Aircheck Radio News 


Click here to return to the home page

(some of last edition's prominent stories are still featured in between)


Restricted Service Licences restricted as RA becomes OFCOM

Radio groups interested in applying for a Radio Authority Restricted Service Licence in 2004 should take note.  The Radio Authority has declared that it is not able to licence these stations as it prepares to transfer power and jurisdiction to OFCOM on January 1st 2004.  Whilst the RA is willing to accept applications for 2004 broadcasts, it will only be able to forward them onto OFCOM when it assumes control.  The RA can only formally agree to RSL applications for broadcasts that commence either on, or before New Years' Eve, 31st December 2003.  There is no firm news of OFCOM's intentions as yet.  We'll bring you more when we know it. 

RAJAR results news

The latest RAJAR Ipsos-RSL radio audience listening research period ended 14th September 2003.  Results will be firstly be released to stations who subscribe as of 6:00am on Thursday 23rd October.  The Press can start deliberating as of 10:30am on the same day, and full tables and reports will be released on Monday 3rd November 2003.  Radio stations and press are reminded that figures are embargoed until 10:30am on 23rd October.

There will be big changes and new statistics as part of those changes.  One of the most awaited sets of statistics relates to East Midlands regional radio station SAGA 106.6FM which features for the very first time.  Additionally, there will be reports for Digital stations Core, The Hits, Planet Rock, Q, The Storm, BBC 6 Music, BBC 1 Xtra, BBC Radio Five Live (including Five Live Sports Extra), BBC Radio Five Live Extra, and BBC7.  Also in the reports, we'll be able to see national network reports for the Capital Gold and Magic brands, a new survey period for Digital literature station oneword but it's farewell to Thames 107.8 and London's Liberty 963-972 who both un-subscribed as of the third quarter period of 2003.  Thames has had a change in owner and Liberty were not re-awarded their licence.

The next set of audience statistics will include total listenership to Capital Radio Group UK and there will be information relating to the following stations following name changes.

Mixed race options also appear for the first time as RAJAR fall into line with the standard national reference to ethnic background as well as the primary source used for ethnic population estimates on RAJAR (Labour Force Survey).  Interestingly, those questioned to compile the RAJAR stats, will no longer be asked whether they are responsible for the main food and general household shopping, but will instead be asked "Are you mainly or jointly responsible..."  Again, this brings RAJAR into line with other joint industry surveys.

RAJAR research will also ask how many sets (including car radios) are held in each household surveyed rather than splitting household and car radios into separate stats, they are no longer asked if they have a telephone in their household, and in additional to satellite, cable and Freeview, research participants are also now asked if they can receive Digital TV via a TV set with digital built it (iDTV).

Research and other RAJAR data subscription information (for both interested parties and stations) can be found at  

New Norfolk station prepares for launch - with the return of a legend

Norfolk gets a brand new radio station from November 10th 2003, to be heard on 96.2 & 103.2FM.  North Norfolk Radio, part of the Tindle Group, have been awarded the new licence for the North of Norfolk.  This award takes the number of stations in Sir Ray's group to eight.  Having been awarded the licence, the station will cover an area from Hunstanton & Bacton on the coast, inland as far as Fakenham and around the outlying areas of Norwich.  Ten station posts were filled through recruitment procedures.  The Tindle Group is a family-owned business renowned for its professional but community orientated services.  The geographical area was previously one of only a few left in the country without it's own commercial station.  Other East Anglian Tindle stations are The Beach (Great Yarmouth & Waveney), Dream 100 (Colchester) and Dream 107 (Chelmsford).  The award is the culmination of four years worth of work to reach their goal.  Other group stations are Island FM (Guernsey), Channel 103 (Jersey), Bridge FM (Bridgend) and Midlands Radio (Republic of Ireland).  Tindle own 79% of NNR with local directors taking the rest.  Three transmitters cover the area and following work on installing transmission facilities across the North Norfolk region, the station will broadcast on 96.2 & 103.2 FM from November 10th 2003.  

Tindle Radio, acting under 103.4 The Beach applied for a radio licence for North Norfolk with a working station title of NNR.  The licence is for a brand new service, solely for North Norfolk, advertised by the RA with a closing date of March 2003.  NNR, a community radio station,  proposes to play a wide variety of classic hit songs, along with relevant local speech, comprehensive news bulletins from early morning to late at night, local community news and details on local events and activities on charities, schools, clubs and societies.  They also say: 'There’s a lot to be said for being local'' and 'it is a stand-alone station, run from North Norfolk. It will not have identikit programming from London or elsewhere, but will be a genuinely local service, with local news, local information, local traffic & travel, and local presenters.'

The unsuccessful bidder was Absolute Radio Norfolk Ltd, who intended to broadcast as go-fm - an associated consortium behind the bid included Norwich City FC, Central Norfolk Radio Ltd and Absolute Radio UK Ltd, all of whom had shares - who proposed a new local radio station providing a relevant, full-service schedule combining a strong community theme of news and information with a unique mix of adult music and entertainment primarily for the over 25s in North Norfolk.  

The station's launch sees the well overdue return of a broadcast legend - Mike Ahern, ex Radio Caroline, Radio 1, various Australian Radio stations, Essex Radio, Radio Aire, Piccadilly Radio, Country 1035, Capital Gold and Cambridge Cafe / Cambridge Red Radio, takes the reins of the flagship Breakfast Show from 10th November.  

The former Radio 1 DJ was reported missing after last being seen at home in Ealing, London on January 3rd 2003.  However, after a media call on Tuesday 14th January, 2003, he was found in a London hospital, 11 days after last being seen.  His disappearance was the subject of concern amongst his friends as he had become more and more depressed in the preceding weeks.  A spokesman said 'We don't know many details yet but he has been tracked down to hospital and we are told he is well enough to be discharged tomorrow' (Wednesday 15th). 'It is marvellous news and we are all delighted he is safe.  At Capital Gold, Mike's producer was Paul Easton who said that his disappearance was out of character and his friends were worried.  Mike's had a darn good holiday in Australia since and is back on fine form.  Thanks to Paul Easton for e-mailing us to report Mike's return.

What's the difference?  Moyles and Cox to swap from 2004

She's finally going - at least from the Radio 1 Breakfast Show - Sara Cox is swapping places with the afternoon show slot's Chris Moyles - so said the BBC's station controller Andy Parfitt today (Tuesday 7th).  This announcement comes only two months after speculation flew in all directions when audience figures plummeted, showing over 430,000 listeners forgot 97-99FM in just one month, whilst 6.6million forgot the tuning button on their radio at the same time and stayed put.  Earlier this year, Radio 1 described the speculation that she would be sacked if things didn't improve in a ten week period, as "nonsense", instead saying that she would stay on the show until the end of her contract in April 2004.  

Parfitt considered only Moyles for the job but praised Cox on doing what he said was a "great job" for the last three and a half years.  He sees Chris as being "...just what our audience is looking for...".  Moyles was in typical mood, saying he was "...really chuffed - I've said for ages that I am the saviour of Radio 1 - now it looks like I'm fnially going to have the chance to prove it..."    It remains to be seen whether we can quote Chris in this statement, but it won't be the first time that he's been in the Breakfast slot, as he has filled in for both Sara and her predecessor, current XFM Drivetime presenter Zoe Ball, in his time at Radio 1 since 1997.  

