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Radio Today Awards and Review

New Year, and time for our annual look back at the last 12 months in radio – and what a year it has been.

Also, keep reading to find out who has won a prestigious Tony Award for services to the radio industry in 2008. Named of course in honour of the great early Tony Blackburn.


Let's start with GCap Media – Operations Director Steve Orchard and Group Programme Director Dirk Anthony announce their departure, theJazz (remember that?) launches a stereo signal, and Core closes down. (Maybe Core closed down so that theJazz could gain that extra bandwidth?) Global Radio makes their first offer for the company too, which is declined.

Elsewhere, BFBS started a month-long trail on Digital One, Smooth (Saga) Radio launched in the North East, and Russell Brand urinated in a paper cup in the BBC Radio 2 studio because he couldn't remember where the loo was. (All the signs were there, Lesley.)

Andy Kershaw was jailed for three months.


Back to GCap and house keeper CEO Fru Hazlitt threw her digital toys out of her analogue pram and announced the closure of theJazz and the sale of GCap's interest in Digital One, whilst rejecting a second offer from Global Radio. They wanted it bad.

Bob Shennan, who left his top position at BBC Radio 5 Live to head up Channel 4's radio division (whoops) was replaced by Adrian Van Klaveren.

Steve Penk left his breakfast show at Fox FM a week early to start a revolution, and Andy Kershaw was released from jail.


Big changes planned at GMG Radio as, for the first time, a deputy chief executive (Stuart Taylor) was appointed under CEO John Myers. It was announced later in the year that Stuart would take over due to John's early retirement.

Not much else happened in March, except a little incident at 6pm on the 31st. Global Radio's third and (probably not) final offer for GCap Media was accepted. The [i]real[/i] radio revolution was about to begin.

Andy Kershaw was locked up again.


Galaxy and Heart will change forever – with Global announcing weekday mid-morning and afternoon programming will be networked, as allowed by an earlier Ofcom ruling. In 2009, the Heart brand will spread to most of the one network and even local news bulletins will be axed during the daytime.

Similar networking going on at CN Group too as five Touch Radio stations in the Midlands received approval to network all output except breakfast. Turned out not even that was enough to save two of the five.

And BBC Radio 1 announced that international pop star Madonna will headline the station's Big Weekend at Mote Park in Maidstone, Kent. (well if Radio 1 can't get the queen of pop for a roadshow, who can?!)

Over at the BBC, Jenny Abramsky left her position as Director of BBC Audio and Music (er, Radio?) to join the Lottery Fund. And we're not quite sure what was happening to Andy Kershaw. I think we became more and more uninterested at this point.


Global was reminded something must be done about Capital as the station slipped to number 4 in the London (commercial) radio market. Ouch. Time to bring back the old Paul McKenna style news intro and throw a big music party for 16,000 of their favourite fans.

James Whale decided he was above the law and started to advise listeners who to vote for in the London Mayoral elections on talkSPORT. He was later fired and the station was given a £20,000 fine.

Then at the end of May, it got a little busy with radio stations being bought and sold. GCap sold Planet Rock to a mystery buyer (later we found out it was businessman Malcolm Bluemel), Xfm South Wales was sold to Town and Country Broadcasting, and Absolute Radio played the winning card to take over Virgin Radio for £53million. A bit cheaper than SMG paid for it a few years earlier, then.


iPhone 3G launches without digital or analogue radio on board. Fail.


One of the BBC's fines for fakery took place in this month. On this occasion, they had to spend £400,000 of our money for misleading listeners during radio shows.

It was announced Chris Tarrant will return to radio via a networkeed GMG show, and the people of Plymouth were relieved as Ofcom finally granted a licence to a group who are actually going to use it. Talking of which, CanWest started to exit the UK radio industry about as fast as they entered it.


Changes at BBC Radio 1 as Dick, Dom and Dave all exit stage left. (Dave Pearce, that is). Ofcom let Global Radio simulcast the FM service of LBC on mediumwave for 12 hours a day, taking away half a London radio station. In the Midlands, Heart 106, BRMB, Beacon and Mercia must be sold, Ofcom said. But six months later we are still waiting to find out who the lucky buyer is.

Steve Penk is back, and has bought a radio station in Oldham, and Scottie McClue and Alan Shields purchased L107 in Lanarkshire.


Arqiva and National Grid Wireless were given the go-ahead to merge, Absolute Radio was announced as the new name for Virgin, KCR was sold for the 4th time in as many years, and Fun Radio was sold by GCap to Folder Media. (If you placed a bet on a name change at this point, hopefully you have collected your winnings).


It was a worrying month for many as Laser Broadcasting was served a wind-up petition for buying more stations than they could handle, former Radio City breakfast presenter Kev Seed was in court for drinking one too many before getting behind the wheel, and Channel 4 finally admitted it had bitten off more than it could chew and withdrew itself from our industry altogether. Bye, then. Thanks for the free bar in Cambridge.

And TLRC Executive Chairman Richard Wheatley took a surprise step down from his long standing role.

Something else happened in October too, something to do with a couple of Radio 2 presenters. Now, we can't recall any kind of coverage about it, so no point bringing it up here.


Bauer announced Mojo was to close, rumours started about the future of talk107, and Perth FM launched. Then RadioCentre Chairman Paul Brown announced he was to step down after 30 years in the industry. TLRC decided networking most of the weekend out put on their local radio stations was a bad idea after all and Jon Gaunt was fired from talkSPORT after comments about a London councillor. He must have been taking lessons from Whale.

Also this month, CN Group said they were closing or handing back the licences for Touch Radio in Banbury and Coventry if no buyer could be found. The deadline was, apparently, yesterday. We shall await to see what happens. Well we can't expect them to reply to a press enquiry on New Years Eve can we?

And Pirate FM told Ofcom they weren't too happy about Atlantic FM's claims that they are "the UK's new number one radio station". No, I don't suppose we'd be too chuffed either. 'Specialy if it wasn't too, like.


Jason Bryant was appointed as managing director of TLRC's Local Stations Division (so, everything except Jazz FM then?) in addition to his duties at Town and Country, and former TLRC station KCR falls off air after the owners were locked out of their studio for six weeks. Surely someone on Merseyside could have lent them a brick for the window?

GMG Radio throws the bash of the century for staff in Manchester with all A-list artists turning up to sing, and staying in the North West, Bauer's three Liverpool radio stations offered more choice by networking the Pete Price phone in on all frequencies.

Finally, the Gold winners for the prestigious Tony Awards for services to the radio industry in 2008 are as follows:

[b]Best Station Security:[/b] Galaxy Birmingham

[b]Best Value for Money Marketing Campaign:[/b] Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, BBC Radio 2

[b]Best Use of Computer Automation:[/b] KCR 106.7

[b]Best Use of Ofcom Guidelines:[/b] James Whale and Jon Gaunt

[b]Best Resignation Letter:[/b] Kev Seed, Radio City

[b]Best Not Outstaying Your Welcome Award:[/b] Denise Van Outen

[b]Best Use of Dragging Out A Station Sale Award:[/b] UTV Radio on behalf of Imagine FM

[b]Best Multi-Tasking Award:[/b] Jason Bryant

and finally..

[b]The Best Use of a Blackberry When Making Important Decisions Award:[/b] Lesley Douglas

Have a great 2009, and stay with RadioToday.co.uk as we celebrate our 5th birthday!

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