Aircheck UK - Kent 

UPDATED: 15/08/2003

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO

BBC RADIO MEDWAY (KENT) came onto the airwaves in 1970 only covering north-east Kent from Thames to Sittingbourne using studios based in Chatham.  It quickly reflected the spirit of the locality with hundreds of regular contributors from the community, all anxious to be a part of what was seen as an exciting project for the area.  The first manager was Harold Rogers, and his work stood the station in good stead for the following 25 years enabling BBC Radio Medway to be a vital part of the framework of Kent.  He was awarded the OBE for his pioneering efforts at the station.  

BBC Radio Medway became BBC Radio Kent upon the switch on of a new transmitter in 1983 which then gave the station countywide coverage.  Reporters are now based in Canterbury, Chatham, Dover, Margate Tunbridge Wells, and Sevenoaks facilities, and there are unmanned studios in Ashford, Dartford and Gravesend.

The radio station is now based in Tunbridge Wells in one of the most modern broadcasting centre in the world. 'The Great Hall' is home to BBC South East Today and the BBC Kent website.  BBC Radio Kent has covered its fair share of major stories: the Chatham dockyard closure, the Zeebrugge disaster, the Great Storm of 1987, and the Channel Tunnel opening.

There have been a whole range of activities that make BBC Radio Kent a busy place through the year.  The reporters cover Gillingham FC and other local football teams, County Cricket, vital traffic and weather news, and they even record local school bands to promote the county's talents on-air.

BBC Radio Kent broadcasts on 96.7, 104.2 & 97.6FM.

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR):

20/20 FM: Six applications were submitted to the Radio Authority, for a new FM licence to cover the town of Maidstone in Kent.  By January 7th 2003, the applications were submitted from:
* Go-FM (Absolute Radio Kent Ltd): Proposing a new local radio station targeting a 30+ audience combining a unique mix of great adult music with a first-class local news and information service with features and entertainment that focus on the lives of adults in Maidstone

* Maidstone Live (Maidstone FM The Max Ltd): Proposing 'the talk and music radio station for Maidstone' - with local and national news, sport and entertainment.

* MLR (Maidstone Local radio Ltd): Proposing to provide a dedicated radio station for Kent's county town, providing focused local news and information alongside a wide variety of entertaining music-led programming presented by interesting local personalities.

* RFM (Radio for Maidstone Ltd): Proposing a service that will reflect the lifestyle of Maidstone, with a quality local news service, excellent travel information, weather and sport, and will play the best music from the mid-seventies to today.  The station's RSL guise was as Maid-FM and brought out a free newspaper in support of the station on 6th December 2002.  The Director of the Group is Radio Caroline (60s), Piccadilly Radio (70's), BRMB (early 80's) & Invicta (late 80's / 90's) star Roger Day who has had several radio based roles and has been in high demand over recent years.  He has most recently been Group Programme Director of Fusion Radio Holdings and prior to this was the man who launched Cornwall's Pirate FMNigel Reeve is the founder of Fusion Radio Holdings, ex-Radio Orwell, 2CR, Invicta, Classic FM & LNR, and there's also Nick Jordan, ex-Invicta, KFM & LNR and Paul Chantler, ex-NewsTalk106 (Dublin), Ministry Of Sound & EMAP, The Wireless Group, Essex Radio & Chiltern Radio, TalkSport, Southern FM & BBC Wiltshire Sound and launched Galaxy 101 & Vibe FM.

* Stone FM - Maidstone Community Radio (Starmela.co.uk Ltd):  Proposing a new, innovative, dynamic and exciting station that will primarily target the local community residing within Maidstone, ensuring a local service relevant to the needs of local residents.

* 20/20 (Maidstone Radio Ltd):  Building on the success of its numerous RSL broadcasts, 20/20 will be a vibrant, entertaining and unique full-time service of broad appeal that will swiftly become an essential part of Maidstone life with its comprehensive local news, views and information mixed with a wide variety of music from today's greatest hits and the best songs from the last four decades.

