Aircheck UK - Staffordshire

UPDATED: 04/10/2003

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ENGLAND

BBC LOCAL RADIO

BBC Radio Stoke is the local radio service for Stoke, Staffordshire and South Cheshire. It came to air on 14th March 1968 as BBC Radio Stoke-On-Trent.  In June 2002, the BBC moved its county HQ into a brand spanking-new building in the centre of Stoke-on-Trent's Cultural Quarter at Cheapside, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.  Formerly, this was the Hanley Economic Building Society, and before that, the building is believed to have been a school.  The new building was opened by HRH Princess Anne & the Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke on Tuesday 23rd July 2002, just a short walk from their old premises - the BBC Property division ranks the new premises as their most prestigious site outside of London.  Inside reception, there are four internet-linked computers available for free public use, with trained staff available to help those not quite so computer literate members of society. BBC Radio Stoke broadcasts on 94.6 & 104.1FM and on 1503AM. www.bbc.co.uk/england/radiostoke 

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BBC Radio Derby hit the air officially at 5:50pm on 29th April 1971.  But, two months earlier than planned, finishing touches were being put to the building when the news team had to dash to Rolls Royce when the firm got into difficulties.  A broadcast facility was rapidly set up at the base of a transmitter at Sutton Coldfield to transmit information.  Since the launch, the station has evolved considerably both in studio and transmission form.  However, there were some dark days in 1977 - the station's future as a public service broadcaster was in the balance as government considered handing over BBC local radio to commercial sectors - there was understandable protest from listeners and local groups.  Surviving this threat, by it's 10th birthday in 1981, the station was ranked second most popular BBC station nationally.  In 1987, a Trent(!) bus was completely covered with a Radio Derby graphic including the logo which then included the ram's head.  See our sticker archive for a picture of the station's logo.  Derbyshire was renowned for naff reception in places, most noticeably North Derbyshire.  This led to a new North Derbyshire transmitter at Stanton Moor, switched on in 1988 on 95.3FM.  Most triumphantly in 2000, Radio Derby recorded it's largest audience figures ever.

Based on St. Helens Street, just off the Derby ring road, the station has for many years provided unrivalled coverage of Derby County Football Club.  Radio Derby hosts an annual charity fundraising weekend on-air auction, 'The Money Mountain', which often requires the siting of a marquee in the station car park.  Managed up until the early 1990s by Alex Trelinski, there was a greater amount of local output.  Regional management demands following Alex's departure were met by new management and this resulted in taking Nottingham's 'Beat On The Beeb' service on Saturdays, and similar networking on a Sunday evening.  Saturday nights previously ran to 1:00am featuring (firstly) David Harvey, (then) David Halls, and finally Devon Daley from 7:00-10:00 with the Dance Music Show, The Saturday Night Dance Party/Saturday Sort-Out, and this was followed by Tom Price and guests until 1:00am.  Following the evening networking, Devon has maintained his MOBO programme on a Sunday night.  Later moves also led to the end of Ashley Franklin's popular 'Soundscapes' programme and ultimately, Ashley's work at Radio Derby.  Other presenters of note are John Stiles (who officially launched the station), Graham Knight, Mark Sheldon, Terry Christian (ex-Channel 4 show 'The Word' and now on networked shows for Century FM), and long standing presenters who remain today, Chris Baird and Paul McKenzieBBC Radio Derby has used ex-hospital radio staff too.  Namely, Julia May-brown, David Rider, Nigel Cash and Andy Potter.  I (Ian Perry) also worked for David Halls and Devon Daley's Saturday night programming for two and half years until networking from Nottingham took over.   After a period in the wilderness, Alex Trelinski did some work for Radio Five Live, then for BBC Radio Nottingham but he is now the presenter of the evening networked show he took over from John Taynton.  Both West and East Midlands BBC stations now have their own night time show but this previously used to be combined from BBC Pebble Mill Birmingham studios and presented by Alex until very recently - he now presents the East Midlands evening service.  Radio Derby broadcasts on 104.5, 95.3 & 96FM & on 1116kHz AM/MW to Derbyshire & East Staffordshire.

