Aircheck UK - National Radio (FM & AM Statiions)

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UPDATED: 03/01/2004

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ENGLAND

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ATLANTIC 252 / TEAMtalk 252: (1989-2002) NOW OFF AIR. 1975:  254khz Long Wave was internationally allocated to Ireland as part of the year's European Long Wave/Medium Wave Plan that took effect 23 November 1978.  State broadcaster RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann) was unable to use it themselves, and initially did not apply to the controllers of the frequency - the Ministry of Communications to use it.   Ten years later saw it's use by unlicenced broadcaster Radio Nova, who first occupied the frequency with a signal from Dublin over New Year 1985/1986.  Previous to this, they'd also been broadcasting on Medium Wave, FM and Short Wave too.  Summer 1985 saw conclusions drawn by Radio Nova that, despite a signal which burst across central and North Western parts of the UK from a 50kw transmitter, advertising revenue wasn't coming in as required - this partially due to the untenable quality of signals in some parts of the country.  By the December of 1985, 50kw was replaced by the lesser powered 10kw back-up transmitter.  Nova had always preferred Long Wave because of it's long-range ability - but early 1980s attempts to get on the band failed due to problems in finding a broadcast transmitter location, and they subsequently moved to Medium Wave until 1985 when Long Wave was considered once more.  The MW service was carried on 254kHz as tests which continued until the mid January of 1986.  There were never any reports of tests on Long Wave by Nova.  This meant that few actually knew about it.  The tail end of January saw an increase in output quality and separate test programming then commenced, with simulcasting then applying later in the day.  Here, on-air presenters started asking for reception reports on the Long Wave frequency.  Thursday 30th January 1986 saw the short term occupation of the Long Wave frequency come to an end at around 10:30pm when station owner Chris Cary switched the transmitter off.  Six weeks later, Radio Nova closed down.

The reason for this closedown became apparent in mid-February of 1986 when Chris Cary led a group with the intention of using the Long Wave frequency RTE responded by saying it had been studying the possibility of using 254 for the past twelve months, and looked towards making an approach to the government as soon as possible.  However, they denied only doing so due to Radio Nova's former but only brief use when it tested using country music output.  Cary remarked on the quality of it's previous tests which he said aimed to assess how much power would be needed for the station.  Nova, led by Cary and with a partnership including a quarter held by Irish business and banking industry said they would be seeking a licence, without declaring a format at the time of announcement.  Set up costs of 4m were declared - this large sum due to the high costs of the installation of a suitable transmitter which would prevent interference from other frequency users in Finland and Algiers.  RTE responded to Nova's plans by referring to the fact that international agreements stipulated two years notice must be given before station transmissions commenced.  

In August of 1986, Irish state broadcaster RTE announced it planned to use 254kHz for a new station in partnership with Radio Luxembourg - to be called Radio Tara - this was later changed to the name now so familiar - Atlantic 252.  The frequency tag didn't match the frequency used of 254kHz, but was used due to foreseen international frequency changes - it later moved two digits down to 252 when the changes were implemented.  Despite protests from local farmers in County Meath, RTE went ahead with it's plans and gave the two years notice of it's intentions.  One of the men responsible for helping set up this station, is now involved in another Long Wave station - The Isle Of Man's MusicMan 279 - ex-Radio Luxembourg News Editor, Rodney Collins. 

On August 3rd 1989, test transmissions (no music, purely tones)  began for a new long wave station, but on 254.  Over the following days, music & announcements were heard including "This is Atlantic 252 with tests in preparation for a new radio station starting soon from 6am to 7pm."  Tests were operating on reduced power, rumoured to be around 100kw, with the full service being at 500kw or 500,000watts if you like.  The transmitter stood around 1,000ft tall.

Atlantic 252 launched after set up costs of 6m, to a potential audience of 47,320,000 people, from Trim, County Meath studios at Mornington House, Summerhill, at 8am on the morning of September 1st 1989, with Gary King announcing that he was the first voice listeners would hear, and welcomed a plethora of presenters.  Some very well known presenters also appeared, particularly some notable ex-Laser 558 presenters such as Charlie Wolf, Mary-Ellen O'Brien & Atlantic 252 News Director Andrew Turner as well as some from Radio Nova and other Irish un-licenced stations Q and SunshineLaser blasts even found their way on-air to Atlantic 252!  There was even appearances in tandem with his TV programmes, by James Whale.  Output was distinctly 'Top 40' with the repetition of some tracks as regularly as on an hourly basis.  Atlantic 252 was intended to reach the UK daytime pop radio audience - output was slick and fast-moving.   Amusingly, some presenters adopted wacky names, such as Sandy Beech, Dusty Rhodes, Rick O'Shea, Robin Banks and Dan Francisco.  Whilst tests had concluded of course, there was a need to bring them back on September 20th when a studio failure knocked the station of air for around 15 minutes.  Rather than being in the studio, Charlie had to go to a makeshift studio at the transmitter room.    Other than that, the first five years saw Atlantic 252 breaking considerable ground.  Listeners became used to ringing up to enter competitions or being rung, to recite 'the phrase that pays', which included 'I listen to Long Wave Radio Atlantic 252' and the later tag '...now give me my money..'   Programmes originally terminated at 7pm, then later in the evening, with listeners being directed to sister station Radio Luxembourg 1440khz MW, however, automated programming sustained 252 overnight as time progressed.  There was also one studio in London with two small production areas.  The on-air London studio, at 74 Newman Street, just off Oxford Street (home to CLT UK Radio Sales) was linked to Trim via a high quality telephone line connected to the broadcast desk.  Alternatively, and where required, it could be put straight to air.  London studios were built in 1999 specifically to carry Breakfast Show programming, however, it later carried Drivetime programming instead

On 31st August 1997, tragically, Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a Paris underpass.  Whilst other stations suspended normal programming - Atlantic 252 was perhaps the only station continuing to broadcast as normal - perhaps the announcement, affecting the UK British monarchy, didn't affect Southern Ireland to such an extent, however, continuation of standard output from what was, to all intents and purposes, a UK radio station, was surprising.  

