Aircheck UK - Leicestershire

UPDATED: 09/10/2003

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ENGLAND                                                                                                                                  

Simon Parry - Leicester
Leicestershire Commercial Radio, Centre Radio/Leicester Sound history, jingles and memories Midlands Radio Guide, Leicester DAB reception guide! www.simonparry.co.uk
  Rock News and Reviews NOW WITH ONLINE ROCK SHOWS http://www.justin-case.co.uk

BBC LOCAL RADIO: The first local radio station in the country, BBC Radio Leicester, opened at 12.45pm on November 8th 1967, with a speech from the Postmaster General, the Rt Hon Edward Short. The station was one of eight experimental stations opened by the BBC to prove the demand for local radio, and was deemed to be a two year experiment.

Operating in those days on VHF only (95.05mhz). Radio Leicester quickly established a small but devoted audience.  The floods which devastated parts of Leicester in 1968 helped the station enormously, as they were able to provide information on where help was available, even having reporters on rowing boats in city streets at one stage!

The station was quickly deemed to be a success and expanded it's operation, setting up it's own newsroom (previously, news came from a local news agency) and in 1974, finally establishing transmissions on the medium waveband, on 189 metres (1584khz).  1974 was also the year when the station established it's first programme for the Asian community in Leicester, an area in which the station was to grow in future years.

The advent of commercial competition in 1981 did not stop the stations progress, broadcasting throughout the day was established in the early 80's (with some help from the networked Dennis McCarthy show from Radio Nottingham, which ran for many years) and a number of specialist music programmes (The Rocker Returns, Country Style 358, Prime Time) and football coverage in the evenings. By the late 1980's the medium wave frequency was moved to 358 metres (837khz) and the station gained a countywide FM transmitter on 104.9mhz, broadcast from Copt Oak (The previous 95.1 FM transmitter, sited on Anstey Lane in Leicester, was finally turned off in 1990, after 23 years service).

In late 1988, the station embarked on a vast expansion of it's service for the Asian community. From 6pm-midnight, a wide variety of programmes for the Asian community in Leicester was broadcast on the 837 AM frequency, with the usual programmes continuing on FM. By this time, there were specialist music programmes each weekday evening, shared with the other BBC stations in the East Midlands, and the new late show with John Taynton, shared with stations in the rest of Midlands as well. The station was now on air 6am-midnight on weekdays.

The hours of the Asian service on AM were gradually expanded throughout the early 90's until in November 1996, Radio Leicester said goodbye to 837 AM and became an FM only station, with the BBC Asian Network launched on the medium wave (as well as the former medium wave frequencies of BBC Radio WM)

Now, in 2002, Radio Leicester is neck and neck with the local commercial competition for audience, and is producing a wide variety of interesting and diverse programmes. Some old favourites are still there, such as Down to Earth, the gardening show that has been running since the station launched, and John Florance presenting the daily Talkback show, but there is now a daily sports phone in, and at the weekends they have The Beat (shared with the other stations in the East Midlands) and on Sunday evenings Kenny Hague with loads of great music and chat to end the weekend (OK, he plugs my website a lot, so I've got to give him a mention!)

All in all, after almost 35 years on air, the station is in great shape.

WEBSITE : http://www.bbc.co.uk/radioleicester   
AIR DATE : 8th November 1967

COMMERCIAL:    LOCAL

CENTRE RADIO

Centre Radio was Leicestershire's first commercial radio station. It launched on 7th September 1981, in a blaze of publicity.  Adverts were placed in the Leicester Mercury for several days preceding the launch, and the station appeared at many local events during August and September 1981.  Also, to build people's interest, in the weeks before launch Timmy Mallett started to go up and down London Road on his rollerskates!

The station launched during a recession which was happening in Britain in the early 1980's.  Centre had spent 600,000 out of their 750,000 launch budget renovating a 19th century house near Victoria Park in Leicester, which they had bought, and added studios to at the rear of the house. New broadcasting equipment was bought and installed as well, this alone came to 300,000. A local architect was commissioned for the building work, and a plaque bearing their name is still there to this day.  This building, Granville House, on Granville Road in Leicester, was Centre's headquarters throughout the whole of it's life.

The recession, and the expense that Centre had gone to renovating their premises, hit the station hard.  Another problem they had was attracting listeners, as the local BBC station, BBC Radio Leicester, had been on air since 1967, and many listeners stayed loyal to the BBC.