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BBC RADIO BIRMINGHAM / BBC WM:  BBC Radio Birmingham came to air on 7th November 1970, later, in 1982, becoming BBC WM to reflect a wider coverage area, and winning four Sony awards - Britain's most prestigious radio awards - namely Station Of The Year in 1998, Best Breakfast Show in 1997 & Ed Doolan Sunday Show 1998 & Malcolm Boyden's Show in 1997.  Predominantly speech-based, the station serves the West Midlands, South Staffordshire, North Worcestershire & North Warwickshire, and has a unique blend of presenters, a strong news, sport and current affairs service and a clear knowledge of the needs of it's listeners.  Travel reports reflect the busy nature of the locality, appearing every half hour and every 15 minutes at peak periods, including car parking news on a regular basis.  BBC WM broadcasts on one target frequency of 95.6.

BBC WM HEARTLANDS:  - This was an opt-out service from Radio WM which operated on 1458AM from April 1989 to 1991, targeted at the eastern part of Birmingham.  

 

COMMERCIAL:  LOCAL (ILR)

CENTRE FM's was created as the result of work by the Tamworth Community Radio Association (TCRA) which was formed in 1993 with the purpose of developing a community radio station for the town and its surrounding areas.  (See RSL information below)  In 1996 the TCRA, together with a group of local businessmen and radio presenters, formed CENTRE Broadcasting Ltd to apply for the commercial broadcasting licence for the South East Staffordshire area.  

On 11th April 2001, Capital Radio announced the sale of it's shareholding in Centre FM and FM 102 The Bear (Stratford) to CN Group   The stations were originally acquired through the purchase of Fox FM (Oxfordshire) and it's subsidiary Bucks Broadcasting Limited who were Centre FM's former owners.  

Centre FM serves Tamworth, Lichfield and Burton on Trent.  This is a SALLIE, or 'small scale alternative local licence' station which came to air 1st June 1998 from studios at 5-6 Aldergate, Tamworth.  Upon it's launch, one of the members of the board was Central Television News West anchorman Bob Warman.  The station broadcasts to Burton and surrounding areas on 102.4 FM & to Tamworth & Lichfield on 101.6.  It has recently started providing separate drivetime services for the respective frequencies.

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SIGNAL RADIO / SIGNAL CHESHIRE (including SIGNAL STAFFORD & ECHO 96.9 opt-out services) / SIGNAL 1: You've got to pay attention to this one because the history of this commercial radio station is varied - and the name is related to both Staffordshire & Cheshire.  For clarity, we've included our entries for both areas on this page.  It was on the 5th September 1983 that Signal Radio commenced broadcasting for Stoke-On-Trent and surrounding areas of Staffordshire, operating on 102.6FM & 1170AM (257meters MW).  It was set up by Tony Hawkins, now a prominent voice over artist, director, producer and writer for over twenty years.  

Paul Faulker reports: 'Stockport was granted its own ILR licence as part of a wave of second generation stations created by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in the late 1980's.  Launching as KFM on 17th February, 1990, the station broadcast to South Manchester on 104.9FM and offered an AC service with an emphasis on local news.  At the same time as KFM gained its licence, Stoke-based Signal Radio acquired two new frequencies - 96.9 for Stafford and 96.4 for North CCheshire. In spite of the geographical disparity between the two coverage areas, they were coupled together to form a new service, Echo 96. serving Stafford and Macclesfield on 96.4 & 96.9FM.  Later the Macclesfield frequency linked with the Stockport frequency of KFM forming Signal Cheshire across Cheshire - this later became Imagine FM.'

Signal was acquired by The Wireless Group in late 1999, as a part of a buyout of former parent company, The Radio Partnership. Today, Signal 1 for Staffordshire & Cheshire, operates on 96.4, 96.9 & 102.6 FM to just under 785,000 people aged 15+ and has around 35% weekly reach, that's around 264,000 listeners per week, and around a 20% market share.  It's studios are based on the Stoke Road in Stoke-On-Trent, with an on-air policy of contemporary & classic hits with strong commitment to local news & information.

Paul Faulker picks up the story as we link to Cheshire's Signal history.  

