AM/FM Newsletter Number One – Spring 1990
Welcome to the first in an occasional series of newsletters from AM/FM. In it we'll be letting you know what's happening behind the scenes at AM/FM, giving you a complete guide to all the stations on the air in London plus a dash of radio news.
Who we are.
As some of you may know, back in 1985 I began a magazine about radio in London called TX. At that time the Government was about to license a whole load of new stations in a "Community Radio Experiment". The idea of the magazine was to provide a sort of Radio Times for the new stations and also the pirates. As it happened, the Government took fright and cancelled the experiment. It wasn't long after the riots and they were afraid of community stations falling in to the 'wrong' hands.
So, the magazine continued covering what the pirates were doing and waiting for what would happen next. The scene began to expand and so did TX. More people became involved in contributing to the magazine, the coverage was expanded to cover all radio in London, the size increased and the magazine took on a more professional appearance. The name also changed, first to TX Radio Today and then just Radio Today.
However, trying to keep this improved magazine going became more of a strain. Deadlines kept being missed and publication became more and more sporadic. Running it in my spare time, which had been just about possible while at college, became too much when I started work. When a last ditch attempt at rescuing the magazine and putting it on a sounder footing failed in Autumn 1988, it was decided to close.
Alongside the magazine I'd been running a telephone news service. This had continued despite the closure of Radio Today and attracted a large number of callers. With funds running low, it was decided that if the phone service was continue it would have to make a switch to premium charged lines.
And so, in September last year, the Radio Today Infoline closed down and AM/FM was born. This coincided with losing the Infoline's 01-400 8282 number due to a British Telecom numbering shake-up. Now, six months later, AM/FM is more popular than ever with a wider range of services than was possible before.
AM/FM NewsLine is the most up-to-date news source anywhere about radio in London. We cover everything of interest to the younger radio listener, with particular emphasis on new radio. From Capital to Caroline, Kiss to Kent, LBC to LGR, One to 252, RFL to RJR, WIBS, WLIB, WLR, WNK and everything inbetween.
AM/FM BandScan kicks off with our selection of the best programmes coming up in the next week. This is followed by our comprehensive station guide. This lists all the stations that can be heard in London, their format (house, Greek, talk, etc.), times and frequencies.
AM/FM TalkBack is a sort of telephone noticeboard or letters page. When you call you'll hear messages from DJs and radio fans, like you, talking radio. Recently we've been talking about what people think of Jazz FM, people have been swapping tapes and a DJ has been getting feedback on his show.
At the end, there's then an opportunity to leave your own message, maybe about something you've heard or something new. If you do, it will be included the next week and you stand a chance of winning a UKP10 record token! Remember, you don't have to speak, you can just listen.
AM/FM RePlay is undegoing a refit as I write this. In future RePlay will take you back to events on the radio in previous years. You can find out the birthdays and anniversaries each week and hear classic recordings from the people and stations involved. You also get a chance each week to win £25 in the AM/FM competition!
New Every Weekday
AM/FM updates a different service every weekday.
- AM/FM NewsLine – 0836 40 45 50
- AM/FM RePlay – 0836 40 45 53
- AM/FM TalkBack – 0836 40 45 52
- AM/FM NewsLine – 0836 40 45 50
- AM/FM BandScan – 0836 40 45 51
Updates are normally online by midnight.
Have you got one of those phones that makes a different bleep when you press each key? With one of these 'touch-tone' phones you can jump between all the different AM/FM services without having to redial. Here's how it works.
Dial any of the AM/FM numbers. Then, while the message is playing...
Press 2 to hear AM/FM NewsLine
Press 4 to hear AM/FM BandScan
Press 6 to hear AM/FM TalkBack
Press 8 to hear AM/FM RePlay
Press 5 to leave us a message
If your phone has the facility, the keypress will be picked up by our system and you'll hear the service you selected.
You'll find it works on most private switchboard phones, all cellphones and most new residential phones. If you've got a push-button phone which doesn't bleep, try pressing * first and then the required number once you're through to AM/FM.
London's New Stations
Last year the IBA decided to license a number of new Independent Radio stations. These were to come on air ahead of the Broadcasting Bill, which allows an explosion of new radio. To keep within the current law, the new services had to be in the same area as existing stations. This is why the IBA dubbed them 'Incremental' radio.
London was originally given five frequencies for these new services. However, after pressure from unsuccessful applicants, the IBA added an extra two Londonwide services.
Jazz FM – 102.2FM
Airdate: 4 March 1990, Londonwide, Jazz
Jazz FM is the result of ten years campaigning by musician Dave Lee for a jazz station for London. With multi-million pound backing, experienced station management recruited from Independent Radio and a team of dedicated presenters, his dream has come true.