In April 2003, the Radio Authority announced it had awarded the licence to the above applicant, 20/20.  The new service will provide a local service for the Maidstone area, consisting of over 140,000 people, including over 80% worth of over 15 year olds.  It is believed that the actual potential audience within reach of station transmissions is between 100,000 and 170,000.  

20/20 FM is backed by the Kent Messenger Group, who operate a string of KM-FM stations in the South East.  20/20 ran a series of RSL broadcasts under the name Maidstone Festival Radio (MFR), County Town Radio (CTR) and, more recently under it's successful application name.  In it's new guise, is set to be a 'vibrant, entertaining and unique full time service of broad appeal that will swiftly become an essential part of Maidstone life with it's comprehensive local news, views and information mixed with a wide variety of music from today's greatest hits and the best songs from the last four decades'.  It is expected that the local community will be involved in station production, with input from charities and voluntary organisations.  The station plans to begin broadcasting in the Autumn of 2003 from purpose built premises in Maidstone.

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CHANNEL TRAVEL RADIO: What sounded like a good idea in theory, actually proved quite difficult in the main.  Having launched five years previously, the rolling travel news service operated by Radio Services Ltd under contract, focusing on cross-channel activities shut down suddenly, without the Radio Authority being told, at Midnight on 27th September 2000.  Eurotunnel had previously been financing the station but had formerly advised the station that it was withdrawing all funding.  Radio Services made attempts to continue the service, but to no avail.  And so the service closed down with Ella Fitzgerald's 'Evry Time We Say Goodbye' with station manager Michaela Segol thanking all supporters and referring to the 24hour service that had been provided for the five years previously, with the only interruption being when a transmission provider cable was damaged accidentally.  The RA went on to investigate the sudden close - conclusions drawn are not widely known.  

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106 CTFM / KM-FM 106: CTFM started as the ILR station serving more than 140,000 people in the Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay area from state of the art studios at 16 Lower Bridge Street, Canterbury, Kent.  Transmissions started at 11am on September 21st 1997.  Perhaps one of the lines becoming gradually more tired in the radio industry is 'the home of the no-repeat work 925 workday' - a line used by CTFM as well ass others too.  It's licence remit line states 'Great songs, news and information for Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable - Across the city and along the coast.'

October of 2001 saw a relaunch of the station using another strapline, 'The Best Music, Across The City and Along The Coast.'  with a format to 'play a unique mix of music from the last four decades intermixed with Local, National and International news and up to date travel news, local weather and local information.'

Five shows took up CTFM's week's schedule from Monday to Saturday: Breakfast 6:00-10:00, Mid Morning 10:00-14:00 and a lengthy drive/afternoon show from 14:00 to 18:00.  Evening programming consists of the request show 18:00 to 23:00 (!) and a late night show from 23:00-01:00 when automation takes over.  On Sundays, the shows are shorter after 10:00am with patterns from 10:00-13:00, 13:00-17:00, the National Recall chart from 17:00-19:00 and the BBC appear at 19:00.  But don't be confused, this is a play on the initials and actually stands for the 'Barry Bethall Club'.  Late night programming is from 23:00-01:00 as with the other days in the week.

Almost four years after launch, local newspaper business Kent Messenger Ltd notified the Radio Authority that it had acquired the station, along with other South East Radio Ltd stations, Dover & Folkestone's Neptune Radio.  Under broadcasting law, a company which runs a local newspaper cannot also own a local radio station in the same area unless a public interest test shows that the arrangement would not be against the public interest. And so the public interest test was conducted with no negative conclusions drawn by the Authority by November 2001.  The station name was subsequently changed to reflect group branding - KM-FM.  Today the station continues it's music variety format with the resources of the Kent Messenger for news coverage, and prides itself on offering a 'purely local' service.  

