC flooded into the RA, to such an extent that a temporary secretary had to be taken on to deal with the postbag!  In response, the RA said its decision to award the licence to London News Radio was made on merit.  It was not required to elaborate under broadcasting legislation, legislation which has since been amended due to several award disputes..

In March 1994, LBC made plans to become part of the London News Radio consortium, even offering to sell the LBC name to its successor.  LNR was still on course to replace LBC on October 8th of the same year.  But, in April 1994, the original LBC went into receivership following the failure of its bid for the third INR station, which was awarded instead to Talk Radio UK.

The Radio Authority previously awarded the franchise to a group led by the former LBC MD Peter Thornton, but his group didn't have the financial clout to launch and sold out to Reuters which was one of the opposition bidders.  London News Radio won the re-awarded licence in 1995.  As part of London News Radio, London First and London Extra were awarded the FM and AM licences respectively, replacing those held by LBC and London Talkback.   Ownership of LBC changed again in 1996 with a consortium which included, Reuters, GWR and ITN - the original LBC format returned on the medium wave frequency and this saw a return of some familiar names from the station's past: Douglas Cameron, Steve Allen, Peter Deeley, Therese Birch, Tim Crook, Clive Bull, Steve Jones, Brian Hayes & Pete Murray.  The AM service remained as LBC but the FM service became News Direct 97.3FM.

On the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, 31st August 1997, LBC & News Direct abandoned programming for a comprehensive reporting service on the terrible events.  It was the first UK station to report her death.  LBC received a deluge of letter from listeners who appreciated the fact that it had found the right tone and approach.  

2002 saw one possible and then a definite further change in ownership.  In mid-July of that year,  a £10million sale of the station to financial news broadcaster and information provider Bloomberg, fell through at the very last minute.  If the deal had been completed, they planned to model a relaunch on New York station WBBR-AM.  Instead, the same year,  Chrysalis Radio (Heart & Galaxy brands) purchased the LNR stations and began an immediate revamp for a 2003 relaunch.  This relaunch included putting LBC and its talk-format back on FM.  News Direct's rolling news service moved to LBC's 1152 frequency.  

Fresh from the purchase of the AM & FM stations, Chrysalis Radio announced who would be doing what when LBC moved to FM 97.3 from 6th January 2003 at 5:00am with Charlie Gibson presenting 'Dawn Traders'.  Top names from TV, radio and newspapers would provide the mix of presentation staff who provide London with what was described as a 'compelling mix' of travel, news and entertaining debate.  

The Breakfast Show (6:00 - 9:00) featured BBC Broadcaster John Nicholson and renowned Sun journalist and TV presenter Jane Moore along with IRN stalwart, the man with the name which rhymes with 'NEWS', Howard Hughes.  Also appearing were Times columnist Andrew Pierce for political commentary and ex-BBC news and Come Dancing presenter Angela Rippon, as the station's Arts Correspondent.  Drive time (16:00 - 19:00) featured ex-SKY News anchorman Frank Partridge, joined by Caroline Feraday, star of Five Live and GMTV.

The LBC 97.3FM launch line-up also included (Channel) FIVE's Matthew Wright (The Wright Stuff) and Krishnan Guru-Murthy (ex BBC Newsround and presenter of Channel Four News), ITN's news anchor Katie Derham (also of Classic-FM) and TV personality Roland Rivron.  GMTV presenter Penny Smith presented the only music based chat show, and Boy George spoke in an hour of his own news and views.  Station favourites to remain and feature include Nick Ferrari, Clive Bull and Steve Allen, but apart from these names, the line up has evolved since.  

LBC 97.3 is a news and entertainment speech station, with LBC NEWS 1152 operating as a rolling news service.  Traffic and travel for both stations comes from the new Chrysalis Radio travel centre in West London's group HQ, plus there's a link up with the AA and use of LBC's very own traffic helicopter.   Apart from output on the London AM & FM frequencies, you can also listen on-line, and the LBC 97.3 service is also available on SKY Digital Audio Channel 927. 


LONDON GREEK RADIO: Serving North London with sports, religious, family affairs, health matters, art, interviews, competitions, links with Greece, talk shows, educational programmes and dedications, this distinctly targeted radio station came to air 13th November 1989.  It broadcasts on 103.3FM from studios at Florentia Village on the Vale Road to an estimated targeted audience, i.e. Greeks from Cyprus and mainland Greece living in the Capital, of 300,000.  Boasting the accolade of being one of the first stations specifically for an ethnic community in the UK, the station also boasts listenership from the Arab, Armenian, Italian, Jewish, Spanish, Turkish Cypriot and Maronite Cypriot communities.  The station had its eight year licence renewed by the Radio Authority in 1994 and is now licenced to broadcast until New Year's Eve 2010.  It fought off competition for the licence from eight other groups: Greek Radio London, London Community Radio, Gold Star FM, Greek Community Radio, London Irish Radio, Turkish Radio UK and the West Indian Broadcasting Service.                                                 


LONDON TURKISH RADIO: The earliest roots of this radio station can be traced back to 1990, when, for four years, it provided just 1 hour per day from Midnight to 1:00am as Turkish Radio on Spectrum Radio's 558AM frequency.  LTR now provides programmes for the Turkish and Turkish-speaking community of Haringey and surrounding boroughs of North London.  It was awarded a licence by the Radio Authority in 1994, and came to air on 17th August 1995 from studios at 185b High Road in the Wood Green area of North London using 1584AM to broadcast.  Just under eight years into its first eight year licence term, the Radio Authority (RA) pre-advertised the station licence from 7th March 2002.  To this end, the RA was seeking declarations of intent to apply for the licence which would then determine how it dealt with the due renewal / reconsideration of the licence then held by Turkish Radio (UK) Ltd.  The station provides coverage for an area which houses around 1.7m adults aged 15 or over - around 800,000 of them reside in the Haringey area.

Prospective licencees had until Tuesday 9th April 2002 to submit a declaration to apply for the licence, with a non-refundable fee of £8,000 along with a deposit of £40,000, refundable upon the receipt of a valid application.  Had only LTR have applied, the station could have been re-awarded the licence under 'Fast-Track' procedures.  Any uncontested licence would require the retention of the existing format.  The arrival of a 2nd declaration of intent by the closing date led the RA to formally re-advertise the licence, up for renewal from 17th August of 2003, with freedom for anyone to apply, not just the groups that formally declared.  

The licence was formally readvertised in the early part of May 2002 with a closing date of 6th August 2003.  By this date, the two groups who had submitted a declaration of intent, were the only groups to formally apply.  

LONDON TURKISH RADIO (TURKISH RADIO (UK) LTD.), the existing licensee proposed to provide cultural, educational, entertaining and informative speech and music programming for the first, second and third generations of Turkish and Turkish-speaking communities in London; and

TURK RADIO LTD proposed to provide programmes mostly in Turkish and occasionally in English for the Turkish-speaking community, with a wide range of news, music and educational themes.


