Aircheck UK - London/Middlesex

UPDATED: 19/09/2003

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO

BBC RADIO LONDON: After pre-launch tests consisting of Radio 1 output plus announcements, this BBC service started on October 6th 1970, three years before the first commercial radio activity (see below).  Initially, broadcasting solely on 95.3, and then, just prior to the commercial stations launching, a medium wave transmitter was used on 206m (1457kHz) from 1973.  FM stereo transmissions began in 1981 with a continuous music programme called 'Music On The Move' - the first stereo programme which came a few days prior to the Stereo launch on February 11th.  The VHF transmitter was mvoed to Crystal Palace about a year later due to poor coverage from the Central/West London site of Wrotham.   A later move of FM frequency, due to the up and coming Capital Radio, took it to 94.9 where it's successor remains today. BBC Radio London started broadcasting from studios in Hanover Square, near Oxford Circus - with consoles including rotary faders.  Later, the station moved to new studios in Marylebone High Street, premises without any windows at the back of a BBC Publications building, formerly the warehouse for the Radio Times.  

In 1980, the station celebrated it's 10th birthday with a large piece in the Radio TimesThis was in the days when Local Radio stations had a whole page.   A special photo of everyone who could be found in the newsroom was taken to use in the piece.  Laurie Meyer put together a tribute to the mistakes, or boobs, of those first ten years.  

A relaunch in 1981 saw the station take on a softer 'Radio 2' type sound, a move which didn't totally convince the staff.  However, it did lead to an increase in audience figures and a string of awards and accolades.  The line up looked like this: 

06:30     Rush Hour with Susie Barnes and John Waite
09:00     Morning Star
10:00     Robbie Vincent Telephone Programme
12:30     Lunchtime News
12:40     Total Music Show with Tony Fish
14:30     Tony Blackburn
17:00     Evening News
17:15     Music on the Move
18:30     Speech programmes
19:00     Black Londoners
20:00     Parliamentary Question Time

The final programme, just before the station's 18th birthday, was presented by Mike Sparrow and Susie Barnes.  BBC Radio London closed at 7pm, Friday 7th October 1988 - it's output was replaced by test transmissions for it's successor - see below for more.

BBC GLR/BBC LONDON LIVE/BBC LONDON: GLR launched on the 25th October 1988 broadcasting on 94.9FM with Johnnie Walker at the controls.  At it's launch, it's pretense was to be in no way similar to what went before - to demonstrate this, the presenter line up was completely different.  It is an Adult-oriented station portraying "London life," featuring interviews, phone-ins and news during the day and specialist minority programmes by night.  There is also a lively week-day lunchtime phone-in show and good sports coverage on Saturday afternoons. It was named BBC GLR - Greater London Radio - until 25 March 2000 when the BBC renamed it, despite much protest, and possibly because of poor RAJAR figures, to BBC London Live. 1st October 2001 saw a further name change, but only slightly to BBC London, merging with web site and TV services ("On TV On Radio On Line"). London traffic cameras on the station's website are of great use for Londoners. 

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR) 

1st LOVE RADIO: Having carried out four RSL broadcasts since 1992, much of the off-air time in-between has been spent campaigning for a full-time licence for South East London.  Now, all the hard work has paid off, as the station has been awarded a full-time 24hour licence.  Founded by Lewisham resident Stella Headley, the station is set to be strongly community based when it comes on air during the Summer of 2003.

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A.I.R (Airport Information Radio): Launched June 1990 on 1584AM, by the then owner of Sussex & Surrey's Radio Mercury, John Aumonier, this station was designed to provide a traffic and travel service for Gatwick & Heathrow airport.  The creation of such a station was a brave move in such early days of commercial radio - but, pardon the pun, the service never really took off.  Poor advertising revenue figures and difficulty in monitoring audience figures resulted in a very short life for the station.  Arguably, such a station isn't likely to form the listening habits on a daily basis - more so, only when going on holiday.  Maybe the owner figured the station may have been of appeal to the business fraternity, who may have travelled by air on a regular basis.  It spent just one year on-air ending in June 1991. 

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CAPITAL RADIO / 95.8 CAPITAL FM: Having been given a licence (franchise) to broadcast by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in 1973, the now legendary Capital Radio came on air on two frequencies, 95.8vhf FM (at 2kw of power from Croydon) & 539 metres MW at 5:00am on 16th October 1973 as the second commercial radio station in the UK, serving London and surrounding areas.   Later in the 1970s, it moved to 194metres (1548kHz) (27.5kw from Saffron Green's transmitter) where it's AM service remains today.  At the time of launch, it was Britain's first commercial music radio station - the first words read out on-air were from the lips of station Chairman Sir Richard Attenborough who said "This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio...".  The first record played was Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and the first commercial played was for Birds Eye Fish Fingers.  After an uncertain start - the station was immediately confronted with revenue problems stemming from the three day week during the 1973 Miners' Strike - Capital Radio began growing into one of the world's largest commercial radio stations.  Sir Richard Attenborough was quoted in a 'Capital Facts' sheet, speaking about the station's early lean years 'Although one can say it now, one couldn't at the time, there were some weeks when the viability of the whole operation was in question and we might had had to close down.  We almost didn't make ends meet."

During the 1970s, 1975 saw the launch of the station's Help A London Child Charity, which has since grown to be one of London's most popular fundraising causes, with millions of pounds raised to date through a wide variety of events and initiatives, including the release of records under the PWL record label by then Capital presenters Pat Sharp & Mick Brown.  In 1976, the station's off-air information Helpline was launched for a wide-reaching range of use and on 11th June 1979, Britain's first ever traffic spotting plane, the 'Flying Eye' took off, first as a Piper Seneca, and latterly as a twin-engined Cirumma Cougar.    The station has also lent it's support to London based Orchestras, Choral Societies, the BFI Children's Film Festival and many other ventures.  

Some of the early presenters included Kenny Everett, Brian Hayes, Michael Aspel, David Symonds, Dave Cash, Gerald Harper, Graham Dene, Tony Myatt, Roger Scott, Mike Allen, Nicky Horne, Gary Crowley and Peter Young. The very first voice heard on air was Richard Attenborough, a station director and Chairman.  In the mid-seventies, there was even a link up with hospital radio in a show called 'Hullaballoo' presented by Joan Shenton.  

(There are various other stations of the same name around the world.  Capital 604 for example in South Africa, which shared a similar if not the same typeface as the 70's London station and the jingles were copies too!  The station is not on-air now, having ceased broadcasting in 1996, when the Government questioned it's financial viability, but it could return after pressure from an action group of fans and other parties led to the authorities advertising the licence in late 2002.  However, a website remains on line which features some of the jingles. Click here to make a visit to Capital 604's website.)

It's current remit is to play popular contemporary music and classic hits and feature local and national news for a target audience of 15-34 year olds around the Capital.  The station is renowned for being based at the massive Euston Tower (picture coming soon), just down the road from Euston Station, where it had five different studios around the main control room.  On-air was Studio 1, 2 was a stand-by, 3 handled chat shows and was a standby incase of a problem with Studio 2, 4 was the music studio for live performances and 5 was for commercial production.  Capital moved to Central London and prestigious studios above the Capital Cafe in Leicester Square in January 1997.  It is perhaps the only commercial station to retain a celebrity line up of nationally known presenters like Radio 1 used to have years ago - names such as Chris Tarrant, Neil 'Dr' Fox, Cat Deeley, Dermot O'Leary and Mike Osman.  

