Aircheck UK - Hertfordshire

UPDATED: 19/09/2003

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO

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.                              www.bbc.co.uk/england/threecounties

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR) 

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. 

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HERTBEAT FM is a comparative baby to the commercial radio sector, having launched 3rd March 2001 for the 25-54 age group, with a format of adult contemporary music.  It broadcasts on two frequencies: 106.7 (Stevenage) & 106.9 (Hertford), for Hertford, Stevenage, Ware, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield,  and surrounding areas, from studios at The Pump House, Knebworth Park.  Independently owned, Hertfordshire's new local radio station was awarded it's licence on 10th February 2000, for which it applied back in June 1999.  By October 1999, just two applicants, including Hertbeat FM (trading as Radio Hertford (Commercial) Ltd), and it's opponent, Stag FM Ltd.   Comparatively close to Greater London AM services, except MeanCountry 1035, the Stevenage area can also recieve the GWR stations for Luton (Chiltern FM), and Bedford's Classic Gold, and Ten17 can be picked up in Ware and Hertford.  The RA concluded that considerable merit was due to the winning applicant because of it's pursuit of a licence - it was the only group to have operated an RSL in the area, but a good level of support had accrued as a result. But it wasn't just broadcasting that was carried out - a considerable level of research was carried out which was used towards creating it's programming structure, thus reflecting the RA's aims to broaden listener choice.  Hertbeat also work with two local newspapers for news content.  

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MIX 96 is the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury's commercial radio station.  It started broadcasting on 96.2FM on 15th April 1994 from studios at Friars Square 11 Bourbon Street in Aylesbury.  It won the licence under the application title of Mix 96 (Bucks Broadcasting Limited) and was re-awarded it's licence under the Radio Authority's fast-track procedures in November 2000, to run from 15th April 2002.  First Oxfordshire Radio Company (Fox-FM) owned 64% of Bucks Broadcasting, and Bucks held 32% of Hastings station Arrow FM, 30% of Wolverhampton's The Wolf, 38.3% of Staffordshire's Centre-FM and 30% of Stratford's The Bear.  When Capital Radio plc purchased First Oxfordshire Radio, it took on Mix 96 which by April 2000, it fully owned.  However in March 2001, Capital disposed of the station to Radio Investments Ltd.

The station can be heard by a potential audience of 130,000 adults aged 15-55 across Buckinghamshire, and parts of Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire. The station primarily plays a general mix of music to cater for a wide audience.  RAJAR 2001 figures showed that of those 130,000 people, 45,700 or 35% of it's intended audience were listening for around 9.5 hours per week.  

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OASIS FM  / 96.6 OASIS FM / 96.6 MERCURY FM (St Albans/Watford): Branding branding branding!  Associate the Mercury name with any station, and the only thing you can say is that your talking about a station on the outskirts of London - other than that, it could be anywhere.  So, let's take you back!  On 22nd October 1994, St. Albans & Watford Broadcasting Co. Ltd, broadcasting as Oasis FM took to the airwaves of Watford, St. Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Hatfield, Rickmansworth, Berkhamsted, Harpenden and surrounding areas across South Hertfordshire playing music from the 70s, 80s, 90s and up to date

The station was once part of the Essex Radio Group which also included Essex FM (96.3 & 102.6) Breeze AM (1359/1431) Ten17 (101.7), and Vibe FM.  It has more recently been owned by DMG Radio (South East) Limited, the radio division of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc who have been involved in commercial radio in the UK since it began in 1973,  The station had a listener friendly access point on the High Street at Unit 9 of the Christopher Place Shopping Centre in St. Albans.  RAJAR audience figures from 1999/2000 showed that of a TSA of 310,000 adults aged 15+, the station was 45,000 of them - a 15% weekly reach and a 4.8% share off the localised radio marketplace.   

It was under DMG's tenure that on 27th March 2000, the Mercury name was rolled out after they'd acquired the other stations under the same name further than the brand's original base in Surrey.  Later that year, DMG Radio, washing their hands of direct interest in the radio business, was purchased from Daily Mail & General Trust, adding six more stations in Southend-on-Sea, Harlow, St Albans, Rochester, Tonbridge and Crawley to the portfolio of the relentlessly expanding GWR Group plc.  Daily Mail continued to work with GWR in their revamp of London News Radio (LBC & News Direct) shortly afterwards.  Mercury for St Albans & Watford continues to broadcast today from studios at Unit 5 in the Metro Centre on Dwight Road in Watford, with, unsurprisingly, '....today's best mix...'.

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