Aircheck UK - Herefordshire

UPDATED: 04/10/2003

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO

BBC RADIO BIRMINGHAM came to air on 7th November 1970, later becoming BBC WM to reflect a wider coverage area, and winning four Sony awards - Britain's most prestigious radio awards - namely Station Of The Year in 1998, Best Breakfast Show in 1997 & Ed Doolan Sunday Show 1998 & Malcolm Boyden's Show in 1997.  Predominantly speech-based, the station serves the West Midlands, South Staffordshire, North Worcestershire & North Warwickshire, and has a unique blend of presenters, a strong news, sport and current affairs service and a clear knowledge of the needs of it's listeners.  Travel reports reflect the busy nature of the locality, appearing every half hour and every 15 minutes at peak periods, including car parking news on a regular basis.  BBC WM broadcasts on one target frequency of 95.6.

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BBC HEREFORD & WORCESTER: Currently broadcasting from Hylton Road Studios in Worcester, with another office next to the Green Dragon Hotel in Broad Street, it's launch goes back to 14th February 1989.  Today, it operates on 104, 104.6 (Kidderminster) & 94.7FM, and it is now also available on 738, 1104, & more recently 1584 kHz AM, the latter courtesy of a 300 Watt transmitter based at Woofferton near Ludlow, which came on-line in March 2003   BBC Radio Shropshire opened two new FM transmitters just prior, and the technical bods decided on a switch due to listeners in the North of Herefordshire experiencing difficulties in hearing the service. This was a considerable about turn, this being down to the fact that there used to be an AM Hereford transmitter on 819, but this was closed quite some time ago.  

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR)

RADIO WYVERN / WYVERN FM: Radio Wyvern was set up by a consortium which included veteran commercial radio and jingle production man Muff Murfin, who now has well over 20 years of experience of the medium.  BBC Radio stations take their names from the political regions they serve, however Radio Wyvern was named after the two rivers which run through the area, those being the Wye and the Severn.  The station launched on 4th October 1982 with Roy Leonard at the controls.  In Herefordshire, the station used AM frequencies 954 and in Worcestershire 1530AM, whilst over on FM, the station broadcast it's simulcast service on 97.6 FM and latterly 96.7 for Kidderminster and 102.8 for Worcestershire.  

During the 1980s, the station shared night-time programming with Beacon Radio - along with Beacon, the station was once part of Midlands Radio plc, which included Radio Trent stations in Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, Leicester Sound, BRMB, GEM-AM & XTRA-AM.  One of the most famous names to have graced the airwaves of Radio Wyvern was the Doctor himself, Neil Fox who abandoned a job selling plastic bags to take up the radio business with them in 1986 following the supply of a successful demo tape.  Within a year of his start for the station, he was signed up to work for Radio Luxembourg for a short time before moving to Capital Radio in September 1987.  

In September 1992, Radio Wyvern won a prize during Noise Awareness Month in which it asked it's listeners to turn down the volume on their radios!  Two years on, and in 1994, Radio Wyvern, then part of Midlands Radio plc, was acquired by GWR - as with all FM stations, Radio Wyvern became Wyvern FM 'Today's Better Music Mix' / 'Today's Best Mix' and the story ends more or less there, with no real difference between it, and the other stations all branded the same, under the mother group's 'Mix' network.

It wasn't until 1996 that the AM/FM split took place with AM becoming the quite simply titled Wyvern AM - as at September 1996, it's a little known fact that the station was 35% owned by Capital Radio plc, who later sold their share upon a change in strategy.   In 1998, it became Classic Gold courtesy of GWR.  However, their ownership of the AM brand was not to continue.  Muff Murfin has had a hand in the local radio stations he helped launch, more or less ever since.  Muff is now the owner of one of, if not the only Classic Gold station NOT to be owned by UBC or GWR - on the AM frequencies of 954 & 1530.  See below for more details.  

Wyvern FM operates from studios at 5-6 Barbourne Terrace Worcester.  

www.musicradio.com (Warning - if you have not previously visited this link, and do not live locally, visiting this link and then selecting on of GWR's stations will set the station you select as default in your browser, meaning next time you visit the link, you'll go straight there unless you clear your PC's 'History' folder!  You have been warned!)  