The station continued to evolve - and surprised it's critics by establishing a loyal following with it's music formats.  But the commercial radio sector continued to offer increased competition, from general music stations and more dance orientated stations, particularly in Atlantic's North-West and North East of England strongholds, with these new competitors being notably on more audible wavebands.  1998 saw the station change from a pop format to a more alternative one, featuring up and coming bands, and less chart-orientated artists, groups and bands.  Previous re-marketing campaigns which saw the station announced on-air as The New Atlantic 252, had arguably failed to take the station to new audience heights - reach had dropped by 25.6% and overall share of the radio market down by 0.2% quarter-on-quarter.  Restructuring by parent company RTL (CLT-UFA) led them to put the station up for sale in 2000.  February 2001's RAJAR figures were reported to state that both Atlantic 252 and Virgin 1215AM were amongst the worst performing stations for the last quarter of 2000.  Atlantic 252, licensed in Ireland, but with its long wave signal reaching most of Britain, once had 6m listeners, but with the start of Virgin Radio, this fell to 4.6m, then latterly to 1m listeners with just 400,000 recorded at the death.  Advertising revenue in the final year or so of output was down to 2.5m according to AIRCHECK site research.

TEAMtalk 252 logo11th October 2001: After a failed earlier approach by literature broadcaster ONEWORD to acquire Atlantic 252, parent company RTL announced a further rebranding and relaunch for the station.  But the familiar name was set to disappear and RTL were set to dispose of the station to sports service TEAMtalk Media Group who entered into sale negotiations to acquire the 80% of Atlantic's trading company Radio Tara Ltd for 2million (3.2m Euros).  Up to 31st December 2000, Radio Tara reported sales of 5m, losses of 600,000, and net assets of 3.8m.  The sale was set to be completed by the end of November 2001.   RTE, the Irish state broadcaster, would continue to hold 20% of Radio Tara.  TEAMtalk started negotiations by making an offer, but then asked for a month to conduct 'due diligence'.  The deal was later done on December 5th 2001 and Mornington House was sold mid-December 2001.

Established in 1988, just one year before Atlantic came to air, Leeds-based TEAMtalk was formed to provide premium rate telephony services and a sports/entertainment service across the Internet, radio, TV and mobile telephone networks.  It covered all the professional UK football clubs as well as those in Germany and Sweden as well as a couple of hundred sports teams spanning 60 countries.  They were writing thousands of sports stories a week in a multitude of languages and formats and in the UK to clients including News International and the Daily Express Group.  There were hundreds of staff and loads of resources.  This was truly a well resourced package waiting in the wings.  TEAMtalk were continuing to expand it's methods of reaching the public.  In February 2001, it acquired MMC Sport-Redaktion, Germany's largest independent sports radio programme provider (to over 200 stations across Germany, Austria and Switzerland), as well as June 2001's acquisition of Hampson Radio, a UK-based in store radio service provider for supermarkets and other retail outlets.  At the time, TEAMtalk produced over 300 hours of sports programming including a large proportion of work for bookmakers Ladbrokes.   TEAMtalk announced it's intentions to rebrand Atlantic 252 as TEAMtalk 252 and to re-launch it as a predominantly sports-based station by the end of 2001.  They also announced the new station would continue to broadcast from County Meath's studios.  The Chairman and Chief Exec of TEAMtalk, Bill Wilson said "This acquisition presents a win-win situation for us. As I have said in the past, TEAMtalk is about building an independent content generation machine that can create revenues from as many distribution platforms as possible. When the station is launched we will have a national radio presence that will enable TEAMtalk's sports content to be broadcast over main stream media and I am looking forward to driving the new format in the UK marketplace."   Despite a final sale price of 2m, there were once rumours of a price of near 30m!

It's believed that upon the finalisation of the deal, talkSPORT's Chairman Kelvin McKenzie contacted Mr. Wilson upon which it's alleged there followed a heated exchange in which Mr. McKenzie asked what Mr. Wilson was going to do with the frequency - Mr. Wilson replied that he wasn't going to play dance music!   Bill Wilson said publicly at the time "There wasn't anybody else doing it properly in our opinion.  That was the opportunity". His market research showed Radio 5 Live to be 'a bit too up-market for real sports fans', even though it brought in a record 6.2m listeners in recent audience figures with it's Premiership rights, while talkSPORT with 2.4m reported listeners, had 'too much chat'. "Our first ambition is to beat TalkSport," said Wilson, who it is alleged, claimed to have advised MacKenzie to adopt the the chat to sport reformatting policy he later carried out post acquisition of Talk Radio. "Before Talk converted we had a conversation about what if TeamTalk and Talk Radio got together in some way - that was a long time ago." he is believed to have said.   He was of the opinion that music output didn't work on Long Wave, but that sport would, referring to the success of Radio 4's 198LW Test Match coverage, and to his new station's plans to appear on Astra's satellite and through the internet, and to target big City based fans and Irish supporters travelling to England at weekends to attend major sporting events.  There were no plans to throw money at SKY TV or by reaching into Digital Radio.  The BBC's Five Live controller at the time, Bob Shennan was not bothered by the acquisition of Atlantic 252 but was surprised at their intentions to carry live sport.  He acknowledged the new station's talkSPORT target whilst still viewing them both as potential BBC competition.  Five Live were then 25% sport, 75% news but there were no plans to change it.  