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NORTHDOWN RADIO / INVICTA SOUND / INVICTA RADIO / INVICTA FM: Kent's first major commercial radio station took it's name from the crest of the county showing the word which heraldry shows as meaning 'unconquered'.  It commenced broadcasting on 1st October 1984 using 103.8FM, & 242meters 1242kHz Medium Wave for the Maidstone area and 95.1FM & 497meters 603kHz (Canterbury) 95.9 FM (Thanet) 96.3 (Ashford) & 97FM (Dover).  However, it could quite easily have been called Northdown Radio - this was the working title given in the initial 1983 application written by Roger Day (ex-Radio England, Caroline, Luxembourg, North Sea International, Piccadilly & BRMB previously) 

In the early days, it played on the AM services - station logos prominently showing 1242 & 603kHz 'and on FM in Stereo' attached as an optional add-on.  Also, in the early days, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were listening to a talk station, because there was a significantly high level of news - in such an early period of commercial radio, this had quite an adverse effect on listeners.  Having spent some time externally monitoring the output, station management brought in local man Michael Bukht to turn things around.  An early Alfasound jingle amusingly sung 'Invicta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta Stereo'.  Due to a frequency audit around 1985, 103.8 became 103.1, and 95.1 became 102.8 - this was to enable the FM band to show groupings for FM commercial and BBC stations.  Programmes came from studios in Canterbury and Maidstone.  Another frequency change, albeit slight, occurred with the splitting of FM & AM frequencies in the late 1980s..  Invicta FM continued on FM whilst Coast AM took over the MW service, which later became Invicta Supergold.  Amongst it's celebrity names to have appeared, there's ex-Radio 1 early days presenter Duncan Johnson & the great Dave Cash (ex-Radio 1, Caroline & London) was also Weekend Breakfast show presenter and Deputy MD from 1987-1989.  In that time, he turned around the station's revenue fortunes and increased the station's audience.  Southern Radio bought Invicta in 1991 which in turn latterly became part of Capital Radio plc when they bought out Southern Radio Group stations.   Today, the station, which is officially for Maidstone, Medway & East Kent operates on five frequencies - 95.9 (East Kent), 96.1 (Ashford), 97.0 (East Kent), 102.8 (Canterbury) & 103.1 (Maidstone & Medway) from studios at Radio House, John Wilson Business Park, Whitstable in Kent.     www.invictafm.com 

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NORTHDOWN RADIO / INVICTA RADIO / COAST AM / COAST CLASSICS / INVICTA SUPERGOLD / CAPITAL GOLD (Kent): Kent's first major commercial radio station took it's name from the crest of the county showing the word which heraldry shows as meaning 'unconquered'.  It commenced broadcasting on 1st October 1984 using 103.8FM, & 242meters 1242kHz Medium Wave for the Maidstone area and 95.1FM & 497meters 603kHz (Canterbury) 95.9 FM (Thanet) 96.3 (Ashford) & 97FM (Dover).  However, it could quite easily have been called Northdown Radio - this was the working title given in the initial 1983 application written by Roger Day (ex-Radio England, Caroline, Luxembourg, North Sea International, Piccadilly & BRMB previously) 

In the early days, it played on the AM services - station logos prominently showing 1242 & 603kHz 'and on FM in Stereo' attached as an optional add-on.  Also, in the early days, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were listening to a talk station, because there was a significantly high level of news - in such an early period of commercial radio, this had quite an adverse effect on listeners.  Having spent some time externally monitoring the output, station management brought in local man Michael Bukht to turn things around.  An early Alfasound jingle amusingly sung 'Invicta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta Stereo'.  Due to a frequency audit around 1985, 103.8 became 103.1, and 95.1 became 102.8 - this was to enable the FM band to show groupings for FM commercial and BBC stations.  Programmes came from studios in Canterbury and Maidstone.  Another frequency change, albeit slight, occurred with the splitting of FM & AM frequencies in the late 1980s..  Invicta FM continued on FM whilst Coast AM took over the MW service, which later became Invicta Supergold.  