KFM / ECHO 96 / SIGNAL 1 / SIGNAL CHESHIRE / IMAGINE FM: Paul Faulker reports: Stockport was granted its own ILR licence as part of a wave of second generation stations created by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in the late 1980's.  Launching as KFM on 17th February, 1990, the station broadcast to South Manchester on 104.9FM and offered an AC service with an emphasis on local news.  At the same time as KFM gained its licence, Stoke-based Signal Radio acquired two new frequencies - 96.9 for Stafford and 96.4 for North Cheshire. In spite of the geographical disparity between the two coverage areas, they were coupled together to form a new service, Echo 96

In 1992, it was deemed more practical for the the 96.9 frequency to be incorporated into the Signal 1 service, whilst 96.4 was given over to KFM. The extension of KFM's TSA resulted in a name change - 96.4 and 104.9FM became Signal Cheshire. The station still broadcast from Stockport, but now simulcasted Signal 1's overnight programme under the banner of the Signal Night time Network.

Throughout the mid-1990's, the station and format continued unchanged. Then, in 1997, "Cheshire" was dropped from the station name and, although it was offficially named Signal FM (as borne out in the new logo), it was never branded as such on air, where it was simply identified as Signal 104.9/96.4. There was no overt change of format at this time, but an increase in currents and recurrents saw the station inching towards CHR.

Signal FM was acquired by The Wireless Group in late 1999, as a part of a buyout of former parent company, The Radio Partnership. At the start of 2000, the station was re-branded (again!) as Imagine FM and now fell under the overall supervision of John Evington who became Group Programme Director for Imagine and the other North West services newly acquired by TWG, Wire FM and Wish FM.

In 2001, as part of its licence renewal, Imagine opted to focus on a slightly older demographic, reverting to a Hot AC format.  Moreover, the playlist became not only varied, with 1970's/1980's/1990's/currents, but also unpredictable - chart success was not a consideration in the scheduling of songs and this resulted in an exciting selection of new and old material. In addition, there was increased investment in news, with the introduction of extended breakfast, lunchtime, early evening and late night bulletins, containing in-depth local/regional reports coupled with IRN packages.  Meanwhile, the station continued to boast full match commenatry for all Stockport County games. 

Unfortunately for Cheshire listeners, they were only able to enjoy this rejuvenated service for a short time. The 96.4 frequency was inexplicably handed back to fellow TWG station, Signal 1, as of 7th January, 2002.  However, 104.9FM continued to broadcast an outstanding service which blossomed under the supervision of Programme Controller Graham Hall, who brought an overall cohesion to the station sound.  In addition, Imagine was broadcasting live output for an impressive eighteen hours per day.

Sadly, at the end of 2002, TWG seized upon supposedly disappointing RAJAR figures (conveniently discounting the self-inflicted loss of listeners to Signal 1 and the general competitiveness of the Manchester market) to justify massive cutbacks.  Several well-established and talented presenters (including PC, Graham Hall and Martin Emery) exited the station and automation invaded the evening output.  As of December 2002, there are only two mainstay presenters covering daytime during the week, with five hour breakfast and drivetime shows. Also, local weekend news was abolished, but, fortunately, the extended weekday bulletins remain. 

In spite of the presentation cutbacks, Imagine remains a fantastic listen and, in my opinion, is the best caterer for the tastes of the 21-44 demographic in the North West. News Editor Ashley Byrne is now also Programme Manager and has the unenviable job of trying to run the station on a limited budget. It's just a shame that TWG have systematically failed to acknowledge the quality of Imagine FM's output and its potential for the future.

SIGNAL RADIO / SIGNAL GOLD / SIGNAL 2 / BIG AM (Cheshire/Staffs) / SIGNAL 2

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107.7 THE WOLF is a SALLIE station, or 'small scale alternative local licence', and is now part of Forever Broadcasting's stable of stations.  As the name would suggest, it broadcasts to the Wolverhampton area with news, information and music from the 70's, 80's, 90's and the best of today, from studios on the 10th Floor of Mander House in Wolverhampton.  It's licence began 7th October 1997, but in the December of the same year, it was fined 1,000 plus investigation costs for signal over-deviation and a further 1,000 for failing to supply recording of programming to monitor adherence to format.   At this time, it was part of a consortium of local business people and companies (Wolverhampton Area Radio Limited) but came under the umbrella of Forever Broadcasting on 8th February 2001 after a buy-out.  

