Aircheck UK - Cambridgeshire 

UPDATED: 17/10/2003

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire (96 (South) & 95.7FM (North) broadcasts as far north as Spalding (Lincs), as far south as Letchworth (Cambs), as far west as Oundle (Huntingdonshire), and eastwards as far as Newmarket.  Officially launched on May 1st 1982, the station's first transmissions were only a few hours at breakfast and two hours in late afternoon.  A full service came on line within the first year after public demand.  

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has studios in both Cambridge and Peterborough. Cambridgeshire, however, is a big county and from the station's early days it was recognised that studios were needed across the transmission area.  As a result, a team of BBC engineers were sent out to Wisbech, March, Ely & Huntingdon to set up  un-manned studios, and equip a rather more unusual studio in the underground bunker of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Momentous on-air moments include Prince Edward's graduation from Cambridge University in 1986 and John Major's first interview as Prime Minister in 1990.  Professor Stephen Hawking, the author of 'A Brief History of Time' is a listener and fan of the station's long-running comedy series "Dennis of Grunty Fen".

The BBC designated Cambridge and Peterborough as bi-media units in 1997, with programme makers working across both radio and TV.   The Cambridge studios are now home to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and substantial parts of the BBC regional news programme, Look East.  This was expanded further in 2001 when BBC Cambridgeshire became a tri-media unit with the launch of a 'Where I Live' website to cover news, sport, travel, weather and entertainment across the county.

Presenters to appear as part of networked evening and overnight programming are Steve Madden, Keith Skues and Stephen Bumfrey.

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BBC RADIO PETERBOROUGH: An opt-out service from Radio Cambridgeshire, it ran for around five years from 1990.  Peterborough is still served by a specific service, although this now comes under the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire name.  (See above).

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR)

CAMBRIDGE COMMUNITY RADIO / CAMBRIDGE CAFE RADIO / CAMBRIDGE RED 107.9FM / 107.9 THE EAGLE / STAR 107.9: Launched as Cambridge Cafe Radio, it began broadcasting full time on 23rd March 1998 - but was formed from the base of an RSL outfit called CCR or Cambridge Community Radio.  It regularly featured community programming, some of which was produced by local University students.  Adrian Juste found a home at the station under it's 'Cambridge' names. 

The name 'Red' was part of a local media enterprise set up in 1997 by local businessman Peter Dawe, who aimed to provide Cambridge with it's very own cross media centre.  He set up Dawe Media which consisted of cable-tv station Cambridge Red TV, Cambridge Red Radio (renamed to fit in with the corporate ID) and the Cambridge Red Studio Bar, all based in Sturton Street's Red Studio.  The bar was sold and operates locally as 'CC's'.  

Cambridge Red ceased transmissions on 29th July 2000.  This was due to the station's acquisition by UKRD which took over the interest of Dawe Media when it dropped out of the radio market earlier in the year.  Two days of test transmissions followed after which, on Monday 31st July 2000, it was relaunched as 107.9 The Eagle - one of three Eagle brands, the others in Guildford and Bristol at the time.  

On relaunch, it followed a format of classic hits with local news, information and travel (the latter four times and hour in peaktime programming) - with the music format featuring a wide range of songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s and current chart hits - there were also extended bulletins of news at lunch and drivetime.  A series of specialist programmes included a Soul show at weekends and a science show every Sunday night.  The deal also saw UKRD take control of KL.FM in King's Lynn, Norfolk and Oxford's Oxygen 107.9FM.  The deal also meant that UKRD became a significant minority shareholder in Lite FM, however, they disposed of their interests to GWR in 2000.  

A further rebranding from The Eagle to Star 107.9 came in 2001 in line with similar rebrandings for the sister Bristol station - and Ely's X-CEL FM, with this new launch playing "better music and more of it", without "wind-up phonecalls and kiddie countdowns".  The rebranding promised more popular 70s, 80s & 90s classics and a pledge to 'get rid of the rap and constant yapping' with at least 107 minutes of continuous music during weekday mornings.  www.star1079.co.uk 

(The other STAR stations are: Star 107 (Stroud in Gloucestershire - previously Easy FM & 107 The Falcon), Star 107.3 (Bristol in Avon/Somerset - previously Kute FM & 107.3 The Eagle), Star 107.5 (Cheltenham in Gloucestershire - previously The CAT/CAT FM), Star 107.7 (Weston-Super-Mare in Avon/Somerset - previously 107.7 WFM), Star 106.6 in Berkshire) and The Fens Star 107 in the Fenland area of Cambridgeshire - formerly X-CEL FM)