Having concluded their deliberations, on 7th November 2002, it re-awarded the licence to the existing licencee, LTR.  The RA felt that the winning bidder had presented 'cogent' plans for the future of the licence and an application which it said 'competently addressed the criteria for a licence award'LTR proposed to carry on with its wide-ranging station for the Turkish, Turkish Cypriot, Kurdish and Azeri communities, which make up a large part of the target area.  An audience survey commissioned by the station, and submitted with their application, showed a great level of satisfaction amongst its audience, and as a result, no real adjustment to the format was deemed necessary.  It provides a music-led service with an emphasis on news and information, as well as educational and cultural programming.  


The most noticeable change for the second licence period was the reduction in speech content during daytime hours, this despite an overall increase in the specific speech-only programmes aired.  There was scope for an increase in English programming to appeal to younger listeners - the news output consists of IRN news followed by hourly home & mixed news from 7:00am to Midnight (8:00am at weekends) with bulletins of between 3 and 8 minutes each using material from state broadcasters TRT (Turkey) and BRT (Northern Cyprus) as well as IRN.  Musical output consists of a mix of Turkish music, with particular emphasis on popular genres 'Turkish Classical', 'Turkish Folk' and 'Turkish Pop', as well as Azeri, Kurdish and Arabesque music.  For its second licence term, the station began to achieve revenue growth and demonstrated to the RA its ability to provide a service, as well as demonstrating support from local business and charity/educational organisations.  It is now licenced until 16th August 2011.  Further information can be viewed via the station website at  


VIVA RADIO / 963/972 AM LIBERTY RADIO: OFF-AIR ON AM IN LONDON : BBC Radio Kent lost their 963khz AM frequency in 1994.  On 3rd July 1995, the Radio Authority awarded a Greater London radio licence to Radio Viva Ltd to run from 3rd July 1995.  Viva 963 launched as a station aimed at a female audience, but the females of London never seemingly took to it.  It was founded by Lynne Franks.  

In May 1996, the media subsidiary of Harrods, Liberty Publishing, bought Viva Radio for £3m, and by the October of the same year, was preparing to launch a new London radio station called 963 Liberty Radio - the man behind the station, was the multi-millionaire owner of Harrods, Mohammed Al-Fayed, who spent £7.5m in the first year to help get it established from November 29th including getting pop-superstar Michael Jackson to promote it.  The station broadcast from the 7th floor of Trevor House, at 100 Brompton Road in London's SW3 district with 'more tunes, more chat, more fun' promised.  The station themed itself on adult orientated music and chat - and was popular, although not to the extents where it was taking audience from the FM giants, its frequency perhaps a hurdle towards such moves.  963khz operated from an East London transmitter with a second transmitter operating on 972khz from West London a couple of years into the licence term.  

In July 1998, the Radio Authority (RA) imposed a £4,000 fine on Liberty after it considered that the station failed to comply with it's Promise Of Performance, for breaches of the Authority's Programme Code and for failing to supply tapes of station output on demand.  Previously, the RA had carried out some monitoring of station output following it's relaunch as Liberty.  They identified that speech levels fell below the 50% level required and that the predominantly seventies music policy didn't comply with the promise owing to the lack of up to date vocal hits and an insufficient quantity of tracks in some other categories.  They also aired their concern that a presenter was heard 'editorialising' on the news within a news bulletin - the presenter heard giving his views on what he 'disparagingly called open government' in connection with an item on nuclear waste in Scotland.  The Broadcasting Act of 1990 requires the Broadcast Regulator to do all within its powers to ensure news is accurate and duly impartial.  The station was additionally deemed to have been unable to provide the RA with tapes of the output for several periods - the same act requests stations to keep their output for 42 days after live airing.  The RA can request an apology or correction, can impose a financial penalty, shorten or revoke the licence - all fines are given to the Treasury's Consolidated Funds Account.  

Another landmark moment in the station history was the arrival of a third owner in late July 2000.  A Christian evangelical sect, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, originating in Brazil, bought the station from Mr. Al-Fayed.  The church pledged not to use the station, then a speech and music orientated station for young women, to spread unorthodox messages such as suggestions that diseases are caused by demons and prayer can rid them of debt.  It did say that it would target people in difficult situations during late night and early morning broadcasting.  The Chief Exec, Renato Cardoso, said that they were not intending to use lots of airtime to serve the church, but when asked whether the church contact number would be aired, he said it would depend on the circumstances.  He denied that they would be proselytising on-air, something not permitted by the RA Programme Code.  On completing the acquisition, the Church hoped to boost listenership from 50,000 to 400,000 and planned to run the station as an effective commercial enterprise to add to what it called extensive international business interests.  The sect was founded by a lottery shop assistant, Edir Macedo in 1977 - it has a following numbering in the millions, and interests in TV and radio stations in Brazil as well as owning a Rio de Janeiro football club.  It tried to buy Brixton Academy in 1995 unsuccessfully, but acquired the Rainbow Theatre in London instead.  When the news of Liberty's takeover was announced to staff in a memo, station director John Ogden and his deputy Louise Wood both resigned in protest.  Many staff announced intentions to leave fearing that the station would become a sect mouthpiece.  The sale, which was believed to be in the region of £4m, therefore making Mr. Al-Fayed some profit, was allowed by the Radio Authority as long as the existing station format was maintained.  

March 2002 - the Radio Authority readvertised the Liberty Radio licence to cover the Greater London area - which was then serving around 6.7million people aged 15+.  The new licence would be offered from 3rd July 2002 - the day after the expiry of the existing licence.  An application deadline of  2:00pm on Tuesday 25th June 2002 was set with a non-refundable application fee of £14,500 due.  An announcement was due in the November of 2002.  

All together, there were seven applicants for the Liberty Radio licence.  There were two bids from groups offering a children's radio format - Takeover Radio (operators of a trial community radio station in Leicester) and Abracadabra! (the latter led by former Magpie presenter Susan Stranks and backed by GWR), with the others being from Asian Talk Radio (backed by Sunrise Radio), Club Asia, Planet AM (another Asian broadcaster), Tap Radio (another Asian broadcaster offering a mix of Asian and Western dance and led by Manchester station Asian Sound Radio boss Shujat Ali - he would have rebranded all ASR stations if he'd been successful) Saga Radio (music for the over 50s, led by SAGA plc) and the existing licence holder Liberty Radio (led by Portuguese operator, Universal Difusao).  

Come the November, cometh the new licence holder - and with the amount of Asian broadcasters offering to provide a service, it should have been no surprise when the Radio Authority announced that Club Asia had been awarded the licence. The RA said that they'd been faced with a difficult decision but said that they were impressed with the winning bidder's proposals for a new service appealing to what it called 'an under-served young Asian community in Greater London'.  As of February 2003, Liberty Radio was the least successful in the UK according to RAJAR/IPSOS-RSL audience figures, accounting for just 0.1 per cent of all radio listening in the capital, the lowest share of any station subscribed to RAJAR.  

The 30th May 2003 saw Liberty become a non-stop music station for it's final twelve days on-air in London.  It ceased transmissions on June 10th 2003.  In its time, it included such star names as Dave Cash, David Hamilton, Charlie Jordan, Sean Bolger, Nino Firetto and Toby Anstis, to name just a few.  The station's website then retained the station logo, plus a request to fill in to fields to submit name & e-mail address to receive an e-mail 'when the station is up and running again.'  Subsequently, the station can now be heard solely via the internet and on SKY Digital Channel 936 and uses the strapline: 'Radio that sets you free'.  


