Aircheck UK - Pembrokeshire

UPDATED: 25/04/2003

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WALES (South)


BBC Radio Wales is the English language national broadcaster for Wales.  Since it became broadcasting in 1978, when the station's output lasted for just a few hours a day, with Radio 4 in between the local programming, airtime has now expanded to over 19 hours of programming produced all over the country, specifically for the people living in the west of Offa's Dyke, however, the internet provides ex-pats and other interested parties with a service internationally.  

The station's schedule focuses on the kind of information deemed relevant to life in the country, with all the usual features plus tide times, inshore water forecasts, surf conditions and hillwalkers information aired regularly.  From 6:00am to 6:00pm, the phone lines are open (08700 100110) to provide programme content in whatever form. Monday nights include the Welsh Top 40 Chart Show.

The station broadcasts nationally on 93.9 (Swansea, Llanelli & Carmarthenshire), 94.8 (Anglesey, Bangor, Gwynedd, Carnaefonshire & Conwy), 95.4 (Wrexham), 95.9 (Newport & Monmouthshire), 95.1 (Blaenavon, Torfaen & Carmarthenshire) & 104.0 (Cardiff, Penarth & Vale Of Glamorgan) and on AM bands 882 (South Wales), 657 (North Wales) & 1125 (Mid Wales).


RADIO CEREDIGION: Awarded it's licence by the Radio Authority in February 1992, the station actually came to air 14th December of the same year.  It's launch was planned to be earlier in the year but management discovered that one of it's transmitter sites was unsuitable - as another was chosen, this has to be given clearance for use by the relevant authorities.  Co-founded by local MP Simon Thomas, the station offers a bilingual community service across the west coast of Wales on three FM frequencies: 96.6, 97.4 & 103.3FM, all spanning Cardigan Bay.  The station can be heard as far north as Caernarfon and as far south as Carmarthen - reaching over 60,000 adults aged 15+.  

In May of 1999, the Radio Authority, announced that on 6th August, they would be re-advertising the station's licence.  The RA reflected on the licencee's (Radio Ceredigion CYF) record of compliance with licence conditions - which they concluded was unsatisfactory for reasons that we don't know here at AIRCHECK -   Please e-mail us with any information to update this matter!  (  As a result, the RA concluded that the licence should be re-advertised fully, without referring to the usual 'fast-track' procedure which would normally be followed.  The successful applicant would receive a licence from 14th December 2000.  Each applicant was required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 750.00 to apply.  By the closing date of November 9th, two applications had been received.  One was from Radio Ceredigion CYF and the other was by The Marcher Radio Group Ltd, operators of Champion 103 & Marcher Radio stations in North Wales - their competitor would be called Champion Ceredigion.  However, the existing licensee was considered to have made the better application by the Radio Authority and awarded a second licence to Radio Ceredigion 2000 CYF Ltd on 10th February 2000.  

The group has a board of directors elected by local members - for it's application, it restructured as a brand new company, hence determined by the 2000 part of the applicant name.  Seventy per cent of station shares are held by North Wales Newspapers Ltd.  The RA saw this involvement as making a significant plus point to the group's application, giving buoyancy to previously seen shortfalls in funding, and ensuring adequate provision of the service in future.  They referred to the large proportion of speech on the station, in comparison to other commercial radio stations, and the fact that it uses a large number of volunteers to run the station.  Research conducted by station management revealed a strong listener base, particularly those that speak Welsh and infact, the highest percentage of audience in the area.  However, the RA felt that the station perhaps didn't serve those that didn't speak Welsh as well.  This is in stark contrast to recent concerns expressed by Ceredigion MP and station co-founder Simon Thomas - he expressed concerns in local political circles about the amount of Welsh that would be heard on the station in the future.  He referred to elements of Welsh programming that were seen as decreasing with English now the mainstay language of peak time broadcasting.  Mr Thomas accused the station of undermining the Welsh language and that the English bias was having a detrimental impact on the survival of the Welsh language.  He called on future regulator OFCOM to impose stricter controls on the station's output when they next reconsider the station's licence.  This will not be until December 2008!

Radio Ceredigion broadcasts from studios at the Old Welsh School on Alexandra Road in Aberystwyth.                                


102.5 RADIO PEMBROKESHIRE: A commercial radio 'baby', this station, independently owned by local shareholders and directors, came on-air 14th July 2002 from studios at Unit 14, The Old School Estate, Station Road in Narbarth.  However, it's history can be traced back to RSL group Haven FM.   Formed in 1998, from the Summer of 1999, four 25watt RSLs were staged from Pennar's Bethany Chapel - this led to a news interview being accompanied by organ music as a practice took place!  All broadcasts have been under the control of the station's MD, ex-Midlands Radio and Quay West Radio (Somerset) presenter Keri Jones.   Of note, it's November 24th 2000 RSL received over 15,000 telephone calls from highly entertained listeners.  

