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AM/FM #14 — August 1993

News from the UK Radio Industry. Edited by Stephen Hebditch.

New Controller For Radio One

The BBC has announced the new Controller of Radio One. From October Matthew Bannister will take over the job from Johnny Beerling. Bannister was previously Deputy Head of Talks at Capital Radio and Managing Editor at GLR. He drew some criticism there for his 'year zero' approach to transforming the mixed-format Radio London into the new adult-oriented GLR. More recently he has worked with BBC Director General John Birt on the future direction of the Corporation. He is seen as closely allied with Mr Birt's vision.

At 36, Matthew Bannister is the youngest BBC Network Radio controller in recent times. Under his control, Radio One is expected to try and aim for a younger audience. John Birt has said that he would like the station to become "more witty, more alternative, more fun". A number of changes are expected to be made to the deejay line-up following his arrival, including the departure of some of the older names at the station.

Branson 'Finds' New Frequencies

In Richard Branson's latest bid for an FM frequency, he has told MPs that his engineers have found additional space on the FM band for Virgin. Speaking to the National Heritage Committee he said that through better frequency allocation space could be made on the FM band for an additional national broadcaster. This would, he said, require some areas to lose fill-in relays for BBC services. This problem could be overcome, he believed, by giving listeners in those areas satellite dishes on which to receive BBC stations. Although more efficient frequency allocation could release space for some new transmitters, there would not be enough room for another national network without considerable practical difficulties.

Booby-Trapped Barracade For Pirate

DTI investigators faced one of their toughest jobs yet when they found the pirate station they were attempting to raid barracaded behind a wall of concrete. Rush FM had installed its transmission equipment in a disused flat on the 21st floor of a council tower block in Hackney, East London. To prevent access, the entrance to the flat had been sealed up with three tons of concrete. Programmes came from a studio some distance away, connected over a radio link.

Contractors called in by the council to enable them to gain access to the flat hit a scaffolding pole wired up to the mains while attempting to drill through the concrete, causing a small explosion. Phials of ammonia and CS gas were also reported to have been found embedded in the concrete. A Police guard was needed to prevent the contractors being attacked while the flat was secured. Hackney Council are currently carrying out work to secure their tower blocks from use by unlicensed stations.

Police have suggested that for the station to go to such lengths to protect itself there must be a drugs link. They say they believe a number of unlicenced stations are part of a network of pay party operators and drug dealers. This has been denied by deejays at Rush FM who say they aren't making any money out of the hardcore techno station. They also denied that they had installed booby-traps, saying they were simply trying to protect their equipment after facing 10 raids already this year.

Bright Future For Radio

A new report from the Henley Centre predicts a bright future for radio in the UK. The increase in the number of specialist stations and more people listening in cars and living alone is leading to a rise in radio's popularity.

Amongst the findings in the survey:-

  • 16 percent of people found radio programmes dull.
  • 6 percent thought that their favourite station had got worse over the last year.
  • 85 percent of radio listeners choose the station they want to listen to, rather than having to put up with someone else's choice.
  • 20 percent of listeners don't pay attention to the radio whilst it is on.
  • 36 percent don't enjoy radio advertising.
  • 29 percent say they have never been annoyed by radio advertising.

Local Licences

The Radio Authority has announced details of the second stage of ILR licence re-advertisements. These include Capital Radio, whose licence will be re-advertised in March 1994, and the AM and FM licences for Birmingham, Bradford, Bury St Edmunds, Glasgow, Guildford, Hereford, Ipswich, Preston and Swindon.

A new licence has been advertised for Inverurie and Gordon in the Grampians. The deadline for applications for the station to serve 60,000 adults is the 21st of September.

After a brief delay, the Radio Authority has awarded the licence for Derry in Northern Ireland to Maiden City FM.

Bucks Broadcasting has won the new local licence for Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

13 groups have applied for the West Midlands Independent Regional Radio licence.

Two groups have applied for the AM and FM licences for Exeter and Torbay in Devon: present broadcaster Devon Air and newcomer Wild West.

GWR West has retained its licence for Bristol in Avon. Two Counties Radio has retained its licence for Bournemouth in Dorset. Mid Anglia Radio has retained the licence for Peterborough in Northamptonshire.

Satellite Radio

Virgin 1215 have begun broadcasting on satellite. The station can now be found on a stereo sub-carrier pair of Sky News.

World Radio Network is to launch a new service on Astra in September carrying the best of public radio around the world.

Restricted Service Stations

Festival FM, the annual restricted service station for the Edinburgh Festival, will be on the air for 4 weeks from the 8th of August. The station can be found on 100.4 FM.