Coast FM was the first station for Willie Morgan who merely did a Rock Show fill one day from their Maidstone studios.  Amongst it's celebrity names to have appeared, there's ex-Radio 1 early days presenter Duncan Johnson & the great Dave Cash (ex-Radio 1, Caroline & London) was also Weekend Breakfast show presenter and Deputy MD from 1987-1989.  March 27th 1989 saw a renaming of the station to Invicta Supergold.   In that time, Dave Cash turned around the station's revenue fortunes and increased the station's audience.  Southern Radio bought Invicta in 1991 which in turn latterly became part of Capital Radio plc when they bought out Southern Radio Group stations in 1998.   Today, the local AM elements of the Capital Gold service come from Invicta FM studios at Radio House, John Wilson Business Park, Whitstable in Kent.        www.capitalgold.com 

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MEDWAY FM / MERCURY FM / Medway's KM-FM:  Transmissions for this new Kent service started 1st September 1997.  But within 12 months of launch, the operators Medway FM Ltd, were in hot water with industry regulators, The Radio Authority, who found the station guilty of intentionally adjusing the power of it's transmitter on two separate occasions, and significantly above the level specified by the licence.  Subsequently, a 5,000 fine + 60 RA costs was imposed.  The RA said that the station's frequency of 107.9 is right next to the frequency range off a normal radio spectrum, as used by aircraft to be guided towards their target airfield.  

By February 1999, an approach to the RA had been made by DMGT, (Daily Mail & General Trust) who were, at the time, making inroads into radio acquisitions.  The acquisition in question here was that DMGT were seeking approval to buy Radio Mercury Limited for 3.75million in cash.  Mercury then controlled Surrey FM & AM licences, Mercury FM & Fame 1521 for Reigate & Crawley.  

So, here we begin to see where the Mercury branding came in.  DMG then took a controlling interest in Medway FM in the March of 2000 - and notified the RA of the same - meaning DMG were becoming a dominant force in the five counties around London - taking the licences held to nine in the South East of the country.  DMG then held 70 stations in the UK, Australia and Central Europe - plus other minor radio investments.  A public interest test was then carried out by the Radio Authority but no negative effects were forseen and business continued under the new name which was then rolled out - Medway became Mercury, at least on-air. 

Following DMGT's disposal of it's radio interests, for a short time, GWR had their hands on Mercury - and many feared a repeat of the 'better music mix' in yet another area.  But GWR didn't keep it for long due to the ongoing group problem of 'station ownership points' as stipulated by the Radio Authority  - enter the next owner.  Enter another public interest test.  Kent Messenger Ltd had then taken a controlling interest in Medway FM Ltd which broadcast as Mercury 107.9 and 100.4KMG already published several newspapers in the Medway FM area so plurality was investigated.  Again, no negative effects were envisaged, and so the takeover was complete and the station was re-launched in group branding: Medway's KM-FM from 2nd September 2002.  

The station continues to serve 315,000 adults aged 15+ from studios at 186 High Street, Rochester.  

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NEPTUNE RADIO / KM-FM for Shepway & White Cliffs Country: This service launched as Neptune Radio - a GOLD format station for the Channel Ports of Dover and Folkestone, operated by South East Radio Ltd on 29th September 1997.  It was originally going to be called The Sound after a number of trial broadcasts were provided in the broadcast area - the name Neptune Radio was put in place prior to launch because of it's close location to the sea!  It's broadcasts started in one of the oldest buildings in Dover.  As Neptune, the station won several radio industry awards - notably a 1998 Sony Radio Award for the Drivetime show and was also nominated for a Sony Radio Award for Station of the Year in 1999.  Station Programme manager Spencer Cork won an award for Technical Excellence in Broadcasting in 1999, as awarded by the CRCA (Commercial Radio Companies Association).  

Almost four years after launch, local newspaper business Kent Messenger Ltd notified the Radio Authority that it had acquired the station, along with Canterbury's CTFM Ltd, broadcasting as 106 CTFM Radio.  Under broadcasting law, a company which runs a local newspaper cannot also own a local radio station in the same area unless a public interest test shows that the arrangement would not be against the public interest. And so the public interest test was conducted with no negative conclusions drawn by the Authority by November 2001.  The station name was subsequently changed to reflect group branding - KM-FM.  