When the Radio Authority advertised a licence for the area, the group, as Haven FM submitted an application and won - beating off two other applicants: More 102 (Radio Pendragon Ltd) & Real Radio (Pembrokeshire Ltd).  Haven formed links with The Wireless Group for the use of production facilities and news sharing at neighbouring Swansea Sound.  

The licence was awarded on 8th November 2001.  The name change to 102.5 Radio Pembrokeshire came in 2002 after the holding of a 'name the station' competition.  This was in response to locals who felt that the old name may incorrectly suggest coverage of Central and South Pembrokeshire.  A pupil, 5 year old Billie-Jo Hughes, from St. Marks School in Haverfordwest, won the competition.

It operates on two frequencies from three transmitters operating at a total of 20,000 watts - 102.5 & 107.5 (Tenby, Penally and Caldey Island) FM - to around 110,000 adults aged 25-54 in Pembrokeshire & North Carmarthenshire.  Programming consists of a mix of local info, competitions and a wide variety of music all presented by a majority of the team from the old Haven FM broadcasts.  There is also a regular, daily 30 minute Welsh language programme.  


REAL RADIO (SOUTH WALES): In August 1999, the Radio Authority invited applications for a new regional radio licence for South Wales to be submitted by 23rd November of the same year.  A total of seven applications were received: 

On 6th April 2000, the Radio Authority awarded the licence to Real Radio to run for eight years from the date the station commenced broadcasting.  By 20th April, the RA had conducted a 'public interest test'.  This was done due to the fact that the winning station is owned by the Guardian Media Group, publishers of newspapers The Guardian and The Observer. Under the Broadcasting Act 1996, a national newspaper proprietor cannot hold a local or regional radio licence, unless the Radio Authority determines that the holding is not against the public interest.  The public were consulted to see if there was likely to be any effect on plurality and diversity of information available locally, but there were no large scale concerns raised.  

Announcing the reason for awarding the licence to Real Radio, the RA considered it offered a well-resourced, professional, full service station, likely to make a dominant contribution to the locale by providing a platform for debate on local issues.  The RA reflected on the management's experience of the same format in other parts of the country.  They acknowledged that the station targeted the older end of the 25-54 age bracket and that 30% of output would be speech based, including current affairs output daily - called Wales Today, phone-ins on sport and business plus a regular soap opera.  It was also noted that Welsh language was warmly welcomed by the station.  In comparison to other stations, Real Radio offered a different music format, one of 70% of melodic hits from the last forty years from a cross-section of genres.  The direct competition was seen as BBC Radio Wales.  The RA felt the new licensee was suitably equipped to meet it's promises and noted that the station management had operated presentations to local business and the public in the run up to the licence application.  Real Radio also carried out it's own research which concluded it's target audience was under-served by existing stations, and that their format would be popular.  

At the end of August 2000, Real Radio announced it would start testing it's transmitters from Monday September 4th on three FM frequencies: 105.4 (Cardiff), 106.0 (Swansea) and 105.9 (Newport).  It took around three days to activate the three, with assistance from the Radio Authority and from transmission providers, NTL.  Test transmissions were to last for four weeks - and a launch date was set for 8:00am on Tuesday 3rd October.  Overall, plans for the launch of the station were completed within five months.  Today, there is also another transmitter purely for Carmarthenshire on 105.2FM.  

As planned, on 3rd October 2000, the station began broadcasting to an estimated one-million people aged 15 or over, across South Wales from studios at Taffs Well, just off the M4 near Cardifff.  On launch, it housed the country's first 24-hour newsroom which would provide extended and regional bulletins 24 hours a day.  12 journalists, three of whom spoke fluent Welsh, were recruited for launch, and a separate newsroom and studio was planned for operation from Swansea.  In addition, on-air presenters were quickly hired and included seven Welsh folk.  As it launched, 500,000+ had been put into promoting the new station, including promotion on HTV Wales, the largest single advertiser on the TV channel over the next two months.  

The station provides exclusive commentary on Cardiff and Swansea City FC as well as the dominant Welsh sport of rugby.  As the licence application promised, there's a weekly business programme and a number of Welsh based features.  Programming is transmitted using five studios installed by the Oxford Sound Company and using the RCS Master Control System in each.  

On-air, you'll find the presenting talents of ex-Century 106 presenter Sarah Graham, ex-BBC Childrens TV presenter Simon Parkin, ex-Welsh footballer, Leighton James, and networked shows from Tony Blackburn, Gary Davies and Mark Goodier.  




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