It is the group's flagship station and forms the headquarters of what is now Capital Radio plc- from one London station, the group has grown to include other London station X-FM, initially quite a troubled station, but now secure under Capital's tenure, and a core of stations based in major cities around the UK.  Altogether there are over 20 analogue licences which broadcast to over half the UK's population.  There are also 40 Digital Licences in the group's portfolio.  Capital describes itself as the UK's leading radio group, due to the fact that is is the largest in terms of revenue and profit.  Their ambition is to establish a national presence for the business by continuing to acquire new stations and by expanding the digital side of the business also.  

The purchase of Border Radio Holdings' interests (Century Network) was of great importance in building the national presence they so importantly seek and this gave them coverage of every major metropolitan area in the England and Wales.  They will continue to keep a keen eye on new licences and potential acquisitions to build further.

They believe in a policy of communication with honesty, openness and transparency included: the music format of each station is targeted at the most commercially attractive - i.e. the listeners that advertisers want to hit.

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CAPITAL RADIO / CAPITAL GOLD (London) Having been given a licence (franchise) to broadcast by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in 1973, the now legendary Capital Radio came on air on two frequencies, 95.8vhf FM (at 2kw of power from Croydon) & 539 metres MW at 5:00am on 16th October 1973 as the second commercial radio station in the UK, serving London and surrounding areas.   Later in the 1970s, it moved to 194metres (1548kHz) (27.5kw from Saffron Green's transmitter) where it's AM service remains today.  At the time of launch, it was Britain's first commercial music radio station - the first words read out on-air were from the lips of station Chairman Sir Richard Attenborough who said "This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio...".  The first record played was Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and the first commercial played was for Birds Eye Fish Fingers.  After an uncertain start - the station was immediately confronted with revenue problems stemming from the three day week during the 1973 Miners' Strike - Capital Radio began growing into one of the world's largest commercial radio stations.  Sir Richard Attenborough was quoted in a 'Capital Facts' sheet, speaking about the station's early lean years 'Although one can say it now, one couldn't at the time, there were some weeks when the viability of the whole operation was in question and we might had had to close down.  We almost didn't make ends meet."

During the 1970s, 1975 saw the launch of the station's Help A London Child Charity, which has since grown to be one of London's most popular fundraising causes, with millions of pounds raised to date through a wide variety of events and initiatives, including the release of records under the PWL record label by then Capital presenters Pat Sharp & Mick Brown.  In 1976, the station's off-air information Helpline was launched for a wide-reaching range of use and on 11th June 1979, Britain's first ever traffic spotting plane, the 'Flying Eye' took off, first as a Piper Seneca, and latterly as a twin-engined Cirumma Cougar.    The station has also lent it's support to London based Orchestras, Choral Societies, the BFI Children's Film Festival and many other ventures.  

Some of the early presenters included Kenny Everett, Brian Hayes, Michael Aspel, David Symonds, Dave Cash, Gerald Harper, Graham Dene, Tony Myatt, Roger Scott, Mike Allen, Nicky Horne, Gary Crowley and Peter Young. The very first voice heard on air was Richard Attenborough, a station director and Chairman.  In the mid-seventies, there was even a link up with hospital radio in a show called 'Hullaballoo' presented by Joan Shenton.  

(There are various other stations of the same name around the world.  Capital 604 for example in South Africa, which shared a similar if not the same typeface as the 70's London station and the jingles were copies too!  The station is not on-air now, having ceased broadcasting in 1996, when the Government questioned it's financial viability, but it could return after pressure from an action group of fans and other parties led to the authorities advertising the licence in late 2002.  However, a website remains on line which features some of the jingles. Click here to make a visit to Capital 604's website.)

The station is renowned for being based at the massive Euston Tower (picture coming soon), just down the road from Euston Station, where it had five different studios around the main control room.  On-air was Studio 1, 2 was a stand-by, 3 handled chat shows and was a standby incase of a problem with Studio 2, 4 was the music studio for live performances and 5 was for commercial production.  Capital moved to Central London and prestigious studios above the Capital Cafe in Leicester Square a few years ago.  It is perhaps the only commercial station to retain a celebrity line up of nationally known presenters like Radio 1 used to have years ago.  

With the industry requirement to split frequencies, one of the first to do so was Capital, with the AM frequency of 1548 becoming a standalone GOLD station from 6:30am, on November 28th 1988.  As the mother group grew, the Capital Gold name became a brand.  At the time, there was an expansion of rival network Classic Gold across the country as the owner, GWR, took over commercial radio station groups and rebranded the AM station.  Capital Gold was rolled out in the West Midlands, South Wales,  Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Manchester, (not in order) as groups and stations were taken over by Capital Radio plc.  Permission was granted for the station to do this roll-out, with only nominal amounts of airtime being broadcast locally, in respective areas.  As at 2003, this is the Breakfast Show, with a networked drivetime show aired, with opt ins for news and travel.  Capital Gold plays the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s as well as sport, local and national news  Capital Gold can also be heard on SKY Digital Channel 863, DAB Digital Radio in London, Hampshire, Birmingham, Manchester & South Wales, and through NTL Cable Television networks.  

www.capitalgold.com 

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CHOICE FM 96.9 began broadcasting a service to Brixton from inner London on 31st March 1990. It's official format is R&B, Reggae, Rap, Soca, Gospel and local news.  The Choice name is in perhaps a unique position - having two stations of the same name in one city.  

CHOICE 107.1 launched 3rd May 2000 broadcasting a service of Soul, dance, R&B, reggae and local news specifically for North London. 

Both stations broadcast their separate services from 291-299 Borough High Street to a potential audience of six million people.  National and international news is broadcast every hour at peak times during weekdays, followed by local news.  Charity events and non-profit making organisations reflect the station's aims to provide a link with the community, this including a regular community billboard service which is broadcast once every programme.  They even give directions to those who wish to visit the station, reflecting this dedication to the community even further.  

Overall, the music policies of the two stations reflect the diverse multicultural society which exists in London - a 'continuous jams' format attracts a loyal audience.   Interestingly, the stations operate a 'Peace On The Streets' campaign against the use of guns and for a sense of peace amongst the black community.  They ask for regular feedback on the reasons for such problems, looking for answers of who is to blame, suggesting the education system, the music industry, poverty, parents, and even the black community itself as targets.  

Another interesting part of the station is that it requests interference reports from it's listeners to combat the problem of pirate radio in the Capital.  Choice don't actually use the word 'illegal' in their information, or hint that the pirates shouldn't be doing it anyway, but do state that pirates use inferior and cheap equipment on their respective frequency, resulting in the spreading of their signal to other frequencies, namely Choice FMChoice also say that they suffer more than other radio stations in London because they use lower signal strength.  They give a contact of a local Radio Communications Agency via their website.  

NB: Choice used to have a sister station in Birmingham - Choice 102.2 - which never really got to grips in the Birmingham radio market.  It was bought by Chrysalis who then re-formatted and renamed the station under their Galaxy dance radio format.  

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CLUB ASIA: March 2002 - the Radio Authority readvertised Liberty Radio's licence to cover the Greater London area - which was then serving around 6.7million people aged 15+.  The new licence would be offered from 3rd July 2002 - the day after the expiry of the existing licence.  An application deadline of 2:00pm on Tuesday 25th June 2002 was set with a non-refundable application fee of 14,500 due. An announcement was due in the November of 2002.  