In a survey conducted a year ago by a mobile phone network operator, Moyles was voted the most irritating DJ - with listeners disliking the way he waffled instead of naming the tracks played.  Sara Cox was joint second in the poll.    (How short some people's memories are....Ed)  At the time, a Radio 1 spokesperson said that the survey was no more than a "cheap publicity stunt", referring to Moyles' show as the "...biggest in the country, so he must be doing something right.."

Kerrang! get West Mids 3 regional licence - 'talk' is promised - and you vote for a return of a regional talk show legend...

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 comments 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.  

No more for Noel as Maconie returns for Johnnie

On the 5th May 2003, Radio 2 Drivetime presenter Johnnie Walker stunned the radio world, and his loyal fans by announcing live on air that he has non-hodgkins lymphoma, a very treatable cancer, a malignant tumour in his colon.  He announced that he was diagnosed just five weeks previously.  Johnnie announced he'd be taking some time off with immediate effect to undergo treatment.  His show was temporarily filled by station presenter and music journalist Stuart Maconie.  Due to the fact that Johnnie's treatment would undoubtedly take an undeterminable period of time, it was on 10th July, that Stuart, speaking about the need to postpone the appearance of a studio guest, was heard commenting that the guest appearance would ' rescheduled when Johnnie is back in August'.

On Thursday 24th July 2003, the BBC announced one of the most welcome returns in the history of radio.  Noel Edmonds was to return to national radio after 20 years away..  Noel joined BBC Radio 2 from 4th August as a two-month stand-in for Johnnie, his fill scheduled to end Friday October 3rd.  Speaking on the return Noel said "This is a bittersweet experience. I am a huge fan of Johnnie's and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.  I'm very much looking forward to the challenge of looking after the Drivetime show.  It's a great opportunity and I'm very excited to be back behind the microphone, at the country's most listened to radio station."  Radio 2 programme controller Jim Moir said on Noel's appointment 'I join Noel in wishing Johnnie a swift recovery and return to the airwaves.  In the meantime, Noel is one of the UK's most successful and innovative broadcasters and we are delighted that the Drivetime show will be in such capable hands.'.  However, this isn't the first time that Noel's been linked with a move to Radio 2 as we reported above.  When the rumours first broke of Sir Jimmy Young either leaving or being forced out at the station, Noel was one of the names linked with his departure as a replacement.  Noel was heard to deny all knowledge of such plans, and Sir Jimmy was finally replaced by journalist Jeremy Vine.

Noel returned to Radio 2 at 5:05pm on Monday 4th August 2003 - to a flood of e-mails and text messages which welcomed him back.  His first track of his first show in 25 years was the 1974 radio homage, Harry Chapin's number 34 hit from May of that year - W.O.L.D.  Noel received a good luck message from the man who launched the Mystery Voice feature on Radio 2 when he occupied the Drivetime Slot before Johnnie Walker - John Dunn.  

Johnnie's recovery continues, but there was to be no return after Noel's run.  True to his word, and obviously with other things already scheduled, Noel Edmonds finished his eight-week run on Friday 3rd October 2003 at 7:00pm.  The man he took over from, Stuart Maconie, will again, continue as a stand-in for Johnnie.  At the beginning of Monday 6th October's Drivetime, Stuart played Bruce Springsteen's 'Born To Run' especially for Johnnie, remarked that he was doing well, and that he was due to return at the end of the year.  We'll keep our ears to the ground for news on both Johnnie's recovery and Noel's next moves and will let you know just as soon as we find out!  

Forever doesn't mean Forever

Forever Broadcasting have sold Liverpool's Juice 107.6FM to Absolute Radio (UK) Limited (AR-UK), a consortium made up of Ulster Television (UTV) and Eurocast, for £3.1m.  The deal was the first agreed under Royal Assent and considering the new Communications Act.  AR-UK have been making moves in the FM radio licence world, notably in the West Midlands and Glasgow.  The Chairman of AR-UK, John McCann expressed the group's delight on the acquisition of the Liverpool Juice station and referred to their determination to bid for several new licences in the future.  They aim to build on the success experienced by the Juice management team, putting additional funding into more localised programming, news and marketing, and to make the station number one for the young people of Liverpool.  Juice Liverpool made an adjusted operating loss of £760,000 and at 30th September 2002 had net liabilities of £4.02m.  Forever did not provide separate statutory accounts for the station.  

Brighton's Juice and a stake in Worthing's Splash FM have also been disposed of by Forever Broadcasting plc for a sum of £700,000.  Juice 107.2 has been sold for £450,000 to Brighton and Hove Radio Limited - this sum, paid to Forever, has enhanced Forever's financial position as a result of the cash income, and by removing what was a loss-making element.

Directors of the group consider that the sale of it's 35% share in newly licenced Splash FM to a consortium including shareholders of the buyers of Juice in Brighton and existing shareholders in Splash, allows them to maximise sale proceeds.  

Up to 30th September 2002, Juice 107.2 made a loss of £500,000 with net liabilities of £1,000,000 as of 30th September 2002.  Due to it's recent launch, no figures on the financial activities of Splash FM have been made available - it only came to air on 5th May 2003.  Net proceeds for Forever will go towards reducing Company debt to £800,000.

The disposals leave just three stations in the Forever portfolio - these being Peak 107 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Wolverhampton's 107.7 The Wolf and Bolton/Bury's Tower 107.4FM, all three being SALLIE (small-scale alternative local licence) stations.  In comparison to the Juice stations which have both been sold, accounts show that in aggregate, the remaining group stations are all operating in profit and are making money.   Prospects for all three are considered to be good by the Forever Directors and they are confident that results for the full year up to 30th September 2003 will confirm substantial growth for the first six months.  August stats show a year-to-date, year-on-year revenue growth (excluding Liverpool's Juice station) of well over 40%.  

The Liverpool Juice station was sold last week, and all recent sales complete the first stage of Forever's strategic review, initiated at Board level.  The Directors continue to examine how to deliver value to shareholders from the remaining group assets.  

And it's change time at UKRD too...

Scotland's Kingdom FM Limited has purchased UKRD's Scottish radio assets.  The Fife-based group now has a majority shareholding in, and control of Lanarkshire's Clan FM, 25% in West Lothian's River FM, and 18% in a Glasgow commercial radio licence bidder - Go-FM led by TV presenter Kirstty Wark.  She said that Kingdom FM was 'a proven radio operator with the know-how and credibility in Scotland that few other radio companies can match.'

Ian Sewell is Kingdom FM's Chief Exec, and it is he who has been appointed into the same post in the new larger sized company.  He said that Clan FM would benefit immediately from the input of the new owner's management plus investment in local programming, and that, as the only radio partner in River FM and Go-FM, Kingdom FM would provide useful knowledge of the Scottish Radio market and management advice.  Clan FM's Chairman, Ian Livingstone said; 'This is a good move for Clan FM and I'm sure that the station will go from strength to strength under Kingdom's direction.  Kingdom FM has been successful since it launched back in October 1998.  It is 100% local, and has always been the most popular station in Fife, recently notching up another record audience rating.  The station moved into profit in it's first year on air and has continued to be a financial success.  