The station had already recorded a pre-operating loss of 121,000 after it's first few weeks on air (the first accounts were released on September 30th 1981) but this was put down to the setting up expenses. A loss of 85,000 was expected in the first year, but the station recorded a loss of 255,000 in the accounts for the year ending 30th September 1982.  By this time, the first Managing Director, Mr Ken Warburton (later to be Programme Controller at East Midlands regional station Radio 106 FM) and News Editor David Robey had left.

During 1983, the financial situation continued to worsen, but Centre was expected to make a profit in the end of year accounts. When these were released, in September 1983, this was not the case. The station was losing money fast, and on October 5th, an offer was made by Cresnote, a company formed by Mr Geoffrey Pointon, who had resigned from the board of Centre Radio, made a bid to take over the station. This was accepted by the board, but blocked by the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) who said that a major restructuring like this would mean that the licence would have to be re-advertised, as the structure of the company would change.

Following this news, a board meeting was held on the morning of October 6th 1983, at which the decision was taken to cease trading. The company's accountants were informed and receivers arrived at Granville House at 12.30pm. At 1.00pm, Tony Cook read the news bulletin which contained only one story, the board of Leicester and Leicestershire Local Radio plc (the company that owned Centre) was taking it off the air.

The staff had been told before that bulletin was read that their contracts had been terminated. Most spent the next few minutes packing their belongings and leaving Granville House as fast as they could, as the receivers were making notes of everything that was in the building in order to pay creditors. At 2.00pm, the doors of Granville House were locked.

Following the bulletin, the station broadcast continuous music for a few hours, whilst further news was awaited.  But there was no more, the station could not be saved, and at 5.30pm the music was stopped and the station went off the air, and 238 metres on the medium wave, and 97.1 VHF in stereo went silent, but not for good..........

Following Centre's closure, Radio Trent in Nottingham put forward a proposal for them to provide a temporary service for Leicester from November 1st 1983. To be called Leicester Sound, this service would have output from Leicester for 12 hours a day on weekdays and 6 hours at weekends, for a period of 1 year, whilst the IBA re-advertised the franchise. This proposal was accepted by the IBA but blocked by the unions.

AIR DATE : 7th September 1981
OFF AIR DATE : 6th October 1983

LEICESTER SOUND

The ILR licence for Leicester was readvertised on October 31st 1983.  There were two applications, and a bid by Nottingham based Radio Trent won.  The licence was awarded to them in April 1984.

Radio Trent bought the assets of Centre Radio from the receivers for 300,000, and so the new station was to have Granville House as it's home, just as Centre had done. Once this was sorted out, Radio Trent got to work in setting up Leicester's new local commercial station, and the finished product, Leicester Sound, went on the air on 7th September 1984.

The opening line up was Nick Murden on breakfast, Guy Morris on the morning show, Tony Lyman at lunch, and Andy Marriott on drivetime.  After 6.00pm on weekdays and 12.00 at weekends, programmes were networked from Radio Trent in Nottingham, with split adverts and jingles for each station. This situation was not to change for many years.

At the end of 1987, some new presenters arrived at Leicester Sound.  This coincided with the arrival of David Lloyd as Programme Controller.  He was also one of the new presenters, the other being Kenny Hague.

With both of these new presenters installed, and a new schedule in place, the station annouced that, from October 4th 1988, it was giving up it's 1260 AM frequency to a new service GEM-AM, which would broadcast golden oldies from the 60's and 70's, as well as taking Sabras, Leicester Sound's existing programme for the Asian community, and all the sport previously heard on Leicester Sound.  Leicester Sound was renamed Sound FM.

After the station became Sound FM in 1988 it seemed to be more music based than ever before. Most of the specialist programmes went, with only 'The Business Programme' remaining after very long (this finally finished in 1993).  Apart from this, there was very little change at the station until early in 1991, when it was renamed (again), this time being called Leicester Sound FM.

Several new programmes were also introduced during this period, both concerned with charts in other parts of the world.  'The Eurochart' and America's Choice were both a part of Leicester Sound's schedule for a number of years, both finishing in 1993, if my memory serves me correctly.