The last Atlantic 252 programme started at 5pm 20th December 2001 and was a special station tribute which went through the station's 11 year history.  In the final week of the station's output, what is believed to be a spoof news story in MediaWeek, broke that TEAMtalk had announced an opportunity for listeners to support their favourite charities by donating Atlantic's entire record library of rhythm and dance music to them.  The story asked listeners to e-mail in no more than 100 words saying why they believed Atlantic 252's collection should be donated to their nominated charity.  

When Atlantic 252 stopped, the frequency remained on-air with non-stop music prior to the relaunch as TEAMtalk 252 on February 25th 2002 using a 500kw transmitter in Trim, County Meath.  It's official launch was on March 11th, 2002 just before the Cheltenham Gold Cup.  The new station spent the previous January running a non-stop trailer on LW252, and publicly, otherwise stating it's intentions to claim a place as the UK's first national radio station truly dedicated to sport, promising opinionated, fan-friendly, entertaining, and informative coverage of all UK football, rugby, racing, cricket and major sporting events.  It also pledged to give a voice to more niche sports on it's 24 hour, 7 days a week service.  Station management looked forward to audience participation, with phone-ins, e-mails, dedications, votes, polls and guest appearances from both celebrities and fans alike.  They also announced a wide variety of available sponsorship opportunities.  TEAMtalk had a reported 28m in the bank and allocated 8m to TEAMtalk 252 stating it needed to break even by 2004, but that it didn't have enough money to bid for exclusive sporting rights.  It instead targeted itself as being the focal point for the opinion of the fans after a sporting event has ended.  There was of course a potential back-door option to the prestige rights, by acquiring talkSPORT with the right capital - it was on the market at the time for what Bill Wilson considered was 40m, outside TEAMtalk's financial ability.  

A lot of Irish sports fans took to the new sports service - many could not satisfactorily receive the UK based sports services, Five Live and talkSPORT which were clearly not targeted at Ireland, especially through no prominent local provision of transmitters.  It's first listening figures showed 428,000 listeners a week, compared to talkSPORT's 2.47m and BBC Radio Five Live's 6.4m.  Despite a loyal fan base, the station was losing money (2.2m since it's acquisition) and listeners (60% in the first three months of 2002) and its entire lifespan was short-lived.

The end of April 2002 saw Bill Wilson step down as Chairman of TEAMtalk after the business admitted spiralling costs associated with the launch of TEAMtalk 252.  The group commenced closing down some of it's European operations to save money and focus more on UK operations.  His temporary replacement was Chris Oakley, who had previously been the Chief Exec of Regional Independent Media, and set about searching for a new CE.

By mid-May 2002, TEAMtalk 252's owners confirmed that it was in discussions with a number of parties who had expressed an interest in buying either part of or all off the TEAMtalk group.  It had, a week previously, been approached by on-line booking business UK Betting with an offer of 10.2m for lock, stock and barrel - this was rejected by the TEAMtalk management.  In April 2002, 9.5m was written off by TEAMtalk which admitted it had over-stretched itself financially.  It's TEAMtalk 252 service was up against stiff competition from not one, but two competitors - BBC Radio Five Live and talkSPORTTEAMtalk252 did not have any live sports coverage rights - the others either did, or were getting more.  So soon after re-branding and relaunching Atlantic 252, TEAMtalk announced it had started procedures to make it's 370 staff redundant.  

By the end of May 2002, TEAMtalk 252's future was thrown firmly into doubt when a deal was done between the parent company TEAMtalk and previous group bidder UK Betting to take over TEAMtalk for 13.7m.  UK Betting's Vice Chairman, Peter Dubens immediately announced his intentions to review the radio station's operations when he moved in to run the whole company.  Clearly not a radio operator, UK Betting were probably after the various TEAMtalk sports services described above rather than the radio station - here was a company justifiably seeking assets not licences and frequencies.  After Peter's review, it was perhaps no surprise when RTE acquired the 80% of Radio Tara it didn't already own.  TEAMtalk 252 closed July 31st 2002, but there were no wind down plans.  It closed down suddenly, and much to the surprise of station staff, who were informed at a meeting held that morning that the station would close between Noon and 2pm that day.  The station's website announced that control of the 252 frequency had been passed to RTE and UK Betting agreed in principle to dispose of it's Radio Tara shares for a nominal consideration.  They had no interest in running the radio station and part of the deal with RTE involved the immediate termination of output.  Despite having only just launched, and, as of that date, not yet having been able to negotiate sports coverage rights, this was a station clearly in the developmental stages.  Business sense would have dictated losses in it's first few years - but as UK Betting were not a radio operator, and had no interest, this was probably not on the consideration agenda anyway.  

It was not immediately known what RTE's intentions were for the frequency which fell silent after TEAMtalk 252's closedown - it could have been used by themselves, or leased out.  In October 2002, Chris Cary made a 5m bid to relaunch Radio Nova on 252Khz - this was rejected by RTE.  All in all, RTE received eight bids to use the frequency and began considering it's options, including seeking funding to launch their own station.  Other bids included Asian, rock, soul and a talking book channel (ONEWORD who made a further approach).

As of March 2003, it began testing on 252 with a view to launching it's own national pop service RTE Radio 1, it's music and chat service RTE Radio 2, or a 'best of both' service.  By September 2003, it was pushing ahead to broadcast RTE Radio 1 and a full launch of the same from 1st October 2003.  It is now broadcasting RTE Radio 1 for the benefit of UK based Irish people.  This is in line with well publicised local protests in Ireland to ensure the frequency was used as it was intended and to therefore abide by the terms of the 1975 Geneva Agreement.   As far back as the end of Atlantic 252, Irish authorities said that there was no compelling argument for the continuation of the licence being operated by Atlantic 252 in the longer term. The number of jobs delivered by the station was deemed to be small and the return either to RTE or the exchequer had been small.  They said that a better use of the facility would be to employ it for the re-broadcasting of public service programming and other Irish news, to be provided by RTE. and by the independent stations under an independent editorial board.  In particular, the use of this frequency for this purpose, they said, could provide a service for Irish emigrants and the Irish diaspora, keeping them informed on a day-to-day basis of current developments and issues at home. The same programming could also be broadcast via satellite so that it would be available on a much wider international basis. RTE services are now carried on SKY Digital audio channels.  At the time, the Irish authorities also said that the funding implications of this proposal would need to be thought out in great detail.  They concluded that a strategic use of a national asset like the long wave frequency was preferable to its purely commercial use, especially based on the comparative low level of return likely.