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HEREWARD RADIO/102.7 HEREWARD FM This station is older than some believe, coming on air 10th July 1980 as Hereward Radio on 102.7 FM & 1332AM.  It made a notable impact upon launch and was one of the quiet stations, getting on with the business until a requirement from the authorities to provide differing services on FM & AM created one of the greatest but shortest lived GOLD stations - WGMS - see below.  In the early nineties, GWR were buying radio stations as if the management's lives depended on it - and so Hereward became another 'better music mix' station around 1994 and now fits the mould of current GWR strapline, the similar 'today's best mix'

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HEREWARD RADIO / THE WORLDS GREATEST MUSIC STATION (WGMS) / CLASSIC GOLD 1332: WGMS launched 14th April 1992 as the AM sister station to Hereward FM which had previously simulcast on AM.  Arguably one of the greatest GOLD stations that never was, it's time on-air was short lived and restricted to approximately two years when both local ILR stations were acquired by GWR in the early to mid 90s.  It was subsequently re-branded into the Classic Gold network as Classic Gold 1332www.classicgolddigital.com 

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LITE FM: The Radio Authority's closing date for receipt of applications for the new SALLIE (small-scale alternative local licences within the Cambridgeshire area was the 13th October 1998.  Each licence offered for the FM service to cover a location within the county of Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough itself, but not Cambridge and surrounding areas.  At the time, the RA felt two frequencies would be suitable for these services, but did consider offering further frequencies if it felt the need.  

There were five applicants for the licences: 

HCR (HUNTINGDONSHIRE COMMUNITY RADIO LTD.) - 22 High Street, Warboys, Huntingdonshhire PE17 2RH: a 24-hour local radio service for Huntingdonshire, incorporating melodic quality/familiar music with authoritative local news and information and extensive involvement of community organisations;

LITE FM (G.P. BROADCASTING LTD) – Second Floor, 5 Church Street, Peterborough PE1 1XB; a very local station, playing soft rock music, appealing primarily to people aged 25-44, with a vibrant mixture of friendly, informative, entertaining and cogent speech, catering directly for the tastes and interests of the Peterborough community, including local, national and international news and information;

OASIS FM (PETERBOROUGH RADIO LTD.) – The Attic Studio, Peterborough Arts Centre, Goldhay Way, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough PE2 5JQ; a truly local full-service station for Peterborough aimed at people aged 15 to 54, playing easy listening all-time favourite hit music from the 1970s to today, and featuring local news, interviews and lifestyle information;

SHIRE FM LTD. – St. George’s House, George Street, Huntingdon, PE18 6BD; a predominantly music based radio service of popular music from the 60s to today, with a high level of local news, views and features to inform and entertain the community in the town of Huntingdon and the immediate surrounding area;

X-CEL FM LTD. – 46 Camel Road, Littleport, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 1EW (Tony Buckingham); an entirely local radio service combining quality local speech content and a rock/adult contemporary music format reflecting, and relating to, the Fenland region of Cambridgeshire. (see below)

LITE FM were subsequently awarded the licence to broadcast on 106.8FM.  Peterborough's adult contemporary music station, with local news and sport for 25-45 target market, it launched on 24th July 1999 and broadcasts from studios at 5 Church Street in the centre of Peterborough Town Centre.  At launch, it was owned and operated by GP Broadcasting.   It's broadcast radius spreads to Spalding in the North, Wisbech to the East, Stamford and Market Deeping in the West and as far South as Sawtry.   On 1st December 1999 UKRD acquired the radio interests of Dawe Media which included KL.FM in King's Lynn, Norfolk, Cambridge Red Radio and Oxford's Oxygen 107.9FM. The deal also meant that UKRD became a significant minority shareholder in Lite FM, however, they disposed of their interests to GWR in 2000.  

In November 2000, the Radio Authority received word from GWR Group plc, which held the licence for 102.7 Hereward FM, that it intended to acquire a controlling interest in GP Broadcasting.  The provisions of the 1996 Broadcasting Act state that a company can't own two overlapping FM licences unless the RA considers no adverse effects would be caused against the public interest.  They have a duty to ensure plurality in the local radio market and to ensure the range of programming is maintained, that there is diversity in the sources of information and opinion. 