In September 1991, David Lloyd left Leicester Sound after 4 years, and a new programme controller was brought in, and the station's schedule was revamped.  This revamp included, for the first time in the station's history, programmes broadcast from Leicester in the evenings, as prior to 1991, evening programmes after 6.00pm, and 12midday at weekends, had always come from Radio Trent in Nottingham.  The new evening show was to be presented by Mark Hayman, and ran from 6.00pm each weekday night.

In total Leicester Sound now broadcast from Leicester for 16 hours a day, compared to 12 before. At weekends it was even better, as it was now until 11.00pm on Saturdays and 10.00pm on Sundays, where previously it had been 12 midday, so this was a vast improvement.

In January 1992, following the creation of Midlands Radio plc the previous year, Leicester Sound stopped sharing evening programmes with Trent FM in Nottingham and began sharing with Mercia FM in Coventry instead. Both Mark Keen and 'Nightbeat' were shared with Mercia FM.  Of course, when Mark was on holiday we were treated to a variety of Mercia presenters covering his show, and over time we met Gary Hynes, Matthew Wright, Jim Twyneham, Chris Pegg, Marc Silk and others.

Leicester Sound's licence was renewed for another 8 years in 1993, the present one expiring in 1995.  Later that year, Midlands Radio plc was bought by the GWR Group, who wanted to know what people thought of the station & questionnaires were published in local newspapers.  This data was looked at, and on Sunday 20th March 1994, we began to get a taste for what was about to happen, as all that was heard all day (apart from the Network Chart) was back to back music and announcements like the one above. There were no commercials.  This was all in preparation for the re-launch of the station the following morning, as on Monday 21st March at 6.00am, Leicester Sound was re-launched as 'The New Leicester Sound Greatest Hits 103 FM', and adopted GWR's Better Music Mix format.

Back in 1996, when GWR bought Classic FM, they tried to sell Leicester Sound to Daily Mail and General Trust (who owned Essex FM, Vibe FM etc) but the deal was blocked by the Radio Authority because they felt that because DMGT also owned the Leicester Mercury, the dominant (only!) evening paper in the area, they would have a monopoly on commercial media in the area (no Century or Saga back then, so Leicester Sound was the only commercial FM service available) In any case, as GWR have since bought DMGT, they would have probably got them back again anyway!

The only other major change since then has been the frequency, on 6th Janaury 1997, Leicester Sound moved from 103.2mhz to 105.4mhz. The power of the transmitter was also increased from 0.5kW to 6kW, meaning that some areas of Leicestershire heard the station clearly for the first time.

In February 2002 the Radio Authority awarded a digital radio licence for this area to NOW Digital East Midlands, and Leicester Sound was included as
one of the services they will provide in digital form. This means that the analogue licence has been extended for a further 8 years, as the Radio Authority have said that any station gaining a place on a digital multiplex in it's area receives automatic licence renewal.  So Leicester Sound will definitely be with us until 2010.   

And finally, after 18 years Leicester Sound said goodbye to the building that was home to commercial radio in Leicestershire for the past 21 years.  The station left Granville House behind for brand new state of the art studios based at the Meridian Business Park, just off Junction 21 of the M1.  The switch took place on Tuesday July 30th at 3.00pm, with Steve Jordan being the last presenter to broadcast from Granville House.

AIR DATE : 7th September 1984
WEBSITE : http://www.koko.com/

COMMERCIAL: SALLIES: (Small-scale, alternative local licences)

107.9 Fosseway Radio - Hinckley

In 1996, the Radio Authority, who regulate commercial radio in the UK, announced that new small scale alternative location licences (or "sallies" as they have become known) were to be advertised. This meant that the Authority would advertise that a number of licences would be made available in a particular area, but it was up to the applicant to decide which area they wished to serve.

A "sallie" licence for Leicestershire was advertised in early 1997, and Fosseway Radio was one of the bidders.  The station had run various RSL broadcasts in the Hinckley area, and had become very popular with local people and advertisers, particularly due to Hinckley's location, on the A5 between Coventry and Leicester (the town is in the official coverage area of both Leicester Sound and Mercia FM) but residents didn't really feel attached to either city.  Fosseway Radio would reflect this.

The station's application went in to the Radio Authority in mid 1997, along with many others (some of whom also wanted to serve Hinckley).  In late 1997 it was announced that Fosseway had been successful in achieving a licence for Hinckley and South West Leicestershire, the team of presenters was assembled, and the station went on air at 10.00am on Sunday November 1st 1998, with Kenny Hague being the first presenter on air.