Surveys Jazz FM carried out before they came on air showed that 8% of people in London listen to jazz music. These were split into two main groups: 45 plus, favouring more traditional styles, and 18-25, with more catholic tastes inspired by new breed of dance jazz musicians and DJs in the late eighties. However, to be viable, Jazz FM need 12% of London's listeners. To do this they need to win over the 25-45 rock generation.
Weekday daytimes on the station are aimed at weaning the 25-45 year olds away from rock with some of the more 'accessible' jazz. Breakfast is with Diana Luke (ex County Sound Gold), mornings with Peter Young (ex Capital), lunchtimes with George Reid and Afternoons with Chris Philips (co-founder of K-Jazz and Starpoint who went legal last year with Devonair) and evenings with Helen Mayhew (ex Solar).
Specialist shows and live concerts go out between 9pm and 10.30 when Jez Nelson (ex Solar, K-Jazz & Starpoint) takes over for a programme which tries to catch some of the excitement of London's young jazz scene. At the weekend there are more specialist shows, including Malcolm Laycock (ex Radio London / GLR) with big band music and the ubiquitous Gilles Peterson on Saturday afternoons.
Jazz FM face a tough fight for listeners. Jazz purists have already complained about the amount of 'real jazz' on the station. There's also major competition from London's next two Incrementals. Melody FM could cream off older listeners with their easy listening format, while Kiss FM do the same to younger listeners with their dance format. With jazz the root of so much contemporary music, they're in a vulnerable position.
Kiss FM – 100FM
Airdate: September 1990, Londonwide, Dance Music
Kiss FM have to be the most talked about pirate in recent years. After nearly three years of illegal broadcasting they closed down on New Year's Eve 1988 to apply for a license. The first time they were narrowly beaten by Jazz FM. They campaigned for more licenses, got them and then won one! Unfortunately, no-one bothered to tell Kiss MD Gordon Mac who eventually heard second-hand from a journalist!
The new, legal Kiss is split into two halves. Daytime during the week is designed to bring in the listeners and features what Kiss describe as 'the most exciting playlist anywhere on radio'. Evenings and weekends are more like the old Kiss, with more specialist shows hand-crafted by individual presenters.
Kiss look likely to be the biggest competition for Capital and Radio One in the nineties. There have been rumours that recent tinkering with the format by Capital is in preparation for the arrival of Kiss. The hardest thing for Kiss now is trying to live up to the expectations.
Incidentally, Kiss now run their own giveaway magazine called Free!, available from many London specialist record shops. They also run a phoneline with news of events the Kiss DJs will be at, on 0836 404561.
LGR – 103.3FM
Airdate: 10 November 1989, North London, Greek ethnic
London Greek Radio was one of the longest running pirates on London's airwaves – and probably the most raided. (They caused a few interference problems and also happened to be on the way home for one of the investigators.)
LGR won their license after agreeing to timeshare with WNK on the 103.3 frequency. LGR is on the air from 12am to 4am, 8am to 12pm and 4pm to 8pm. The station broadcasts from the ground floor of a former sweatshop in North London – in fact, the first floor is still in use, causing some soundproofing problems for the station!
The basic format has changed little from their pirate days, but obviously they've now got much greater resources. As well as the Greek language programming, LGR also carries some Turkish programmes. This was the cause of problems at their (re)start, largely stirred up by one of the listings magazines.
Melody FM – 104.9FM
Airdate: July 1990, Londonwide, Easy Listening
The only one of the new stations which doesn't have any connection with the pirates. Melody is owned by massive multinational holding company The Hanson Trust. Company chairman Lord Hanson created the station to be the one he would personally like to listen to. When they come on the air, the format will be easy listening / beautiful music with minimal chat (Hanson has a particular disliking for talkative presenters) and regular news and city bulletins. The only question is: does he need to inflict his kind of radio on everyone else?
RTM Radio – 103.8 FM
Airdate: 18 March 1990, SE London, Neighbourhood radio
As Radio Thamesmead, RTM has broadcast for many years on Thamesmead's cable system. However, being only able to be listened to in people's homes was always a major handicap. Now, after campaigning long and hard for a proper broadcast frequency they've been successful.
RTM is grassroots community radio. They put out a wide range of specialist programmes and aim to involve listeners in the programme making process as much as possible. The station comes from the heart of Thamesmead: three adjacent houses contain the newsroom, offices and studios. RTM is non profit making, with any surplus ploughed into local community projects and back into the station.
Spectrum Radio – 558 AM
Airdate: May 1990, Londonwide, Multi-ethnic
Spectrum Radio is a long-standing campaigner for community radio in London. The station was originally funded by the GLC following a GLC report identifying the need for an ethnic radio station in London. It was also the winner of one of the community radio licenses in 1985, which were then shelved by the Home Office.