Long wave station takes even longer

Despite the station being located there, you could be forgiven for thinking that nobody living there actually wants it.  Several years in planning, and restricted by many setbacks, Music Mann 279, from Isle Of Man International Broadcasting plc, is still held back today, this time as it awaits the outcome of a hearing of a 'Petition of Doleance' brought against the Communications Commission.  

The hearing has been delayed and isn't due before November, after a request from the objector's advocate for a further adjournment due to bout of shingles!  The Government Advocate and station representatives 'Cains' state that the Petitioner's case should be ready and that any advocate could present evidence on a case that should only take two days and not the four requested.  Nevertheless, the Acting Deemster granted the further adjournment, and the hearing is awaiting the re-listing and a new date.  

IMIB's founder, the legendary Paul Rusling said; "We are very frustrated to be stymied yet again by this complaint, which has already been described in court as frivolous and vexatious. The objector has been found to be not affected by our proposals and we don't understand his continued interest or his meddling in the matter. He has failed to communicate his fears to us direct, despite our invitations to do so, and we have placed in the public domain all the evidence that proves the fears are unfounded. Eighteen months have been lost as a result of this petition, costing not only our shareholders anxiety and delays, but also depriving the Island as a whole a powerful radio voice which could be useful in boosting its exports and raising its profile."

"We are however very determined and this extra delay will not deter us from pressing on.," Mr Rusling assured the Company's shareholders recently. "We have now had thousands of messages of support and expressions of good will; the project has become much more than just a commercial project or yet another radio station. It has become a torch for many who believe in widening the choice of programme supplier and new innovative broadcast techniques. It also offers a unique opportunity for the Isle of Man.  Everything else is ready to run and we are determined to launch the station at the earliest opportunity."  See archived news below.

Cross Rhythms cross the dateline along with all other Access stations

Back on 28th February 2002, Cross Rhythms City Radio began it's Access trial radio service for Staffordshire's Stoke-On-Trent and Newcastle-Under-Lyme areas.  Now referred to as Community Radio, the station was granted a licence to operate on 101.8 as one of only two Christian broadcasters of the 15 Access groups selected to operate the trials.  To start, the services were licenced for a year, then further up until 31st December 2003.  Facts from the operation of the Stoke/Newcastle service and it's other Access station colleagues were used to help in the debate about the possible permanent nature of the radio tier in the future.  Twelve groups, running thirteen stations exist to date.  Cross Rhythms 101.8 has, subject to frequency verification,  been granted a further one year extension to it's FM radio licence, meaning it can now stay on air until the end of December 2004 along with all the other Access licencees.  They were said to be thrilled to be able to inform listeners of the extension, and do not forsee the frequency being a problem.  Donations to operate the station continue to be received, and they hope to be able to build on the listenership of the station, which has been heard in local shops and business establishments, schools, offices, taxis and, perhaps not surprisingly, in the foyer of a church.

How and if the new Community Radio services will be licenced will be determined by OFCOM when it takes control under the terms of the 2003 Communications Act.  The Act allows the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to introduce Community Radio by Order.  This Order is currently being drafted.  The DCMS will carry out a publicly-based consultation on the contents of the draft later in 2003.  

Record and TV arm dispensed leaving Chrysalis to report good news.

First, it disposed of it's record label to SONY, then it disposed the TV production arm.  Now, it's announced trading figures ahead of the end of year close period.  In 12 months leading up to 31st August 2003, the Radio group has set the mark, outperforming the industry with a growth figure of 14.8%, revenues of £53.2m.  With associated income also considered, projected revenues are rated at £56.0m, an increase of 14.1% on last year.  Without considering the contributions of LBC and Galaxy 101, for which either disposal or purchase has applied, Chrysalis Radio has delivered a 13.2% growth over the same period last year.  Growth in the radio industry as a whole has been quoted as being around 3% for the same period.  The 2004 financial year has shown good results for them too, like-for-like, September's figures are expected to be 15% or more ahead of last year.  Other Chrysalis Group divisions are comparable to the figures given in their update at the end of July this year, this was around the time they announced the sale of the TV arm.  The financial world expects Chrysalis Group to publish preliminary results just after 17th November 2003.  

Southampton United

Thursday 2nd October 2003 saw the return of Southampton's multicultural community radio station Unity 24.  The station, which is aiming for a full-time licence, operates on the allocated short-term licence frequency of 87.7FM as well as on the web, with music and reflections of culture of the ethnic minorities by opening the airwaves to those with skills to assist with local initiatives and enterprises.  The station focuses on topical issues such as employment, health, training, immigration and more, with an element of children's programming, local what's on sections, a wide variety of music and the popular live panel show 'Community Hour'.  

Output includes speech content in Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali and Gujerati as well as English.  Staff, both on and off-air, are local volunteers, as well as professional broadcasters and experts in the field.  The local POSH restaurant was the scene for an awards ceremony held earlier this year, attended by the Southampton Mayor, council and media representatives, and others to reward the efforts of staff in the station's fourth broadcast, which included a staggering 7,000 requests.

B.B.C. go M.A.D. for D.A.B.

Digital radio listeners in Manchester can now experience higher quality reception on their sets following the switch-on of a new DAB transmitter at the City's Picadilly Plaza.  The installation is the latest of a total of eight new ones being brought into service as part of Auntie's plan to increase the Digital Radio coverage across the UK to 85% by the Summer of 2004.  100,000 listeners in Central Manchester can now enjoy the improved service as well as one million others who get reinforced signal strengths.  The other new BBC transmitters are as follows;

 * Naish Hill - enables around 135,000 people to receive the BBC DAB multiplex & improves the signal for approximately a further 200,000 listeners;
 * Manningtree - enables a further 540,000 people to receive the BBC DAB multiplex;
 * Rowridge - enables a further 760,000 people to receive BBC DAB & improves the signal for a further 180,000;
 * Dover - enables a further 230,000 listeners to receive BBC DAB;
 * Bromsgrove - enables a further 160,000 to receive BBC DAB & improves the existing signal for a further 50,000;
 * Salisbury - enables a further 65,000 to receive BBC DAB;
 * Bath - enables a further 50,000 people to receive BBC DAB & improves existing signal for 170,000.

Debate evening opens up a whole new debate..

On Tuesday 9th October, the Radio Academy is staging a debate on radio of the future, called 'Star Wars 2023: The Future of Radio Talent.  Amongst industry representatives attending, there will be Radio 1's Colin Murray, Radio Five Live's Victoria Derbyshire, Head of BBC Talent Lorna Clarke, EMAP's Director of Music and Artists Relations Phil Roberts, and Grant Michaels, the Head of Talent at Somethin' Else.  