Despite a rumour of Atlantic's return, there has been nothing more said since.  And the once national UK station is for the UK specifically no longer.  For two interesting sites, we recommend taking a look at www.passarella.co.uk/atlantic which displays a draft of the old Atlantic 252 site and a fans orientated site which is pending at www.atlantic252.co.uk.  If you'd like to hear about an hours worth of Atlantic 252 memories and hits, visit: this link at RadioWaves too - the audio is through RealPlayer.

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CLASSIC FM: The first Independent National Radio (INR) licence was awarded to Classic FM on September 30th 1991 - the first UK national commercial radio station came to air 7th September 1992 to provide an alternative service of classical music to BBC Radio 4, up until then, the only broadcaster of classical music to a similar extent in the UK - it started it's service with almost a 100% coverage of the British Isles.  

In 1994, the station's record label was formed, and since then, a string of releases have put classical music firmly back in the commercial music sector.  A year later, a station magazine was created to wide acclaim and circulation.  GWR were part of the consortium that applied for the licence holding 17% of it, but took full control of the station in December 1996 by acquiring the remaining 83%.  More recently, in 2000, it was voted UK Sony Station of the Year, the third time it had received such praise in the seven years previous.

There are 43 transmitters serving the British Isles - between 99.9 & 101.9 - six dotted around the coast of Wales, two in Northern Ireland, six in Scotland, one on the Isle Of Man, one on the Isle of Wight, and the remaining 27 across England.  It is also carried on digital multiplexes 'Digital One' & 'Northern Ireland', SKY DIGITAL Channel 856, NTL Digital Channel 877, and Telewest Channel 922, and can be heard via the Internet at www.classicfm.com

Operated by GWR, but without 'today's classic mix' or 'today's classical music mix' (!!!) as a strapline, it's fair to say Classic FM really has found it's feet with names such as Paul Gambaccini, Anne Marie Minhall, Simon Bates, Henry Kelly ('Game For A Laugh' & 'Going For Gold'), ITN newsanchor Katie Derham, and Mark Goodier amongst the names to have graced it's airwaves.  It currently broadcasts from new studios at 7 Swallow Place in London, along with GWR's digital station The Storm.  Classic FM now has a sister TV station Classic FM TV which has already attracted 720,000 viewers since launch.  Classic FM's premise is that classical music is and always has been popular music. The station's aim is to make classical music accessible to as wide an audience as possible.   The station has sister networks in Finland and the Netherlands (1994) and South Africa (September 1st 1997)

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MUSIC MANN 279 (working title only): In the 1950s, business people approached the Isle Of Man Government to suggest the provision of local TV and radio station.  Back then, the GPO looked after frequencies and other broadcast related issues - but they weren't playing ball.  It was only in 1964 that a licence was obtained and in June of that year, Manx Radio started.  This was the first commercial radio station in the British Isles, and aired long before Capital Radio and LBC in London which didn't start until the early 1970s.  Despite the early start, Manx Radio suffered financially, particularly with the onslaught of the offshore stations anchored around the UK coastline, Radio Caroline actually positioned itself in Ramsey Bay!    The then Labour Government weren't fans of commercial radio and there was no chance of an increase in transmitter power to combat the offshore stations.  The Isle Of Man Government then bought the station - which it still owns today, but from a distinctly distant view, allowing a management team to deal with day-to-day issues.  Whilst being a commercial radio station, it does not need to make a profit!

The 1970s saw the island's ministers making repeated requests for increases in transmitter power, but they were told that this could not be possible due to the fact that, with the newly established commercial mainland operators, such an increase could steal listeners away.  These then, were clearly defined boundaries that were not going to be moved.  The 1990s saw an approach to the Government by an islander, making an offer to buy Manx Radio from them - but the islanders as a whole were having nothing of it.  Making an educated decision (based on information from a consortium of broadcasting egg-heads), the Tynwald listened to their public (!) and in 1994 designated Manx Radio as the island's national station.  

Enter the widely respected and renowned Paul Rusling.  He began heavy lobbying of the British Government to cast aside it's negativity to the Island having a high powered radio station.  In June 1994, IoMIB was set up to campaign for a long wave radio frequency for the Isle Of Man and to then bid for a licence to operate a station on it.  Initially, they hoped to use 225LW, but following a request for the frequency, it was handed over to the UK Radio Authority and despite requests to use it by a number of British companies, it has not been used in any way.  In 1998, Westminster gave up the fight and a high-power frequency (279kHz) to be used from the Island.  Five years after IoMIB was set up, in January 1999, the Isle Of Man Government met with station representatives to discuss it's plans for a LW station.  Also in January, IoMIB hired broadcasting stalwart Roger Day as Head of Presentation.  In March 1999, and after a public advertisement of a licence, for which IoMIB and a rival bidder (Manx Broadcasting Corporation) applied, the island's Communications Commission announced the award of a licence to IoMIB - this latterly approved by the island's Government 'The Tynwald' in April of the same year.  By September, a lease was signed for the station's offices in Ramsey and the entire station set up, previously located both in the UK and around the Isle of Man was centralised.  The owner of the Viking Hotel submitted an application to convert one floor of the hotel into premises for the station.  

So, they've got a frequency, and they've got a licence.  But what's the hold up?  Shouldn't they have been on-air by now?   No-one, including the IoMIB board would answer the final question with anything other than YES!  Post licence award, the initial hope was to appear on-air as far back as 1999.  