Jive FM was on the air for four weeks in June and July, broadcasting dance music to Luton.

People And Programming

James Naughtie, presenter of The World at One, is to move to Radio Four's flagship news programme Today following the departure of Brian Redhead in the autumn.

LBC is to sue its former Managing Director following his employment by a rival bidder for its London radio licence. Charlie Cox has been taken on as MD by the London Radio Company for its planned news and talk operation.

Virgin 1215 has denied complaints that it is too oriented towards music made by white males. It has admitted that it did perhaps play too much 'boys' music' during its early days but says it is now programming more female artists and ballads.

Birmingham's BRMB have been inundated with complaints from listeners to their Xtra-AM service following the replacement of its breakfast presenter. As part of changes introduced by new owners Capital Radio, Tony Prince has taken over from popular local broadcaster Les Ross. Group Programme Director Richard Park says changes were necessary to boost BRMB's flagging ratings.

The Radio Authority has apologised to Virgin presenter Tommy Vance after wrongly censuring him instead of Nick Abbott for making comments about spiking coffee at the station with LSD.

21 ILR stations are to broadcast a new dance jazz programme presented by Gilles Peterson. The programme has been put together by Somethin' Else Sound Directions and will be sponsored by TAG lager.

Jazz FM are to begin a series of live concert broadcasts from Ronnie Scott's in London.

Jonathan Miles, a DJ on GWR in Bath, recently broadcast for nearly four hours before discovering that due to a technical problem no-one was able to hear him.

Bits

The Radio Authority has warned Independent stations about the rules on sponsored broadcasts following a Tina Turner programme carried last month on 30 stations. The programme contained no mention that it was paid for by EMI, Tina Turner's record company, a breach of Radio Authority rules.

A majority of people responding to the Government's Green Paper on the future of the BBC want the Corporation to continue to be funded by the licence fee and to carry a broad range of quality programmes as at present. 330 responses were against the plans to replace Radio Four on Long Wave with a new rolling news service.

Liz Forgan, boss of BBC Radio, has said that she thinks the BBC should not be concerned with filling the gap between younger Radio 1 listeners and older Radio 2 listeners.

The BBC has lost an appeal to Peter Brooke, National Heritage Secretary, to keep two frequencies used by BBC Radio WM in the West Midlands for Asian programming. They will now go to new ILR stations.

Radio Two is to take 350 hours of Independent programming over the next year. Amongst the programmes being put out to tender are two live music shows on Saturday mornings and a religious insert, 'Pause for Thought' carried on weekday mornings.

HTV is to provide the news service for new Welsh ILR station Coast FM, due to take to the air this summer.

The BBC have announced plans for an expansion of their Gaelic radio service. From September, Radio nan Gaidheal will no longer operate as an opt-out from Radio Scotland and will instead broadcast on its own frequencies between 103 and 105 FM.

Staff at BBC Radio Five had produced and distributed a brochure arguing the case for keeping the station. There have been suggestions that Radio Five could be replaced by the BBC's proposed new Rolling News service. 180 MPs have signed a commons motion backing the station.

Swansea Sound has paid undisclosed damages to a police inspector in West Glamorgan after a caller on a phone-in accused him of corruption.

Jazz FM more than doubled its national advertising revenue in the first half of 1993. This followed a decision to pull national advertising sales in-house. The station has just signed new sponsorship deals with Invergordon Whisky and American Express.

Television research company BARB are to look into the problem of satellite radio stations artificially inflating the figures of some satellite TV stations. The problem is particularly significant for UK Gold which carries Radio 1, Radio 4, Radio 5 and the BBC World Service on four of its sub-carriers.

Classic FM has almost completed the second phase of its five million pound transmitter network. This will add an extra three million potential listeners.

Golden Wonder are sponsoring the video screens at this summer's Radio One Roadshow.

Virgin 1215, Atlantic 252 and Classic FM are lobbying audience research company RAJAR for the national stations to be allowed a representative on its board. Currently the board is made up only of people from the BBC and ILR.

Brian West, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Radio Companies, has told the National Heritage Committee that the BBC's Board of Govenors has a conflict of interests. The Board was expected to both promote the BBC and regulate it, a power which he believed should be dropped.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has said that any reduction in the budget of the BBC World Service would be "deeply misguided and shortsighted". A cut of between 2.5 and 5 percent has been slated for the World Service in the Treasury's autumn statement.

The National Association of Head Teachers is to ask the BBC to reschedule events on next year's Radio One Roadshow. Teachers have complained that attendance is down by fifty percent when the Roadshow is in town.

A radio station in Picardy, just north of Paris, has begun transmitting a high-pitched screech inaudible to humans but supposedly terrifying to mosquitoes.