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RADIO WYVERN / WYVERN AM / CLASSIC GOLD 954/1530:  Radio Wyvern was set up by a consortium which included veteran commercial radio and jingle production man Muff Murfin, who now has well over 20 years of experience of the medium.  BBC Radio stations take their names from the political regions they serve, however Radio Wyvern was named after the two rivers which run through the area, those being the Wye and the Severn.  The station launched on 4th October 1982 with Roy Leonard at the controls.  In Herefordshire, the station used AM frequencies 954 and in Worcestershire 1530AM, whilst over on FM, the station broadcast it's simulcast service on 97.6 FM and latterly 96.7 for Kidderminster and 102.8 for Worcestershire.  

During the 1980s, the station shared night-time programming with Beacon Radio - along with Beacon, the station was once part of Midlands Radio plc, which included Radio Trent stations in Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, Leicester Sound, BRMB, GEM-AM & XTRA-AM.  One of the most famous names to have graced the airwaves of Radio Wyvern was the Doctor himself, Neil Fox who abandoned a job selling plastic bags to take up the radio business with them in 1986 following the supply of a successful demo tape.  Within a year of his start for the station, he was signed up to work for Radio Luxembourg for a short time before moving to Capital Radio in September 1987.  

In September 1992, Radio Wyvern won a prize during Noise Awareness Month in which it asked it's listeners to turn down the volume on their radios!  Two years on, and in 1994, Radio Wyvern, then part of Midlands Radio plc, was acquired by GWR.  

It wasn't until 1996 that the AM/FM split took place with AM becoming the quite simply titled Wyvern FM.  As at September 1996, it's a little known fact that the station was 35% owned by Capital Radio plc, who later sold their share upon a change in strategySee above for more details on the rest of the FM service's history.  GWR finally rolled out the Classic Gold branding in 1998 - however, their hold over the AM frequency was not to last, and in January 1999, the man who helped kick things off, Muff Murfin, purchased the station, with the help of his wife Ginny, from GWR.  

Classic Gold 954 / 1530 'The Magic AM' is locally run for local people.  The station targets 460,000 listeners aged 35 and above and, according to IPSOS/RSL audience figures for July - December 2002, was hitting 7%, 33,000 of them - however, airplay includes a range of music for all ages, hence a healthy family orientated audience.  The station celebrated it's 20th birthday in October 2002.  954AM serves Herefordshire and 1530AM Worcestershire as specified above.  It can also be heard on the net - see the link below to visit and start listening to the individually branded and sounding Classic Gold in Stereo.  Whatsmore, and interestingly, both Muff and Ginny actively encourage listeners to have their say in the development of the station, and welcome contact via the station's website.  It operates out of PO Box 262 in Worcester WR6 5ZE and from 18 Broad Street in Hereford HR4 9AP.  It's format operates as follows: Classic pop hits from 10-45 years prior to broadcast, with hits less than 10 years not taking up more than 15% of the output.  Speech does not exceed 40% of output, apart from sports coverage, with the licence remit promising a reasonable balance of information from across the are each day with drop ins of three per hour.  At least 15 hours per day weekdays and 12 hours weekends is locally produced and presented.

Along with Classic Gold 954/1530, Murfin Media International also operates Radio Maldwyn and Ludlow's Sunshine 855.    www.classicgoldam.com 

COMMERCIAL:  REGIONAL

100.7 HEART FM: One of the first regional radio stations, and the first for the West Midlands, appearing on air 6th September 1994, and launched by Nick Wright.  Studios are based at 1 The Square, 111 Broad Street in the centre of Birmingham.  The station is licenced to cover Warwickshire & the West Midlands which contains a potential audience of 3.4million people.  The station has over 90,000 adults listening per week and targets the 25-44 year old age group.  

One of the 'bug-bares' quoted by radio listeners is the commercials - however, Heart-FM never play more than four ads in a break and never more than 16 per hour.  As you would expect, the station takes revenue from various methods of commercial opportunities - sponsorship of features or events, tailor made promotions, and opportunities to advertise on the station's website or via SMS text messaging to mobile phones.  

Heart-FM's signal needs to be strong to cover it's intended area, however, counties lying outside the broadcast radius hoard loyal listeners who have found the station provides a better alternative to the local ILR or BBC station.  It has even featured advertising for a furniture store which, in it's commercial, credits it's branch at the Kingsway Retail Park, just off the A38 in Derby.  Since it launched, several presenters have moved over from BRMB as they 'outgrew' it to move the regional station - for example, ex-Piccadilly Radio's Carl Emms (Carlos) & Paul Bryant.  Another presenter to have appeared briefly is ex-Trent & Century 106 presenter Colin Woolley.  