It is a 'relaxed' station targeting a standard 25-54 age group in the Wolverhampton area.  Music played on the station is in line with research carried out amongst the target group.  Station research has shown that it's most loyal listeners are females aged 35-45 - people The Wolf state have very little spare time and are juggling family and professional lives.  The station has exclusive right to cover the matches of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.  

Apart from covering the city of Wolverhampton, it reaches as far as Penkridge in the North, Bloxwich to the East, Allbrighton & Pottingham to the West and Dudley to the South.  Nearby connurbations of West Bromwich and Walsall are not in the official catchment area and are served by nearby FM long-timers, 96.4FM BRMB, and BEACON FM, although it is likely that the signal reaches further than it's intended boundaries.  According to RAJAR/IPSOS-RSL 2001 week 27-50 figures, The Wolf was reaching 14%, 61,000 out of a possible 436,000 listeners.  

COMMERCIAL:  REGIONAL

100.7 HEART FM: One of the first regional radio stations, and the first for the West Midlands, appearing on air 6th September 1994, and launched by Nick Wright.  Studios are based at 1 The Square, 111 Broad Street in the centre of Birmingham.  The station is licenced to cover Warwickshire & the West Midlands which contains a potential audience of 3.4million people.  The station has over 90,000 adults listening per week and targets the 25-44 year old age group.  

One of the 'bug-bares' quoted by radio listeners is the commercials - however, Heart-FM never play more than four ads in a break and never more than 16 per hour.  As you would expect, the station takes revenue from various methods of commercial opportunities - sponsorship of features or events, tailor made promotions, and opportunities to advertise on the station's website or via SMS text messaging to mobile phones.  

Heart-FM's signal needs to be strong to cover it's intended area, however, counties lying outside the broadcast radius hoard loyal listeners who have found the station provides a better alternative to the local ILR or BBC station.  It has even featured advertising for a furniture store which, in it's commercial, credits it's branch at the Kingsway Retail Park, just off the A38 in Derby.  Since it launched, several presenters have moved over from BRMB as they 'outgrew' it to move the regional station - for example, ex-Piccadilly Radio's Carl Emms (Carlos) & Paul Bryant.  Another presenter to have appeared briefly is ex-Trent & Century 106 presenter Colin Woolley.  

It has to be said that Heart is radically different now to how it sounded back in 1994.  It launched with a strapline 'Radio across Warwickshire & the West Midlands just got 100.7 degrees cooler...' and the station was very laid back.  Nowadays it is more likely to feature more pop-dance material and numerous artists that wouldn't have been considered back in 1994.  It is owned and operated in conjunction with it's London sister station Heart 106.2 by the Chrysalis Radio Group, who also own the Galaxy regional radio brand.  

The station's 8-year initial licence was renewed by the Radio Authority in August 2001.  This was because Chrysalis Radio are set as a provider of a digital sound programme service on the West Midlands regional multiplex.  A little known fact is that it shares the building with three other Chrysalis broadcasters, Galaxy 102.2, The Arrow and Digital News Network.

There are 6 studios. Studio 1, is the Heart FM on-air studio. The Arrow broadcasts it's digital service from Studio 2. Studio 3 is a production suite. Studio 4 is mainly used for commercial production.  Studio 5 is the Galaxy on-air studio and Studio 6 is the back up studio. There are additional studios for the news team.

The Heart FM play list is formed by a panel of programming staff who listen to all the forthcoming releases. The play list combines both new artists and established acts who are of interest to the over 25s.  Eminem won't be heard but other arguable bad boys Robbie Williams and Oasis will!

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KERRANG RADIO: See THE FUTURE: section below.

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SAGA 105.7FM: The history of how this station came to air can be traced back to the heady days of the Midlands Radio Group - home of stations such as Radio Trent, GEM-AM, BRMB, XTRA AM, Mercia Sound & Leicester Sound.  At the helm of the Radio Trent stations was a man called Ron Coles.  In 1994, GWR, as part of their mass acquisition of any radio station that moved, took control of Midlands Radio Group.  Through the revolving doors went Ron along with a whole host of other staff, to all points of the radio compass.  Ron wasn't out of things yet.  

On 23rd September 1997, Ron, with the backing of Border Radio Holdings, launched East Midlands regional station Radio 106FM.  This, in time, became Century 106FM, a Border brand, and out went Ron again - to take up the helm of SAGA plc's radio division.  It had already launched Primetime, a digital radio service for the over 50s, but SAGA, owned by the De Haan family,  had other ideas too, and Ron's radio division, set about applying for analogue radio licences across the UK.