In 2003, under Kent Messenger's ownership, KM-FM for Shepway & White Cliffs Country moved to a purpose built office in Sandgate Road, Folkestone - this offers station staff some pleasant views across the English Channel & the Dover Straights.  The station broadcasts to a potential audience of 145,000 with a mix of adult contemporary music from the 60s to today plus the obligatory news programming.  There are also regular travel bulletins covering ports activity plus crime prevention programming with Kent Police.  Two frequencies, 96.4 (Folkestone) & 106.8 (Dover) are used to broadcast the service. 

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TLR FM / TLR 107.2 / Thanet's KM-FM: Founded by Ken Wills, Alan McKaye & Peter Wilson, the station was launched as TLR (Thanet Local Radio) on January 17th 1998.  Research has shown that the launch was not without drama - back in the September of 1997, the Radio Authority gave the station the green light on the licence after some alleged internal legal wrangles between the company's directors.  We can find no further information on this particular point. 

Still, after launch, the station forged very strong links with the local community in it's early years.  The station was the first acquisition for Kent Messenger Ltd, publishers of a set of local newspapers.  After launch, RAJAR/IPSOS-RSL figures showed an increase in average weekly listenership of 20%.  

In 2001, local newspaper business Kent Messenger Ltd notified the Radio Authority that it had acquired the Canterbury station CTFM,  (see above), along with another old South East Radio Ltd station, Dover & Folkestone's Neptune Radio to add to Thanet station TLR 107.3.   Under broadcasting law, a company which runs a local newspaper cannot also own a local radio station in the same area unless a public interest test shows that the arrangement would not be against the public interest. And so the public interest test was conducted with no negative conclusions drawn by the Authority by November 2001.  On 12th March 2002, it was announced that Kent Messenger had bought two more radio stations, almost doubling the size of it's overall broadcasting reach.  It reached an agreement with GWR Group plc to purchase, for what was an undisclosed sum, the Mercury radio operations, to add to other acquisitions The station name was subsequently changed to reflect group branding - KM-FM - in March 2003, having been authorised by the Radio Authority in the previous January.  Today the station continues it's music variety format with the resources of the Kent Messenger for news coverage, and prides itself on offering a 'purely local' service, which includes regular community action features, and outlets for charities and organisations.  The Thanet station continues to appear at local events such as the Grand Prix Ramsgate Power Boat Event and the Broadstairs Water Gala.  

Programming runs from 6:00am to 1:00am with each late night show quite beautifully titled 'Dreamtime'.  An overnight sustaining service fills the gap in between. Programmes originate from the old TLR premises at Imperial House, 2-14 High Street in Margate.            www.kentonline.co.uk/kmfm 

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RADIO THAMESMEAD (RTM) / MILLENNIUM RADIO / MILLENNIUM 106.8 / 106.8 TIME FM: Formerly heard exclusively on Thamesmead's cable system as a community radio station, it spent many years campaigning for a full FM broadcast frequency.  In 1989, their hard work paid off when Radio Thamesmead Ltd, operated by Thamesmead Town Ltd, was awarded a licence to broadcast to South East London by the Radio Authority.  It launched as RTM Radio on 18th March 1990.  Four years later, in January 1994, a full eight-year licence was re-awarded to the station.  

The station was to be run entirely not for profit, with any excess funding steered into community based projects and to improve station facilities.  Over it's time on air, a diverse mix of specialist programming has been broadcast, along with regular input from members of the public - a group of nearby houses were where adequate production facilities were housed.  