It has to be said that Heart is radically different now to how it sounded back in 1994.  It launched with a strapline 'Radio across Warwickshire & the West Midlands just got 100.7 degrees cooler...' and the station was very laid back.  Nowadays it is more likely to feature more pop-dance material and numerous artists that wouldn't have been considered back in 1994.  It is owned and operated in conjunction with it's London sister station Heart 106.2 by the Chrysalis Radio Group, who also own the Galaxy regional radio brand.  

The station's 8-year initial licence was renewed by the Radio Authority in August 2001.  This was because Chrysalis Radio are set as a provider of a digital sound programme service on the West Midlands regional multiplex.  A little known fact is that it shares the building with three other Chrysalis broadcasters, Galaxy 102.2, The Arrow and Digital News Network.

There are 6 studios. Studio 1, is the Heart FM on-air studio. The Arrow broadcasts it's digital service from Studio 2. Studio 3 is a production suite. Studio 4 is mainly used for commercial production.  Studio 5 is the Galaxy on-air studio and Studio 6 is the back up studio. There are additional studios for the news team.

The Heart FM play list is formed by a panel of programming staff who listen to all the forthcoming releases. The play list combines both new artists and established acts who are of interest to the over 25s. Eminem won't be heard but other arguable bad boys Robbie Williams and Oasis will!

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KERRANG! RADIO: See THE FUTURE: section below.

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SAGA 105.7FM: The history of how this station came to air can be traced back to the heady days of the Midlands Radio Group - home of stations such as Radio Trent, GEM-AM, BRMB, XTRA AM, Mercia Sound & Leicester Sound.  At the helm of the Radio Trent stations was a man called Ron Coles.  In 1994, GWR, as part of their mass acquisition of any radio station that moved, took control of Midlands Radio Group.  Through the revolving doors went Ron along with a whole host of other staff, to all points of the radio compass.  Ron wasn't out of things yet.  

On 23rd September 1997, Ron, with the backing of Border Radio Holdings, launched East Midlands regional station Radio 106FM.  This, in time, became Century 106FM, a Border brand, and out went Ron again - to take up the helm of SAGA plc's radio division.  It had already launched Primetime, a digital radio service for the over 50s, but SAGA, owned by the De Haan family,  had other ideas too, and Ron's radio division, set about applying for analogue radio licences across the UK.

In 2000, the Radio Authority advertised a 2nd regional licence for the West Midlands.  As with all regional licence applications, the West Midlands 2nd regional licence application process was a busy one.  By the closing date at the end of August 2000, there were 12 applicants in the running.  Having already been operating BIG AM stations, The Wireless Group applied as Big FM, Central Radio was proposed by Forward Media, Jazz FM, Radio Minar, N-Joy Radio, Score Radio / Scottish Radio Group / Lincs FM Group proposed a country station called Route 105, and there were also bids from Spice FM, The Storm (GWR), Today FM, Variety FM (GMG) and Voice FM.  However, the winning applicant was set to provide a service for the over 50s, up until then, largely uncatered for, especially from a musical perspective. 

From a total of 12 applications, they awarded the new regional radio licence to Saga Radio.   For years, SAGA had previously tried to get a terrestrial / analogue licence to offer their 'over 50's' service - now, they'd finally done it.  On making the award, the Chair of the RA, Richard Hooper, said that Members of the Authority found deciding on which applicant should be awarded the licence was a challenging decision.