In 2000, the Radio Authority advertised a 2nd regional licence for the West Midlands.  As with all regional licence applications, the West Midlands 2nd regional licence application process was a busy one.  By the closing date at the end of August 2000, there were 12 applicants in the running.  Having already been operating BIG AM stations, The Wireless Group applied as Big FM, Central Radio was proposed by Forward Media, Jazz FM, Radio Minar, N-Joy Radio, Score Radio / Scottish Radio Group / Lincs FM Group proposed a country station called Route 105, and there were also bids from Spice FM, The Storm (GWR), Today FM, Variety FM (GMG) and Voice FM.  However, the winning applicant was set to provide a service for the over 50s, up until then, largely uncatered for, especially from a musical perspective. 

From a total of 12 applications, they awarded the new regional radio licence to Saga Radio.   For years, SAGA had previously tried to get a terrestrial / analogue licence to offer their 'over 50's' service - now, they'd finally done it.  On making the award, the Chair of the RA, Richard Hooper, said that Members of the Authority found deciding on which applicant should be awarded the licence was a challenging decision.

Having departed the Border Radio East Midlands station of Radio 106 after setting it up and watching it morph into Century 106, ex-Midlands Radio plc boss Ron Coles went to take the helm of SAGA's new radio division - and it was Ron that took them to licence application success.  It launched with the expected appearance of a lot of ex-Radio Trent/GEM presenters - Tony Lyman & Andy Marriott for starters - the latter as the station's head of music  - at 6:00am, on 16th October 2001.  Also on board for the launch, was Peter Tomlinson, Mike Baker, Tony Brandon, Jane Markham, David Yarnall, Mike Hollis, and Jeff Harris.  It was the first commercial radio station in the UK to be programmed specifically for people aged 50 and over.  Ex-Trent/GEM presenters were also joined by ex-Radio 1, Radio 2, Capital Gold, Melody Radio etc presenter David Hamilton, who presented breakfast before moving to it's sister station in the East Midlands when it launched in 2002.  Les Ross took over from David having left BRMB.  SAGA 105.7FM broadcasts from studios on the 3rd Floor of Crown House, Beaufort Court, 123 Hagley Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham, playing easy, melodic music from the past six decades mixed with news and lifestyle oriented speech, and with the now familiar catchphrases of '...your life, your music' and 'From Frank to Hank & Bing to Sting', the station broadcasts on 105.7FM from studios on the 3rd floor of Crown House, Beaufort Court, on the busy Hagley Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham.  The station reached it's first-year audience target in quick time, just nine months - this isn't surprising - as 40% of the area's population is reported to be aged over 50.

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HOSPITAL RADIO:  Details to follow.

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RSL:  

Moorlands Radio is a new RSL group created by established RSL radio presenter Tony Mullins, who has worked on a variety of services, including the now defunct Valley Radio in the Amber Valley area of Derbyshire & he remains a part of Derby's PRIDE-FM presentation team.  Having now moved to the Staffordshire area, he has been influential in setting up the new outfit, which is planning to stage it's first broadcast for the 26,000 people in the Leek area.  Future broadcasts are planned to move around the immediate area, covering nearby Cheadle and Biddulph.  Other station plans include services to cover local celebrations or special events.  Musically, the station proposes a 60:40 music to speech ratio, with a music policy scanning the 60s to today, incorporating tracks from local bands and artists.  Moorlands Radio also plan a range of specialist music programmes.  When off-air, the station plans to involve itself in local events to maximise it's profile.  It has already received a great deal of prominent local newspaper column space, notably in the The Sentinel and the Leek Post Times.  Exciting times lie ahead for the group who are now recruiting broadcast and behind the scenes staff.  To become involved, visit their website at www.moorlandsradio.fsnet.co.uk.  The site features more information about future plans, contact details and a forum/discussion page about the same.  Our thanks and acknowledgements go to the station and Tony for the use of the above information on AIRCHECK.