MELODY FM 104.9 / London's MAGIC 105.4 MELODY FM / MAGIC 105.4: Owned by the Hanson Trust company chairman Lord Hanson, Melody FM launched on 104.9FM for the over-35 age group of London on 9th July 1990.  It was renowned for using a couple of straplines: '...the stress-free way to spend your day' and '...Melody FM, your relaxation station...'.  The idea was to play light and easy listening, melodic tunes, and this it did - attracting a number of high profile presenters in it's time: Graham Dene & David Hamilton, being prime examples.   In 1996, many South London listeners lodged complaints regarding interference from BBC Southern Counties Radio - and following a bulging postbag, the station transferred frequencies to its present site on the FM dial - 105.4.  (Following technical corrections, the old 104.9 frequency was licenced to alternative music station, XFM(See below)

Almost eight years into its first licence, in April 1998, EMAP informed the Radio Authority (RA) that it intended to buy Melody FM.  As EMAP already owned the London station Kiss 100, the RA declared it would be holding a public interest test to assess whether permitting the acquisition would lead to a reduction in plurality of ownership of local radio services in the area, whether there would be an effect on the range of commercial radio programmes, and whether there would be an adverse effect on the diversity of information sources in the broadcast area.  In their support, EMAP submitted a document to the Radio Authority as well as opinions declared by other interested parties through public consultation.  

A major concern raised was that likely changes to programming and broadcast presentation style may reduce the choice of listening - the Broadcasting Regulator has the power to impose conditions which protect the character of a service when a change of owner takes place.  On granting permission for the takeover to proceed, the Radio Authority set in place some amendments to Melody's Promise Of Performance to ensure that the unique Melody style was retained post takeover.

So, in June 1998, EMAP took full control of Melody FM for £25m.   With their intended further roll-out of the Magic brand, minor rebranding of Melody showed as a strapline of 'Melody - the Magic of London'  was brought in, followed by 'London's Magic 105.4 Melody FM'.  This was then, a subtle change of name over time, so as to sub-consciously get listeners to accept a change without them really noticing.  The Melody name was finally dropped at the end of 1998.  Despite the takeover and change of name to Magic 105.4, the station retains an original, and easily identifiable sound in the Capital, keeping it apart from the national network of Radio 2.  The Magic station is now the mother-ship for the AM services around the northern part of England, owned by EMAP.  The station currently broadcasts from their London HQ, also the home to Kiss 100, Mappin House, 4 Winsley Street, in the West 1 postal district of London but was formerly at the old Melody studios of 97 Tottenham Court Road.  The licence was renewed for a further eight years by the Radio Authority on 26th October 2001 - for the period 1st January 2002 to 31st December 2009.  The Magic radio brand has now been joined by one of EMAP's Television music stations, using the same name.  Ex-offshore station Radio Scotland presenter, and ex-Capital boss and BBCTV Fame Academy boss Richard Park is the consultant to the station. (Magic Network home page @


PREMIER RADIO / PREMIER CHRISTIAN RADIO: It was 10th June 1995 when religious radio got the chance to take to the air, albeit on AM airwaves.  Broadcasting from the appropriately named Chapter Street in the London SW1 Victoria district, it provides news, current affairs and lifestyle issues reflecting the values and beliefs of the Christian faith.  Music aired on the station is designed to reflect Christian life as well as traditional and contemporary styles.  Broadcasts come from five transmitters using three frequencies for London and around the M25 catchment area: 1413AM (Heathrow) (West) for Maidenhead, Camberley, Staines, Harrow, Watford, 1413 (Dartford) (East) for Chelmsford, Brentwood, Dartford, Maidstone & Sevenoaks, 1305 (Enfield) (North) for Stevenage, Bishops Stortford, Harlow and Hertford, 1305 (South) (Ewell) for Crawley, Guildford, Reigate and Woking, and 1332 (Bow) for London, including Barnet and Croydon.  The station can also be heard on the local cable television service (NTL) on channel 886 and nationally via SKY DIGITAL on Channel 873.  

Premier Christian Radio aims to provide a platform for others to be heard, with editorial content designed to emphasise common beliefs and values from within the Christian community, but does not hold firm places for particular religious denominations, theologies, political or doctrinal views.  Output is produced and presented by both paid staff and volunteers, the latter numbering over 150.  Premier is commercially funded.  


SPECTRUM RADIO: Mention the frequency on which this radio station operates - 558kHz - and most radio buffs would instantly flash back to the 1980s and offshore station Laser 558, or when they came off the air in 1985, Radio Caroline for a full five yearsAt the time of award, our site research has shown that Spectrum were assured that Caroline's power was too weak to cause difficulty to the newly licenced land-based station.  Caroline were angered by the allocation of this frequency due to the fact they had been using it for five years.  Spectrum were told that 558 was the only available frequency.  Unhappy with this, Spectrum management declared their intention to seek compensation from the IBA - who, after considering the threat, alllowed a simulcast on 990AM whilst Caroline continued out at sea, with the IBA hoping that 558AM output from Spectrum would hinder transmissions emanating from Caroline.  After the airing of test transmissions from May 19th, Spectrum launched on 25th June 1990.

1990 saw a major reworking of British Broadcasting law.  With the 1990 Broadcasting Act came a new regulator - the Radio Authority.  The initial version of the new Act referred only to marine radio, but at the last minute, a new section was added giving UK armed forces the power to board radio ships anchored out at sea, to silence them using whatever force necessary.  Future boarders seeking to do the same were granted immunity from prosecution within the document.  Despite a Caroline fight which went to the House of Lords, and the support of around 30 peers, the Government won.  Caroline continued using 558khz until November 5th 1990 - Neil Gates closed the sea-based station down with a view to returning the following morning.  Caroline never returned, and Spectrum had 558khz all to themselves.  The frequency is now the home to London's multi-ethnic, multi-continental, multi-language station Spectrum 558 / Spectrum Radio.  

With the 1990 launch came the first opportunity for the Chinese, Spanish, Asian and Italian communities of London to have a voice on the airwaves - community news and information, music and chat and current affairs from their homeland and more besides.  Since that time, the station has expanded to be truly international in its output, thus making it stand out prominently from any other commercial radio station in the UK, and perhaps the World.  London is a multi-cultural City and many individual and intertwining communities.  As at the time of writing this profile, there are 25 separate target audiences receiving airtime on the station - the station has a potential audience of over 13million people.  As well as broadcasting on its conventional analogue AM transmitter at 558kHz, it is also available on the second London-wide digital multiplex - the 'Digital-only' service carries separate programming for London-based communities not already catered for on the AM frequency - this further enhancing the truly international appeal of this station.  The following communities feature on Spectrum Radio; African, American, Arabic, Australian, Bangladeshi, Canadian, Chinese, Ethiopian, Irish, Italian, Mauritian, Russian, Sikh, Spanish, Swedish, and Tamil.  For a full schedule of the different time slots in which each community can find programming, please see    The station was based at Endeavour House near Brent Cross Shopping Centre in the North West of London, but it can now be found in the SW8 postal district at the International Radio Centre, 4 Ingate Place, London.  Weblink: 


SUNRISE RADIO: Monday 5th November 1989: this was the date that the first UK 24 hour Asian Radio station and the World's first independent 24-hour Asian Radio station launched for Asians of West London.  Within just a few years of launch, it became one of the most successful commercial UK based radio stations, serving a community that was largely underserved, both for the purposes of the Asian world's UK business and marketing opportunities and for general entertainment.  Within two years, the service launched, on 15th April 1991, via the Astra satellite when transponder space was hired from British Sky Broadcasting - from here the station can now be heard across the UK & Europe.  But this wasn't all.  The availability of the Sunrise service was swiftly taken up by many cable TV providers too.