All together, there were seven applicants for the Liberty Radio licence.  There were two bids from groups offering a children's radio format - Takeover Radio (operators of a trial Access radio station in Leicester) and Abracadabra! (the latter led by former Magpie presenter Susan Stranks and backed by GWR), with the others being from Asian Talk Radio (backed by Sunrise Radio), Club Asia, Planet AM (another Asian broadcaster), Tap Radio (another Asian broadcaster offering a mix of Asian and Western dance and led by Manchester station Asian Sound Radio boss Shujat Ali - he would have rebranded all ASR stations if he'd been successful) Saga Radio (music for the over 50s, led by SAGA plc) and the existing licence holder Liberty Radio (led by Portuguese operator, Universal Difusao).  

Come the November, cometh the new licence holder - and with the amount of Asian broadcasters offering to provide a service, it should have been no surprise when the Radio Authority announced that Club Asia had been awarded the licence. The RA said that they'd been faced with a difficult decision but said that they were impressed with the winning bidder's proposals for a new service appealing to what it called 'an under-served young Asian community in Greater London'.

The winner commenced it's new service for the 15-34 Asian age group from July 3rd 2003, licenced for eight years on both the old Liberty Radio frequencies.  (See below)  At the time, one out of eight Londoners were revealed in a survey as being Asian, with 70% of them being under 34, a set of statistics which were presented to the Radio Authority by the applicants following research which cost around 60,000.  The station, the brainchild of two sisters, Sumerah and Humerah Ahmad, offers a mix of urban and contemporary Asian music, with the likes of Bhangra, Bollywood, Asian dance and pop and some mainstream R&B and garage also featuring.  The successful application saw the end of almost two years of campaigning with the support of both Asian and mainstream music representatives.   The two sister's father Tofail was the Chairman, but he was barred by the Radio Authority from any involvement with the operation of the station because of a conviction for evading customs and excise duty and VAT  - the Chairman is Baroness Flather.  Further backing comes from the Ethnic Media Group (publishers of Asian newspaper 'Asian Eye', Infinity Radio, Usha Parmar, and ex-Liberty Radio station director John Ogden.  Club Asia also broadcasts on SKY digital channel 895 and via a website at: www.clubasiaonline.com mainly in English but with some contributions in Asian languages too. 

Sumerah Ahmad has admitted that an AM licence is not ideal for the target audience, but said that Asian listeners realised that an FM station was likely to be a long time coming, and therefore, they were 'taking what they could get'.  Many Asian broadcasters have found it difficult to get mainstream advertisers to support them - so it remains to be seen how Club Asia will perform.  The station operates from Asia House at 227-247 Gascoigne Road, Barking in Essex.

See also VIVA / 963/972 LIBERTY RADIO below.  

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FLR 107.3 / FUSION 107.3: Providing the London borough of Lewisham with Soul, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Dance, chart hits from the 60s to the 90s, Global, African, Funk, Gospel, Britpop and local news and community info, this is perhaps as diverse as a radio station can get.  In it's former guise as FLR 107.3 it commenced broadcasting on 8th February 1999 from studios at Astra House, Arklow Road in the SE14 district of the capital.  UKRD held ownership of the station on the award of the licence in January 1998, however, they disposed of their interests fully in April 2000, and this is where Fusion Radio Holdings came in and the transition to its current name/brand Fusion took place on Monday 4th December of the same year.  It was around this time that the legendary Roger Day joined the Fusion group as Managing Director - this took him to FLR/Fusion as Programme Controller.  

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HEART 106.2: Broadcasting from The Chrysalis Building in London's Bramley Road, this slightly uptempo sister station to the West Midlands first regional (100.7 Heart FM), commenced broadcasting after it's counterpart, on 5th September 1995.  Operating an adult contemporary music format, it has made some inroads to the London audience, under the tutorship of Chrysalis Radio.  Prior to this, the record company was sold to EMI in 1991, and Chrysalis' Radio division was set up in 1993.  Since it's 1995 launch, Heart 106.2 has become the home to mostly ex-Capital FM jocks.   According to 2002 research Heart 106.2 reaches around 892,392 adults, or 8.6% of the London audience aged 25-44.  Residents of the seaside resort of Canvey Island took offence at a station competition advert, which showed a nice looking tropical beach with a negative slant towards Canvey Island in the text.  Complaints flooded in to the station as a result of the ad for it's 'Dream Ticket' competition.   

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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.

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KINGSTON FM / PALACE FM / 107.8 THAMES FM / 107.8 THAMES RADIO / THAMES 107.8:  The history of this station can be traced as far back as 29th June 1992 when a station by the name of Palace FM went on the air to cover the International Flower Show at London's Hampton Court Palace, using a Restricted Service Licence (RSL) from the Radio Authority.  It returned again for the same event for another 28 days, from 25th June 1994.  In between, Kingston FM broadcast across the Kingston district from 27th November 1993.  Following the final Palace FM broadcast, the group concentrated on working towards a full-time licence with further RSL broadcasts coming from 1st May 1994, 28th November 1994 and finally 1st May 1995.  

Having proved it's ability to broadcast, it subsequently won a radio licence to cover South-West London from 1st March 1997 as Thames FM.  As quickly as a year later, 20th April 1998 to be precise, it re-launched in a completely opposite way to other FM stations, who had previously dropped the word 'Radio' to be replaced with FM.  Thames FM became Thames Radio.

Licenced to cover Kingston-Upon-Thames and surrounding areas, the licence covers 24 hour programming, locally produced and presented for at least 18 hours a day during the week, and 12 hours at weekends, with general output being of a full service of music, news, community issues, and information for 25-54 year olds in the broadcast area.  The licence also includes a strong focus on news and information - speech not dipping below 25% of the daytime output, 10% off-peak, hourly local news bulletins to run during daytime with national and international news at other times, and an extended news bulletin each weekday.  Musically, Thames was licenced to include popular tracks, half less than seven years old, and half for the 7-35 year age range.  Easy listening and album tracks also feature in the licence.  In addition, country, light classical and tracks older than 35 years can also feature.  A comforting 16 hours of specialist music features in off-peak evening programming.  

In July 2002, the Radio Authority published it's 'Programming & Advertising Review' for the second quarter of the year.  Thames Radio featured, but not in a positive light.  The RA had cause to issue what it called a 'yellow-card' because of what it felt was a drop in the level of speech to below the levels quoted in the licence.  It also concluded that the station was including too much recent music and neglecting the older material.  The RA can issue a 'yellow card' if it feels that a station's character of service as defined in it's licence, is being breached - the 'card' is designed to act as an early warning to stations with the requirement to return within the boundaries of the station format to avoid any further punitive action.  

During it's time on-air, the station has been affected to some considerable extent by pirates - management claimed that London based pirate interference to it's 107.8 frequency was limiting it's transmitter range, losing advertising revenue and listeners.  However, complaint to the Authorities came at a price - Thames Radio received the pirate's payback when a presenter's car was vandalised.  

In 1985, Tony Collis was forced to shut down 'the sound of South-West London' on 227m, 1332khz - Radio Jackie, after 15 years of operation, albeit illegally on 4th February 1985.  Ten years after this closedown, in 1996 to be precise, he made efforts to bring the station back as a legal broadcaster when the South-West London licence was advertised.  Radio Jackie proposed a very detailed set of plans with a lot of community content, but, possibly due to the fact that the Radio Authority could not be seen to be rewarding illegal broadcasting, Thames were awarded the community radio licence for the area.   However, in the early part of 2002, the Radio Authority gave it's consent for Radio Jackie Ltd to take over the financially struggling Thames Radio for the price of just 1, however, they also inherited station debts at the same time.  As at June 2003, an automated service was being aired on 107.8 across the South West of London - and as of the time of writing this profile, (late July), the station is expected to relaunch as Radio Jackie, with some of the original presenter team also involved.  Back in the 1980s, research showed a reach of 28%.  Recent figures show Thames Radio to be hitting just 0.2% in audience share - something the Jackie team must be looking to improve on.  