The station has remained basically the same every since it launched, new jingles were added in 2001 and some of the presenters have changed (at the moment they only have 3 or 4 who are doing very long shifts, the rest is automated) but the station is still very popular in the area it serves.  Run by Lincs FM group.

AIR DATE : 1st November 1998
WEBSITE : http://www.fossewayradio.co.uk

107 OAK FM

Another winner when small scale licences for Leicestershire were handed out in 1996, Oak FM serves Loughborough and North Charnwood, but can clearly be heard over a large part of Leicestershire. The station was originally backed by the Loughborough Echo newspaper, and was the last of the 3 "sallies" to launch, in February 1999.

Much more music based than either Fosseway or Rutland Radio, Oak has built it's audience on playing "the big mix of the best songs" and has had some ex
Leicester Sound presenters, and even the legendary Steve Merike was Programme Controller at the station for some time. Now owned by the CN Group.

AIR DATE : 14th February 1999
WEBSITE : http://www.oak.fm

RUTLAND RADIO

The other "sallie" station in Leicestershire, Rutland (like Fosseway) is backed by the Lincs FM group, and as such is very similar to Fosseway in both music and style. I can't really comment much about this station as I can't receive it where I live, but I understand that it is very popular in it's service area.

The AIRCHECK editor adds: For years, the people of this part of Leicestershire were campaigning to have it's old boundaries and name restored.  The return of the name was made even more permanent when, on 13th December 1998 at 10:00am, Rutland Radio launched on two frequencies: 97.4FM (Stamford) & 107.2FM (Rutland), broadcasting from studios on Melton Road in Oakham for Stamford and Rutland.  The station was awarded it's licence on 4th June of the same year, at the same time as sister station Fosseway Radio and CN Group's Loughborough station Oak FM / Oak 107.  Operated by the mighty Lincs FM group, Rutland Radio carries the mother station's 'hits and memories' format with a broad mix of music from four decades.  Personality and localness are prominent on the station, which, along with it's music policy, is lapping up listeners by the house load.  The station is the current home of ex-Radio Trent, GEM-AM and Radio 106 presenter Graham Wright and is he also the Features Editor and a presenter for sister and neighbouring station Fosseway Radio.  Amongst his Rutland shows, there's a Sunday night show called 'Nine O'Clock Nostalgia' which features music from the 1930's to the 1970's.  

AIR DATE : 13th December 1998
WEBSITE : http://www.rutlandradio.co.uk/

COMMERCIAL:    REGIONAL

   

Radio 106 FM/Century 106/106 Century FM

It's already had 3 names in it's 5 years on air, but the regional station for the East Midlands has gone through a number of management teams and presenters!

                                                                                           

Ken Warburton at Radio 106                                                                                        Ron Coles at Radio 106

Launched on 23rd September 1997 as Radio 106 FM, the station was first billed as 'Radio for Grown Ups', with former Trent MD Ron Coles at the helm, and former Centre Radio Managing Director Ken Warburton in charge of programmes. There was a huge amount of chat in the early days, Kevin Fernihough would have a guest each day on the morning show, and Ken Warburton on drive would chat to the editors of the 3 evening newspapers in the region, not to mention the 3 hour late night phone in with Mark Keen.  At the weekends there were also specialist shows such as Red Hot and Country with Willie Morgan, Jukebox Giants with Ron Coles himself, and a Soul and Motown show on Sunday afternoons with Willie Morgan again. Other presenters at this stage were Kenny Hague, Jake Yapp, Peter King and Sarah Graham.

The first set of audience figures for the station were good, considering it was up against 3 GWR stations and the BBC locals, but Border TV (who were providing the money) felt change was needed already, so in April 1998 the station was rebranded as Century 106. Later that year, Ron and Ken left under a cloud, and Border Radio MD John Myers was brought in to turn the station around. He brought with him a number of new presenters, Adrian Allen began hosting his lunchtime phone in, and Chris Ashley hosted the late night one, replacing Mark Keen, but he didn't last very long!