GWR looked to spend £2million on acquiring the station, this despite the fact that it was, at the time, over it's ownership limit having acquired DMG's radio interests.  GWR agreed to take a 62% shareholding, paying almost £1.25m in cash, and offered GP shareholders an alternative offer to take GWR Group shares.  But in March 2001, GP Broadcasting announced that Forward Media had purchased 100% of the shares.  This meant there was no longer a necessity for the RA to consider GWR's approach - and so Lite became part of Forward's stable of stations, which include Northamptonshire's Connect FM and Southport's Dune FM.  

Since it's launch, the station has seen a huge swell in listeners.  According to RAJAR/IPSOS figures for the quarter ending March 2002, from April 2001 to March 2002, there was a massive 85% increase in audience figures making it the area's fastest growing radio station.  David Hamilton was once a director of the station.  

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CNFM / CNFM 103 / Q103 / Q103 FM (Cambridge): CNFM launched on 12th February 1989 - it's name being made up of the initiaals of the two major urban areas of Cambridge and Newmarket.  A moment of note for the station was in 1993 when Virgin 1215 presenter Nick Abbot, renowned for similar on-air gags, and having been begged to call them by his listeners, got permission from his bosses to call CNFM presenter Wayne Fitzgerald. Nick was on-air, Wayne was busy playing a record.  We'll direct you to www.w2s.net/chris/transcr.html for the transcript and other Nick Abbot funnies, but meanwhile, back to the profile of CNFM!  

The station changed it's name to Q103 in June 1994 when GWR took control of a huge swathe of UK radio stations including CNFM, and rebranded them with the now unsettlingly familiar phrase of 'today's better music mix'  latterly, 'today's best mix'.  Maybe people have got the message just a little bit too much - a Cambridge University student learnt two things when studying locally - 'DOVE doesn't dry your skin like soap can' and 'Q103 is a better music mix for Cambridge.'  Sad really.

A year later, upon re-advertisement of it's licence, it faced competition from a consortium of 'Investors In Radio' and 'The East of England Broadcasting Company' - formed by Border Radio Holdings (Century) and CLT UK Radio (Atlantic 252 / Luxembourg) - the competing station being 'Trax FM'.  The opposing bid was unsuccessful of course.  

The station is designed to be a contemporary and chart music and information station for the under 40s, with music content consisting of chart hits and new releases and a maximum of 25% of music output being up to ten years old.  Speech content is a paltry 10% of output, which should consist of items of local relevance.  The station's licence permits specialist music programmes up to 30 hours a week outside of peak hours.   Whilst operating a 24-hour service, only 13 needs to be locally orientated during weekdays, 12 hours Saturday and 8 hours of local programming on Sunday, with the rest of the day coming from the GWR Mix Headquarters.  

Q103 broadcasts on two frequencies - 97.4 for Newmarket and 103FM for Cambridge, from studios at Enterprise House on the Vision Park, Chivers Way in Histon.

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THE WORLDS GREATEST MUSIC STATION (WGMS): See HEREWARD RADIO above.

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X-CEL FM / THE FENS STAR 107:  The Radio Authority's closing date for receipt of applications for the new SALLIE (small-scale alternative local licences within the Cambridgeshire area was the 13th October 1998.  Each licence offered for the FM service to cover a location within the county of Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough itself, but not Cambridge and surrounding areas.  At the time, the RA felt two frequencies would be suitable for these services, but did consider offering further frequencies if it felt the need.  

There were five applicants for the licences: 

HCR (HUNTINGDONSHIRE COMMUNITY RADIO LTD.) - 22 High Street, Warboys, Huntingdonshhire PE17 2RH: a 24-hour local radio service for Huntingdonshire, incorporating melodic quality/familiar music with authoritative local news and information and extensive involvement of community organisations;

LITE FM (G.P. BROADCASTING LTD) – Second Floor, 5 Church Street, Peterborough PE1 1XB; a very local station, playing soft rock music, appealing primarily to people aged 25-44, with a vibrant mixture of friendly, informative, entertaining and cogent speech, catering directly for the tastes and interests of the Peterborough community, including local, national and international news and information; (see above)

OASIS FM (PETERBOROUGH RADIO LTD.) – The Attic Studio, Peterborough Arts Centre, Goldhay Way, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough PE2 5JQ; a truly local full-service station for Peterborough aimed at people aged 15 to 54, playing easy listening all-time favourite hit music from the 1970s to today, and featuring local news, interviews and lifestyle information;

SHIRE FM LTD. – St. George’s House, George Street, Huntingdon, PE18 6BD; a predominantly music based radio service of popular music from the 60s to today, with a high level of local news, views and features to inform and entertain the community in the town of Huntingdon and the immediate surrounding area;

X-CEL FM LTD. – 46 Camel Road, Littleport, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 1EW (Tony Buckingham); an entirely local radio service combining quality local speech content and a rock/adult contemporary music format reflecting, and relating to, the Fenland region of Cambridgeshire.