The station broadcasts from studios within The Old Post Office, 110-112 Tolworth Broadway, in Surbiton, Surreywww.thamesradio.com 

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KISS 100: Certainly a brand name, but on a national basis, it's a name that's appeared and then disappeared - for example, ex Kiss stations are now Galaxy stations.  The only Kiss station to have survived, is not surprisingly in London. It launched on a legal basis as far back as 1st September 1990, but was previously on the air up to 1988 illegally, with the DTI chasing the 'pirates' around.  In 1988, the station went off the air voluntarily to apply for a legal licence.  The first application failed even though the station could argue a large amount of support was there.  Truth then that once you've been a pirate, just because you go off-air and propose to do it legally, it doesn't mean that you'll be given a licence.  There was obviously some work to do by the Kiss team.  

However, the Radio Authority soon announced further radio spectrum space - once more, the application went in, and on the second attempt, the application was successful, two years after the station went off as a pirate.  Playing with fire, the station launched with a pirate radio anthem - 'Don't Call Us Pirates Cause We Play What The People Want' from studios on Holloway Road in London.  A free station launch concert was planned to be staged in Central London but had to be cancelled when in excess of 250,000 people turned up, thus making a clear indication of the support the station had from it's illegal years.  It is nevertheless the only surviving UK Pirate station to be legalised.  Things have got better under Emap's tenure with the launch of a satellite TV music channel using the same name.  

It currently broadcasts it's dance, national news, dance-related news & information service for Greater London on 100FM from studios at Mappin House, at 4 Winsley Street London.  It's operated by Emap Performance and is a Sony Award winner having won the 2002 Best Station Sound Award.  Amongst well known presenters to have graced the station's legal airwaves, there's Soul II Soul's Jazzie B plus Wyclef Jean, Craig Charles, Dani Behr, Trevor Nelson, Robbie Vincent and Lisa I'Anson. 

The audio service is also available via DTT Freeview Channel 82. SKY Digital Channel and via the Digital radio networks.  

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LBC/NEWS DIRECT 97.3/CROWN FM/LONDON TALKBACK RADIO: LBC has the honour of being the first ILR station to open in the UK.  Labour leader Harold Wilson joined a host of other politicians to record audio greetings for the station.  Wilson maintained the party's opposition to the station, but welcomed the radio equivalent of ITN.  At 6:00am on 8th October 1973, the first words aired were "This is London Broadcasting, the news and information voice of independent radio".  It originally started broadcasting from studios at Gough Square on 791 meters but later moved to 261 metres (1152KHz). (It is a little known fact that news provider IRN was a sister service to LBC, but with the development of the commercial radio network, subscribers became shareholders and so IRN broke away in the late 80s.)  

An attempt to buy LBC/IRN was made by Australian media mogul David Haynes from the Canadian company Selkirk Communications in 1987.  The IBA refused permission for the sale to go through.  LBC was also transmitted on 97.3 until the station was acquired by Crown Communications in 1989 who split the frequencies and moved location to a back street London suburb and a rented office block.  This led to the launch of LBC Crown FM on 97.3FM and London Talkback Radio on 1152AM.  A large amount of rot set in at this stage with a crash in property prices, and a mass exodus of listeners and money.  It had previously paid a peppercorn rent at Gough Square!  The licence was lost in 1994 when the Radio Authority withdrew it.  IRN, still a tenant, moved to the main ITN building in Grays Inn Road.  

In September 1993, the original LBC sought a reversal of the Radio Authority's decision to take away its licence and give it to London News Radio. Dame Shirley Porter, chairman of the station, launched a petition and planned to campaign on air for LBC to be allowed to keep its licence.  In October of the same year, LBC abandoned plans to launch a judicial review of the Radio Authority's decision to remove its licence.  It said at the time that the procedure would be too expensive,  time consuming and with little chance of success.  Instead it planned to focus on applying for the third Independent National Radio licence, to be advertised in December of 1993.  LBC's decision was presented to 1500 listeners at a rally held in the September.   The RA warned LBC about possible sanctions because of it's planned protest campaign, saying it was concerned that LBC was breaching impartiality rules by giving the high level of time to it's campaign and problems.  Station management told presenters that direct attacks on the RA would have to stop. 

Complaints about LBC's treatment flooded into the RA, to such an extent that a temporary secretary had to be taken on to deal with the postbag!  In response, the RA said it's decision to award the licence to London News Radio was made on merit.  It was not required to elaborate under broadcasting legislation, which has since been amended due to several award disputes..

In March 1994, LBC made plans to become part of the London News Radio consortium, even offering to sell the LBC name to its successor.  LNR was still on course to replace LBC on October 8th of the same year.  But, in April 1994, the original LBC went into receivership following the failure of its bid for the third INR station, which was awarded instead to Talk Radio UK.

The Radio Authority previously awarded the franchise to a group led by the former LBC MD Peter Thornton, but his group didn't have the financial clout to launch and sold out to Reuters which was a opposition bidder.  London News Radio won the re-awarded licence in 1995.  As part of London News Radio, London First and London Extra were awarded the FM and AM licences respectively, replacing those held by LBC and London Talkback.   Ownership of LBC changed again in 1996 with a consortium which included, Reuters, GWR and ITN - the original LBC format returned on the medium wave frequency and this saw a return of some familiar names from the station's past: Douglas Cameron, Steve Allen, Peter Deeley, Therese Birch, Tim Crook, Clive Bull, Steve Jones, Brian Hayes & Pete Murray.  The AM service remained as LBC but the FM service became News Direct 97.3FM

On the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, 31st August 1997, LBC & News Direct abandoned programming for a comprehensive reporting service on the terrible events.  It was the first UK station to report her death.  LBC received a deluge of letter from listeners who appreciated the fact that it had found the right tone and approach.  

2002 saw one possible and then a definite further change in ownership.  In Mid July,  a 10million sale of the station to financial news broadcaster and information provider Bloomberg, fell through at the very last minute.  If the deal had been completed, they planned to model a relaunch of the station on New York station WBBR-AM.  Instead, the same year,  Chrysalis Radio (Heart & Galaxy brands) purchased the LNR stations and began an immediate revamp for a 2003 relaunch.  This relaunch included putting LBC and it's talk-format back on FM.  News Direct's rolling news service moves to LBC's 1152 frequency.  

Fresh from it's purchase of the AM & FM stations, Chrysalis Radio announced who would be doing what when LBC moved to FM 97.3 from 6th January 2003 at 5:00am with Charlie Gibson presenting 'Dawn Traders'.  Top names from TV, radio and newspapers provide the mix of presentation staff who provide London with what's been described as a 'compelling mix' of travel, news and entertaining debate.  

The Breakfast Show (6:00 - 9:00) features BBC Broadcaster John Nicholson and renowned Sun journalist and TV presenter Jane Moore along with IRN stalwart, the man with the name which rhymes with 'NEWS', Howard Hughes.  Also appearing are Times columnist Andrew Pierce for political commentary and ex-BBC news and Come Dancing presenter Angela Rippon, who is the station's Arts Correspondent.  

Drive time (16:00 - 19:00) features Ex-SKY News anchorman Frank Partridge is joined by Caroline Feraday, star of Five Live and GMTV.  Traffic and travel will come from the new Chrysalis Radio travel centre in West London's group HQ, plus there's a link up with the AA and use of LBC's very own traffic helicopter.   