The bidding process for radio licences can be fierce, particularly in London, and in 1993, a total of almost 50 bids went in to the Radio Authority for one of eight frequencies in the Greater London area.  Beating off the others, Sunrise Radio Ltd launched Sunrise London on 1458AM to Greater London and the Home Counties.  

In June 2001, the Radio Authority fined the station £10,000 for what it deemed was a breach of the 1990 Broadcasting Act.  On 20th March 2001, the station aired two excerpts from an interview with Dr. Avtar Lit, station owner and then a proposed candidate in the General Election.  The offending elements concerned his views on alleged political dissatisfaction of the residents of Ealing, Southall, and his proposals for the constituency.  Such expressions of opinion on politically controversial matters by providers of Independent Local Radio services are specifically prohibited by law.   RA Members decided at their meeting on 6 June that, whilst the station admitted the error, and had also not committed any further breaches, the interview breached Section 90(2)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1990.  The RA emphasised their concern of what implications the breach had for compliance related issues at the station.  The RA asked station management to assure them that suitable action would be taken to ensure no further breaches of the Broadcasting Act were made.  The then Chair of the Radio Authority, Richard Hooper said "Those who hold radio licences should be in no doubt that they may not use that privileged position to publicise their own views on political matters.  The Broadcasting Act and our Codes make it clear that this applies at all times, not just during elections."

The Broadcasting Act of 1990 (Section 90(2)(b)) requires 'that… there are excluded from … programmes all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters (other than sound broadcasting) which are of political or industrial controversy or relate to current public policy.'  The Act states that where a breach is confirmed, the broadcast regulator can either request an apology or correction, issue a formal warning, or impose a penalty including a fine or the shortening or revocation of the station's licence.  Fines are not kept by the regulator, but are instead passed to the Treasury.   There have been no further breaches by the station since.  Source: 

Sunrise Radio can be heard around the country on Digital Multiplexes, (London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton) via Digital Satellite, Digital Cable and via the Internet too.  RSL broadcasters are particularly grateful to Sunrise, as it is from the SKY Channel 883 that many take the IRN news service - part of the terms of Sunrise taking it is that they leave the beginning and end of the bulletins clean, i.e. without any music or speech, so that RSL broadcasters can use the service in return of a small payment to IRN.

2002 saw the parent company apply unsuccessfully for the 963/972 AM licence previously held by Liberty Radio.  See VIVA / 963/972 LIBERTY above.  In 2003, Sunrise Radio Limited were given permission to acquire fellow AM London station Mean Country 1035 from parent company Mean Media.  See elsewhere on this page for more details.  Latterly, they've also acquired a string of other regional stations, renaming many under the Time FM brand (see below) and holding them under the London Media Company moniker.  Headquarters are at Sunrise Radio House, Sunrise Road, Southall, Middlesex. .   


107.8 THAMES FM / 107.8 THAMES RADIO / THAMES 107.8:  See KINGSTON FM above.


RADIO THAMESMEAD (RTM) / MILLENNIUM RADIO / MILLENNIUM 106.8 / 106.8 TIME FM: Formerly heard exclusively on the Thamesmead cable system as a community radio station, it spent many years campaigning for a full FM broadcast frequency.  In 1989, their hard work paid off when Radio Thamesmead Ltd, operated by Thamesmead Town Ltd, was awarded a licence to broadcast to South East London by the Radio Authority.  It launched as RTM Radio on 18th March 1990.  Four years later, in January 1994, a full eight-year licence was re-awarded to the station.  (It faced just one opponent for its licence from Thames Radio Group.)

The station was to be run entirely not for profit, with any excess funding steered into community based projects and to improve station facilities.  Over its time on air, a diverse mix of specialist programming was broadcast, along with regular input from members of the public - a group of nearby houses were where adequate production facilities were housed.  

In September 1999, the Radio Authority gave permission for the station, which had then changed its name to Millennium Radio, to choose two ethnic communities it wished to provide a community radio service for.  Previously, a three-month trial period had been agreed in which no Asian music programming was carried.  It's broadcast licence had, in the past, obliged the station to feature Asian music programming within the schedule.  It also provided a set of programmes for Vietnamese and Africans but these were not part of the licence remit.  The RA, acting with a light touch policy, considered it inappropriate to give orders to a mainstream station as to which minorities it should provide a service for. The Millennium format was subsequently amended with the inclusion of the elements for the minorities of the station's choice - those being Vietnamese & African, although stating that they could still expand to feature Asian programming if they decided to.  This was based on the varying nature and volume of the make up of each ethnic community in the Capital - and allowed such a free rein for the station providing they were obliging their community remit.  

1991 Census figures showed less than 4% of the people living in Bexley & Greenwich, the station broadcast area, were of Asian origin.  This was in contrast to letters and petitions received by the RA regarding Asian programming on the station during the three month trial period - a contributing factor to the RA decision was based on the fact that a large proportion of mail received was actually from outside the Millennium broadcast radius.  

A year later, the station was sold to Milestone Pictures Group, who were already running YouthFM on the internet, Sky Digital and using the Radio Authority Restricted Service Licences (RSLs).  At this point, RAJAR - audience figure providers - concluded that of almost 800,000 possible listeners, 2% of all adults were listening, that is around 15,000 adults and around 1,000 children aged below 15.  The acquisition had followed a lengthy period of speculation about a possible takeover and several failed attempts by other groups and individuals.  It was originally put up for sale for £1m in June 1999.  

At the time of takeover, it was turning over £180,000 for the financial year to 1998-1999, but was having a difficult time and showed a running loss of £267,000.  This was despite a change of name and frequency (106.8).  Its licence format at the time showed that the station was providing a 'full service of music, news and community information for 35-55 year olds in the Thamesmead area' and that hourly news bulletins with local news must run in daytime programming from Monday to Sunday, speech content should not be less than 20% of the same and that music policy was one of current and recent hits and album tracks with a whopping 40% of music airtime open to be non-hit singles, album material and easy listening.  Just five hours of evening programming per week were to be of specialist orientation.

The station was later owned by Fusion Radio Holdings who, in January of 2003 renamed the station Time 106.8.  The station's total survey area (TSA) was then downsized to around 500,000 - IPSOS/RAJAR figures for the period July-December 2002 showed an increase in audience to 20,000 people (4%) with each listener tuning in for 8.1 hours per week.  Broadcasting from studios at the top end of Basildon Road in London, it is designed to appeal to a more specific 25-54 year old age group with a mix of music from the past five decades.  The participation of the local community in programme production was evident as was the arts and specialist music programming.  Time 106.8 targets South East London and North West Kent and Central London south of the River Thames.