Former Trent presenter David Lloyd then arrived as Managing Director and Programme Controller and then started to turn the station into Trent mark 2.  Tony Lyman, Gary Burton, Andy Marriott with his Television Show, it was all coming back.  David also hired Bernie Keith to present the afternoon show and Steve Jordan for breakfast, and these were both excellent presenters (Bernie's last afternoon show before going to BBC Northampton produced a record number of calls to the station, both on air and to reception!).

But all good things come to an end, and in May 2000 the station, along with the other Century stations in the North East and North West, were sold to Capital Radio. David Lloyd went up the M1 to Galaxy 105 in Leeds, Adrian Allen walked out mid show, and Capital brought in more new presenters, Ian Skye, (from RAM-FM (Derby, Jason King, Stuart Ellis and Paula White amongst others. They also dramatically increased the amount of sports coverage, and the station was now billed as the home of "music, fun and football".

Ian Skye, and his producer Pete Allen, left under a cloud in late 2001, after playing a satirical song regarding Osama Bin Laden (Ian is now on 107.7 The Wolf in Wolverhampton) and after a short spell under Steve Jordan, the breakfast show was handed to Graham Mack, who joined from Capital owned BRMB in Birmingham.

The schedule seems to have settled down now, but for me "106 Century FM" as it is now, will never be as good as it was in it's earlier incarnation as Century 106!

AIR DATE : 23rd September 1997
WEBSITE : http://www.106centuryfm.com/

The AIRCHECK Editor adds...

SAGA 106.6FM (101.4 Derby): Since tests began on Tuesday 28th February (30th for 101.4 Derby) - a 'who's who' of local radio has gradually appeared with the airing of pre-recorded test announcements - John Peters & David Hamilton started things off, later being joined by Tony Lyman, David Lloyd, Paul Robey, Erica Hughes and night-time presenter Tim Gough.  A sizeable playlist has been aired with only long term listeners hearing a repeat of some tunes - with a music mix which combines Radio 2 and the classic days of East Midlands great gold station GEM-AM.  Sunday 2nd February also saw the use of the first SAGA 106.6 jingles.  Cheekily, the tests continued to trail the station as serving '...the Great East Midlands...' -  undoubtedly a 'ha-ha we're back' sideswipe at the dumbing down of local radio and the downsizing of GEM-AM

Summarising the tests, Day 2 saw a short period off air for approximately 90 minutes with tests heard returning at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Other intermittent drop outs of sound were heard although less and less over the last few days of tests.  These then, were truly tests in every sense.   Other interesting facts, include the referral to Lincolnshire as being served, along with the other three inland East Mids counties, Notts, Derbys & Leics - Lincs doesn't get a mention by the other regional, 106 Century FM.   More recent tests have included programme trailers.  Prior to launch, perhaps a negative side is that there were seemingly no large adverts being carried on lorries - no billboards spotted - no leaflets through doors, but Derby's Evening Telegraph Entertainment supplement on Friday 7th featured an interview and photographs with David Hamilton.  Some locals who have previously made contact with SAGA in any guise, received a small magazine featuring articles and schedules. It confirmed, after recent omissions from the test announcements, the appearance of Andy Marriott, with 'Pure Nostalgia' on a Sunday - this is already aired by Andy on the West Midlands sister station so we assume that this is networked on both stations.  Diana Luke e-mailed confirmation to us here at AIRCHECK that she would be presenting a weekend JAZZ show on SAGA 106.6 whilst maintaining a weekday show on Peak 107 (Chesterfield) and also at weekends on Yorkshire's Real Radio.

Overnight presenter, Mike Wyer started his first shift warming up for launch, providing regular live test announcements, counting down to the launch throughout the night - and at 7:00am, John Peters burst onto the air, clearly excited with what lay ahead.  It's the third time he's launched a local station in his 28 years of broadcasting locally - the original Radio Trent 301 in 1975 and GEM-AM in 1988.  Airing a re-sung Radio London jingle, (of which the style would be familiar, with John being a fan and having worked on recent Big L broadcasts), he announced that SAGA was 'about to take off' - the first songs aired were Frank Sinatra's 'Come Fly With Me'  and The Carpenters' 'We've Only Just Begun', with other songs from The Beatles, The Seekers and Abba following.  It seems SAGA have done what Radio 106 / Century didn't/doesn't  - and that's to show clear evidence of being interested in it's different counties and their audience - it is already involved with all local papers in each county - evident from the pre-launch magazine and by John on-air - there was also interactivity by mentioning the many e-mails and letters received and a request.  The 'Great East Midlands' theme looks set to continue, along with a constant, although tricky reference to the Derby transmitter on 101.4 despite the station being on 106.6 in the main.  The first advertiser/sponsor to appear came with the first travel bulletin, British Airways, closely followed by the first commercial proper - again a National advertiser - Sainsburys.  At 7:25, 500 was up for grabs on the Mystery Voice competition - and the station phone number was announced -  0845 650 1066.  Claire Bailey presented a detailed news, sport and weather bulletin at 7:30pm.  Overall reflections on the opening 30 minutes from AIRCHECK?   SAGA RADIO is fronted by ex-Trent and Radio 106 man Ron Coles.  It would seem that real, local radio (with JINGLES!!!) is finally back in the East Midlands - the ghost of Trent & GEM past returns to haunt once more.  Happy haunting!