LBC 97.3FM's line-up also include (Channel) FIVE's Matthew Wright (The Wright Stuff) and Krishnan Guru-Murthy (ex BBC Newsround and presenter of Channel Four News. ITN's news anchor Katie Derham (also Classic-FM) and TV personality Roland Rivron.  GMTV presenter Penny Smith presents the only music based chat show, and Boy George speaks in an hour of his own news and views.  Station favourites to remain and feature include Nick Ferrari, Clive Bull, Charlie Gibson, Steve
Allen
, and Dr Pam Spurr.

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LONDON GREEK RADIO: Serving North London with sports, religious, family affairs, health matters, art, interviews, competitions, links with Greece, talk shows, educational programmes and dedications, this distinctly targeted radio station came to air 13th November 1989.  It broadcasts on 103.3FM from studios at Florentia Village on the Vale Road to an estimated targeted audience, i.e. Greeks from Cyprus and mainland Greece living in the Capital, of 300,000.  Boasting the accolade of being one of the first stations specifically for an ethnic community in the UK, the station also boasts listenership from the Arab, Armenian, Italian, Jewish, Spanish, Turkish Cypriot and Maronite Cypriot communities.  The station had it's eight year licence renewed by the Radio Authority in 1994 and is now licenced to broadcast until New Year's Eve 2010.  If fought off competition for it's licence from eight other groups: Greek Radio London, London Community Radio, Gold Star FM, Greek Community Radio, London Irish Radio, Turkish Radio UK and the West Indian Broadcasting Service.                                                           www.lgr.co.uk

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VIVA RADIO / 963/972 AM LIBERTY RADIO: BBC Radio Kent lost their 963khz AM frequency in 1994.  On 3rd July 1995, the Radio Authority awarded a Greater London radio licence to Radio Viva Ltd to run from 3rd July 1995.  Viva 963 launched as a station aimed at a female audience, but the females of London never seemingly took to it.  It was founded by Lynne Franks.  

In May 1996, the media subsidiary of Harrods, Liberty Publishing, bought Viva Radio for 3m, and by the October of the same year, was preparing to launch a new London radio station called 963 Liberty Radio - the man behind the station, was the multi-millionaire owner of Harrods, Mohammed Al-Fayed, who spent 7.5m in the station's first year to help get it established from November 29th including getting pop-superstar Michael Jackson to promote it.  The station broadcast from the 7th floor of Trevor House, at 100 Brompton Road in London's SW3 district with 'more tunes, more chat, more fun' promised.  The station themed itself on adult orientated music and chat - the station was popular, although not to the extents where it was taking audience from the FM giants, it's frequency perhaps a hurdle towards such moves.  963khz operated from an East London transmitter with a second transmitter operating on 972khz from West London a couple of years into the licence term.  

July 1998 saw Members of the Radio Authority fining the station 4,000 after it considered the station failed to comply with it's Promise Of Performance, for breaches of the Authority's Programme Code and for failing to supply tapes of the station's output on demand by the Radio Authority.  Previously, the RA had carried out some monitoring of the station's output following it's relaunch as Liberty.  They identified that speech levels fell below the 50% level required and that the predominantly seventies music policy didn't comply with the promise owing to the lack of up to date vocal hits and an insufficient quantity of tracks in some other categories.  They also aired their concern that a presenter was heard 'editorialising' on the news within a news bulletin - the presenter heard giving his views on what he 'disparagingly called 'open government' in connection with an item on nuclear waste in Scotland.  The Broadcasting Act of 1990 requires the RA to do all within it's powers to ensure news is accurate and duly impartial.  The station was additionally deemed to have been unable to provide the RA with tapes of the output for several periods - the same act requests stations to keep their output for 42 days after live airing.  The RA can request an apology or correction, can impose a financial penalty, shorten or revoke the station's licence - all fines are given to the Treasury's Consolidated Funds Account.  

Another landmark moment in the station's history was the arrival of it's third owner in late July 2000.  A Christian evangelical sect, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, originating in Brazil, bought the station from Mr. Al-Fayed.  The church pledged not to use the station, then a speech and music orientated station for young women, to spread it's unorthodox messages such as suggestions that diseases are caused by demons and prayer can rid them of debt.  It did say that it would target people in difficult situations during late night and early morning broadcasting.  It's new Chief Exec, Renato Cardoso said that they were not intending to use lots of airtime to serve the church, but when asked whether the church's number would be aired, he said it would depend on the circumstances.  He denied that they would be proselytising on-air, something not permitted by the RA's Programme Code.  On take-over, the Church hoped to boost listenership from 50,000 to 400,000 and planned to run the station as an effective commercial enterprise to add to what it called extensive international business interests.  The sect was founded by a lottery shop assistant, Edir Macedo in 1977 - it has a following numbering in the millions, and interests in TV and radio stations in Brazil as well as owning a Rio de Janeiro football club.  It tried to buy Brixton Academy in 1995 unsuccessfully, but acquired the Rainbow Theatre in London instead.  When the news of Liberty's takeover was announced to staff in a memo, station director John Ogden and his deputy Louise Wood both resigned in protest.  Many staff announced intentions to leave fearing that the station would become a sect mouthpiece.  The sale, which was believed to be in the region of 4m, therefore making Mr. Al-Fayed some profit, was allowed by the Radio Authority as long as the existing station format was maintained.  

March 2002 - the Radio Authority readvertised Liberty Radio's licence to cover the Greater London area - which was then serving around 6.7million people aged 15+.  The new licence would be offered from 3rd July 2002 - the day after the expiry of the existing licence.  An application deadline of  2:00pm on Tuesday 25th June 2002 was set with a non-refundable application fee of 14,500 due. An announcement was due in the November of 2002.  

All together, there were seven applicants for the Liberty Radio licence.  There were two bids from groups offering a children's radio format - Takeover Radio (operators of a trial Access radio station in Leicester) and Abracadabra! (the latter led by former Magpie presenter Susan Stranks and backed by GWR), with the others being from Asian Talk Radio (backed by Sunrise Radio), Club Asia, Planet AM (another Asian broadcaster), Tap Radio (another Asian broadcaster offering a mix of Asian and Western dance and led by Manchester station Asian Sound Radio boss Shujat Ali - he would have rebranded all ASR stations if he'd been successful) Saga Radio (music for the over 50s, led by SAGA plc) and the existing licence holder Liberty Radio (led by Portuguese operator, Universal Difusao).  

Come the November, cometh the new licence holder - and with the amount of Asian broadcasters offering to provide a service, it should have been no surprise when the Radio Authority announced that Club Asia had been awarded the licence. The RA said that they'd been faced with a difficult decision but said that they were impressed with the winning bidder's proposals for a new service appealing to what it called 'an under-served young Asian community in Greater London'.  As of February 2003, Liberty Radio was the least successful in the UK according to RAJAR/IPSOS-RSL audience figures, accounting for just 0.1 per cent of all radio listening in the capital, the lowest share of any station subscribed to RAJAR.  

The 30th May 2003 saw Liberty become a non-stop music station for it's final twelve days on-air.  It ceased transmissions on June 10th 2003.  In it's time, it included such star names as Dave Cash, David Hamilton, Charlie Jordan, Sean Bolger, Nino Firetto and Toby Anstis, to name just a few.  The station's website www.libertyradio.co.uk now has just the station logo, plus a request to fill in to fields to submit name & e-mail address to receive an e-mail 'when the station is up and running again.'