A scan down the schedule under Fusion Radio Holdings ownership showed a general schedule Monday to Saturday, except a continuous music sweep from 9pm-10pm weekdays, Vietnamese programming aired for 30 minutes at 6:00am every Sunday, a soul show every Sunday night from 10pm, there was continuous music from Midnight to 6:00am throughout the week, and for sports coverage, the station focused on the progress of Charlton Athletic FC.  

In February 2004, Sunrise Radio Holdings, which already held two London analogue radio licences at the time, plus digital radio services, bought Time 106.8 (Thamesmead), and Fusion 107.3 from Milestone Group for £1.2m.  Both stations had been for sale for twelve months previously - Sunrise also later bought Havering's Soul City FM, rebranding both that station and Fusion 107.3 as Time FM.   The newly acquired stations form part of the Sunrise Empire, but under the separate heading of the London Media Company.  Another station joined the group in May 2004 when Sunrise bought Slough's Star 106.6FM.  

The Time 106.8 station schedule is now very mainstream with standard elements throughout the day with the occasional special, i.e. Smash Hits Chart, School Reunion, 80s and Love elements.  Programming is live from 4:00am-Midnight with automation in between.  There is no longer coverage of Charlton Athletic FC - a change evident since the new owners moved in.  According to Jul-Dec 2003 audience figures, the station is listened to by 16,000 of a potential 483,000 adults aged 15+ with each listener tuning in for 7.8 hours per week - this gives it a 1.3% share of all listening in the local marketplace. (Time FM home page @


VIRGIN 105.8 / VIRGIN 1215 : When you think of the term Virgin in a business sense (!), you usually think of Richard Branson, Cola, Atlantic, Vie, Round-The-World Balloon flights, Megastores, and Radio.  Virgin as a brand itself was created on 24th December 1991.  In May 1992, it won the AM commercial national radio licence on the basis of a cash bid of £1.883m per year.  It was Richard Branson himself who launched Virgin 1215 in its national AM guise on 30th April 1993 at 12:15pm.  Australian rock legends INXS recorded a special version of the Steppenwolf hit 'Born To Be Wild' which became the first track to be played.  In this very same year, Chris Evans joined Virgin Radio on a 13 week contract - after only six weeks into the contract, he left to concentrate on a TV programme he was presenting for Channel 4 - the memorable 'Don't Forget Your Toothbrush'.  However, this short period had a profound effect on Chris, and he would return, after more TV work and a period on Radio 1's Breakfast Show which commenced in 1995.  More on Chris' involvement with Virgin follows.  In May 1994, the station was fined £5,000 by the Radio Authority (RA) after a presenter made sexual comments on the air.  Another fine, a more severe £20,000 followed in December of the same year, when the RA concluded that the station had breached taste and decency rules following comments made by callers during a late night phone-in show on sexual fantasies.  

Having gained one licence, Richard Branson was hungry for more.  In the Summer of 1994, Virgin applied as one of an amazing, although not surprising 41 applicants for one of two FM London licences  - by 10th April 1995, the second Virgin Radio station came on-line in London using 105.8FM, with simulcasting carried with the national AM service for 15 hours a day, except news, traffic, sports, community service and information inserts.  The station broke even financially in 1995/1996 - and by 1997, the average staff level had increased from 46 to 61.  January 1997 saw Chris Evans leave Radio 1 - by the August of 1997, he'd returned to Virgin Radio.  Under the guise of Ginger Media, he was contracted to run the morning show - which was quite a success.  Clearly happy seeds had been sown between Chris and the station.  At the time, the station was 75% owned by various trusts of Richard Branson and his family, and the remaining 25% by three minority shareholders - the latter were bought out in April 1997 for a combined amount of £13m.  As of July 1997, the station employed 45 full-time staff and 14 contract staff, who were mainly presenters.  Twelve of the full time staff were involved in programming and eighteen of them in sales. 

Within days of significant refinancing, a £3.5bn merger with Capital Radio was announced.  Capital expected the radio stations to contribute a significant amount to future profits from both advertising and sponsorship revenues - dependent on the audience share of the stations, the percentage of airtime sold and associated charges.  Capital aimed to increase the station's share of the London audience alone by a significant amount.  The Competition Commission became involved with such a merger - and the intervention led to an exchange of facts and figures for consideration.  Capital felt that the cost savings from the merger would be modest and that this wasn't a primary consideration - they also added that there would be a small net reduction in sales and administration staff plus a move to their own London Leicester Square premises for both Virgin services (which Capital had only moved into in the January of 1997 themselves). The move, said Capital,  would save Virgin some £150,000 a year plus savings in general and administration costs of up to £230,000 a year.  There would also be an almost total elimination of costs such as management fees, and legal and professional costs - Capital would hire new presenters as necessary for the stations, in particular the AM national Virgin output, but expected the costs of this to be offset by increased income.

In making its considerations, the Competition Commission saw three benefits of the merger, those being the development of both stations, increased professionalism and financial strength, and, thirdly, a greater commitment by Capital to Digital Broadcasting.  They felt that the first benefit could largely be achieved in the absence of the merger but believed the development of DAB would be more assured if the merger was to go ahead.  Overall, the CC considered the benefits were not sufficient to outweigh detriments considered.  The CC took a look at the radio advertising market and stated that two separate geographical radio advertising markets would be affected by the merger, those being London-wide and nationally and would see Capital's share of the London market increase from 60.9 to 68.8% and their share of the UK market increasing from 36.8 to 46.0% based on 1996 data.  Based on the first six months of 1997, the increases were 58.1% to 65.9% and 36.2 to 44.2% respectively.  In London alone, the CC felt that the merger would lead to an even stronger hold on the market share - this would be shown by a reduction in the ability of advertisers to get effective coverage on other stations, a reduction in the ability of other stations to compete and increased opportunities for Capital to adopt detrimental sales practices leading to higher prices.  They concluded that the proposed merger would be expected to operate against the public interest with some particularly prominent adverse effects, and recommended that the merger should only be allowed if either Capital was prohibited from acquiring Virgin FM, or Capital was 'required to divest that part of it's undertaking relating to Capital Gold in such a way that the divested business could continue to operate effectively in its form at the time'.  They said that the 'divestment should take place prior to completion of the merger to a buyer unconnected with Capital and approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Radio Authority (RA)'.  The CC concluded by saying that if Capital was not prepared to accept the conditions, then they would recommend that the merger be prohibited.  The only further discussions concluded that Capital Radio could not accept the conditions, therefore the status quo remained.  

(Information on the proposed merger is taken from, and through the Competition Commission's main information page at 

In December of 1997, Chris Evans, obviously a witness to this frantic merger talk, moved in and purchased Virgin Radio from Sir Richard Branson for £83m, part of the deal being for Chris to host the breakfast show on a long-term basis.  By comparison, station turnover had increased from £1.4m in 1993 to £18m in 1997, the operating loss in 1993 was £4.1m, but by 1997, it had been turned into a profit of £4.4m.