April 2000 saw the editor of the Radio Magazine, the late Howard Rose run a story on the magazine's website (in time for April 1st!) stating the station would launch the next Saturday morning, and that a plane full of presenters was touching down, with many other stations being sad to lose their talent.  It had many hood-winked, including some who enquired if there were any seats left on the aeroplane.  

Humour was tinged with aggravation in the same month when, due to delays in getting planning permission, Roger Day and IoMIB parted company with Roger joining the newly established Fusion Radio Group who intended to launch a Stock Market based operator of local radio stations in the UK.  Other team members also moved on.  IoMIB's application was initially delayed by the sudden death of a member of the Island's Chief Secretary's office.  With the appointment of his successor, an enquiry was planned for July 2000.  Further sad news came for the IoMIB team when, in May, one of it's founders, Jim Evans suddenly became unwell and died suddenly at Hull Infirmary.  Jim was highly skilled in broadcast law and planning and was therefore of extreme importance to the team.  Here was even more of a reason to drive the project onwards, in Jim's memory particularly.  But there were more delays and in May, the date for the planning inquiry was set for September 2000, this due to the level of availability of the Planning Inspector.  IoMIB suggested that the inquiry be moved from the site of the transmitter near Bride, to a prominent hotel in Ramsey.  As the inquiry date approached, in July of 2000, IoMIB became known as IMIB plc, moving from a private company to a public body.  

At the hearing in September 2000, objectors claimed that there was absolutely NO need for the radio station, that the technology being used was experimental and dangerous, that it would be noisy and that the broadcast transmitter mast would be visually intrusive.  Other matters not related to planning were raised in attempt to cloud the final judgement.  Despite claims of mass opposition to the project, there were very few people at the inquiry.  In the New Year of 2001, station bosses expected an official announcement of the decision made by the Planning Inspector - however, the announcement was not the one they'd expected - the application was refused on grounds of visual impact.  Having gone back to the proverbial drawing board, it was not until just before Christmas of 2001 that agreement was reached 'in principle' and that the company (IMIB) had received clearance for it's transmitter set up, 9km north-east of Ramsey, and over sea-water for optimum broadcast coverage - ironically, the broadcast site was close to where Radio Caroline had anchored in it's offshore days.  A MusicMann 279 broadcast launch was planned for 2002. 

As another year began, the MHK (Minister for the House of Keys) for Ayre, Edgar Quine called for the licence application process to be re-opened.  The Home Affairs Minister the Hon. Phil Braidwood rejected this request by stating that the IMIB application was the best received by the Island's Communications Commission.  The IMIB application did not stipulate a broadcast transmitter site, citing that it could be on land or at sea, and Mr. Braidwood stated this would not affect their application.  The rival applicant (Manx Broadcasting Corporation) initially planned to broadcast from a Dutch coast-based platform, placing them outside the Island's jurisdiction - they latterly suggested a platform in the Irish sea, this idea being dismissed as being very expensive by the Commision's Chairman, the Hon. Allan Bell.  In comparison, IMIB's platform would be smaller, and located in a sheltered area of Ramsey Bay.  In the Island's parliament, the Transport Minister, the Hon. John Shimmin said he was not proposing to open up a Public Inquiry for the transmission facility, and would only do so if the works would cause a hazard to safe sea navigation.  Objectors said the platform would be unregulated and that environmental concerns had not been considered.  The Island's Chief Minister challenged the objectors motives in the press and confirmed the siting licence was not for the Council to decide on, but for the Department of Transport.  

February 2002 saw the Isle of Man Communications Commission declare the previous provisional licence a substantive one and a declaration of an on-air date by the end of 2003.  August 2002 saw the next in a long line of setbacks for the MusicMann project.  A request for a judicial review on the entire project by an objector was adjourned to January 2003.  The request for the adjournment was in the form of a 'Petition of Doleance' being brought about by the Commissioners of Bride (a local parish council) who objected to the Isle Of Man Government's decision to allow the radio station to build it's offshore transmission platform.  It was thought the delayed hearing would take three days but that January would be the first available opportunity.  Until this hearing, the offshore platform could not be built, even though it was not IMIB that was defending the case.  The petitioners were asking the court to order the Government's Department Of Transport to look at the case again and hold a Public Inquiry.

September 2002 saw protesters and objectors circulating what were declared by IMIB as a 'simple re-run of unfounded scare stories circulated at the previous planning inquiry'.  The leaflets claimed there was a serious risk of pollution and danger from radio waves, but extensive tests failed to find any link between the radio waves and alleged risk of brain tumours or other cancers.  It was declared that radio waves, being 'non-ionising radiation' cannot alter the structure of living cells, with the only relevance being to the use of mobile phones which operate differently to radio waves.  Reference was made to the long term use of Long Wave signals, and in particular their regular siting near residential districts, BBC Radio Four's Droitwich transmitter being a prime example.  The National Radiological Protection Board and associated bodies said that the level for which invesitgation was required is 1000 volts per metre - the field strength in Ramsey, 9km awayy, was measured at less than 1 volt per metre.  Other concerns regarding pollution, noise and visual impact were addressed elsewhere in an Environmental Statement.  By late September, the two petitions against the Isle Of Man Government were set to be heard in November 2002, the defendants being the Island's Department of Transport and the Communications Commission.  The IMIB were represented.  

October 2002; Over in Ireland, ex-Radio Caroline and Radio Nova's Chris Carey made a 5m bid to state broadcaster RTE for their then completely owned 252LW frequency.  Cary was turned down by RTE.  At the time, IMIB said they were keen to see the frequency brought back into use, especially by a station as dynamic as Radio Nova, as this would attract more listeners to Long Wave.  IMIB had not considered bidding for the frequency themselves owing to the inland Irish location of the transmitter, it's design to cover Ireland, and it's inability to guarantee UK-wide coverage, signals being blocked by the Cambrian Mountain range of Wales.    IMIB's signal on 279 KHz, it said would have an easier path over the Midlands, and cover the south east much more easily, making the station very marketable.

