Aircheck UK - Northamptonshire

UPDATED: 17/10/2003

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BBC LOCAL RADIOBBC Radio Northampton came to air just before 7:00am on June 16th 1982 with Jon Beynon playing a Diana Ross track 'Work That Body' as the first tune.  Amongst noteable station events was the first OB with the radio car, which took place Thursday 17th June 1982, the Royal opening by HRH Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, some two weeks after the station came on air, on the morning of June 30th and the sad day that Diana, Princess Of Wales was laid to rest on the Althrop estate in the county.   The longest serving presenter on the station is David Saint who joined in 1982, staying for 18 years.  Early broadcasts came on 96.6 FM & 1107AM although the station currently broadcasts on 104.2 (Northampton) & 103.6 FM (Geddington) from studios at Broadcasting House in Abingdon Street.  Presenters of note on this BBC station are Bernie Keith, Steve Madden & Keith Skues.  


KNBC / KCBC / KCBC 1584AM / 107.4 KCBC / CONNECT FM 107.4 (Kettering & Corby): Firstly KNBC, then KCBC was an AM service broadcasting on 1584AM to Kettering and Corby which commenced transmissions on 6th April 1990.  KCBC Ltd is the trading name for the station to this day.  In March 1998, the 75w AM frequency was abandoned and replaced with a 100W FM system radiating from Geddington on 107.4FM.  1999 saw a relaunch as Connect FM with services on 107.4 for Kettering and Corby and 97.2 for Wellingborough and the county in general.  The Radio Authority considered allowing a short period of simulcasting whilst the transfer of frequencies was followed by station listeners.  This was under the management of Forward Media Group who invested heavily in the station, despite the readvertisement of the station within it's first year of ownership - a fact considered by the Radio Authority after it had re-advertised the licence on 27th October 2000.  There was just one competitor - Vision FM - with former KCBC MD Bill Johnston at the helm and backed by Chrysalis, however, it was Connect that was reawarded the licence.

Some other basic facts about the station: it currently broadcasts to approximately 200,000 people aged over 15, from Unit 1 of the 2000 Centre in Kettering.  It is one of three stations operated by Forward - the others being Southport's Dune FM and 106.8 Lite FM in Peterborough, and the late Howard Rose was the founder of KCBC, breakfast show presenter and programme controller of KCBC.  It was always his dream to run his own station - a dream he achieved before his sad death.  


NORTHANTS RADIO / NORTHANTS 96: Currently broadcasting from studios at 19-21 St Edmunds Road Northampton, once part of the mighty Chiltern Radio Group, Northants Radio commenced broadcasting on 30th November 1986.  With sister stations Severn Sound, Horizon and Chiltern, driving up and down the M1 from the South was made exciting by a superb music mix interspersed with probably some of the best radio jingles on the planet - along with it's sister stations, it formed part of the 'Hot FM network' which operated overnight.  The FM service operates on 96.6FM from it's Northampton transmitter.  

It's first eight years of licence had just concluded in 1994.  Further north in the East Midlands, GWR had just taken over Midlands Radio plc.  Just one year later, the same treatment landed on the Chiltern Radio Group stations, despite fierce battling from local radio fans and dominant businessmen.  As a result, driving from Derbyshire to the outskirts of London, became a GWR zone.  All stations along the M1 corridor sounding the same and being the same - playing 'today's better music mix'.  

After the second eight years of licensing had almost concluded - in May 2001, a local author and businessman, Tony Attwood announced his intention to apply for the Northants Radio licence when it was advertised in June of the same year - his vision for Better Radio Northants was to be 'more in keeping with the locality'.  Obviously a side swipe at what some saw and still see as GWR's dumbing down of local radio, and the dissolution of station's localness.  The group was formed by local business professionals and pillars of the community, including former CN Group Radio Managing Director Stephen Oates, Louise Botting, Central TV News West anchorman Bob Warman and Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, backed by a team of experienced radio personnel.  The bid referred to group beliefs that the area 'deserves it's own dedicated radio service' - and their plans to broadcast two entirely new entertaining, informative, reliable and authoritative local 24 hour services, 'not as part of a network or as a partial opt out from a larger service', broadening and enriching choice for listeners to enhance the area's indentity.  

By September 2001, two applications had been received by the Radio Authority - one for FM, one for AM and one for both frequencies.  Northants 96 (The Northamptonshire Broadcasting Co. Ltd), Classic Gold 1557 Northamptonshire for AM (broadcasting from the Network Centre, Chiltern Road in Dunstable), and Better Radio Northants Ltd, based at Hamilton House, Earlstrees Road in Corby.  In the case of the new applicant, stations would be called Northants 1 & Northants 2, 1 offering an entertaining and popular radio stations with news, events and lifestyle information & music from the past 25 years, and 2 being a community service promoting the county with news, sport, people, issues and events amongst music of popular hits from the past 45 years.  The successful applicant would be awarded the licence from 15th October 2002.  It wasn't to be Tony's team 

Announcing the details of their award to GWR, the Radio Authority referred to application details from Better Radio Northants that it wouldn't be prepared to accept the offer of one licence without the other.  This was an influential reason for the re-award to GWR who received the news on 13th December 2001.  Nevertheless the RA assessed all applications as FM/AM packages as well on their individual natures.  It considered that both current licence holders, (both GWR in any case at least to some extent) were able to maintain the same service and referred to audience figures of 41% according to recent 2001/2 RAJAR figures.    

His website, includes reference to his bid - so who knows what the future holds for any further bid.  It is understood that Tony has maintained links with his application team for further licence applications - proving the old adage - if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!


NORTHANTS RADIO SUPERGOLD / SUPERGOLD: A now legendary GOLD service, even carried via satellite for the purposes of networking, Supergold was launched by Chiltern Radio plc on Sunday 24th June 1990, following authority requests to split frequencies into separate services or lose them.  It operated from Studio 1 at the Dunstable Studio HQ, and was first networked to the Chiltern Radio 792AM Bedford and Northants 1557AM transmitter, as well we the Luton & Dunstable 828AM transmitter.  Chiltern Radio later acquired Severn Sound and this led to the creation of Severn Sound Supergold on their 774AM transmitter.  Supergold launched at 10:00am with Tony Lloyd and Colin Wiltshire.  Programming continued until 7:00pm when the Hot-FM sustainer carried through with networked programming until breakfast time the next day.  

Colin Wiltshire was on breakfast, Bill Overton operated the phone-in hour at 10.00am, with Dave Foster till 3.00pm, and Tony Lloyd at Drive, until 7.00pm.  Sunday programming included Paul Burrell and the Elvis Hour with Willie Morgan who later went on to host the 'Sunday Will Never Be The Same..' show too in early 1991.  

CLASSIC GOLD: Following the takeover of Chiltern Radio in 1995, GWR rolled out Classic Gold for Luton and Bedford (Classic Gold 792/828 the old Chiltern Radio Supergold), Northampton (Classic Gold 1557 the old Northants Radio Supergold) and Gloucester (Classic Gold 774 the old Severn Sound Supergold).  The takeover also enabled GWR to base Classic Gold at Chiltern's HQ in Dunstable, where Chiltern's own Supergold service had previously been based.  Classic Gold is supposedly owned by UBC who operate as Classic Gold Digital Ltd, after they purchased it from GWR due to restrictions in who could own stations.  However, a clause was written in to the sale, so that GWR could buy the stations back again 'when' authority restrictions are relaxed.  Hardly a sale then you might say!  Classic Gold 1557's licence for Northamptonshire expires on expires on 14th October 2010.  





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