In September 1999, the Radio Authority gave permission for the station, which had then changed it's name to Millennium Radio, to choose two ethnic communities it wished to provide a community radio service for.  Previously, a three-month trial period had been agreed in which no Asian music programming was carried.  It's broadcast licence had, in the past, obliged the station to feature Asian music programming within the schedule.  It also provided a set of programmes for Vietnamese and Africans but these were not part of the licence remit.  The RA, acting with a light touch policy considered it inappropriate to give orders to a mainstream station as to which minorities it should provide a service for.  Millennium's format was subsequently amended with the inclusion of the formats for the minorities of the station's choice - those being Vietnamese & African, although stating that they could still expand to feature Asian programming if they decided to.  This was based on the varying nature and volume of the make up of each ethnic community in the Capital - and allowed such a free rein for the station providing they were obliging their community remit.  

1991 Census figures showed less than 4% of the people living in Bexley & Greenwich, the station's broadcast area, were of Asian origin.  This was in contrast to letters and petitions received by the RA regarding Asian programming on the station during the three month trial period - a contributing factor to the RA's decision was based on the fact that a large proportion of mail received was actually from outside Millennium's broadcast radius.  

A year later, the station was sold to Milestone Pictures Group, who were already running YouthFM on the internet, Sky Digital and using the RA's restricted service licences (RSLs).  At this point, RAJAR - audience figure providers - concluded that of almost 800,000 possible listeners, 2% of all adults were listening, that's around 15,000 adults and around 1,000 children aged below 15.  The acquisition had followed a lengthy period of speculation about a possible takeover and several failed attempts by other groups and individuals.  It was originally put up for sale for 1m in June 1999.  

At the time of takeover, it was turning over 180,000 for the financial year to 1998-1999, but was having a difficult time and showed a running loss of 267,000.  This was despite a change of name and frequency (106.8).  It's licence format at the time showed that the station was providing a 'full service of music, news and community information for 35-55 year olds in the Thamesmead area' and that hourly news bulletins with local news must run in daytime programming from Monday to Sunday, speech content should not be less than 20% of the same and that music policy was one of current and recent hits and album tracks with a whopping 40% of music airtime open to be non-hit singles, album material and easy listening.  Just five hours of evening programming per week were to be of specialist orientation.

Today, the station is owned by Fusion Radio Holdings who, in January of 2003 renamed the station Time 106.8. The station's total survey area (TSA) has now been downsized to around 500,000 - IPSOS/RAJAR figures for the period July-December 2002 showed an increase in audience to 20,000 people (4%) with each listener tuning in for 8.1 hours per week.  The station now broadcasts from studios at the top end of Basildon Road in London appealing to a more specific 25-54 year old age group with a mix of music from the past five decades.  The participation of the local community in programme production is still applicable as is the arts and specialist music programming.  Time 106.8 targets South East London and North West Kent.  A scan down the schedule shows sees a more general schedule Monday to Saturday, except a continuous music sweep from 9pm-10pm weekdays, Vietnamese programming is aired for 30 minutes at 6:00am every Sunday, a soul show every Sunday night from 10pm, there's continuous music from Midnight to 6:00am throughout the week, and for sports coverage, the station focuses on the progress of Charlton Athletic FC.  Time FM 106.8 covers Central London south of the River Thames.     Visit their website & play 'SNAKE' from the home page menu!        www.time1068.com 

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COMMERCIAL:  REGIONAL (IRR)

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 www.jazzfm.co.uk.  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. 

HOSPITAL RADIO:  

RSL:  

DIGITAL: One application was received by the Radio Authority for the new Kent Digital radio multiplex licence. Capital Radio Digital, a subsidiary of Capital Radio plc, applied for the 12 year licence to serve over 1.2million people aged 15 or more in the service area.  In April 2003, the RA awarded the new Kent DAB licence to them.  Nine channels are promised including BBC Radio Kent, of which it is required to carry under the terms of the 1996 Broadcasting Act.  