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PALACE FM is believed to be Tamworth's first community radio station, created by ex-Radio Cracker Tamworth members Paul and Pam Pearce in Spring of 1993.  The station was based in the local Palace Media Centre, which gave the station it's name.  The first broadcast for the station came on 27th November 1993 on 87.7FM, (although preparations had started the in the month prior) with 24 hour programming - a radio link provided the broadcast signal from studio base to a roof in a high part of Tamworth.  However, the official station launch didn't happen until Noon the same day, with a 'Wild West' themed display and a balloon launch.  Notable moments from the first night are sadly negative - Steve Dix is reported to have made a joke about single mothers - bearing in mind the station was based in Council premises where a section was dedicated to the welfare of the target of his jokes - then referred on-air to 'the prats at Palace FM' .  On a positive note, the presenter made no further return to the airwaves of the station.  The man who was to later move on to Centre FM, Toby Riding then presented the 'Vertigo Dance Show' featuring a mix of house and dance tracks.

The broadcast featured regular link ups with outside broadcasts through the Tamworth area - although linking to the studio, situated in a lower geographical area was difficult.  The 28 day broadcast ended on Chrstmas Eve 1993 with a live close-down party from a local club - the party continuing off-air long after the broadcast had ended at midnight.  Externally, and off-air, roadshows continued, with regular Palace FM group meetings which also included the set up of Tamworth Hospital Radio.  

Further RSLs then followed in the Summer of 1994 and again at Christmas using a new frequency, 105.6, which is reported to have increased potential listenership.  Palace FM was renamed Centre FM in preparation for a full-time licence bid and another RSL was operated in Summer of 1996.   Centre FM won the broadcast licence for South Staffs in Autumn '97.  Many Palace FM presenters went on to work for Centre-FM which is based in Tamworth.  See details on Centre FM above.

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STAFFORD FM: Featuring a diet of cheerful, popular and melodic music for the 25-55 set, plus news, features and interviews with local pillars of the community, Stafford FM broadcasts from studios at 1 Gaol Mews, Gaol Road, in Stafford, and is owned by holding company Stafford FM Ltd.  The county town of Stafford is one of only a select few in the country that does not have it's own local radio station - however there are local nearby stations whose signal covers the town, one is from the BBC and one is a commercial station.  Stafford FM aims to get a full time licence from the Radio Authority/OFCOM to provide a truly local service from Stafford and for Stafford.  To date, Stafford FM has operated four RSL broadcasts.  It first sprang to life on 27th October 2001, returned 6th April 2002, again six months later on 26th October 2002, and it's most recent broadcast ran for 28 days from 5th April 2003.  For broadcasts 1-3 it used 106.7, a popular area of the FM band for RSL groups, although not the official range allocated by the Radio Authority.  Short term broadcasters can select a preferred frequency but it has to be authorised by the industry's governing body before licensing takes place.  As with a lot of Midlands based RSL groups, the licensing of East Midlands regional station SAGA 106.6FM has halted the regional use of this frequency range.  For broadcast 4, Stafford FM used 103.6FM.  On-air, perhaps the youngest presenter was 13 year old Adam Downs, who dislikes the Radio 1 thump thump sound, took to the air to co-present the weekend sports show with professional presenter Paul Heath.  Adam began his DJ work at just nine years old!   Follow the progress of the station at www.stafford.fm

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TCR-FM: Tamworth in Staffordshire previously had a well known RSL station called Palace FM - which went on to become current SALLIE station Centre FM.  Now the RSL bug has returned as a group of industry interested locals are trying to start an RSL station once more, to be known as TCR FM.  The station is inviting other interested parties to have a chance to work both on and off the station, acknowledging and announcing to all, that, whilst a 28-day broadcast doesn't give them a long stint, it is how full time stations start, and is a firm foundation to make the move to full-time.  If you live in the area, are aged between 12 and 24 and would like to get involved, irrespective of experience levels, contact the station through their website at www.tcrfm.co.uk.  

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DIGITAL: The Radio Authority's closing date for receipt of applications for the local digital multiplex service licence to serve the Stoke-on-Trent area was 10 December 2002.   This licence is designed to deliver digital radio programming and data services potentially to an area with an adult (aged 15+) population of up to around 850,000.