The topics of conversation at the event open up the possibility to criticise some of the big radio station owning groups across the UK, some particularly more so than others.  For example, questions include 'Where will our radio stars of tomorrow come from?'; 'Who are the genuinely new and distinctive presenters of the future, and how do we nurture them early and pluck them out in the first place?'; 'As music delivery evolves, will the DJ's role change?'; 'How much cleverer will they need to be in the new multi-media environment in which people listen, and how much more will they need to give to keep up their audience?' and 'Will increased competition make it more difficult for unknown voices to break through in radio?'.

The debate, which promises to be highly entertaining and arguably fuelled, takes place at Room 7, Kings Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Square, London W1 from 6:00pm-6:30pm.  Members of the Radio Academy pay nothing, whilst non-members pay £10.00.  For event reservations, or to enquire about membership, call 020 7255 2016 or e-mail by clicking here.  

GTFM - proud of their local radio heritage - and not afraid to mention other stations either!

Pontypridd's Access Radio station, GTFM spent Tuesday 30th September in nostalgic fashion, reminiscing about the country's first local radio station, and the date it went on air, 29 years previously.  Back in 1974, Swansea Sound went on-air, later becoming the UK's most successful station - it's initial programming ideas were the nucleus for ideas at GTFM.  The station spent the day broadcasting features looking back at how the whole ILR scene kicked off in Wales, which were aired after each hourly news bulletin.   GTFM, in offering this unique service, remarked how many local stations have lost their identity, becoming remote from the audience they are designed to serve.  They also said that they were proud to be able to show how true local radio can still be both successful and popular, and that the original aims of ILR, with a slight tweak for today's use, can be as equally relevant.   (Well done GTFM - can't think who they might be taking aa pop at! Ed)

'Internet' radio - survey - can it survive?

There's an interesting radio survey available on line regarding 'Internet radio', which asks whether it has a future in any way, shape or form.  The survey, 'Another Dot Con: 'Can Net Radio Survive', is supported by the European Internet Webcaster's Association.  In an associated report, Correspondent Mike Bickett studies where the medium is today, what the future might bring and what insiders think is necessary to move it on from it's current position.  Video and audio case studies are included to demonstrate the key issues in a precise context.  It also features interviews with Jane O'Hara from RAJAR, James Cridland from Virgin Radio and representatives from legal and illegal broadcasters, as well as internet service carriage representatives and advertising agencies, and a look at the copyright angle and how PPL and PRS see their involvement.  You can view the report at and take part in the on-line survey to make your thoughts known at  Results will be published by the IWA later this year.  The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete.  

It IS the end for Tarrant at Capital but it's Vaughan and not Ross for Breakfast - could it also be no Fox at all?

Just a year ago, AIRCHECK reported on the going/stopping story regarding Capital FM's long-standing breakfast show jock Chris Tarrant.  Autumn 2002 saw both sides getting around the negotiating table to subsequently strike out a one-year deal to keep Chris at the helm of the station he's been at since the 1980s.  The deal allowed Chris to take a fair chunk of time off from his show.  News has been filtering in that Capital Radio are planning a replacement, suggesting Chris has had enough of getting up so early, and, in recent years, a punishing recording schedule of TV's 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' at Elstree Studios at the same time, and that his future is as yet undecided.

Apparently, Capital has already made several moves to take Jonathan Ross away from the Sony Award winning BBC Radio 2 Saturday Morning Show, a slot Ross took control of when Steve Wright moved to weekday afternoons in place of Ed Stewart in 1998/1999.   It seems Capital are once again attempting to shoe-horn Jonathan out of the slot which has achieved some pretty healthy ratings for the BBC RAJAR figure-topping national station.   Ross is contracted to the BBC until July 2004 and this contract is not believed to be broken by either agent or presenter, but his agent has not ruled out a move for his star.  Addison Cresswell, said that Capital '...have approached me on three or four occasions. There is no hiding the fact Chris Tarrant is going at Christmas. They are bound to be sniffing around the top talent and Jonathan has got one of the highest rating shows. Plus Chris is a big fan of Jonathan.'

Recent RAJAR figures stem from a 13-week listening period. Chris was off for nine of those thirteen weeks.  The RAJAR/Ipsos-RSL figures for the first three months of 2003 showed Capital FM's audience share fell from 8.8% to 8.1%.  

At the same time, internet discussion boards and industry gossip has now fired up a debate on who would replace Jonathan Ross if he left Radio 2...that's another matter.  However, it's a completely irrelevant matter now, as, it's been confirmed that, after 17 years, Tarrant is to hand over the 95.8 Capital FM Breakfast Show to Johnny Vaughan who has signed a three year deal, from Spring 2003 to present the show which hits around 1,750,000 people each morning.  The deal is thought to be worth around £5m - £6m.  The announcement was made to listeners, staff and the stock market on Tuesday 30th September - the change is the second phase of a general station shake-up.  Capital's MD, Keith Pringle said "I'm delighted Johnny will be joining the team at 95.8 Capital FM to head up the UK's most prestigious breakfast show. Johnny has perfect credentials for the job; he's funny and spontaneous, down to earth and most importantly a real London guy who fits in perfectly with how our listeners want to be.  Johnny will be joining our team in Spring 2004, taking over from Chris Tarrant who has clocked up an outstanding 17 years of brilliant service."

Johnny Vaughan said: "To be asked to fill CT's big headphones, and trust me they are big headphones, is an honour and I am thrilled to take on this challenge.  To me London is the greatest city in the world and Capital the only radio station! I'm used to early mornings so getting up won't be a problem - my only hope is that I look as good as Chris does in 15 years time."

Chris Tarrant said: "I love Capital.  It's the only station I've ever worked for and I'll miss the great friends I've made here. I think Johnny is a great choice as my successor and he'll bring a lot to the show. The Big Breakfast showed that he's vibrant, lively, funny and exciting in the mornings and I'm sure he can bring all this to the Capital Breakfast Show. I think he's a great replacement and I wish him all the best.  However, I'm now off to enjoy life without the early starts and I won't miss the alarm going off every morning."

Meanwhile, hot on the heels of the announcement, the Drivetime, Chart Show and Tarrant show-filling presenter Neil Fox is considering his future after Vaughan was announced as the new Breakfast Show host.  The 'Pop Idol' judge said that Capital had been run 'appallingly' over the past few years and that 'dreadful management decisions' had been taken over music policy.  He said he was 'led to believe' that the Breakfast Show would fall to him whenever Tarrant finished in the chair.  "I think I was probably led to believe it may be my job. I do have a window of opportunity now if I need to leave Capital. If the breakfast show did not happen and I wanted to go somewhere else, I could," he said.  "I don't think they want me to leave, the share price might fall even further if I did. But Pop Idol has opened up an amazing shop window for me to go on and do more TV shows" he said.