The Channel Line-Up is as follows:

 * Invicta FM (CHR)
 * Capital Gold (Gold)
 * BBC Radio Kent (PSB)
 * Kent Digital Extra (AC and classic hits, local news - provided by Kent Digital Extra Ltd., a subsidiary of Kent Messenger Ltd.)
 * Xfm (Credible new music)
 * Saga Radio (Easy listening)
 * Kiss (Dance)
 * Community channel - supplier to be confirmed
 * Swale Sound (a Full local service (Swale area) (06.00-18.00)) / Totally Radio (Alternative specialist (18.00-06.00))

The service is scheduled to start operating in April 2004 using VHF band III frequency block 11C (centre frequency: 220.352 MHz)., utilising five transmitters located at Bluebell Hill, Chartham, Ashford, Tunbridge Wells and Margate) to hit 73% of the intended audience.  An RA decision is expected in the Spring of 2003.  


THE FUTURE:  Six applications were submitted to the Radio Authority, for a new FM licence to cover the town of Maidstone in Kent.  By January 7th 2003, the applications were submitted from:
* Go-FM (Absolute Radio Kent Ltd): Proposing a new local radio station targeting a 30+ audience combining a unique mix of great adult music with a first-class local news and information service with features and entertainment that focus on the lives of adults in Maidstone

* Maidstone Live (Maidstone FM The Max Ltd): Proposing 'the talk and music radio station for Maidstone' - with local and national news, sport and entertainment.

* MLR (Maidstone Local radio Ltd): Proposing to provide a dedicated radio station for Kent's county town, providing focused local news and information alongside a wide variety of entertaining music-led programming presented by interesting local personalities.

* RFM (Radio for Maidstone Ltd): Proposing a service that will reflect the lifestyle of Maidstone, with a quality local news service, excellent travel information, weather and sport, and will play the best music from the mid-seventies to today.  The station's RSL guise was as Maid-FM and brought out a free newspaper in support of the station on 6th December 2002.  The Director of the Group is Radio Caroline (60s), Piccadilly Radio (70's), BRMB (early 80's) & Invicta (late 80's / 90's) star Roger Day who has had several radio based roles and has been in high demand over recent years.  He has most recently been Group Programme Director of Fusion Radio Holdings and prior to this was the man who launched Cornwall's Pirate FMNigel Reeve is the founder of Fusion Radio Holdings, ex-Radio Orwell, 2CR, Invicta, Classic FM & LNR, and there's also Nick Jordan, ex-Invicta, KFM & LNR and Paul Chantler, ex-NewsTalk106 (Dublin), Ministry Of Sound & EMAP, The Wireless Group, Essex Radio & Chiltern Radio, TalkSport, Southern FM & BBC Wiltshire Sound and launched Galaxy 101 & Vibe FM.

* Stone FM - Maidstone Community Radio (Starmela.co.uk Ltd):  Proposing a new, innovative, dynamic and exciting station that will primarily target the local community residing within Maidstone, ensuring a local service relevant to the needs of local residents.

* 20/20 (Maidstone Radio Ltd):  Building on the success of its numerous RSL broadcasts, 20/20 will be a vibrant, entertaining and unique full-time service of broad appeal that will swiftly become an essential part of Maidstone life with its comprehensive local news, views and information mixed with a wide variety of music from today's greatest hits and the best songs from the last four decades.

In April 2003, the Radio Authority announced it had awarded the licence to the above applicant, 20/20.  The new service will provide a local service for the Maidstone area, consisting of over 140,000 people, including over 80% worth of over 15 year olds.  It is believed that the actual potential audience within reach of station transmissions is between 100,000 and 170,000.  

20/20 FM is backed by the Kent Messenger Group, who operate a string of KM-FM stations in the South East.  20/20 ran a series of RSL broadcasts under the name Maidstone Festival Radio (MFR), County Town Radio (CTR) and, more recently under it's successful application name.  In it's new guise, is set to be a 'vibrant, entertaining and unique full time service of broad appeal that will swiftly become an essential part of Maidstone life with it's comprehensive local news, views and information mixed with a wide variety of music from today's greatest hits and the best songs from the last four decades'.  It is expected that the local community will be involved in station production, with input from charities and voluntary organisations.  The station plans to begin broadcasting in the Autumn of 2003 from purpose built premises in Maidstone.

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