As yet another change of year approached, taking this profile closer to date, November 2002 saw Government Advocate Mr. Stephen Harding refer to a station objector as a 'meddlesome busybody' on a number of occasions.  This was part of the High Court hearing in Douglas, to decide if the objector had ground to bring a Petition Of Doleance against the Communications Commission.  The objector's petition asked the court to quash the 279 licence claiming that any transmitter complying with frequency allocation must be close to the Point of Ayre and that this would affect him.  The hearing pointed out that consents were given on all licensing matters.  Even though the objector had never objected to the programming content of the station, he was now mistakenly objecting to the award of the licence, quite wrong if he really wanted to object to the transmission facility which is what he referred to in his affidavit.  The objector claimed to be 'an interested party' and that this had been acknowledged by the Communications Commission - the CC responded by saying it had merely courteously responded to the objectors letters as it would to any member of the public.  IMIB was allowed to present a case refuting the Petitioner's plea to be allowed to proceed.  The First Deemster, hearing the case, said several times that the court could not quash the licence award, but could only ask for a reconsideration.  The Deemster's judgement on whether the Petition of Doleance could be heard was reserved, and was expected to be heard at the end of 2002.  The objections crumbled in a hearing held in December 2002 after many objections were withdrawn, but the debate continued to rage.  

January 2003: The High Court dismissed the Petition of Doleance being brought by the Bride Commissioners against the Department of Transport objecting to its award of a Siting Licence for the long wave transmission facility in Ramsey Bay.  All in all, the Commissioners had raised seven objections, most of them withdrawn halfway through the court hearing.  They claimed they should have been consulted about the platform which would be only four kilometres from their coastline.  The court pointed out that the assessments concluded there would be no effect on the parish apart from very minor views of the installation and that there were no risks from pollution according to appropriate studies.  The Deemster dismissed the petition.  Paul Rusling said: "It is good news for Ramsey and excellent news for the Isle of Man," said Paul Rusling, the project's founder. "We can at last get on with building the facility and get the radio station on the air, hopefully during the Summer of 2003.  Its coverage of the entire British Isles, and beyond, will put the Island firmly on the map and enhance its international profile."

Despite grim determination from the station management, Isle Of Man International Broadcasting plc, the new year of 2003 brought yet more set backs.  April 2003 saw a challenge on the Communications Commission's decision to licence the station when another 'Petition of Doleance' was brought about.  At the time, the First Deemster ordered that the case should be heard as early as possible, with a further barrier being placed in the form of a Summer Recess of 2003.  June of 2003 saw what was thought to be the last remaining hurdle when the Bride resident's Petition of Doleance was set to be heard.  The petitioner alleged that the decision to award the broadcast licence was made unreasonably and that it failed to respond to his requests for information.  The High Court had already decided that the resident was not an affected party.  A hearing was set for 30th September 2003 after the Summer Recess.  

But just a matter of days before the hearing, there was yet another delay.  The hearing was then declared not likely until November 2003 following a request from the objector's advocate for a further adjournment as he was off work with shingles.  The Government's Advocate and IMIB representatives protested stating that the Petitioner's case should be ready and that any advocate could present the evidence - either way, the case should only take two days and not four as had been requested.  But the Acting Deemster granted the adjournment nevertheless. 

IMIB's founder, the legendary Paul Rusling said; "We are very frustrated to be stymied yet again by this complaint, which has already been described in court as frivolous and vexatious. The objector has been found to be not affected by our proposals and we don't understand his continued interest or his meddling in the matter. He has failed to communicate his fears to us direct, despite our invitations to do so, and we have placed in the public domain all the evidence that proves the fears are unfounded.  Eighteen months have been lost as a result of this petition, costing not only our shareholders anxiety and delays, but also depriving the Island as a whole a powerful radio voice which could be useful in boosting its exports and raising its profile."

"We are however very determined and this extra delay will not deter us from pressing on.," Mr Rusling assured the Company's shareholders recently. "We have now had thousands of messages of support and expressions of good will; the project has become much more than just a commercial project or yet another radio station. It has become a torch for many who believe in widening the choice of programme supplier and new innovative broadcast techniques. It also offers a unique opportunity for the Isle of Man.  Everything else is ready to run and we are determined to launch the station at the earliest opportunity."  

November 2003: Still, no hearing date had been set - and this was six months since the Deemster ordered the case to be heard as soon as possible, and stated that the Summer Recess should not be a barrier.  Speaking recently at the still-evident lack of leadership on this issue, Paul Rusling said: 'It's an amazing and appalling situation, that a project so huge and potentially valuable to the Isle of Man can be delayed so often and so long by administrative lethargy.  The main difficulty seems to be arranging a time convenient to all parties and when the High Court in Douglas has four clear days, as we are told that this is how long the Petitioner, Mr. L. N. Cussons, claims he needs to present his case."  

December 2003: From a negative, comes a positive. IMIB's Marketing Director Geoffrey Holliman declared that the delay was actually helping in the establishment of the Long Wave station.  "Our original schedule would have seen us launch over two years ago, into a period when the broadcast industry was suffering from a slump in advertising," he said. "This may have made life a little difficult for us in our launch year, however radio revenues are now improving with most other stations experiencing substantial increases in revenues of late, particularly the national AM stations - Talksport is enjoying double digit growth in revenues for example.  The delays caused by the legal challenge may well prove to be fortuitous, moving our launch into this rather more buoyant period for radio than we might have experienced ."