Spectrum promises an interesting mix. Mornings will feature a multi-cultural, English language programme, aiming to bring different ethnic communities together. This will be followed by programmes in seven other languages, each taking a 2 or 3 hour slot.
Transmissions will be from Lotts Road power station in Chelsea, which supplies the power for the London Underground. This site was originally used by the IBA for Capital Radio and LBC when they first came on the air.
Sunrise AM 1413 AM
Airdate:5 November 1989, West London, Asian ethnic
Sunrise AM (not to be confused with East London house merchants Sunrise FM) came out of former pirate station Sina Radio. Sina had broadcast Asian programming to West London since 1985, variously claiming at times to have a license, to be broadcasting on cable and that programmes it had produced for export were being pirated by an unlicensed station.
With additional backers, Sina successfully won the West London license, despite strong competition from another Asian group. However, there was then controversy with claims that Sina was on the air past the deadline date for pirates of 31 December 1988. In fact, there was an Asian station on the air in Southall on Sina's frequency right up to Spring 1989, but the IBA say they are not convinced by the evidence.
Programmes during the morning are in English language. These include a top forty breakfast show, followed by a phone-in. During the rest of the day, Hindustani is mostly used. There are also specialist programmes for a number of different ethnic communities in West London, including Polish and Armenian.
Sunrise is one of the most successful of the new stations so far. Managing Director Avtar Lit estimates a turnover of one million pounds this year. He also has plans for the station to broadcast to people outside the area via the Astra satellite, which carries Sky TV.
WNK – 103.3 FM
Airdate: 10 November 1989, North London, Black ethnic
WNK is another former pirate, founded by Joe Douglas after his departure from RJR (which he had also helped found) amid accusations of threats of violence.
WNK shares the 103.3 frequency with LGR, on the air from 4am to 8am, 12pm to 4pm and 8pm to 12am. While this arrangement hasn't been so bad for LGR – with a dedicated audience, a monopoly on Greek broadcasting and better time slots – WNK hasn't come out of it so well. Given the choice of WNK or one of the many 24 hour a day black pirates in North London, most people have stayed with the pirates.
To try and boost the number of listeners, former programme controller Marc Damon (of Jetstar ads fame) began to target the Greek listeners staying with WNK when LGR was off the air. The advertising sales team also approached Greek companies offering to undercut LGR's rates. Following disagreements over the direction of the station, Marc Damon has since left WNK.
WNK is holding out for their own frequency, which it is understood they will eventually get. They recently received a cash injection from Mid Anglia Radio, owners of several Independent stations, which should buy them more time.
London Station Guide
- Atlantic 252 – 252 LW
- Beaming in from Ireland with non-stop hits from 6am till 7pm. (when you're supposed to switch to 'sister' station Radio Luxembourg)
- Bass FM – 95.3 FM
- New on the air with soul and house, seven days a week.
- BBC Radio Bedfordshire – 95.5 FM
- BBC Local Radio for Herts, Beds and Bucks.
- Breeze AM – 1359 AM
- Essex Radio's nostalgia station.
- Capital FM – 95.8 FM
- London's pop powerhouse. Together with Capital Gold scooping up just under half of London's listeners.
- Capital Gold – 1548 AM
- 24 hour a day oldies.
- Radio Caroline – 558 AM
- Live from the North Sea with a newly introduced adult rock format.
- Centreforce FM – 88.3 FM
- House from the people the media call the 'East End gangsters'.
- Chiltern Radio – 97.6 FM
- Non-stop hits to Herts, Beds and Bucks, 24 hours a day.
- Choice FM – 96.9 FM
- The new Independent Radio station for Brixton, with soul, reggae and community news & info.
- City Radio – 94.5 FM
- Reggae for Nort East London, 24 hours a day.
- Coast AM – 1242 AM
- The oldies service from Invicta Radio.
- County Sound Premiere – 96.4 FM
- Independent radio for Surrey & Hampshire, 24 hours a day.
- Dance FM – 93.0 FM
- 24 hour a day house.
- Essex Radio – 96.3 FM
- Independent radio for South Essex, 24 hours a day.
- BBC Essex – 95.3 FM
- The BBC Local Radio station for Essex.
- Eurojam – 89.5 FM
- Soul, Reggae and more to North London 24 hours a day.
- Fantasy FM – 98.1 FM
- The best house and mixing.
- First Gold Radio – 1476 AM
- County Sound's oldies service, Britain's first legal gold station.
- Radio Four – 93.5 FM
- The BBC's network news and speech service.
- Friends FM – 100.7 FM
- 24 hour a day house stretching out across the FM band...