So, who else is doing what then?  Trent, GEM, Big L, Century 106 & Lincs FM group jock John Peters is the Breakfast show presenter upon launch, a local radio star for 28 years, Erica Hughes fills the morning show (9am-Noon), and David Hamilton takes on the afternoon show (1-4pm) moving from the Breakfast show on the West Midlands sister station on 105.7 which can be heard well over the East Midlands coverage area.   Ex-BRMB star Les Ross has taken over in Birmingham's SAGA Breakfast from January 6th following a short break after his departure from BRMB.   Ex Trent and GEM presenter Tony Lyman is moving back home to present the drivetime afternoon slot from his similar position in Birmingham's SAGA station - he also presents Saturday Breakfast - and ex-Trent/GEM links continue because Paul Robey has left his job with the Lincs-FM group to become the SAGA 106.6 Programme Controller, and Head Of Music and will present 'The SAGA Collection weekdays at 12noon and 7pm.   Tim Gough controls the late night show, weekdays 8pm-Midnight (Tim is ex-96 Trent-FM) ex-golden Trent era star Peter Quinn was scheduled to finally return to local airwaves Friday 8pm-Midnight, Saturday afternoon 2pm-6pm and Sunday breakfast from 6:00am-10:00am. However, a few days into the start of transmissions, his name was removed from the list of presenters on the station's website.  Peter was unable to appear due to personal reasons.  The aptly named ex-travel news presenter Mike Wyer presents the graveyard shift, with Mark Burrows making a welcome return to local radio, in a slot he's familiar with - in this case Midnight - 2am, with anotther familiar title 'A Little Night Music'  and both Sheila Tracey and Diana Luke appear in the schedule too.  As David Lloyd's dulcet tones have been heard on test announcements, fans of the great Steve Merike have been jumping for joy as David included Steve in a list of presenters cited as appearing on the station.  It is known from inside AIRCHECK circles, that Steve has a fondness for the music of the 1930s, however, it was not on a specialist show that Steve made a return - with no start for Peter Quinn, this freed up Sunday breakfast, a show which Steve has seemingly stepped straight into as if he'd never been away.  We were the first to be told by the man himself on December 12th 2002 - and we promised we wouldn't tell, but it's been formally announced by the station itself - David Lloyd returns to the East Midlands with the Sunday request show 10:00am - 1:00pm.  On his first show, one of David's first links enthused about being back and referred to having been 'interrupted last time'.  

Speaking about the launch, David Hamilton who also presents a Saturday show called 'Million Sellers', said: 'Radio for people aged 50 and over is something new on the airwaves and I am delighted to be one of the pioneers and part of the launch team at SAGA 106.6FM.'   Studios are based at Nottingham's Riverside Business Park. Saga has invested 2.5million in the new radio station.

SAGA 106.6fm is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Saga Group Ltd which was founded in 1952 and is now the market leader in travel, financial and other services for people aged 50 and over, and also publishes the award-winning 1.2 million circulation Saga magazine

Click here to see who SAGA beat to get to air!

RESTRICTED SERVICE LICENCES (RSLs):

Leicestershire has had it's fair share of RSL activity over the years, we will look at each area separately.