January 2004: The Petition of Doleance against the Communications Commission has finally been listed for hearing in January.  The case will commence on Monday 19th at 10am in the High Court in Douglas, and is due to last for four days.  IMIB's management team are now firmly looking forward to beginning to construction of the transmission platform.  Is this the beginning of the end and the beginning of the beginning?  Is this the longest long-wave station ever?   More details here and via our newspage.

The station, targeted at adults aged 25-50, will operate across the UK and Ireland as well as surrounding parts of Europe, on a number of other platforms besides the 279LW frequency - notably short wave, satellite (SKY Digital), mobile telephone, digital radio and TV, and, not surprisingly, the Internet.  It will aim to promote the resources of the Island to a wider audience, particularly it's suggestion as a holiday destination and it's other business sides, plus the fact that it has a broad range of music artists - for example, The Bee Gees wrote many songs there. Whilst full programming details have not been made public yet, the IMIB team promise a station that will be different, innovative, interesting and exciting, and that it will NOT be more of the same, i.e. that it will not sound like any other station currently on the air in the UK. There will be no competition with any other radio station and it will not be a juke box music format, although the station will be music-led.  

The management of the station have much experience in the UK Broadcasting industries of television and radio and look set to put this to good use on the new station, and additionally, it is hoped that the station will employ many well known broadcasters and celebrities.   At the first announcement of the station, Paul Rusling said: "There is room in the market for a radio station serving adults," he explains. "Most stations are youth oriented, and as such are in demand by advertisers, however the baby boomer generation is forgotten by all but BBC Radio 2, which doesn't accept commercials. There is a tremendous thirst by advertisers to reach that audience."

IMIB experts conclude that the station's 500m watt long-wave transmitters will provide adequate coverage over the entire British Isles, the Netherlands, part of Belgium and France, Denmark and a small part of Germany.  Listeners inside this area should be able to hear a clear signal on 279kHz during daylight.  After dark, coverage will vary due to the requirement to reduce power to protect other users of the frequency around the World, however station representatives conclude that reception across the UK at night will be adequate.  

MusicMann 279 is still the working title of the radio station, the name is subject to further market research immediately prior to launch and is not necessarily the 'on air' name of the station. IMIB can be contacted at PO Box 279, Ramsey, IM99 4HT.   www.longwaveradio.com

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TALK RADIO UK / TALK RADIO / talkSPORT: The third INR station to begin broadcasting, was a speech-based service called Talk Radio.  It operated on the two old BBC Radio 1 AM frequencies of 1053 & 1089khz, 275 & 285 metres medium wave.  It was during the early part of 1994 that BBC Radio 1 interspersed it's AM transmissions with the instructions to change to FM to continue listening.  Radio 1 had moved from the old 1214khz, 247m frequency to the new home in November 1978 as part of Auntie's plans to improve the overall quality of AM signals across the UK - Radio 1 programme output finished at 6pm on 1st July 1994.  This was due to the BBC's equivalent of the old IBA and subsequently RA's policy of not simulcasting on two frequencies and to encourage commercial radio on the AM band.  The RA had licenced the new commercial station on it's old frequencies.  Eventually, from 6pm Friday 1st June 1994, Steve Wright finished his show and as if to make a point and go out on with a anorak style bang, a string of Radio 1 jingles were aired including those with the 97-99 ident as well as the final play of the old 275/285 and 247 jingles of old.  After normal output and the jingle jams had ceased, the BBC continued to air a looped announcement by Mark Goodier directing Radio 1 listeners to FM.  Additionally, Harry Enfield's Mr. Chalmondley-Warner character recorded a tongue-in-cheek but almost reluctant frequency relinquishing message and a gesture of defiance for the BBC which was also played.  This included sombre classical music and the lines '...regrettably, and as a result of hasty legislation, the BBC is relinquishing this frequency to be used by a new commercial radio company....Talk Radio UK commences it's service of frank and explicit chitter-chatter, entertainment and unpleasantness.    Listeners are warned that this new service is quite unsuitable for persons of a nervous disposition, and we strongly recommend that your wireless be safely switched off, prior to Tuesday 14th February and then disconnected at the mains.  For their own safety, please also ensure that children, elderly relatives and servants do not have access to a portable transistor.   The BBC is now saying 'goodbye' to listeners everywhere.'  To enjoy the recordings of these transitional moments in full, and for access to other Radio 1 goodies, please visit: www.radiorewind.co.uk/Transmitter.htm

By the new year of 1995, the new licence holder had begun placing advertising on satellite radio stations, these being arguably cheaper than the mainstream terrestrial channels perhaps. In early February,  Talk Radio began airing their own looped announcements from future station presenters.  As the middle of the month grew ever closer, a longer trailer announced the station's launch for Tuesday 14th February 1995.  Well known and soon-to-be respected names brought speech-based radio to a new level - Sean Bolger, Scott Chisholm, Anna Raeburn, Tommy Boyd, Caesar The Geezer, Vanessa Feltz, Jeremy Beadle, Terry Christian, Garry Newbon, Dale Winton, and latterly Charlie Wolf, Nick Abbot & James Whale to name but a few.   Talk Radio, whilst being fairly entertaining, ran at a loss and struggled to make a real impact in an increasingly competitive radio market.  When the station launched, there was a clear intention to replicate the 'shock jock' radio style heard on a widespread scale in the United States - the 'UK' addition on the end of the station title suggesting this was 'more of the same' perhaps.  However, the 'shock jock' was soon phased out and the 'UK' moniker was dropped too.