The RA welcomed responses from the public for their consideration by the 25th January 1999.  Based in Littleport, just to the north of the Cambridgeshire town of Littleport, it was X-CEL FM that obtained a radio licence around April / May of 1999.  It was originally licenced with two frequencies - 107.1 & 107.5FM to serve Ely, Wisbech and March.  From the outset, the station promised to make regular appearances around Fenland with one of their first OBs coming from the Pymoor Agricultural and Country Show which was staged on 3rd July 1999.  Named as 'X-CEL FM 'The Home of the Tiger',, the station initially used a tag line of "Rockin' Radio Across the Fens", when it launched on 3rd October 1999, and was the Fenland area's first Independent Local Radio Service.  Most of daytime air-play consisted of standard rock tracks but also showed a strong commitment to local talent, featuring a local band each week.  They also featured an indie music programme on Thursday evenings, which encouraged new local bands to submit recordings for airing.  During the application procedure, the station's website featured a selection of informative local history pages - however, such featured were ditched when launched.  Amongst the presenters on the station was the man who played 'Pickle' in the children's TV game show 'Knightmare' - David Learner.  He would depart from his Sunday afternoon show upon the arrival of new owners.

In August 2001, the man behind the launch of X-CEL FM, Tony Buckingham brought a conclusion to a highly competitive sale of the station, which serves around 160,000 adults around.  He sold the station to UKRD, one of many interested companies - UKRD were already operating a station under the Star brand, and at the time, owned or invested in a total of 14 stations around the UK.  Having acquired the station, in the September of 2001, the group Chief Operating Officer, William Rogers annouced two new appointments - Amelia Woolley became the first Sales Director for both Cambridge and Ely - joining with experience with what was then GWR station Q103.  James Keen, then the MD and PC for Star 107.9 was appointed to lead X-CEL FM in addition to his Star role.  UKRD would swiftly go on to purchase Westcom Media, owners of Cat FM in Cheltenham and WFM in Weston-Super-Mare.

Within a short time, UKRD rolled out their Star brand further, and the X-CEL FM name disappeared.  Today, the station is still licenced in the Radio Authority's eyes as a rock and adult contemporary music station featuring quality local speech, and broadcasts from studios at 5 Church Mews in Wisbech.  107.1FM serves Ely and 107.5 serves the Wisbech audience.  The station is now officially titled The Fens Star 107.                                                                        www.star1071.co.uk 

COMMERCIAL:  REGIONAL

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

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

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

HOSPITAL RADIO:  

Radio 590 serves Edith Cavell and Peterborough District Hospitals providing programmes aimed at making a stay in hospital a little more fun!  590 airs from 8pm weekdays and at weekends.  It launched on 23rd February 1973 following the official opening ceremony from the then Mayor of Peterborough Mr. Roy Topley and using a budget of £250 for equipment build and a year of hard work.  The station has since moved out of the basement studios at the District Hospital to a new purpose built studio in Edith Cavell Hospital.  

The originator was a Mr. Chas Lee - who was involved in lengthy deliberations about the station's name.  And you might wonder the same thing!  Why Radio 590?  Well, the station was the fifth voluntary organisation in the hospital - so it was called Radio 5...and here you can see the future problem which was to face station management.  On came BBC Radio Five in 1990 and so '90 was added leaving Radio 590.  Station staff feel that even with the growth in radio stations nationally, only hospital radio can provide a personal service which is their trademark in entertaining the patients.  

RSL:  

DCR (Diesel City Radio) The Cambridgeshire town of Peterborough has been entertained by RSL station DCR (Diesel City Radio) in a broadcast from 20th June to 13th July 2003 on 106.2FM.  Operated by the Eastern Broadcasting Group, the station aims to offer locals a refreshingly different service, designed to entertain and inform.  The station plays Classic Pop and Rock music with some of today's hits during daytime hours, and specialist programming by night.  National and International news is carried on the hour with local news on the half hour.  Primarily, the service is designed to cover the local Peterborough and Willow Festivals along with a service of current affairs programming each evening.  It aims to serve over 55,000 locals aged 30-54.  It is run by volunteers, but there are some established and locally well known presenters also in the line-up.  The service also airs on the internet.  