LEICESTER

Regular RSL's in the city include two from the universities, De Montfort University's Demon FM and Lush FM from Leicester University. They usually run 1 RSL's each a year, usually in November. We also have a large number usually around the time of Diwalli, local AM station Sabras Radio occasionally runs a Diwalli special on FM. 
There have also been RSL broadcasts over the years from the following groups

The Wall (campaigning for a new FM licence for Leicester, and did bid for 2nd East Midlands licence, but were unsuccessful)

Vibe FM (to demonstrate format for 2nd East Midlands licence bid)

Radio Fox (Hospital Radio RSL to celebrate 10th birthday of Radio Fox)

MARKET HARBOROUGH

Several RSL groups here, mostly before the award of the sally licences for Leicestershire in 1996. Valley FM (back by Leicester Mercury) made a couple of broadcasts in 1995-96, and more recently, The Hit Mix broadcast in July 2002 and is back on air in December 2002.

Harborough FM

Formed in 1995, this group has now made 9 broadcast to the Market Harborough area, the first broadcast began on 21st May 1995 from a studio attached to the back of a pub.  The broadcast was timed to co-incide with the annual Harborough Carnival and proved to be a huge success in the area.  Further broadcasts were made in late 1995 and early 1996 to build support for their bid for a licence, which proved to be unsuccessful.

Following this disappointment, HFM returned to the airwaves on several occasions in 1998 and 1999 from their new premises on St Mary's Road in the town, which now included two studios, one for production and one for on-air use (although the second studio could be used on air if required). HFM was one of the few groups to be allowed to broadcast over the Millennium holiday.

There were more broadcasts in 2000, but in 2001 the lease expired on HFM's premises in St Mary's Road, the broadcast went on air earlier than usual in April, but after that it was not known if or when HFM would ever return.

Happily, HFM found a new home in the South Leicestershire Learning and Innovation Centre on the Welland Park Industrial Estate in Market Harborough, and despite not having any studios 3 weeks before the broadcast, with a lot of hard work from the team they managed to get on air from their new home as planned on 19th May 2002 for 4 weeks, to promote the Harborough Carnival and to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.  During the broadcast more than 6000 phone calls were received and numerous text messages, letters and cards were received.  Harborough FM, is back on air from May 25th to June 21st this year (2003) on 95.1FM.  Transmissions start at Midnight as it becomes Saturday 25th.  I (Simon Parry) will be presenting 2:00am-7:00am on Saturday mornings and from 10:00pm on Saturday nights.  Very tiring, but the most fun I've ever had - can't wait to do it again!.  The station plans to broadcast on-line for this latest broadcast, with the additional possibility of a studio webcam - this could show some interesting results as it gets very hot in the studio!

WEBSITE : http://www.harboroughfm.co.uk    MORE INFO : http://www.simonparry.co.uk

MELTON MOWBRAY

Another area which feels it need it's own station, Melton has a long established RSL station in TWC FM, which usually makes 2 broadcasts a year for the area, and came back on-air November 2002.  The company behind TWC FM are also launching a number of other RSL's around Leicestershire and Derbyshire, so look out for them. TWC return under a new name of Melton FM for another 28 days from May 19th 2003 on 87.7FM.  Although the station's website credits the broadcast as Melton FM, the Radio Authority class it as being TWC-FM.  We expect them to carry out similar levels of aggressive campaigning for a permanent licence, including recommendations to contact the Radio Authority / OFCOM regarding this.  Visit the AIRCHECK RADIO NEWS page to find out what went off on TWC's last broadcast. (www.twcfm.co.uk)

The AIRCHECK editor adds: 

Wiggle FM: Based at South Leicestershire College in Wigston, this station utilises RSLs to operate and first sprung to life for two weeks in 2001 to celebrate the college's 30th anniversary.  It targeted an audience of both students and ex-students and the local population too, with diverse mix of music, news, features and competitions.  The 2001 broadcast included interviews with Anton De Fargas who played Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch, and an interview with members of the EastEnders cast.  The service was also streamed on the Internet.  The station returned again in May 2002 for just six days due to lack of finances but to the same standards.  Originally operated by the college's Media Studies section, the entire community is now invited to become involved, with support from people aged 16 to 60.  There's a breadth and depth of experience including university, hospital and RSL broadcasters.  A twelve day broadcast is scheduled to operate from Monday May 12th to Saturday May 24th 2003 on 95.1 and on line too.  For more information, or to offer assistance, visit  www.slcollege.ac.uk/wiggle (Mail: wiggle@slcollege.ac.uk)  

DIGITAL: NOWdigital East Midlands Limited, a consortium of GWR Group plc, Sabras Sound Limited, Capital Radio plc and Chrysalis Group plc, switched on the new Leicester digital radio multiplex on Friday 6th December 2002.   The company was launched in 2001 to help bring diversity through digital radio to Leicester.  It's successful bid was announced in February 2002.