In addition to providing a range of commercial services, the applicant for this licence is required to reserve capacity for the broadcasting in digital form of the existing BBC local radio service, Radio Stoke.  One successful application with a 5,000 application fee, was submitted from a consortium of The Wireless Group & EMAP from HQ in Hatfields, London.  TWG own 70% of the group with EMAP's Digital arm holding the remaining 30%.  In addition to Radio Stoke, the other services proposed are TWG stations Signal 1 (Adult comtemporary)& 2 (Classic hits/gold), EMAP's KISS (Dance), GWR's The Storm (Rock), plus an as yet unconfirmed trio of easy listening, non-stop pop and country stations.  

TWG EMAP Digital plans to commence broadcasting on VHF band III frequency block 12D (centre frequency:229.072 MHz) with a a minimum of five programmes including the local BBC station in April 2004 using four transmission sites at Alsagers Bank, Mow Cop, Crewe & Stafford, which should cover 69% of the the intended audience.  The licence will run for a period of twelve years from that date.

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THE FUTURE: And so AIRCHECK sees another licence application through from it's advertisement, the bidding process and the ultimate award.  On 2nd October 2003, the Radio Authority awarded the UK's seventeenth regional licence, and the West Midlands' 3rd to Kerrang! Radio (Kerrang! Radio (West Midlands Ltd).  The licence is designed to serve Birmingham, Wolverhampton and surrounding areas as well as parts of Warwickshire & Staffordshire.  But as with existing regional services from 100.7 Heart FM (Chrysalis Radio), and SAGA 105.7FM (SAGA Radio), the service is likely to be heard across those boundaries to some effect. The West Midlands is now the only region in the UK to be served by three regional licences.  It has already indicated that it does not feel that the East Midlands is able to sustain any further development, particularly of this scale (see elsewhere on this page), so it remains to be seen what decisions by OFCOM will either change this West Midlands' originality or keep it.

The Kerrang! licence area includes about 2.3 million people who have been promised a 'specialist music and talk service for the rock community of the West Midlands, mixing modern and classic rock with stimulating, distinctive speech'.  In their application, they originally said: 

The award of this licence is the last regional licence to be awarded by the Radio Authority before OFCOM take control at the turn of the year.  The Radio Authority's Executive Chairman, David Witherow said: "A wide variety of proposals were submitted from a wide range of applicants and they were generally of an impressively high standard, making our decision all the more difficult.  At the end of a long discussion, Members decided that Kerrang! Radio best met the statutory criteria, and it's programming aimed at an under-served segment of the younger population will clearly widen choice in the region."

Kerrang!'s licence will come into effect as soon as the service goes to air.  The station is currently based at Birmingham City FC's St. Andrews Stadium with club representative Karren Brady also being a station representative for the purposes of the bid.  A full Radio Authority assessment of the award is expected shortly. 

The award comes after the closing date for applications on Tuesday 13th May 2003.  Each applicant had to pay 12,000 in non-refundable application fees, meaning that with eleven applicants, this netted the RA a cool 180,000.  The RA more recently conducted public interest tests on two of the applicants due to their existing interests in the local radio marketplace.  The 1996 Broadcasting Act stipulates that a company can only own two radio services on the same waveband in an overlapping area if the RA determines that the proposed arrangement could not be expected to operate against the public interest.  Capital Radio plc already operate two other services, 96.4FM BRMB and Capital Gold Birmingham 1152AM, and GWR Group plc already operate Beacon FM for Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury and Telford.  

Talking of Beacon, we've been receiving many e-mails suggesting the return of regional 'talk radio' legend, and this site editor's namesake, Ian Perry, who made a real name for himself at Beacon before GWR did their work on it after acquiring it in 1994.  E-mails, mostly suggesting Ian's return to any bidder, particularly those including a talk based service or element include:

So, there you go, keep your e-mails coming in via e-mail.  But, in answer to your question John, and thanks for the kind words by the way, don't worry, I've said this before many times, no, I'm not the same bloke - he's the other Ian Perry!  You could always direct your suggestions to Kerrang! care of Karren Brady at Birmingham City's St. Andrews Stadium as well.  To round off this story, here's a list of the unsuccessful bidders.  

MEAN COUNTRY 105.2 (Mean Fiddler), operators of Mean Country 1035 in London were previously tabled as a bidder, although the final declaration refers to the 3C brand as detailed above.  No explanation is known for any possible drop out, takeover or change of decision to apply.  

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