Most of the history behind Virgin Radio in both guises is related to the mother station which commenced on a national basis.  However, the London station was fined £2,000 by the Radio Authority in April 1998 for breaching their promise of performance.  This related to its requirement to broadcast community campaigns for 10 consecutive weeks per year to cover a range of individual social issues applicable to a London audience.  Whilst the station adhered to this requirement in 1996 & 1997, there was nothing broadcast from April 1997 onwards.   The breach was detected by Radio Authority staff during a series of routine investigations after a change in ownership (to Ginger Media - i.e. Chris Evans) took place.  Where a breach is detected, the broadcasting authorities can request a broadcast apology or correction, or impose a penalty, of either a fine, or the shortening or revocation of a licence.  The £2,000 fine was passed on to the Treasury's Consolidated Funds Account.  It was 'smacked wrist' time again in the January of 1999, £10,000 being taken from station coffers after the station 'disclosed information about an individual without permission' on the Breakfast Show.  In December 1999, Chris frightened the living daylights out of the station backroom boys by going on air one morning and announcing that the station was going to give away £2m live on-air.   The station was run by a private company then and Evans was one of the major shareholders!

In The May of 2000, the station was fined another £75,000 for breaking due impartiality rules in broadcasting which require objective, i.e. unbiased reporting of politics.  The RA expressed their discontent when Chris offered his support for Ken Livingstone in the London Mayoral Election Campaign.  With a total of £87,000 coming out of someone's pockets, another change followed, and three years into his ownership of the station, (2000) Chris sold not only the station, but his entire Ginger empire to Scottish Media Group (SMG) for £225m.  Not a bad profit margin at all, with everything considered.  However, Chris was contractually attached to the Breakfast Show at Virgin - and as relationships between new management and breakfast show jock strained, the overall picture became more and more unsettled.  In early May of 2001, he was officially signed off sick from his show - Virgin staff previously last saw Chris at a large scale party to celebrate the station's eighth birthday, on Monday 30th April.   He didn't turn up for his show the following morning and no-one knew where he was.  Station bosses said he was ill, but didn't say what was wrong with him.  

By the middle of the month, he'd been reported to have sacked his co-presenters John Revell, Holly Samos and Dan McGrath and replaced them with Louise Pepper and Matt Pritchard in the hope of saving the show amid audience figures which showed 100,000 listeners had re-tuned in the previous three months.  Evans' show reportedly had 5million listeners less than Sara Cox over on Radio 1.  

Chris was by now reported to be considering quitting radio to become a dad with his wife, pop-star Billie Piper.  These rumours were denied by the station press office.  The daily tabloids claimed that Billie was three months pregnant and that he was going to quit to support her.  The two had got married in Las Vegas on May 7th of that year.  Chris missed a fourth show through what the station described as 'illness' and dismissed reports that he would be leaving and were liasing with Chris' agent Michael Foster, who said Chris was not well enough to be at work.  Further press reports in late June 2001 speculated that Chris was refusing to turn up for work as he was unhappy about the arrival of Steve Penk.  Steve was actually building up to joining Capital FM in July.  Station bosses actually wanted Steve to present Chris' show for about 12 weeks in the year when Chris was on holiday.  More reports in the press referred that Chris had been offered £3m to quit the station amid his sick period.  

Later, Chris was sacked for failure to turn up for work.  After three months, his successor Steve Penk had drawn in around 300,000 listeners taking total listenership to over two million for the first time in a year - RAJAR recording a total of 3.7million.

Despite a change in ownership, there was another fine in the offing - again £75,000 following the well-publicised event when DJ John Holmes encouraged a nine-year old to repeat a sexually-explicit phrase on-air during a game referred to as 'Swear Word Hangman'.  The fine was less than it should have been when the RA acknowledged the action taken by the station in sacking the DJ behind the show.  Nevertheless, the RA called the offending air-time content 'offensive and inappropriate even in the context of adult alternative comedy', in relation to the 1990 Broadcasting Act rules on taste, decency and offence to public feeling.  Another unsettled moment for the station came when the RA upheld a complaint against the station when a news report about the Queen Mother's death was followed by the Sex Pistols' anti-monarchy song 'God Save The Queen'.  

(In May 2003, the London transmitter (105.8) was moved from Croydon to Crystal Palace, although the exact reasoning for this is not known)

Chris filed a law suit against SMG claiming he was owed £8.6m from the sale and had been unfairly dismissed.  SMG countersued saying he'd not been unfairly dismissed but had breached his contract when he failed to turn up for a series of broadcasts.  On June 26th 2003, a High Court Judge ruled in favour of SMG - Evans lost - nevertheless, there have since been industry rumours that Chris actually wanted to buy the station back again!   The most recent conclusion to this long saga saw, in late July 2003, a full and final cash settlement between Chris and SMG of £7m, deemed to cover all costs and damages.  Chris said he could afford to lose the money.  

Having passed through this turbulent time, SMG are looked forward to the future with ambitious plans to bring Virgin Radio to the West Midlands and Glasgow.  Both stations were planned to keep the same musical train of thought as the national station but using locally orientated presenters and programming.  The National and London based station share a great deal of programming, hence their dual reference here.  There was no success in either area, losing out to Kerrang! and Saga Radio respectively.  SMG are acting in a variety of important ways - the Financial Director - Mark Donnelly said in November 2002 that the station was still a vulnerable takeover target.  

Of course, Virgin Radio has had a busy life, in ownership and on-air appearances - but, as for its tenth birthday, it celebrated by releasing the results of a poll amongst station listeners of  the top 100 songs.  Richard Branson also smashed up guitars in Golden Square.  Fifty children who were born on the same day, called 'The Virgin Generation' appeared for the photo shoot and on Pete & Geoff's breakfast show.  Virgin is available on DAB digital radio nationally, and via SKY Digital and Cable TV, and the internet through where you can also listen to Virgin Radio Classic Rock.  


XFM: Much of the 1990s was spent getting the station name known and with a view towards getting a London-wide licence.  The first time the name was heard on the air was from 13th April - 10th May 1992 from the South East posttal district of London, with a second trial broadcast from 14th September - 11th October 1992.  The first RSLs operated on 101.5 FM with the now familiar Indie music format.  At the time, the station hoped to convince the Radio Authority to award it one of the forthcoming London-wide licences.  

The operations and campaigning continued into 1993.  On June 13th 1993, 27,000 people attended the Great Xpectations event at Finsbury Park, London, in support of XFM and its bid for a London radio licence for alternative music.  The station returned for a third trial broadcast from the NW3 Camden district from 27th November - 24th December 1993.  Among the presenters on the station was Alan Freeman who presented a weekly indie chart show.  Further trial broadcasts aired, but not again until 6th March - 2nd April 1995, and again from 2nd-29th October 1995.  

Two years later, on 1st September 1997, the station finally won a full-time London-wide licence.  Melody FM launched on 104.9FM for the over-35 age group of London on 9th July 1990 - in 1996, many South London listeners lodged complaints regarding interference from BBC Southern Counties Radio following a bulging postbag of complaints about interference from listeners in South London - so the station transferred frequencies to its present site (now known as Magic FM (see above) on the FM dial - 105.4.- the 104.9 licence was therefore still up for grabs - and hence the creation of XFM.  (Although research has shown similar complaints from XFM listeners.)