The new multiplex is broadcasting seven digital radio services, including four existing commercial and BBC analogue services and three brand new and diverse digital only services, which offer real choice. The complement of services now on offer to Leicester's radio listeners with digital radios are:

 * Leicester Sound
 * Sabras Radio
 * 106 Century FM
 * Galaxy
 * Capital Disney

 * A Plus - A new digital only service from Sabras Sound serving Leicester' s young Asians, as well as providing a platform for other local groups
 * BBC Radio Leicester

The new licence broadcasts to a potential audience of 670,000.

HOSPITAL RADIO: courtesy of Steve Hack (Programme Director: Radio Fox): Radio Fox have been on air since 1988, and broadcast for 55 hours a week to the patients & staff of the Leicester Royal Infirmary and the Glenfield Hospital.

The programming is pretty mixed. 7-8 weeknights is for specialist shows, 8-10 is requests and 10-12 a mix of specialist and mainstream shows.  Weekend shows start at 8am and include sport, religious output, general programming and a very popular interview show on Sunday lunchtimes.

Radio Fox has been recognised at national level, picking up 3 awards at the 2002 Hospital Radio Awards. In 1998, 2000 and 2001. we picked up two awards per year. 

Fox presenters who have gone on to better things include Sean Goldsmith (Leicester Sound, Centre-FM, Century 106, Peak 107) Graham Coley (now running Takeover Radio) Steven Hardisty (Fosseway Radio) Tim Smith (Leicester Sound) Andy Giddings (BBC Hereford & Worcester) & Trevor Kirk (UCB). I was the sports producer on Fosseway Radio for a few months in 2000.

Audience figures provided by Patientline show that 39% of patients at the Royal Infirmary listen to us, more than any other station. A lot of staff listen in too, particularly to our Saturday sports coverage and request shows.

For more info on Radio Fox please feel free to visit our website - www.hospitalradiofox.co.uk 

STUDENT RADIO:   

Loughborough Campus Radio (LCR) hit the airwaves illegally back in 1970, emanting from a suitcase in the Hazelrigg Hall of Loughborough University during the union's rag week.  Despite it's illegality, it was very popular, and so students went about seeking the funding to provide a legal station.  URL was launched in 1973, becoming LCR in the early part of the 1980s.  In February 2003, it celebrated it's 30th birthday with a restricted service licence, which was the end of a week of celebrations.  The broadcast featured highlights of previous broadcasts for the station in all guises and saw a return for old broadcasting staff for a final swansong.  

Wiggle FM: Based at South Leicestershire College in Wigston, this station utilises RSLs to operate and first sprung to life for two weeks in 2001 to celebrate the college's 30th anniversary.  It targeted an audience of both students and ex-students and the local population too, with diverse mix of music, news, features and competitions.  The 2001 broadcast included interviews with Anton De Fargas who played Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch, and an interview with members of the EastEnders cast.  The service was also streamed on the Internet.  The station returned again in May 2002 for just six days due to lack of finances but to the same standards.  Originally operated by the college's Media Studies section, the entire community is now invited to become involved, with support from people aged 16 to 60.  There's a breadth and depth of experience including university, hospital and RSL broadcasters.  A twelve day broadcast is scheduled to operate from Monday May 12th to Saturday May 24th 2003 on 95.1 and on line too.  For more information, or to offer assistance, visit  www.slcollege.ac.uk/wiggle (Mail: wiggle@slcollege.ac.uk)

THE FUTURE: With the 3rd West Midlands regional (in addition to Heart and Saga) radio licence now awarded to 'Kerrang!', it is expected that a 3rd East Midlands regional will be advertised, giving the disappointed groups who missed out with their bids for the 2nd East Mids regional, a second bite at the cherry.  The RA, soon to be OFCOM, have said the East Midlands has no scope for sizeable growth, but it remains to be seen what the Radio Authority's successor will do.  Additionally, when industry discussions and RA trials have concluded, it is not deemed unreasonable for Leicester and other large populated areas of the county to have a community-based access station.

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