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MELODY FM 104.9 / London's MAGIC 105.4 MELODY FM / MAGIC 105.4: Owned by the Hanson Trust company chairman Lord Hanson, Melody FM launched on 104.9FM for the over-35 age group of London on 9th July 1990.  It was renowned for using a couple of straplines: '...the stress-free way to spend your day' and '...Melody FM, your relaxation station...'.  The idea was to play light and easy listening, melodic tunes, and this it did - attracting a number of high profile presenters in it's time: Graham Dene & David Hamilton, being prime examples.   In 1996, many South London listeners lodged complaints regarding interference from BBC Southern Counties Radio following a bulging postbag of complaints about interference from listeners in South London - so the station transferred frequencies to it's present site on the FM dial - 105.4.  (Following technical corrections, the old 104.9 frequency was licenced to alternative music station, XFM(See below)

Almost eight years into it's first licence, in April 1998, EMAP informed the Radio Authority that it intended to buy Melody FM.  As EMAP already owned the London station Kiss 100, the Radio Authority declared it would be holding a public interest test to assess whether permitting the acquisition would lead to a reduction in plurality of ownership of local radio services in the area, whether there would be an effect on the range of commercial radio programmes, and whether there would be an adverse effect on the diversity of information sources in the broadcast area.  In their support, EMAP submitted a document to the Radio Authority as well as opinions declared by other interested parties through public consultation.  

A major concern raised was that likely changes to programming and broadcast presentation style may reduce the choice of listening - the RA has the power to impose conditions which protect the character of a service when a change of owner takes place.  On granting permission for the takeover to proceed, the Radio Authority set in place some amendments to Melody's Promise Of Performance to ensure that the unique Melody style was retained post takeover.  

So, in June 1998, EMAP took full control of Melody FM for 25m.   With their intended further roll-out of the Magic brand, minor rebranding of Melody showed as a strapline of 'Melody - the Magic of London'  was brought in, followed by 'London's Magic 105.4 Melody FM'.  This was then, a subtle change of name over time, so as to sub-consciously get listeners to accept a change without them really noticing.  The Melody name was finally dropped at the end of 1998.  Despite the takeover and change of name to Magic 105.4, the station retains an original, and easily identifiable sound in the Capital, keeping it apart from the national network of Radio 2.  The Magic station is now the mothership for the AM services around the northern part of England, owned by EMAP.  The station currently broadcasts from their London HQ, also the home to Kiss 100, Mappin House, 4 Winsley Street, in the West 1 postal district of London but was formerly at the old Melody studios of 97 Tottenham Court Road. Their licence was renewed for a further eight years by the Radio Authority on 26th October 2001 - for the period 1st January 2002 to 31st December 2009.  The Magic radio brand has now been joined by one of EMAP's Television music stations, using the same name.  Ex-offshore station Radio Scotland presenter, and ex-Capital boss and BBCTV Fame Academy boss Richard Park is the consultant to the station.

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107.8 THAMES FM / 107.8 THAMES RADIO / THAMES 107.8:  See KINGSTON FM above.

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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.  (It faced just one opponent for its licence from Thames Radio Group.)

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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VIRGIN 105.8 / VIRGIN 1215 : When you think of the term Virgin in a business sense (!), you usually think of Richard Branson, Cola, Atlantic, Vie, Round-The-World Balloon flights, Megastores, and Radio.  Virgin as a brand itself was created on 24th December 1991.  In May 1992, it won the AM commercial national radio licence on the basis of a cash bid of 1.883m per year.  It was Richard Branson himself who launched Virgin 1215 in it's national AM guise on 30th April 1993.  Virgin 1215 (a national AM service) was launched on the 30th April 1993Part of Richard Branson's Virgin empire, it was 30th April 1993 at 12:15pm that Richard himself launched the UK's first and only commercial rock radio station: Virgin 1215.  Australian rock legends INXS recorded a special version of the Steppenwolf hit 'Born To Be Wild' which became the first track to be played.  In this very same year, Chris Evans joined Virgin Radio on a 13 week contract - after only six weeks into the contract, he left to concentrate on a TV programme he was presenting for Channel 4 - the memorable 'Don't Forget Your Toothbrush'.  However, this short period had a profound effect on Chris, and he would return, after more TV work and a period on Radio 1's Breakfast Show which commenced in 1995.  More on Chris' involvement with Virgin follows.  In May 1994, the station was fined 5,000 by the Radio Authority after a presenter made sexual comments on the air.  Another fine, a more severe 20,000 followed in December of the same year, when the RA concluded that the station had breached taste and decency rules following comments made by callers during a late night phone-in show on sexual fantasies.  

Having gained one licence, Richard Branson was hungry for more.  In the Summer of 1994, Virgin applied as one of an amazing, although not surprising 41 applicants for one of two FM London licences  - by 10th April 1995, the second Virgin Radio station came on-line in London using 105.8FM, with simulcasting carried with the national AM service for 15 hours a day, except news, traffic, sports, community service and information inserts.  The station broke even financially in 1995/1996 - and by 1997, the average staff level had increased from 46 to 61.  January 1997 saw Chris Evans leave Radio 1 - by the August of 1997, he'd returned to Virgin Radio.  Under the guise of Ginger Media, he was contracted to run the morning show - which was quite a success.  Clearly happy seeds had been sown between Chris and the station.  As at this time, the station was 75% owned by various trusts of Richard Branson and his family, and the remaining 25% by three minority shareholders - the latter were bought out in April 1997 for a combined amount of 13m.  As of July 1997, the station employed 45 full-time staff and 14 contract staff, who were mainly presenters.  Twelve of the full time staff were involved in programming and eighteen of them in sales. 

Within days of significant refinancing, a 3.5bn merger with Capital Radio was announced.  Capital expected the radio stations to contribute a significant amount to future profits from both advertising and sponsorship revenues - dependent on the audience share of the stations, the percentage of airtime sold and associated charges.  Capital aimed to increase the station's share of the London audience alone by a significant amount.  The Competition Commission became involved with such a merger - and the intervention led to an exchange of facts and figures for consideration.  Capital felt that the cost savings from the merger would be modest and that this wasn't a primary consideration - they also added that there would be a small net reduction in sales and administration staff plus a move to London's Leicester Square premises for both Virgin services (which Capital had only moved into in the January of 1997 themselves). The move, said Capital,  would save Virgin some 150,000 a year plus savings in general and administration costs of up to 230,000 a year.  There would also be an almost total elimination of costs such as management fees, and legal and professional costs - Capital would hire new presenters as necessary for the stations, in particular the AM national Virgin output, but expected the costs of this to be offset by increased income.

In making it's considerations, the Competition Commission saw three benefits of the merger, those being the development of both stations, increased professionalism and financial strength, and, thirdly, a greater commitment by Capital to Digital Broadcasting.  They felt that the first benefit could largely be achieved in the absence of the merger but believed the development of DAB would be more assured if the merger was to go ahead.  Overall, the CC considered the benefits were not sufficient to outweigh detriments considered.  The CC took a look at the radio advertising market and stated that two separate geographical radio advertising markets would be affected by the merger, those being London-wide and nationally and would see Capital's share of the London market increase from 60.9 to 68.8% and their share of the UK market increasing from 36.8 to 46.0% based on 1996 data.  Based on the first six months of 1997, the increases were 58.1% to 65.9% and 36.2 to 44.2% respectively.  In London alone, the CC felt that the merger would lead to an even stronger hold on the market share - this would be shown by a reduction in the ability of advertisers to get effective coverage on other stations, a reduction in the ability of other stations to compete and increased opportunities for Capital to adopt detrimental sales practices leading to higher prices.  They concluded that the proposed merger would be expected to operate against the public interest with some particularly prominent adverse effects, and recommended that the merger should only be allowed if either Capital was prohibited from acquiring Virgin FM, or Capital was 'required to divest that part of it's undertaking relating to Capital Gold in such a way that the divested business could continue to operate effectively in it's form at the time'.  They said that the 'divestment should take place prior to completion of the merger to a buyer unconnected with Capital and approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Radio Authority (RA)'.  The CC concluded by saying that if Capital was not prepared to accept the conditions, then they would recommend that the merger be prohibited.  The only further discussions concluded that Capital Radio could not accept the conditions, therefore the status quo remained.  