It's been suggested Neil has a get-out clause in his contract allowing him to leave it he did not get the flagship show, but it's also been suggested that he was likely to stay due to a lucrative clause in his £700,000+ contract giving him a lump sum if he stayed put.  Neil continues on the second series of ITV1's Pop Idol and it's believed that he's also involved in the third series in 2004.  Additionally, he's also set to host a Saturday night quiz show for ITV1 to go to air in 2004.  He said he would not allow Capital's management to rush a decision out of him whilst he contemplates his future and the 16 years at Capital that exist to date.  "I've said I'm not going to give them an instant decision, because I don't know yet... For the next month or so I will see where it takes me. I'm in no rush to make a decision and won't be rushed in to one," he said.  He added that he loved Capital and owed the station a lot, but added that he believed the company had been mismanaged in recent years.  "For the last couple of years Capital has been run appallingly. There have been some dreadful management decisions and Keith [Pringle] has inherited a lot of s**t. But he is doing a good job, he's one of the good guys and a real radio man,"

2003 saw Capital FM dealt a major blow when Breakfast Show ratings dropped and there were alleged accusations that the station played too much pop.  Keith Pringle and other station reps made changes to the music policy as a result, introducing more rock orientated tracks in the schedules.  Audience figures for the Breakfast Show have picked up but insiders reckon Fox's tirade is targeted at the past programming policy decision makers, and not those of today.  David Mansfield, Capital's Chief Exec said in response that the Doctor was an important team player; "I think Foxy does a fantastic job in drivetime and is an extremely accomplished broadcaster. He stood in for Chris and did a great job and added listeners.  He's been with us for some time and until something happens that suggests otherwise, we continue on that basis."   Mansfield also added that he hoped the announcement of Vaughan's future appearance would settle the company's uncertain financial performance.  The Capital Radio share price fell by over 6% to 462.5p in a short period of time prior to lunch on the 30th September.

Vaughan gives it Five in the meantime...

..and before Johnny Vaughan picks up the Capital baton, Auntie has hired his services in the interim.  The BBC have signed Johnny to host 22 Saturday shows which will take him up to April 2004.  The show - 'Fighting Talk' hit the air last Saturday (4th October) on BBC Radio Five Live.  This isn't the only piece of work Johnny will be doing for Auntie, as he's also been hired to front the return of 'Superstars' to BBC ONE, with a host of sporting stars competing for glory..  On the radio show, Johnny will be in charge of panel guests from both the broadcasting element of the sports world as well as those who actually compete, with all competing against each other. 

Johnny is already a keen sports fan and the run will see Johnny covering the football season, linking into Euro 2004 and the Olympics coverage on the fifth BBC national radio network.  'Fighting Talk' airs Saturday mornings from 11:00am to Noon on 909 & 693kHz kHz Medium Wave.

Jump gets Cornwall jumping

Absolute Radio's Jump FM is throwing it's name in the ring early, before OFCOM even announces it's intentions to advertise a Cornwall regional licence.  'Jump on Tour' is AR-UK's continuing project to raise awareness of the brand and to support new music and events featuring local artists.  Jump FM has been seen throughout the Summer at various regional events and is working with 24-7, a regionally based music/events magazine.  The station is also supporting a local 'Battle Of The Bands' competition.  

Jump FM's website shifted to promoting it's South-East aims in the Summer ( ) with interactive pages to assist interested station supporters to create the station sound.  Mark Briggs is AR-UK's Development Director, and is pleased with the feedback received so far; "Young people in Cornwall desperately want their own dedicated local radio station - and Jump FM has a unique opportunity.  We hope OFCOM will advertise the new FM licence for Cornwall early next year and we are using this time to ensure Jump FM is firmly established as a clear proposition in the minds of our potential audience.  For many years Pirate FM has shown how successful commercial radio can be with adults 30+ in this under-served market. Now it' s time for younger listeners to have a local and more relevant alternative to BBC Radio 1."

'Jump on Tour' has put us at the heart of many events in Cornwall and it has been an invaluable opportunity to receive feedback about our programming plans. To date, ump FM has reached approximately 108,000 people through Jump on Tour at events in the South West. Our new website is designed to encourage people to either email or text us with their comments. All in all, we're talking with a large number of potential listeners and advertisers."

AR-UK analysis of March 2003 RAJAR results shows that BBC Radio 1 enjoys 29% more listenership amongst 15-24 adults in Cornwall than it does elsewhere in the UK. This contributes to the fact that local commercial radio (despite Pirate FM's success) has 45% fewer 15-24 listeners in Cornwall than the UK average. Jump FM will extend listening choice in Cornwall through new & local music, news and relevant information, but is designed to compliment existing local commercial radio in Cornwall.

Derby is STILL a GWR zone...for now...

In August 2002, the Radio Authority issued details of it's planned local licence re-advertisement table for licences which expire between April and December 2004, for areas which will NOT be covered by local digital multiplexes, and as a result, licence holders which could not benefit from automatic renewal under Section 104A of the 1990 Broadcasting Act.  Under 104B, the RA published notices to invite declarations of intent to apply for all the licences.  The RA also acknowledged the existence of licences due to expire in 2003 for areas where they expected to have awarded a local digital multiplex service licence prior to the necessary analogue licence pre-advertisement date, licensees who WOULD qualify for automatic renewal if they are providing or are contracted to provide a digital sound programme service on the relevant local multiplex, which would mean the analogue licence would not be re-advertised.

In their considerable list, the Radio Authority tied in Nottingham and Derby licences as one referring to them as 'Nottingham/Derby FM and AM (Trent FM/Ram FM & Classic Gold GEM) - Nottingham does now have a digital licence allocated to it (run by NOW Digital (a subsidiary of GWR) but Derby does not.  This means that RAM-FM have arguably been re-awarded their analogue licence as part of this RA 'tie-in' to the over-shadowing comparatively nearby neighbour.  In it's August 2002 announcement, the Radio Authority said that '...In the event that any of these services are not proposed for carriage by the successful applicant for the relevant digital multiplex licence, the Authority will need to commence the re-advertisement process for the licence concerned shortly after the award of the multiplex licence.'

The RA have recently announced that 'Derby's' RAM-FM have been re-awarded their licence for a further eight years.  It was Tuesday 3rd March 1987 when the first eight year licence began under the ownership of Midlands Radio plc as Radio Trent 945, which by 1990 had become Trent-FM 102.8 before being acquired by GWR in late 1993 and re-launched as RAM in March 1994.  The second 8-year licence commenced in 1995.   

On 29th August 2003, the Radio Authority announced that it was renewing both Trent-FM & RAM-FM licences, all to run for a further licence term from a renewal date of 1st January 2004, due to the fact that the holders of the licences (GWR) are all providing, or are contractually committed to provide, digital sound programme services on relevant local multiplexes.  As there are no indications of a Derby digital multiplex being advertised, this very strongly suggests that, because GWR have indicated to the RA that they would want to carry RAM-FM on a local digital multiplex 'if there was one', they've been automatically re-awarded their licence.

Your comments are welcome!  E-mail AIRCHECK with your thoughts!  In the meantime, AIRCHECK is aware of rumours that the Derby station is one of the worst performing of the entire FM GWR group stations and that it has been or is a target for selling off, although we stress that this is only known to be rumour.  RAJAR/Ipsos-RSL figures for the survey period ending 22nd June 2003 showed RAM FM had a 27% reach of it's 148,000 potential listeners and had a 10.3% share of listening.  (Ex-Midlands Radio plc stations are shown in RED)

FM GWR stations ranked lower or the same as this were:

2CR (Bournemouth)                  26% reach 10.1% share, 

Mercury FM (Sussex/Surrey)   27% reach 10.2% share, 

Mercury FM (Herts)                 11% reach 3.5% share, 

105.4 Leicester Sound FM      25% reach 10.7% share, 

Beacon FM (Black Country)     22% reach 9.9% share, 

Wyvern FM (Worcestershire)   24% reach 11.0% share, 

MFM 103.4                             27% reach 13.0% share, and 

The Buzz 97.1 (Wirral)            17% reach 4.9% share.

