Aircheck UK - Bedfordshire

UPDATED: 19/09/2003

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BBC RADIO BEDFORDSHIRE: This BBC local station launched on the morning of 24th June 1985.  Over it's 7 years 10 months of transmissions, presentation staff included Derbyshire resident and ex-Blue Peter presenter Simon Groom, and the man who would go on to be the first black presenter to front BBC Radio 1ís weekly chart show broadcast on a Sunday beginning a run of presenters who wouldn't use their own names - on this occasion it was The Man Ezeke.  Despite it's name, it's also served Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.  Extended transmission coverage and a crossing of boundaries by the same, required a wider outlook and a fresher, more relevant name.  BBC Radio Bedfordshire closed on April 4th 1993. 

BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIO serves Bedfordshire on 95.5, Buckinghamshire on 104.5 & Hertfordshire on 103.8FM.  AM services are on 630 & 1161.  It launched on April 5th 1993 as a short-lived mouthful - BBC Radio Bedfordshire with Herts and Bucks.  It was not long before sense prevailed.  Two years on, the station dropped it's music and speech format in favour of the national BBC format for local radio - speech, speech and more speech.  But this seems to have been to great success for the station - add to this it's weighty 25 hours of programming per week for the Afro-Caribbean, Irish, Italian and Asian communities, and you begin to see what a mark the station has made on it's audience in a comparatively short space of time.  The station prides itself on it's coverage of football (Watford & Luton Town FC) & rugby (Bedford and Saracens). Joining networked presenters Keith Skues and Steve Madden, is local resident, but Derbyshire born, Dave Lee Travis, who joined for a weekend show from March 10th 2003.  The station broadcasts from it's transmission facilities at Hastings Street in Luton.                    


CHILTERN RADIO / B97 / 96.9 & 97.6 CHILTERN FM Bedford's ILR station, came to air as Chiltern Radio on 1st March 1982, currently broadcasting from studios at 55 Goldington Road in Bedford.  It used to be part of the Chiltern Radio Network with other local stations Northants 96, Severn Sound and Horizon Radio also sister stations in neighbouring counties.  Chiltern Radio commenced broadcasting on 97.5FM & 362 (828kHz) AM with another service on 95.5 vhf & 792 AM, from studios at Chiltern Road in Dunstable - a pre-launch newspaper released in Autumn 1981 referred to a launch across Bedfordshire & North Hertfordshire on October 15th 1981 announcing a strapline of '362 the whole day through'.  There were 350 local shareholders across the transmission area at launch.  

Luton's Chiltern Radio service commenced 15th October 1981, currently broadcasting on 97.6FM as 97.6 Chiltern FM.

(NETWORK NEWS was set up from the Chiltern Radio area as a competitor for IRN, delivered by satellite: Angus Moorat was the main controller of the new news service which was set up around the time that both them and ITN felt it was time to give IRN a run for their money.  After a difficult start, Network News had just begun to start making an impression into IRN's market, with several stations joining the new service with a subscription.  Upon the takeover of Chiltern Radio Group, GWR told the space sharing news service that there was no room for it in their plans (obviously), and so gave it it's notice.  With the immense cost of relocating and even finding suitable accommodation, this proved the final nail in the news service's coffin - it ended through GWR's immensely ruthless takeover of UK ILR stations and groups.)

The Chiltern Network provided a central corridor of different radio stations, down the M1 from south of Leicester to the outskirts of London which gave a great deal of listening pleasure to many - making journeys rather more easier to bare.  This ended in 1995 when Chiltern Radio Group was purchased, but not without a fight, by GWR who were raging through the ILR sector with similar acquisitions across the UK.  GWR changed Chiltern's 96.9 service to give it a more local identity for Bedfordshire, and it became the oddly titled B97 - however Chiltern's name was of such high status locally, that eventually, the name returned in time for the corporate GWR Mix network flare design as 96.9 Chiltern FM.  The current licence runs until 14th October 2009.  

News output is perhaps one of the most likely pieces of broadcasting content that can be got wrong easily.  And in 2003, for 97.6 Chiltern FM, it's coverage of the firefighter's dispute led to a £5,226.92 fine by the The Radio Authority for failing to comply.  A listener complained that the station had breached undue prominence rules in it's output - and so, as per standard procedures, the RA asked for tapes of two successive days worth of output.  Chiltern were unable to supply, which didn't allow the RA the chance to conclude whether the station's output from mid November 2002, had been right or wrong.  

Output content must be retained by radio stations for 42 days after live broadcast - and must be made available to the RA on request.  As this was not possible, a fine of £5,000 plus other associated costs totally £226.92 were imposed, although the station's reputation for previous good behaviour was considered along with other comments made to the panel by station management.  The RA's Richard Hooper was disappointed that a group the size of
GWR could not retain adequate programming archives. 


CHILTERN RADIO / CHILTERN RADIO SUPERGOLD: A now legendary GOLD service, even carried via satellite for the purposes of networking, Supergold was launched by Chiltern Radio plc on Sunday 24th June 1990, following authority requests to split frequencies into separate services or lose them.  It operated from Studio 1 at the Dunstable Studio HQ, and was first networked to the Chiltern Radio 792AM Bedford and Northants 1557AM transmitter, as well we the Luton & Dunstable 828AM transmitter.  Chiltern Radio later acquired Severn Sound and this led to the creation of Severn Sound Supergold on their 774Am transmitter.  Supergold launched at 10:00am with Tony Lloyd and Colin Wiltshire.  Programming continued until 7:00pm when the Hot-FM sustainer carried through with networked programming until breakfast time the next day.  

Colin Wiltshire was on breakfast, Bill Overton operated the phone-in hour at 10.00am, with Dave Foster till 3.00pm, and Tony Lloyd at Drive, until 7.00pm.  Sunday programming included Paul Burrell and the Elvis Hour with Willie Morgan who later went on to host the 'Sunday Will Never Be The Same..' show too in early 1991.  

CLASSIC GOLD: Following the takeover of Chiltern Radio in 1995, GWR rolled out Classic Gold for Luton and Bedford (Classic Gold 792/828 the old Chiltern Radio Supergold), Northampton (Classic Gold 1557 the old Northants Radio Supergold) and Gloucester (Classic Gold 774 the old Severn Sound Supergold).  The takeover also enabled GWR to base Classic Gold at Chiltern's HQ in Dunstable, where Chiltern's own Supergold service had previously been based.  Classic Gold is supposedly owned by UBC who operate as Classic Gold Digital Ltd, after they purchased it from GWR due to restrictions in who could own stations.  However, a clause was written in to the sale, so that GWR could buy the stations back again 'when' authority restrictions are relaxed.  Hardly a sale then you might say!  Classic Gold 828's licence for Luton & Bedfordshire expires on 14th October 2010.  


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).   It's sister station in the North West started four years later.  This particular station's format is one of jazz, soul, blues and r `n` 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 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 inbetween, 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.  


RSL:  Bedfordshire saw the return of Biggles FM on 87.9 on June 28th for the odd length of 23 days - however, this was their longest to date, and serviced Biggleswade, Potton and Sandy.  Local news and events information, interviews, Carnival features and music from the 60s to today features.  The station first aired back in July 2002 after the concept was devised by Alan Waring, experienced in the construction of radio equipment.  The second broadcast aired pre-Christmas 2002.  No presenters actually work in radio professionally, but some operate mobile discos and have been known to Alan since school.  Find out more at


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