HUNTINGDON COMMUNITY RADIO (HCR): This particular outfit is a non-profit making organisation, a registered charity and a limited company.  HCR broadcasts annually to the St. Ives, St. Neots and Huntingdon area on 87.7FM and first took to the air back in 1995.  Whilst the area is served by a plethora of stations, the volunteer team behind this one, believe that Huntingdonshire deserves it's own station.  Musically, it aims to provide 'Quality Familiar Music' instantly recognisable by most people with 2 tracks from each decade from the 60s to today in each hour - however, no rap features.  Surveys carried out in 1995 and 1997 concluded that the locals quite categorically did not want Rap on a community station, otherwise, it aims to have as much community involvement as possible - with over 100 groups taking an active part in the station to date.  From the listeners point of view, they've paid particular attention to commercials - they aim to play just six commercials per hour, one every ten minutes, rather than the blocks of commercials heard on most other radio stations.   They aim to broadcast throughout the year, with a strong emphasis on being local.  Obviously then, a side swipe at other so called 'local' stations.  Funding is supplied by many local businesses who sponsor programming and advertise - these include the local councils, colleges, an animal shelter and mobile phone service provider T-Mobile.  Further information on the station can be found at www.hcrfm.co.uk 

OSCAR RADIO 87.9FM: With over 10 RSLs under it's belt, this station broadcasts across 300 square miles at 25-watts from Oundle School, situated in the suburbs of Peterborough.  The station operates approximately a full working day's worth of programming, run totally by around 100 pupils of the school - unusual for a student based radio station - and members of the local community.  The usual speech features of news, sport and current affairs is mixed with community news and more directly educational topics such as science and history.  The service also provides revision lectures for those taking exams.  Make friends with Oscar at www.oscar-radio.com

DIGITAL:  

CAMBRIDGE: In 2003, the Radio Authority advertised a new 12 year Digital Multiplex Licence to serve Cambridge and surrounding areas.  The area over which the network is allowed to operate was set to depend on the content of the successful bidders application - i.e. it was up to those who applied to specify the area over which they felt they could provide coverage.  Both radio and data services were specified as suitable for carriage on the network to serve around 300,000 people aged over 15.  The content of the Broadcasting Act 1996 stipulates that the local BBC radio service, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire must be carried.  Commercial services did not qualify for this obligation and are required to negotiate with the winning applicant for their service(s) to be carried.  The closing date for applications for the Cambridge digital radio licence was Tuesday 26th August 2003.  Just one application was received at the Radio Authority HQ by this date, and the RA latterly in early October 2003, awarded the licence to the sole applicant.

The GWR subsidiary, NOW Digital Ltd has proposed a six channel line up; existing analogue commercial services Q103 (GWR), and, under the Broadcasting Act, there's the aforementioned obligation to carry BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, plus digital exclusive stations The Storm (GWR), Smash Hits (EMAP), Vibe FM (SRH) and an Access Channel featuring local broadcasters from around the area including the local student population.  NOW also plan to add three more channels during the licence term, as well as adding more elements on the Access channel.  The operator plans to commence services in September 2004 from an initial transmitter at Maddingley which should cover 82% of the total anticipated audience.  An additional transmitter site has been identified at Newmarket which looks set to take that figure to 92% when it is brought on stream later in the licence term.  The 12 year licence will be heard on VHF band III frequency block 11C (centre-frequency 220.352MHz)

The Cambridge licence bid was launched at a specially arranged forum on August 19th 2003, a presentation attended by local pillars of the community, including representatives from the local Council, business and community groups.   Groups interested in providing strands on the Access channel should contact Matt Deegan at NOWdigital, 7 Swallow Place, London. W1B 2AG.  

PETERBOROUGH: Peterborough's Digitial multiplex is run by NOW Digital operated with GWR.  Locally available stations are local analogue services, Hereward FM (GWR), Classic Gold 1332 (UBC), BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, and digital exclusive channels Passion (Passion For The Planet) (Health and environmental issues plus an innovative mix of familiar hits and world music) and SBN, the Students Broadcasting Network.  There are also nationally available analogue stations, Classic FM, Virgin Radio & Talksport and digital stations Bloomberg Radio, (24 hour city, business and personal financial information), Core (fresh hits for the UK), Primetime Radio (SAGAplc), Life (The Music Sounds Better), rock station Planet Rock, literature station Oneword, and 3C Continuous Cool Country.  BBC national networks 1 to 5 and digital stations, 1 Xtra,  5 Live Extra, 6Music and BBC7, World Service and the Asian Network also feature.  

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