Radio bods throw the book at you..

If you're looking to get a foothold in the radio business, a new book about journalism in the radio world has just been published. 'Basic Radio Journalism', written by Paul Chantler and Peter Stewart, is considered to be a practical guide to the tools and techniques necessary to succeed in radio journalism.  It is also considered to be both a manual and a handbook for working journalists and a textbook for radio journalists and media students.  The book also features a foreward written by the vice-chairman of the BBC, Lord Ryder of Wensum.  In his foreward, he describes the book as "an essential book for every aspirant starting out to work in radio". He writes: "It is a
book written with verve and clarity by two professionals with a passion for the business"

The book goes through the various core skills of writing, interviewing and gathering, reporting and reading, and gives detailed hints and tips, whilst comparing work practices in both BBC and commercial radio sector.  The publication is the second release of Paul's book, previously known as 'Local Radio Journalism', which came out over ten years ago - then it was a sell-out and went on to become one of the standard textbooks on radio courses in the UK as well as the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The book is a truly comprehensive reference point, even including technical and legal sections, plus a new section on becoming a programme producer.  Students can take advantage of the detailed advice about getting a job, putting yourself across and dealing with the thing that gets you the job in the first place - the all important interview.  

Paul Chantler has had his feet firmly in the radio business for 25 years.  He's worked for The Wireless Group, talkSPORT, Essex Radio Group, Vibe FM, Galaxy 101, Chiltern Radio Group, BBC Wiltshire, Southern FM and Invicta FM.  He's had countless inclusions in licence applications and is a very successful programming consultant for stations in both the UK and Europe.  His co-writer, Peter Stewart can currently be found in the BBC newsroom for Radio Kent and television's 'South-East Today' news programme.  Previously, he was the morning news editor at talkSPORT and is the former Head of News for Essex Radio Group.  He's also worked on both BBC and ILR stations and has won awards for his news presentation.  'Basic Radio Journalism' is published by Focal Press priced at £17.99.

Or you may like to thumb through another book for radio presenters.  This one looks to clear the clouds away from the industry to help guide interested parties through the world of today's radio scene.  The books examines the myths which exist (are they REALLY ALL myths?  I think not...Ed), and looks at the information available to management, it offers guidance on self-analysis, pre-show preparation, delivery of links, turning yourself into and finding out all about a  'brand', contract and job negotiation, and business operation.  The book, which no-one seems to have titled, from all accounts available to us (!!!!) is priced at £19.99 and is available from

Big L - an update on the return of a legend

Ex-offshore station Wonderful Radio London - Big L - is making a return to the airwaves at a date to be announced.  Holding company, Essex-based Radlon Media Limited has announced it has secured the use of a high power AM / Medium Wave transmitter from the Dutch government to target the UK using one of only a small number of such international frequencies.  The frequency is 1008kHz at 400kilowatts.  The legendary Ray Anderson is the MD of Radlon Media and said 'We are delighted in being awarded this frequency, it is the culmination of over 12 months work. This will now enable us to proceed with our plans to re-launch the former pirate radio station – RADIO LONDONBIG L and other programming formats'.   The station should hit a broadcast radius of 20 million people in the South East and East of Great Britain as well as most of Belgium and The Netherlands.  Ray continued: ''We will be interested in hearing from Airtime Sales personnel, Deejays and Investing partners who can assist us so we can quickly bring this station back on-air and make it a tremendous success'

The station has been conducting periodical test transmissions, the most recent staged for two hours from Noon on 22nd July on 1008kHz from the Flovoland transmitter in the Netherlands, which operates at 400kw at 95% peak modulation, using Optimod 9200 processing.  This level allows engineers to ascertain coverage in the UK.  The aerial used produces a figure of eight pattern reaching North East to South Westerly - studies using this method will help work on plans to make changes to achieve better reception results in the target broadcast areas.  The transmitter used also carries the service of the Dutch public broadcaster Radio 1 on 747kHz.

Radlon Media always welcome reception reports from anywhere in Europe, and are mainly interested in reports from listeners using standard domestic equipment, such as hi-fis, portable and car radios, rather than receiving full specialist equipment and long-wire set ups.  Reception reports should be sent to - all results will be acknowledged. p;p; Any changes they make to transmission facilities will be considering the co-use of the transmitter by the Dutch broadcaster.  

A significant amount of response was received after the most recent tests - in response, the station say that fund raising has been on the slow side.  This is due to the holiday season they say, but otherwise, results have been encouraging.  They are now looking to close deals as well as opening up new leads.  Investments start at £10,000.

When on-air, the station plans to broadcast in AM stereo.  Management are also looking at the progress of DRM, which should revolutionise the quality of the AM band.  The Radio London / BIG L brands will be used to launch a GOLD format.  The station acknowledges the changes since the station first broadcast and is as such analysing the current market.  It hopes to initially attract 1 to 2 million listeners, not of a minority group, therefore their emphasis will be on music and presentation whilst retaining some of the flare of the station of old.  There is no station website to date, but work is underway on this subject.  

For more information, write to RADLON MEDIA LIMITED, PO BOX 7336 , FRINTON-ON-SEA, ESSEX , CO13 0WZ. ENGLAND , telephone 01255 676252 or fax 01255 850528. has more station information.

RA OFF, OFCOM ON by December...

Radio groups take note: the new regulatory body for the television, radio and communications industry, the Office Of Communications (OFCOM) will be operational in time for Christmas 2003.  The new body replaces a swathe of reference points that exist currently, those being the ITC (Independent Television Committee), The Radiocommunications Agency, The Office Of Telecommunications (OFTEL), The Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) and of course The Radio Authority.  The HQ will be at Riverside House in London, with all staff in situ by 15th December.  

When fully operational, they will take on the RA's policy of broadening listener choice in the radio industry, promoting competition and good working practices by all operators.  It is not known quite how powers will transfer over at this stage, but it is expected that the Government will pass the appropriate motions (!) in order for power to be fully transferred as long as the passage of the Communications Bill through Parliament is a smooth one.  