(Information on the proposed merger is taken from http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/rep_pub/reports/1998/fulltext/414c3.pdf, and through the Competition Commission's main information page at http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/rep_pub/reports/1998/414capital.htm 

In December of 1997, Chris Evans, obviously a witness to this frantic merger talk, moved in and purchased Virgin Radio from Sir Richard Branson for 83m, part of the deal being for Chris to host the breakfast show on a long-term basis.  By comparison, station turnover had increased from 1.4m in 1993 to 18m in 1997, the operating loss in 1993 was 4.1m, but by 1997, it had been turned into a profit of 4.4m.

Most of the history behind Virgin Radio in both guises is related to the mother station which commenced on a national basis.  However, the London station was fined 2,000 by the Radio Authority in April 1998 for breaching their promise of performance.  This related to it's requirement to broadcast community campaigns for 10 consecutive weeks per year to cover a range of individual social issues applicable to a London audience.  Whilst the station adhered to this requirement in 1996 & 1997, there was nothing broadcast from April 1997 onwards.   The breach was detected by Radio Authority staff during a series of routine investigations after a change in ownership (to Ginger Media - i.e. Chris Evans) took place.  Where a breach is detected, the Radio Authority can request a broadcast apology or correction, or impose a penalty, of either a fine, or the shortening or revocation of a licence.  The 2,000 fine was passed on to the Treasury's Consolidated Funds Account.  It was 'smacked wrist' time again in the January of 1999, 10,000 being taken from station coffers after the station 'disclosed information about an individual without permission' on the Breakfast Show.  In December 1999, Chris frightened the living daylights out of the station's backroom boys by going on air one morning and announcing that the station was going to give away 2m live on air.   The station was run by a private company then and Evans was one of the major shareholders!

In The May of 2000, the station was fined another 75,000 for breaking due impartiality rules in broadcasting which require objective, i.e. unbiased reporting of politics.  The RA expressed their discontent when Chris offered his support for Ken Livingstone in the Capital's Mayoral Election Campaign.  With a total of 87,000 coming out of someone's pockets, another change followed, and three years into his ownership of the station, (2000) Chris sold not only the station, but his entire Ginger empire to Scottish Media Group (SMG) for 225m.  Not a bad profit margin at all, with everything considered.  However, Chris was contractually attached to the Breakfast Show at Virgin - and as relationships between new management and breakfast show jock strained, the overall picture became more and more unsettled.  In early May of 2001, he was officially signed off sick from his show - Virgin staff previously last saw Chris at a large scale party to celebrate the station's eighth birthday, on Monday 30th April.   He didn't turn up for his show the following morning and no-one knew where he was.  Station bosses said he was ill, but didn't say what was wrong with him.  

By the middle of the month, he'd been reported to have sacked his co-presenters John Revell, Holly Samos and Dan McGrath and replaced them with Louise Pepper and Matt Pritchard in the hope of saving the show amid audience figures which showed 100,000 listeners had re-tuned in the previous three months.  Evans' show reportedly had 5million listeners less than Sara Cox over on Radio 1.  

Chris was by now reported to be considering quitting radio to become a dad with his wife, pop-star Billie Piper.  These rumours were denied by the station's press office.  The daily tabloids claimed that Billie was three months pregnant and that he was going to quit to support her.  The two had got married in Las Vegas on May 7th of that year.  Chris missed a fourth show through what the station described as 'illness' and dismissed reports that he would be leaving and were liasing with Chris' agent Michael Foster, who said Chris was not well enough to be at work.  Further press reports in late June 2001, speculated that Chris was refusing to turn up for work as he was unhappy about the arrival of Steve Penk.  Steve was actually building up to joining Capital FM in July.  Station bosses actually wanted Steve to present Chris' show for about 12 weeks in the year when Chris was on holiday.  More reports in the press referred that Chris had been offered 3m to quit the station amid his sick period.  

Later, Chris was sacked for failure to turn up for work.  After three months, his successor Steve Penk had drawn in around 300,000 listeners taking total listenership to over two million for the first time in a year - RAJAR recording a total of 3.7million.

Despite a change in ownership, there was another fine in the offing - again 75,000 following the well-publicised event when DJ John Holmes encouraged a nine-year old to repeat a sexually-explicit phrase on-air during a game referred to as 'Swear Word Hangman'.  The fine was less than it should have been when the RA acknowledged the station's actions in sacking the DJ behind the show.  Nevertheless, the RA called the offending air-time content 'offensive and inappropriate even in the context of adult alternative comedy', in relation to the 1990 Broadcasting Act rules on taste, decency and offence to public feeling.  Another unsettled moment for the station came when the RA upheld a complaint against the station when a news report about the Queen Mother's death was followed by the Sex Pistols' anti-monarchy song 'God Save The Queen'.  

(In May 2003, the London transmitter (105.8) was moved from Croydon to Crystal Palace, although the exact reasoning for this is not known)

Chris filed a law suit against SMG claiming he was owed 8.6m due to the sale and had been unfairly dismissed.  SMG countersued saying he'd not been unfairly dismissed but had breached his contract when he failed to turn up for a series of broadcasts and on June 26th 2003, a High Court Judge ruled in favour of SMG - Evans lost - nevertheless, there havee been industry rumours that Chris actually wanted to buy the station back again!   The most recent conclusion to this long saga saw, in late July 2003, a full and final cash settlement between Chris and SMG of 7m, deemed to cover all costs and damages.  Chris said he could afford to lose the money.  

Having passed through this turbulent time, SMG are now looking forward to the future with ambitious plans to bring Virgin Radio to the West Midlands and Glasgow.  Both stations are planned to keep the same musical train of thought as the national station but using locally orientated presenters and programming.  The National and London based station share a great deal of programming, hence their dual reference here.  SMG are acting in a variety of important ways - the Financial Director - Mark Donnelly said in November 2002 that the station was still a vulnerable takeover target.  

Of course, the station has had a busy life, in ownership and on-air appearances - but, as for it's tenth birthday, it celebrated by releasing the results of a poll amongst station listeners of  the top 100 songs.  Richard Branson also smashed up guitars in Golden Square.  Fifty children who were born on the same day, called 'The Virgin Generation' appeared for the photo shoot and on Pete & Geoff's breakfast show.  Virgin is available on DAB digital radio nationally, and via SKY Digital and Cable TV, and the internet through www.virginradio.co.uk where you can also listen to Virgin Radio Classic Rock.  

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XFM: Much of the 1990s was spent getting the name known with a view towards getting a London-wide licence.  The first time the name was heard on the air was from 13th April - 10th May 1992 from the South East posstal district of London, with a second trial broadcast from 14th September - 11th October 1992.  The first RSLs operated on 101.5 with the now familiar Indie music format.  At the time, the station hoped to convince the Radio Authority to award it one of the forthcoming London-wide licences.  

The operations and campaigning continued into 1993.  On June 13th 1993, 27,000 people attended the Great Xpectations event at Finsbury Park, London, in support of XFM in its bid for a London radio licence for alternative music.  The station returned for a third trial broadcast from the NW3 Camden district from 27th November - 24th December 1993.  Among the presenters on the station was Alan Freeman who presented a weekly indie chart show.  Further trial broadcasts aired, but not again until 6th March - 2nd April 1995, and again from 2nd-29th October 1995.  