The bid for what was then deemed to be London's last FM analogue licence, was led by Donnach O'Driscoll, later a director of the station.  The early months of the first XFM licence were particularly unsettled, with many worries hanging heavy across the station.  But there was to be a proverbial knight in shining armour about to ride into the chaos and save the day.  Enter Capital Radio plc who, in April 1998 made a proposal to acquire the ailing station.  From 8th May to 5th June, the Radio Authority initiated a public interest test, and on 9th July 1998, the Radio Authority, announced it's assessment of the proposed takeover.  When a company which already operates a station in a particular area, makes a move for another station, legislation states that a 'public interest test' must be conducted to ensure that diversity, and plurality of the local radio marketplace is maintained, i.e. that there would be no adverse effects if the takeover was allowed to proceed.

The RA were satisfied that there would be no adverse effect if the acquisition was permitted and could see no reason for not allowing it, but they did stipulate that they would not be prepared to consider approving anything other than what it called 'very minor changes' to the station's Promise of Performance (P.O.P) in order to preserve the full range of programmes available in the Capital   As part of the takeover, Capital Radio plc undertook to refrain from 'conditional selling or predatory pricing of advertising or promotions in respect of either or any combination of' its London stations, Capital FM, Capital Gold and XFM, and that it would maintain arrangements for the preparation and presentation of both local and national news on XFM.   The integration of the station and the other stations that had recently been acquired by the group, (BRMB - Birmingham, Southern Radio (Suussex), Red Dragon (Cardiff)) was overseen by the Group Head of Programmes, Clive Dickens.  Clive was previously the youngest Head of Music in UK radio and upwards to Network Controller of the seven stations in the now defunct Chiltern Radio plc.  

There were some outstanding issues for the Radio Authority to deal with regarding XFM.  At a meeting of the RA Members on 9th October 1998, a decision was taken to fine the station £4,000 for failing to comply with the Promise of Performance.  At the same meeting, Members noted programming changes made to bring the station back in line with the 'P.O.P', but said they would continue to monitor the station with a view to reviewing output at a meeting in the New Year of 1999.  When making the decision, the RA Chair, Sir Peter Gibbings referred to the permission given for Capital to take over the station, and the stipulation that they would only agree minor changes to output.  Despite this, the RA received a large number of complaints - some of them part of what it called 'an orchestrated campaign' by those unhappy about Capital's acquisition and who wanted what they saw as the format operated pre-takeover, restored.  The RA did however share the complainants concerns about the general direction of the station.  The station moved premises under Capital's tenure and, after this, the RA concluded that the station had failed to observe what it called 'the spirit, and in some aspects the letter, of it's Promise of Performance'.  The fine imposed by the RA was designed to show that they were determined to keep the station to 'its licensed original character of service.'

The RA stated that, from the preceding August of 1998, they had received 280 complaints about the output of the station, which were generally about XFM music output straying towards the mainstream since its relocation of the same time.  According to the RA, it failed to broadcast live sessions, a weekly review, interviews and job vacancy information.  The features were subsequently reinstated.  Music content was also a focus of concerns expressed by the Radio Authority (RA).

XFM's primary target audience is the 15-34 year olds to which it provides a specialist format of alternative rock music, defined as innovative, youthful, generally guitar-led, modern rock with attitude, featuring artists generally outside the mainstream.  In August, the station was, for three days, allowed to move away from it's Promise of Performance as it relocated - after this, there were no further requests made by station management - the RA did not give any permission to totally depart from the requirements of the licence, hence the requirements for them to act according to section 106 of the Broadcasting Act 1990.  The RA could have requested a broadcast apology or correction, issued a formal warning, or imposed a penalty, either monetary or through the shortening of a licence.  Financial penalties are passed the Treasury's Consolidated Funds.  

February 1999 saw the conclusion of the review of the station output, and a decision that the station was complying with the terms of its licence.  The RA noted that it was broadcasting music more closely positioned near to mainstream material, but decided that the playlist was within acceptable boundaries.  The RA Head of Programmes and Advertising, Martin Campbell commented on the fact that virtually all of the complainants '...mourned the passing of the old XFM because the music choice was seen as even more alternative than its successor.  Naturally, people feel passionate about their radio station.  Change is rarely accepted readily, and in the case of XFM listeners, 'their' station grew from roots established during short-term licence periods, and has changed.'   He also commented on how difficult the alternative music genre was to define, and how the RA had concluded that the station was playing enough music that was not heard elsewhere in London.  They said that they could not tell the station exactly what tracks and artists to feature nor could see anyone expecting them to demand the stopping of tracks previously aired that had since become commercially popular, to be replaced with obscure tracks.  The RA wished the station well in achieving its aims of staying loyal to mainstream music, and in staying within the terms of its licence.  As of February 1999, the Radio Authority had received over 600 complaints since the takeover took place.  

December 1999.  The previous fine of £4,000 paled into insignificance as XFM and Capital found themselves up against the wrath of the Radio Authority once more.  On 14th December, a fine of a whopping £50,000 was imposed - the largest fine that the RA had ever levied and the maximum single penalty that they could impose on an ILR station under the 1990 Broadcasting Act.  They were fined for serious breaches of the Act and the RA Programme Code during two editions of the Breakfast Show in September of 1998.  The broadcasts included descriptions of bestiality, and contained offensive language and ill-judged references to sexual matters and pornography.  

RA members were appalled by the content of the programming, of which it heard recordings of, and the time of day it had been aired.  Complaints were received by the RA regarding the first programme which included a phone in about the 'worst job in the world' and after a series of offensive calls and discussion led to the presenter entering into a conversation about a pornographic video which involved bestiality.  Other items aired made reference to sexual matters.  The Members said they were not left fully confident that the owners had taken steps to ensure that there were no repeats of such offences and demanded that effective measures were put in place or, otherwise a further range of sanctions would be imposed.  (Source of inforrmation - Radio Authority Press Releases - available at

Since the Millennium, and under Capital's ownership, XFM has settled down with no further dramas.  Interestingly, the station hosted Chris Evans' first appearance in a radio studio since he was sacked by Virgin Radio in 2001 (see above) - he told Richard Bacon that he was comfortable in his new role away from the cameras, adding that he was always nervous before TV work especially.  

XFM is currently licenced up to 31st August 2005 and now broadcasts from studios at 30 Leicester Square.  As of the re-compiling of this profile (Feb '05), prominent names on the station include former BBC Radio presenter Clare Sturgess, former Kenickie lead singer, now TV presenter,  Lauren Laverne, comic Jimmy Carr and Channel 4 comedy duo Adam & Joe.  Some former station presenters include former Blue Peter & Big Breakfast presenter Richard Bacon, comedian Ricky Gervais, and ex-Capital presenters Kevin Greening and Zoe Ball. 