- Fusion FM – 101 FM
- New on the air with an across the board black music mix.
- Future Radio – 105.7 FM
- Soul and house.
- GLR – 94.9 FM
- Rock and talk in the day, specialist shows weekends. Threatened with closure again, so make the most of it now!
- Inner City Radio – 101.9 FM
- Real soul and jazz every weekend from the Essex county town.
- Invicta Radio – 103.1 FM
- Independent Radio for Kent, 24 hours a day.
- Jazz FM – 102.2 FM
- The new Londonwide Indepdent Radio specialist Jazz station.
- JBC – 104.8 FM
- Back on the air after failing to get a license but not finding things so easy.
- Joy Radio – 98.1 FM
- 100% soul to South East London
- Radio KAOS London – 100.5 FM
- Soul and house.
- BBC Radio Kent – 96.7 FM
- The BBC Local Radio station for Kent.
- Krush FM – 96.1 FM
- Lazer FM – 94.0 FM
- Soul to the Capital, 24 hours a day. A mix of new talent and several old stalwarts presenting.
- LBC Crown FM – 97.3 FM
- LBC's yuppie Newstalk service.
- Lightning Radio – 90.8 FM
- South London's reggae rulers, giving Choice a run for their money.
- London Greek Radio – 103.3 FM
- Greek programmes from 8am - 12pm, 4pm - 8pm and 12am - 4am.
- London Talkback Radio – 1152 AM
- LBC's phone-in and talk station.
- LWR – 92.0 FM
- Trying to stage a comeback, minus most of its former staff and greater emphasis on house.
- Radio Luxembourg – 1440 AM
- Pop music from the Grand Duchy, daily 7pm - 3am.
- Medina Radio – 100.9 FM
- Rap and house from NW London.
- Radio Mercury – 102.8 FM
- Independent Radio for North Surrey, 24 Hours a day.
- Radio Mi Amigo – 104.2 FM
- Oldies every Saturday afternoon while Capital Gold does sport.
- Middlesex Music Radio – 98.2 FM
- Pop most Saturday and Wednesday nights to North West London.
- The Music Machine – 101.6 FM
- Non-stop oldies during the week.
- Radio One – 98.8 FM
- The BBC's network pop and rock service.
- Premier Radio – 89.8 FM
- Soul and house.
- Q-102 – 101.6 FM
- Mostly indie with a dash of rock and world music, excellently presented. A sort of NME FM.
- Q Radio – 97.1 FM
- Soul and house from this Twilight split.
- Radio Free London – 101.3 FM
- 20 years old and back for another bash. Programmes on Saturday night and back to back music through the night during the week.
- Raiders FM – 101 FM
- Back for another spurt with weekend pop, rock and oldies.
- Respect FM – 104.2 FM
- Soul and house.
- RJR – 90.0 FM
- Reggae, Soca and Soul to North London, 24 hours a day. Trying to make a comeback after recent difficulties.
- Roxy FM – 100.3 FM
- Continuous Soca plus some reggae.
- SLR – 99.6 FM
- Reggae and soul from this WNK split. Good magazine shows too.
- Smart Boys – 101.2 FM
- House (when they feel like it...).
- Starpoint FM – 93.2 FM
- Soul, house and reggae (when they manage it....).
- Stomp FM – 105.4 FM
- Beaming real soul to London from Essex every weekend. Recently celebrated their second birthday.
- Sunrise FM – 88.8 FM
- Soul and house, weekends and evenings only since a major split in the station.
- Sunrise Radio – 1413 AM
- The Independent Station for West London with mostly Asian programming.
- Supreme Radio – 90.4 FM
- Reggae for East London.
- BBC Radio Sussex – 104.0 FM
- The BBC Local Radio station for Sussex, Surrey & Hants.
- Radio Thamesmead – 103.8 FM
- The long-running cable station gets a license for South East London.
- Radio Three – 91.3 FM
- The BBC's network classical and serious music service.
- Tropical Radio – 105.1 FM
- Soul and reggae.
- Twilight Radio – 91.7 FM
- Reggae, soul & house for South London, now weekends only.
- Radio Two – 89.1 FM
- The BBC's network Easy Listening service.
- 210 FM – 97.0 FM
- The Independent Radio station for Berkshire. Stupid name, but that's ILR management for you...
- WIBS – 104.7 FM
- Soul and Reggae for North London.
- WLIB – 92.4 FM
- Reggae and soul for East London.
- WNK – 103.3 FM
- Soul and reggae from 4am - 8am, 12pm - 4pm and 8pm - 12am.
- The World Service – 648 AM
- The BBC's worldwide service of news, music and features.
For the latest listings, call the BandScan.
Edited by Stephen Hebditch, with thanks to Ken North and Chris England.
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