So, where does this leave the RA's pending licensing plans?  Well, the RA have released what it feels are the options open to OFCOM, i.e. what is likely and what isn't likely for the FM waveband.  It makes interesting reading.  However, this isn't to say that OFCOM will choose to go the way the RA see, and it isn't designed to give possible applicants any meat to sink their teeth into.  Areas that are still to be advertised are: 

 * Glasgow (now under award consideration by the RA, this will be the last licence that they issue in their statutory life.)
 * Ballymena
 * Kidderminster
 * Cornwall (second countywide licence)
 * Blackburn
 * Norwich
 * Banbury
 * Durham
 * Ashford, Kent
 * Torbay

The RA will discuss the feasibility for the further development for radio licensing plans for these areas, but have also said that the last area they will licence will be Glasgow in Scotland which they started work  on in April 2003.  With the ever crowding nature of the FM waveband, the RA see the following areas as suitable for new licence consideration and have segmented them into two lists.  Should the lists be exercised there would be no spare capacity available, to sustain commercially-sustainable services utilising the bands currently occupied and allocated to the commercial sector.  There may be a very few exceptions to this conclusion, where small-scale services may be possible in specific localities but the probability of finding suitable frequencies in response to a particular need is very low.

List A: Metropolitan development opportunities;  The RA suggest one more licence could be added in these areas, unless otherwise stated: all licences would use ILR FM bands.  

 * Edinburgh: similar size to existing ILR licence
 * Manchester: at least one medium-scale licence, possibly two
 * Liverpool: medium-scale
 * Newcastle and/or Sunderland: medium-scale
 * Middlesbrough: medium-scale, but possibly contiguous with Newcastle and/ or Sunderland (if so, providing a 'regional' licence option)
 * South Hampshire (Southampton and Portsmouth); possibly two
 * Cardiff or Newport: medium or larger scale
 * Swansea: probably two licences
 * Bristol: medium or larger scale, but not extending to Bath
 * Humberside: subject to an existing service changing frequency
 * Norwich: possibly one other, beyond licence already on 'working list'

Three further possibilities, all in areas listed above, are omitted from the list as they would need to use frequencies in or immediately adjacent to sub-bands which are predominantly used by the BBC, thus requiring further consultation and consideration by OFCOM before their inclusion on any list.

The RA assume that for this list to be workable, the RSL band of 87.6 to 88.0 is not used, therefore remaining as available to RSL operators.  The RA see the following areas as ideal for possibly more than one service, although cannot say where one, two or more services may apply without further research being undertaken, nor are able to say what scale the stations would be.
 * Dundee and/or Perth
 * Aberdeen
 * Exeter and/or Torbay
 * Plymouth
 * Belfast

London, Glasgow, the West & East Midlands and South & West Yorkshire are considered by the RA as not able to sustain any further sizeable development.  

List B: Non-metropolitan development possibilities

These areas are seen by the RA as having demand and availability of frequencies for a new station but these areas are not already on the RA's present working list.  Alternative areas and styles of licence are not necessarily considered to be feasible by them. 
 * Chorley: subject to decisions about the number of Manchester licences from List A
 * Barrow-in-Furness: 'town only'
 * Two small-scale licences in the Thames Estuary area: there are more than two known areas of demand, including Gravesham/Dartford, Swale, Sheppey, Southend-on-Sea, and other districts in South Essex
 * Northallerton
 * Halifax-into-Calderdale: Halifax town, plus relay transmitters in valley
 * Newry
 * Swindon: small-scale
 * Devizes and/or Andover: broadly small-scale; more detailed study required
 * Abingdon: coverage heavily constrained by interference; maybe only a mono service

As for the AM band, this forms separate considerations with the RA.  In October 2002, they published a document 'AM Strategy for Independent Radio'.  They conclude that there are no plans for the band but that there are several possible applicable strategies for it rather than just one.

Finally, on the subject of Access Radio, the RA have said that the way they see things does not affect the possible arrival of this radio variant and consider it to be incremental to and separate to commercial radio as we know it.  Their plan assumes that commercially sustained services are treated as a priority when allocating frequencies, but acknowledge that OFCOM could take a different view.  



Melton RSL TWC bow out for another six months & refer to associated Buxton licence bid.  Broadcast potted history here!

May 17th 2003 saw the return of Melton Mowbray and Vale of Belvoir RSL TWC-FM 87.7 (The Wireless Company).  This latest broadcast followed it's late 2002 broadcast which included seemingly endless determined efforts to get a full time 2003 licence with no method too extreme.  The last week of their second 2002 broadcast was crammed to bursting with calls for listeners to call Tony Stoller at the Radio Authority to state they wanted TWC on-air - permanently.   The 12th December saw the massing of efforts but the build up had been dominant with some links by station presenter Cliff King (Sanderson) reaching arguable overkill.  The culmination of the broadcast resulted in the sending of an invitation to the Radio Authority on December 17th 2002 for representatives to attend a face-to-face meeting with the station directors of TWC FM, even offering for the station to pay staff expenses of up to £10,000 to attend the meeting either in the broadcast area or in London.  TWC previously published the RA's response seemingly word-for-word, on their website.  However, they removed it - but not before we took note for the record books.  This is what the site reported was the RA's response to station boss Cliff Sanderson.

Dear Mr Sanderson,

Tony Stoller has asked me to reply on his behalf to your e-mail of yesterday evening.

I am afraid that we are unable to accept your invitation to a meeting. As you are aware, the Radio Authority will be replaced as the body with responsibility for the licensing of radio services, by OFCOM, when the Government's new communications legislation is enacted.  This is due to occur by the end of next year. The existing 'working list' of areas for which new local licence advertisements are planned, which was published on 21 May 2002, will take us up to, and beyond, the point at which the Radio Authority ceases to exist. 

Irrespective of the question of frequency availability - and as you are also well aware, this represents a particular obstacle in your region of the country - there is absolutely no possibility that, at this late stage of the Authority's anticipated statutory lifetime, we shall be adding any further areas to our list of planned new local licences for advertisement prior to the establishment of OFCOM.   It is therefore wholly futile for you to keep lobbying us on this matter, or for you to encourage your supporters to do so. It will be for OFCOM to decide its own local licensing strategy and priorties, once it is up and running. 

In due course, you may wish to direct your representations towards OFCOM.  However, I should advise you that it would be premature, and not productive, to do so until OFCOM is empowered and resourced to deal with such matters, which is likely to be towards the end of next year.


David Vick
Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Development
The Radio Authority 

So, with this in mind, the Radio Authority quite reasonably accepted a further RSL for May 2003. In the build up, there were strong hints of a new name.  TWC-FM was advertised (and still is!) on the communal website as the more locally relevant Melton-FM, (whilst the TWC-FM also remained) for it's return on May 17th 2003.  In the four weeks of broadcasting, the station was been heard blaming the Radio Authority for a thunderstorm which took them off-air, also heard playing several records with swear words in, one with great use of the 'F' word, and notably, more recently, a Robbie Williams ALBUM track which also featured obscenities.  As representatives of the station were, at the time, applying (latterly unsuccessfully) for the Buxton SALLIE licence as 'Spring FM', station presenters Cliff King (Sanderson) and Fred Raynor took it upon themselves, live on-air,  to refer to correspondence received at the station from satisfied listeners who had heard the station far and wide - that being far far and wide wide away from their designated broadcast radius.  The RA's RSL Guidance Notes quite clearly stipulate that whilst signals will travel, the licencee should refrain from references to the fact that signals do reach far outside the intended area (especially at TWC's 25watts).  Fred and Cliff referred to a listener in the Peak District who said they felt their area needed a station like TWC!  They then made a side-swipe at existing Peak District broadcaster, Peak 107 - referred to the fact that the signal for TWC had travelled 67miles in all directions, hesitated, giving a reference to the Peak area needing another station as per the 'listener's' correspondence, and quoted that the lengthy discussion had been 'near the knuckle'.   So then, with these broadcast stunts, it was up to the Radio Authority to decide if, along with the broadcasting history of TWC and the other parts of the licence application, that the TWC associated Spring FM should get a full-time licence.  They didn't!.  Check out what all the fuss is about and the activities of the Vale Of Belvoir Community Radio Association's via or  The VBCRA's manager Cliff 'King' Sanderson submitted the bid for the Buxton radio licence as 'Spring FM'.   See our AIRCHECK UK Derbyshire page for more information on the bids and winner.