BIG BLUE: This is Chelsea FC's very own football radio station - but its history is little known.  In 1995, Brighton-based Radio First plc was founded and its shares traded on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.  As of 1998, it owned analogue radio stations including Tendring station Mellow 1557 AM.  However, as the years passed, and led by Keith Harris (Chairman) and the highly respected John Aumonier (CEO) (co-founder of talk Radio UK (now known as talkSPORT), its aim was to use digital audio technology and create 'The Fan Radio Network', a chain or regional digital commercial radio stations covering what it called 'the key marketing areas of the United Kingdom' linked with major Premiership football clubs across the country and run jointly with the club as the 'official club station' owning the non-national digital audio rights for each football club.  The leading football clubs were: Aston Villa (The Villan), Chelsea (Big Blue), Derby County (Rampage) and Southampton (The Saint). All clubs signed joint venture contracts with Radio First for a minimum of twelve years.  The aim was to expand the station network further through more negotiations.  

Radio First aimed to create a network of stations that would be attractive to advertisers, advertising agencies, and sponsors, with all stations getting a piece of the advertising cake.  Stations would broadcast 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  At the time, digital radio was in an even more foetal stage than it is currently.  But Radio First were aiming to seize the moment early and stake a claim to a battle ground before anyone else did.  They felt that the change from analogue (conventional FM/AM transmission platforms) to Digital, was well underway even at that stage, and aimed for various digital platforms.  There was much experience in radio and football in Radio First management and it was confident of achieving its aims.  

In March 2000, it signed its first deals with Chelsea, Southampton & Aston Villa football clubs.  On 18th January 2001, it signed a fourth deal with Derby County, for output aired digitally, and via the internet.  In March 2001, the company agreed a five-year deal with British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC (BSkyB) to broadcast regional services of football-based digital radio stations on digital satellite to a potential audience at the time of 4.7m.  The services were designed to appeal to 12-30 year olds.  It aimed to agree deals for a further four similar services.  For the six months up to March 31 2000, it posted pre-tax profits of £57,000 against a loss of £2.15m.  Operating profit was £49,000, loss £2.17m.  Earnings per share were 0.2pence against loss per share of 9.0p

On 9th August 2001, Radio First announced launch dates for the first two radio stations.  The first of the new stations, Chelsea's Big Blue, launched on 19th August 2001 (Channel 898) for a home game against Newcastle United, and Southampton's The Saint (Channel 899) came to air on 25th August, ironically, a home game against Chelsea - both stations launching at the beginning of the 2001-2002 football season and to an audience of 11m and 5.1m viewers respectively.  Test transmissions began on 14th August of that year.  Excitedly, Chelsea's Chairman, Ken Bates said: “Chelsea was the first club to sign a joint venture agreement with Radio First because we believe in the concept that our fans want a station dedicated to the club.  We think that the station will also help grow our fan base in the South-East.  Radio First’s agreement with BSkyB ties in with our own partnership with BSkyB.  We are confident that this is another positive step in the development of our joint media activities."

But there was a problem that didn't seem too apparent to group bosses.  Although you could listen at home on your PC or through your SKY Digital box, you couldn't actually take it out with you to the match.  Plus, there were 10s of other radio stations available on SKY, plus of course, local sports coverage in the respective areas from BBC and Commercial analogue FM and AM services.  But, Radio First were wax-lyrical on statistics which suggested success was in the air.  At the time of the Derby County deal, 6,000,000 adults told RAJAR, the audience ratings measurement body, that they listened to radio through their TV - a figure of more than one-in-eight listeners and a bigger audience than that attracted by all the AM commercial radio stations put together.  Radio First concluded that one-in-five 15-24 year olds were listening to radio via the television, particularly in Scotland, the North-West, North-East and Wales.  Derby County's Rampage was concluded to be capable of hitting 27% of the potential 7m listeners in the Derby area.  

March 2002: Radio First released a statement following its 10:30am AGM held on the 18th of that month.  Keith Harris said: 'I would like to take this opportunity to comment briefly on the Group results for the year ended 30 September 2001 and on trading since the year end.  2001 saw the concept of the Fan Radio Network start to become a reality with the launch of our first two stations, Big Blue (Chelsea) and The Saint (Southampton) both on Sky Digital.  It is a credit to the staff that we were able to open two stations on time and within budget, despite the short lead time between raising the necessary finance and the launches.  Since the year end we have launched a further two stations, The Villan (Aston Villa) and Rampage (Derby), again on time and within budget. 

There is no doubt that the last 18 months or so have proved to be exceptionally difficult for the media sector with its heavy reliance on advertising revenues.  Despite this, the Board is encouraged by the response from both listeners and advertisers to our new innovative stations.  The response to on-air competitions as well as promotions run at the clubs' stadia indicates an increasing level of awareness amongst our target audience and an increasing amount of listening.  Formal audience research will be completed at each station during 2002.  As far as advertising is concerned we are currently running campaigns across the four stations for a number of household names including Ladbrokes, Sport First, VodkaIce and Budweiser.  We are especially pleased with the number of campaigns the stations have sold to local advertisers with the local advertising market less susceptible to the ups and downs of the national advertising industry.  The number of advertisers and as a consequence the revenues are growing month by month and we believe the product we are offering with our stations and the network leave us well positioned to take advantage of the expected improvement in advertising expenditure trends in the second half of 2002.  We are also looking to expand further the network in the future as negotiations continue with a number of football clubs in England and Scotland.  All the resolutions were passed at today's Annual General Meeting.'

At the close of the Stock Markets on 17th June 2002, one of the biggest fallers was Radio First, but at the time, shares recovered slightly, albeit without explanation - much the same way that shares had dived at the end of the previous week.  But everyone knows that shares can rise as well as fall, so that was nothing too alarming to every day Joes.  After a 38% drop on the Friday, Radio First shares put on 23% in value on the Monday - adding 1.5p to 8p.  These though, were clear signs.  In July 2002, company shares were suspended following a failure to publish audited accounts for the six months ending March 31st 2002.  Keith Harris, who was the Chairman of the Football League at the time, spearheading the League's £178.5m claim against ITV Digital said the group were "optimistic" that additional funding would be raised and the issue resolved.  

In early March 2003, Radio First ceased trading after City institutions failed to back the company expansion plans. The digital operator was on the point of acquiring a major English language network in Spain and re-joining the AIM market when underwriting for the scheme was withdrawn.   All of the stations continued on their SKY Digital channels and it was felt that the football clubs would continue with the services as each one had proved the demand for 'unique fanzine style programming'.  SKY meanwhile, didn't have, and indeed never had any obligation to provide funding.  

However, by July 2003, Radio First was in voluntary liquidation.  Along with Southampton and Aston Villa, Chelsea continued the transmissions of the services (and still do) via satellite, the internet and locally on short-term match day licences.  They bought the assets from the liquidators for what was probably a fraction of what they were worth.  Now owned by Chelsea Village, the company behind all things Chelsea FC, the station continues under the old Radio First logo and roundel with catchphrase 'Love Music, Live Football' on SKY Digital 898 around London, and, on home match-days, via the internet, and locally on 96.3 FM.  Visit the station site here. 


IC Radio is London's premier student radio station, broadcasting on 999AM to Southside and Linstead Halls, directly into the kitchens of Southside hall and on the internet.  It broadcasts from the University Of London's Beit Quadrangle, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington in London.


Information pending.  See also BIG BLUE above.

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