Two years later, on 1st September 1997, the station finally won a full-time London-wide licence.  Melody FM launched on 104.9FM for the over-35 age group of London on 9th July 1990 - in 1996, many South London listeners lodged complaints regarding interference from BBC Southern Counties Radio following a bulging postbag of complaints about interference from listeners in South London - so the station transferred frequencies to it's present site on the FM dial - 105.4.- the 104.9 licence was therefore still up for grabs - and hence the creation of XFM.  (Although research has shown similar complaints from XFM listeners.)

The bid for what was then deemed to be London's last FM analogue licence, was led by Donnach O'Driscoll, later a director of the station.  The early months of XFM's first licence were particularly unsettled, with many worries hanging heavy across the station.  But there was to be a proverbial knight in shining armour about to ride into the chaos to save the day.  Enter Capital Radio plc who, in April 1998 made a proposal to acquire the ailing station.  From 8th May to 5th June, the Radio Authority initiated a public interest test, and on 9th July 1998, the Radio Authority, announced it's assessment of the proposed takeover.  When a company which already operates a station in a particular area, makes a move for another station, legislation states that a 'public interest test' must be conducted to ensure that diversity, and plurality of the local radio marketplace is maintained, i.e. that there would be no adverse effects if the takeover was allowed to proceed.

The RA were satisfied that there would be no adverse effect if the acquisition was permitted and could see no reason for not allowing it, but they did stipulate that they would not be prepared to consider approving anything other than what it called 'very minor changes' to the station's Promise of Performance in order to preserve the full range of programmes available in the Capital   As part of the takeover, Capital Radio plc undertook to refrain from 'conditional selling or predatory pricing of advertising or promotions in respect of either or any combination of' it's London stations, Capital FM, Capital Gold and XFM, and that it would maintain arrangements for the preparation and presentation of both local and national news on XFM.   The integration of the station and the other stations that had recently been acquired by the group, (BRMB - Birmingham, Southern Radio (Sussex), Red Dragon (Cardiff)) was overseen by the Group Head of Programmes, Clive Dickens.  Clive was previously the youngest Head of Music in UK radio and upwards to Network Controller of the seven stations in the now defunct Chiltern Radio plc.  

There were some outstanding issues for the Radio Authority to deal with regarding XFM.  At a meeting of the RA Members on 9th October, a decision was taken to fine the station 4,000 for failing to comply with the Promise of Performance.  At the same meeting, Members noted programming changes made to bring the station back in line with the 'P.O.P', but said they would continue to monitor the station with a view to reviewing output at a meeting in the New Year of 1999.  When making the decision, the RA Chair, Sir Peter Gibbings referred to the permission given for Capital to take over the station, and the stipulation that they would only agree minor changes to output.  Despite this, the RA received a large number of complaints - some of them part of what it called 'an orchestrated campaign' by those unhappy about Capital's acquisition and who wanted what they saw as the format operated pre-takeover, restored.  The RA did however share the complainants concerns about the general direction of the station.  The station moved premises under Capital's tenure and, after this, the RA concluded that the station had failed to observe what it called 'the spirit, and in some aspects the letter, of it's Promise of Performance'.  The fine imposed by the RA was designed to show that they were determined to keep the station to 'it's licensed original character of service.'

The RA stated that, since August 1998, they had received 280 complaints about the output of the station, which were generally about XFM's music straying towards the mainstream since it's relocation in the August of 1998 - according to the RA, it failed to broadcast live sessions, a weekly review, interviews and job vacancy information.  The features were subsequently reinstated.  Music content was also a focus of the RA's concern.  

XFM's primary target audience is the 15-34 year olds to which it provides a specialist format of alternative rock music, defined as innovative, youthful, generally guitar-led, modern rock with attitude, featuring artists generally outside the mainstream.  In August, the station was, for three days, allowed to move away from it's Promise of Performance as it relocated - after this, there were no further requests made by station management - the RA did not give any permission to totally depart from the requirements of the licence, hence the requirements for them to act according to section 106 of the Broadcasting Act 1990.  The RA could have requested a broadcast apology or correction, issue a formal warning, or impose a penalty, either monetary or through the shortening of a licence.  Financial penalties are passed the Treasury's Consolidated Funds.  

February 1999 saw the conclusion of the review of the station's output, and a decision that the station was complying with the terms of it's licence.  The RA noted that it was broadcasting music more closely positioned near to mainstream material, but decided that the playlist was within acceptable boundaries.  The RA's Head of Programmes and Advertising, Martin Campbell commented on the fact that virtually all of the complainants 'mourned the passing of the old XFM because the music choice was seen as even more alternative than it's successor.  Naturally, people feel passionate about their radio station.  Change is rarely accepted readily, and in the case of XFM listeners, 'their' station grew from roots established during short-term licence periods, and has changed.'  He also commented on how difficult the alternative music genre was to define, and how the RA had concluded that the station was playing enough music that was not heard elsewhere in London.  They said that they could not tell the station exactly what tracks and artists to feature nor could see anyone expecting them to demand the stopping of tracks previously aired that had since become commercially popular, to be replaced with obscure tracks.  The RA wished the station well in achieving it's aims of staying loyal to mainstream music, and in staying within the terms of it's licence.  As of February 1999, the Radio Authority had received over 600 complaints since the takeover took place.  

December 1999.  The previous fine of 4,000 paled into insignificance as XFM and Capital found themselves up against the wrath of the Radio Authority.  On 14th December, a fine of a whopping 50,000 was imposed - the largest fine that the RA had ever levied and the maximum single penalty that they can impose on an ILR station under the 1990 Broadcasting Act.  They were fined for serious breaches of the Act and the RA's Programme Code during two editions of the Breakfast Show in September of 1998.  The broadcasts included descriptions of bestiality, and contained offensive language and ill-judged references to sexual matters and pornography.  

RA members were appalled by the content of the programming, of which it heard recordings of, and the time of day it had been aired.  Complaints were received by the RA regarding the first programme which included a phone in about the 'worst job in the world' and after a series of offensive calls and discussion led to the presenter entering into a conversation about a pornographic video which involved bestiality.  Other items aired made reference to sexual matters.  The Members said they were not left fully confident that the owners had taken steps to ensure that there were no repeats of such offences and demanded that effective measures were put in place or, otherwise a further range of sanctions would be imposed.  (Source of inforrmation - Radio Authority Press Releases - available at www.radioauthority.org.uk

Since the Millennium, and under Capital's ownership, XFM has settled down with no further dramas.  Interestingly, the station hosted Chris Evans' first appearance in a radio studio since he was sacked by Virgin Radio in 2001 (see above) - he told Richard Bacon that he was comfortable in his new role away from the cameras, adding that he was always nervous before TV work especially.  

XFM is currently licenced up to 31st August 2005 and now broadcasts from studios at 30 Leicester Square.  As of the compiling of this profile, prominent names on the station include former Blue Peter & Big Breakfast presenter Richard Bacon, comedian Ricky Gervais, ex-Radio 1 & 2 presenter Claire Sturgess, ex-Radio 1 presenters Kevin Greening and Zoe Ball.   www.xfm.co.uk 

HOSPITAL RADIO:  

RSL: No details known

STUDENT RADIO: 

IC Radio is London's premier student radio station, broadcasting on 999AM to Southside and Linstead Halls, directly into the kitchens of Southside hall and on the internet.  It broadcasts from the University Of London's Beit Quadrangle, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington in London.

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