* ARCHIVED NEWS * Trade Mark Radio

On-line legal eagle The Interactive Law Group, is advising all RSL Groups to trade mark station names and logos.  

It comes following a dispute which has broken out in the Lancashire town of Chorley who are fighting over the use of the name Chorley FM, also the name of the fictional radio station in Peter Kaye's Channel 4 comedy, 'Phoenix Nights'.  But it's not the first argument of this nature.  It is widely known that RSL groups register their company name but this is often different to the 'on-air' name.  

Izaz Ali from the niche Intellectual Property ('IP') Law firm Lawdit, members of the Interactive Law Group, advises all radio groups to protect their valuable identities without delay by registering them as trade marks:  "A trade mark is essentially a sign which can distinguish the goods and services of one business from another and this includes signs, logos, pictures or a combination of these" he says.  

"Registered Trade Mark protection is probably the most important form of IP protection. The duration of the protection is potentially indefinite; the right will continue to exist provided that the renewal fees are paid every 10 years. Registration of your Logo/slogan confers a monopoly right on you the owner to use the same.  As a business, having a registered TM can help in branding your company and the products/services that you offer.  In turn and if the company is successful, this can represent a significant proportion of the assets of the company.

"If your trade mark is not registered you may seek redress through the courts under common law in a 'passing off' action.  For this to succeed you must persuade the court, first that the mark used by someone else is associated in the public mind with your own product or service, and secondly that the other person's goods have been mistaken for your own.  This can be very costly!" 

* ARCHIVED NEWS * More than just 252 - plans for LW 279 announced.

A new national commercial radio station will soon be heard on millions of ordinary radios following the award of a full broadcast licence by the Isle of Man Government.

The new station will broadcast on 279 Long Wave with a power of half a million watts, making it the joint most powerful station in the region and audible throughout the British Isles. Its transmission base will be an offshore platform, just a few miles from the coast but within Manx Waters.

The grant of the licence signals the realisation of a long held dream by the Manx Government who have coveted such a powerful voice since Radio Caroline was anchored off its coast in the 1960s.  The imposition onto the Island of the anti radio ships bill by Parliament sparked a long running constitutional crisis between the independent island and the UK. As a Crown dependency it enacts its own legislation and has long campaigned for a suitable frequency for such a radio voice.

The project is the brainchild of former Caroline disc jockey Paul Rusling, who has run a radio consultancy responsible for setting up several other 'cross border' radio stations, including the very successful Laser 558. He has also been responsible for launching radio stations in other European countries.

"There is room in the market for a radio station serving adults," he explains. "Most stations are youth oriented, and as such are in demand by advertisers, however the baby boomer generation is forgotten by all but BBC Radio 2, which doesn't accept commercials. There is a tremendous thirst by advertisers to reach that audience."

The offshore base will give a much better take off for the signal which will not only cover the UK and Ireland but parts of neighbouring European countries such as Holland and Belgium. The new station will launch as soon as the facilities can be built and promises a signal audible throughout the entire British Isles. "Our signal will use just one frequency and be audible on millions of existing radios, unlike the digital stations which can only be heard by tuning a satellite receiver, or on a small number of expensive DAB tuners," said Rusling.

While programming is not yet finalised, the station expects to be music-led, using well known personality presenters.  Investment in the company comes from a mixture of Manx and Yorkshire individuals, but "We are talking to several trade investors - it makes a good fit for several other media companies and we are seeking partners with marketing expertise," confirmed Mr. Rusling.

The Isle of Man Communications Commission has granted a substantive licence to Isle of Man International Broadcasting plc (IMIB). The licence, under the Broadcasting Act 1993 (of Tynwald), is to enable IMIB to provide a long wave radio service broadcasting on 279 kHz, and will be for a ten-year period.

The service, provisionally called MusicMann 279, will be music led and will target an audience across Britain and Ireland. It is expected to launch towards the end of 2003.

IMIB plans to install the transmission antenna on an offshore platform in Manx waters some 9km northeast of Ramsey, Isle of Man, near the spot Radio Caroline was anchored in the 1960's. Some 50 new jobs, both full and part time, will be created in the town where the studios will be located.

As well as its Isle of Man broadcasting licence, IMIB will hold a Wireless Telegraphy licence from the United Kingdom Radiocommunications Agency.

Announcing the grant of the licence, the Chairman of the Communications Commission, the Hon Phil Braidwood, MHK, said:

"The Isle of Man first sought a high power broadcasting frequency four decades ago. IMIB now has the opportunity to demonstrate that the Island is again a vibrant source entertaining radio for the whole of the British Isles".

The Director of the Commission, Anthony Hewitt, added:

"It is now nearly 3 years since the selection of IMIB to exploit this opportunity was approved. With planning issues behind them, the way is now clear for IMIB and its backers to get the station on air and to realise its full commercial potential".

* ARCHIVED NEWS * Isle Of Mann 279 is go..go..go...court hearing concludes..

A long awaited High Court hearing on the Isle Of Mann has finally brought a conclusion to long running debate about the siting of the transmission facility for Music Mann - which prevented the station from setting it up.  A 'Petition Of Doleance' brought about by the Bride Commissioners against the Department of Transport's award of a Siting Licence for the Long Wave station in Ramsey Bay has been dismissed.  

The Petition consisted of seven objections to the licence, but a lot of these were withdrawn during the hearing.  The DoT are in charge of the seabed, and are therefore eligible to be made aware of matters associated with it.  The 'Brides' figured they should've been consulted as the broadcast platform will be only four kilometres from their coastline.  In court, representations were made that an environmental assessment showed that there would be no effect on the parish other than slight views of the transmitter.  The 'Brides' had made suggestions that pollution was likely - this was dismissed on lack of evidence in a study by oil experts - and so they went after a court order to cancel the licence.  Acting Deemster, Jeremy Storey said that this was not down to the court, which could only decide if the licence award process was right or not and then if so, could order the DoT to reconsider.  As the award was not deemed flawed in anyway, the Petition was dismissed.    

A relieved Paul Rusling welcomed the result of the hearing, saying it was good news for area and the island, and would allow construction work to start to get the radio station on air by the Summer of 2003.  The transmission site is set to be modest, modern and 'an insignificant blip on the horizon'.   Paul sees station transmissions as well capable of covering the entire British Isles and of 'putting the Island on the map to enhance it's international profile'


Click here to return to the home page