Having departed the Border Radio East Midlands station of Radio 106 after setting it up and watching it morph into Century 106, ex-Midlands Radio plc boss Ron Coles went to take the helm of SAGA's new radio division - and it was Ron that took them to licence application success.  It launched with the expected appearance of a lot of ex-Radio Trent/GEM presenters - Tony Lyman & Andy Marriott for starters - the latter as the station's head of music  - at 6:00am, on 16th October 2001.  Also on board for the launch, was Peter Tomlinson, Mike Baker, Tony Brandon, Jane Markham, David Yarnall, Mike Hollis, and Jeff Harris.  It was the first commercial radio station in the UK to be programmed specifically for people aged 50 and over.  Ex-Trent/GEM presenters were also joined by ex-Radio 1, Radio 2, Capital Gold, Melody Radio etc presenter David Hamilton, who presented breakfast before moving to it's sister station in the East Midlands when it launched in 2002.  Les Ross took over from David having left BRMB.  SAGA 105.7FM broadcasts from studios on the 3rd Floor of Crown House, Beaufort Court, 123 Hagley Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham, playing easy, melodic music from the past six decades mixed with news and lifestyle oriented speech, and with the now familiar catchphrases of '...your life, your music' and 'From Frank to Hank & Bing to Sting', the station broadcasts on 105.7FM from studios on the 3rd floor of Crown House, Beaufort Court, on the busy Hagley Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham.  The station reached it's first-year audience target in quick time, just nine months - this isn't surprising - as 40% of the area's population is reported to be aged over 50. 

HOSPITAL RADIO:  

RSL: No details known

DIGITAL:

INTERNET: 

THE FUTURE: And so AIRCHECK sees another licence application through from it's advertisement, the bidding process and the ultimate award.  On 2nd October 2003, the Radio Authority awarded the UK's seventeenth regional licence, and the West Midlands' 3rd to Kerrang! Radio (Kerrang! Radio (West Midlands Ltd).  The licence is designed to serve Birmingham, Wolverhampton and surrounding areas as well as parts of Warwickshire & Staffordshire.  But as with existing regional services from 100.7 Heart FM (Chrysalis Radio), and SAGA 105.7FM (SAGA Radio), the service is likely to be heard across those boundaries to some effect. The West Midlands is now the only region in the UK to be served by three regional licences.  It has already indicated that it does not feel that the East Midlands is able to sustain any further development, particularly of this scale (see elsewhere on this page), so it remains to be seen what decisions by OFCOM will either change this West Midlands' originality or keep it.

The Kerrang! licence area includes about 2.3 million people who have been promised a 'specialist music and talk service for the rock community of the West Midlands, mixing modern and classic rock with stimulating, distinctive speech'.  In their application, they originally said: 

The award of this licence is the last regional licence to be awarded by the Radio Authority before OFCOM take control at the turn of the year.  The Radio Authority's Executive Chairman, David Witherow said: "A wide variety of proposals were submitted from a wide range of applicants and they were generally of an impressively high standard, making our decision all the more difficult.  At the end of a long discussion, Members decided that Kerrang! Radio best met the statutory criteria, and it's programming aimed at an under-served segment of the younger population will clearly widen choice in the region."

Kerrang!'s licence will come into effect as soon as the service goes to air.  The station is currently based at Birmingham City FC's St. Andrews Stadium with club representative Karren Brady also being a station representative for the purposes of the bid.  A full Radio Authority assessment of the award is expected shortly. 

The award comes after the closing date for applications on Tuesday 13th May 2003.  Each applicant had to pay 12,000 in non-refundable application fees, meaning that with eleven applicants, this netted the RA a cool 180,000.  The RA more recently conducted public interest tests on two of the applicants due to their existing interests in the local radio marketplace.  The 1996 Broadcasting Act stipulates that a company can only own two radio services on the same waveband in an overlapping area if the RA determines that the proposed arrangement could not be expected to operate against the public interest.  Capital Radio plc already operate two other services, 96.4FM BRMB and Capital Gold Birmingham 1152AM, and GWR Group plc already operate Beacon FM for Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury and Telford.  

Talking of Beacon, we've been receiving many e-mails suggesting the return of regional 'talk radio' legend, and this site editor's namesake, Ian Perry, who made a real name for himself at Beacon before GWR did their work on it after acquiring it in 1994.  E-mails, mostly suggesting Ian's return to any bidder, particularly those including a talk based service or element include:

So, there you go, keep your e-mails coming in via e-mail.  But, in answer to your question John, and thanks for the kind words by the way, don't worry, I've said this before many times, no, I'm not the same bloke - he's the other Ian Perry!  You could always direct your suggestions to Kerrang! care of Karren Brady at Birmingham City's St. Andrews Stadium as well.  To round off this story, here's a list of the unsuccessful bidders.  

MEAN COUNTRY 105.2 (Mean Fiddler), operators of Mean Country 1035 in London were previously tabled as a bidder, although the final declaration refers to the 3C brand as detailed above.  No explanation is known for any possible drop out, takeover or change of decision to apply.  

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