In 1998, former editor of newspaper 'The Sun', Kelvin McKenzie led a consortium, with the help of old employers News International,  to buy the five year old Talk Radio - and, as of 17th January 2000, it evolved into the station we have today - talkSPORT.  Previously offered as an alternative 'internet' only sports-focused service at talksport.net, and referred to as 'The UK's first all-sport radio station', this was possibly a way of assessing the viability of such a format, and so it found it's way to conventional analogue airwaves.  Retaining the original strands of it's licence remit, i.e. talk, the station took a distinctive step towards sports orientated output, whilst still retaining airtime for general conversation and debate.  Here, clearly, was a plan to give the BBC's Five Live a run for it's licence payers money.  Sports specific conversational content tails off during the evenings.  Prior to launch, Talk Radio's chief exec, the aforementioned Mr. McKenzie said that the output would "give a broad spectrum of sports enthusiasts just what they had always wanted.  The British public loves sport.  Our research proves that we are already winning a new, younger more attractive audience.  talkSPORT will not just appeal to fans, but players, managers, everyone involved in the business of sport.  There is a significant gap for this station - we will fill it with an intelligent, compelling and unique product.  Listeners who want the best sports coverage will now know where to come.  If you miss it, you'll miss out."  The announced line-up for the station included a show for motoring fans, racing pundit Brough Scott, ex-footballer and commentator Alan Brazil and cricketer Geoff Boycott.  Late night phone-in shows would be hosted by James Whale and Ian Collins.  

As soon as the station's format was changed, a fierce battle commenced between the station and the BBC, directly with the Radio Five Live service, but this was not just for listeners, but for broadcasting rights to carry commentary and coverage of prominent and popular sporting events.  The BBC weren't unduly worried or surprised with the then Five Live's deputy controller fully aware of Kelvin McKenzie's plans to relaunch the station - but they inferred that a sports station was 'only as good as it's live commentary' referring to their mix of live sport and news having been 'highly successful and popular with listeners' making the station 'confident' of remaining 'Britain's most listened to radio station'.  The last laugh on this issue came to neither party - October 2000's audience figures showed a loss of listeners over the Summer, hardly surprising as this was peak holiday season, but Five Live showed an increased of it's share of the overall radio audience and the commercial future competitor profiled here logged the largest quarter-on-quarter loss of any national radio station, this before the re-investment and relaunch as talkSPORT.  

In June 2003, the station formerly known as talkRadio, formerly running at a loss, now known as talkSPORT since January 2000, and now owned by The Wireless Group (TWG) since November 1998, announced it has for the first time, made a trading profit.  At the managing group's AGM, Chairman and Chief Exec, Kelvin McKenzie made the announcement and referred back to when the group purchased the then ailing station when it was losing 11m annually.  It had operated at a loss since it commenced broadcasting in February of 1995.  In the first six months of 2003, the station made an operating profit compared to the same period in the previous year when there was an operating loss of just over half a million pounds.  

This news followed hot on the heels of the fact that talkSPORT had been recognised as the Number One commercial station in the UK in a survey conducted by GfK Media, which concluded that the station had a weekly reach of 8million adults, more than national commercial broadcaster Classic FM and nearly double Virgin Radio's audience, this comparison being made despite the obvious differences in format.  Kelvin McKenzie used this information, compiled from his self-designed wrist watch audience listening device to collect the figures which were totally the opposite to those shown by RAJAR, traditionally the source of audience research figures, used by advertisers and stations alike.  Action is pending as of late 2003.  McKenzie argues that the RAJAR figures are costing the station revenue as advertisers act solely on the RAJAR figures when making decisions as to where to place advertising.  A court hearing is not expected until late 2004 or even early 2005.  

The profitability statement for the station now brings the country into line with US and Australian commercial speech stations which have been profitable for some time.  TWG looked for ways of expanding the format, and applied for the third FM regional licence for the West Midlands with it's newsTALK 105.2 service, facing stiff competition from the West Midlands' variant of London's LBC, in this case WBC.  If they'd been successful with their newsTALK bid, TWG believed it could signal the start of what it called 'a long overdue expansion of populist, commercial speech radio stations that will successfully challenge the monopoly of the BBC'.  TWG revenues were up 1.4% for the six months ending June 2003 when compared to the previous year's equivalent period which included revenues from the World Cup coverage period.  

talkSPORT can be heard on the following frequencies for the areas and geographical locations shown;

1053kHz (Bournemouth, Brighton, Droitwich, Dumfries, Dundee, Exeter, Hull, Londonderry, Rosemarkle, Postwick, Pulmer Barracks, Stockton & Tenbridge transmitters)

1071kHz (Wrekenton & Clipstone transmitters)

1089kHz (Brookmans Park, Dartford Tunnel. Lisnagarvey,  Moorside Edge, Redmoss, Redruth, Washford & Westerglen transmitters) 

1107kHz (Boston, Fareham, Gatwick, Lydd, Occombe & Wallasey transmitters)

It is also carried on SkyDigital Channel 858, NTL Digital Channel 899, Telewest Broadband Digital Channel 927, via the internet, and the DAB Digital Radio network operated by Digital Onewww.talksport.net (For an unofficial station website, we recommend a visit to www.talksport1089.co.uk also available via our links page)

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VIRGIN 105.8 / VIRGIN 1215 : (INR2) 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.  For it was he who launched Virgin 1215(a national AM service) on the 30th April 1993.  Part of Richard Branson's Virgin empire, it was at 12:15pm that Richard himself launched the UK's first and then, only commercial rock radio station: Virgin 1215.  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 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 - by 10th April 1995, the second Virgin Radio station came on-line in London using 105.8FM.  January 1997 saw Chris 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.  And in December of 1997, Chris 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.  

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 it's 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 Radio Authority 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's 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 Capital's 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 ad 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's 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 station's actions 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 due to 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 and on June 26th 2003, a High Court Judge ruled in favour of SMG - Evans lost - nevertheless, there have 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 now looking forward to the future with ambitious plans to bring Virgin Radio to the West Midlands and Glasgow.  Both stations are 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.  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, the station has had a busy life, in ownership and on-air appearances - but, as for it's 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 www.virginradio.co.uk where you can also listen to Virgin Radio Classic Rock.  

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