Aircheck UK - Lincolnshire

UPDATED: 15/09/2003

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BBC LOCAL RADIOBBC Radio Lincolnshire started it's service to the county on 11th November 1980.  It broadcasts to an estimated 500,000 people aged over 15, on three frequencies, two FM (94.9 & 104.7 - the latter for Grantham) & one AM (1368).  A combined TV & radio facility operates from the Radion Buildings in Newport, Lincoln. 


COMPASS FM: On the 26th May 2000, the Radio Authority invited applications for a commercial radio licence for the Grimsby and North Humberside area.  By 5th September of the same year, three applications had been received: Haven FM Ltd, Southbank FM Ltd & Compass FM (Compass Radio Ltd).  Adjudicating on the award, the RA said there were weaknesses in each application but after some close scrutiny, they considered Compass FM had been the closest to fulfilling the criteria.  Of the twelve letters received by the Radio Authority to express support for all candidates, eleven favoured Compass FM's bid.

Compass FM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ever growing Lincs FM group.  After measured research of it's target audience, the over 30s, the station bid team concluded they were poorly served by existing stations, and promised to serve the 45-64 year old age group.  The format is a playlist of songs from the last five decades and beyond: memorable and melodic music from the 50s through to the present day and incorporating a minimum of 10% soft soul, country & easy listening plus a selection of tracks from pre-rock and roll, musicals and popular classical pieces.

Because Lincs FM already operated a service of the same name, an overlap to Grimsby, the RA had to consider the fairness of awarding the licence but overall, felt there were other outlets for advertisers in the area, as owned by EMAP & Chrysalis so there was no evidence to presume that awarding the licence would cause an over dominance in the sector.  Nevertheless, a public interest test was carried out - but there were no great concerns raised - however the RA stipulated that there must be a journalist based in Grimsby and that news bulletins must be produced solely for Compass FM and not a networked or co-produced bulletin.  They also imposed a condition prohibiting selling between them and other group stations.  

On accepting the terms, this part of the family launched it's 'Hits & Memories' service to Grimsby & North Humberside (Cleethorpes & Immingham) on 3rd June 2001.  It broadcasts from studios at 26a Wellowgate in Grimsby on 96.4FM. 


LINCS FM: And this is where the term 'Independent Local Radio' is popularly centred - from one commercial station, an industry giant has grown.  On 1st March 1992, this station lit up the radio dial locally, and became the local radio competition to the BBC station which, by this date, had been on-air for twelve years.  Lincs FM broadcasts from studios at Witham Park on the banks of the River Witham in Lincoln, a site well known by locals as 'The Titanic Works'.  Programming is sent underground to it's main transmitter in the Lincolnshire Wolds at Belmont.  From it's original frequency of 102.2, it now has relays on 96.7 (Grantham) for the South & 97.6 (Scunthorpe) for the North.  As far as the history of the station is concerned, after departing Nottingham & Derby's Trent FM this was the home for David Lloyd and Paul Robey - who went some considerable way to maintaining the overall quality and localness that this service and it's sister stations today, are renowned for.  On it's website, the station uses the line 'your truly local station'.  

Even though it is fair to say that there are now only three stations directly targeting the area (BBC Radio Lincolnshire, Lincs FM & SAGA 106.6), Lincs FM has continued to take a massive slice of the local radio listenership with it's popular 'hits and memories' format which plays music from the 70s onwards.  It did use to play a significant amount of tracks from the previous decade, although this has been filtered out to an extent over recent years, without greatly affecting the overall quality of the service.  

Such has been the success experienced by the station, a whole radio group has been created (Lincs FM plc) with stations starting in the outer lying regions of North Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire & Leicestershire.  The only other main East Midlands region yet to see the managing group's involvement is Derbyshire - radio fans and residents of that county yearn for their arrival at the earliest opportunity.  Having said that, Lincs FM could be heard clearly in East Derby until the Birmingham station Galaxy 102 started broadcasting.  It can still be heard on the Derbyshire side of the northbound M1 for some distance.  

Broadcasting it's service '...from the Humber to the Wash', and for Newark in Nottinghamshire, on-air, the station uses the strapline 'playing hits, making memories'.  It's news and information service is excellent, and there are regular competitions, opportunities for requests and dedications and, above all, in today's otherwise bland commercial radio market, personality radio lives here and at other Lincs FM Group stations.                                               


RUTLAND RADIO: For years, the people of the Rutland area of Leicestershire were campaigning to have it's old boundaries and name restored and acknowledged.  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.



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       

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