Radio Jackie celebrates 50th birthday milestone

Radio Jackie staffers young and old met to celebrate fifty years serving South West London recently.

‘The Sound of South West London’ started broadcasting in March 1969 and the radio station’s founders and many leading lights including Bob Dunn and Colin King, joined station boss Tony Collis (pictured below) to mark the occasion.

Three generations of Jackie’s radio people were among those celebrating the milestone.

From an era when there was no opportunity apply for a broadcasting licence, and local commercial radio in the form of ILR had yet to be born, this unlicensed operator blazed a trail for what we know today as commercial radio.

The radio service was held up in Parliament as an example of what Capital, Piccadilly and Clyde might sound like. Radio Jackie went on to win huge support for its campaign for a licence to broadcast from local MPs and thousands upon thousands of listeners.

In 2003, Tony Collis acquired the Kingston upon Thames radio licence from Guardian Media Group who had been unsuccessful in making their service financially viable.

Radio Jackie today broadcasts with a young, talented and professional team from local studios in Tolworth. Local news bulletins and music are broadcast around the clock, seven days a week to its listeners.

Write up by Broadcast Radio Specialist and former Radio Jackie newsreader Paul Boon.

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18 Comments
  1. Cameron McGarva says

    Radio Jackie, one of my favourite stations, love it and thankfully in an age of apps and speakers I can listen here in Scotland.

  2. neal says

    Congratulations to all at Radio Jackie. Just goes to show you do not have to be owned or run or taken over by one of the Big Gods to survive as a LOCAL radio station in this country as many of the people who post comments on this site would have you constantly believing!!!!!

    1. mb23 says

      Sorry to spoil it but the balance sheet has net liabilities, and it’s only surviving because the rich owner is keeping it alive from personal funds. This isn’t a model for successful local commercial radio.

      1. NEAL says

        And as I keep saying Global et all are only where they are with the audience they have because they have decimated just about everything else on FM.. There is sod all left and the public have now been brainwashed by the repetitive rubbish they churn out hour after hour because they have now been doing it for so long it is only the old farts as you would describe us who can even remember what decent radio sounded like. Most of the people who love these current stations have nothing to compare the fodder they are fed every day to anything different. How would you like to have your choice in your local supermarket similarly reduced to one brand in the way these companies have done.? Yes of course they make huge profits. Computers do everything. Presenters have to be tv celebrities know to the public as many of them would not listen if the repetitive playlists were presented by unheard of presenters. Buildings are sold off hundreds of people made redundant and everything network so of course they will make a bloody huge profit because they don’t give a four x about the quality of what they are putting out and just treat their listeners like sheep. Yes I accept they are here to stay but why you continuously defend what they have done as something brilliant is beyond me. Even worse I read on Radio Today news today that now the BBC want to give it’s local stations all the same styles with jingle packages to match. Is there no escape from these zombies who think that everything has to be a clone of the computer driven tight playlist controlled radio Global and the rest have created? Clearly not!!!

        1. sj says

          The idea that people mindlessly listen to Global because there’s nothing else is a very flimsy argument. It’s exactly because we’ve never had so many audio and entertainment options that well-branded and clear products succeed. Even where local commercial stations DO exist, rajar and financial performance suggests they’re not viable because what they’re producing simply isn’t a compelling listen for enough people. You’re even criticising changes to BBC local radio – a mish mash network of inconsistent and poorly focused stations which have been hemorrhaging listeners for years. To flip your argument on its head… the reason “truly local” traditional ILR worked in the past is because there was hardly anything else to choose from. Finally, I’m reassured at the overall audience reach of radio. It’s 2020 yet it’s doing incredibly well to maintain audience because it’s great at evolving.

          1. Neal says

            Accept your points Sj. I am just one of the few fossils who remember listening to the radio because it sounded good. You had brilliant DJ’s Roger Scott,Kenny Everett,Dave Cash,Peter Young,Nick Horne to name but a few and on the BBC the likes of Robbie Vincent,David Simmonds,Mark Lamarr,Paul Jones,Bob Harris,Stuart Coleman all with a passion for music and a true love of radio. I just don’t hear that anymore on mainstream radio. There are some tucked away excellent shows on the BBC. Eve Blair’s late show BBC Radio Ulster.A show on such a massively higher level that all these late night love song shows playing the same tracks night after night produced by the companies you love so much and also Iain Anderson BBC Radio Scotland. Huey Morgan and David Rodigan are another two examples of what radio can sound like with someone behind the microphone who actually have an interest in Music and attempting to introduce the listener to something new or old that they have not heard before. My fear on the BBC local radio rebrand is that the same type of quality shows on those stations such as for example John Kane and Richard Searling’s Northern Soul shows will be no more. As I said I accept your points but you cannot deny it may make a profit but it sounds as bland and boring as hell on earth!

  3. PC in Spain says

    Well done Chaps, through thick & thin and a few trees and the wood of Surrey you got there with your integrity and reputation held high.

  4. Nick M says

    Well done, you took things to the next level which made things possible for lots of people, your achievement should not be underestimated.

  5. R Rental says

    The station was acquired from Radio Investments Ltd in 2003, not GMG.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      You’re right.
      I think the confusion may have come about as John Myers was the boss at the time.

  6. Stephen May says

    Yep, because the usual successful model is to be owned by a media conglomerate and totally ruin commercial radio in the process. The better model would be to listen a bit more what the listener wants rather than the shareholders, then you might have a successful radio station on all fronts. Search Radio London on how to run a commercial success!

    1. Stephen says

      The radio spectrum in the UK is getting a bit boring, with little personality at all these days. It’s high time that radio, both commercial and BBC, realised that format & personality wins you an audience. I for example, would have been happy if Capitol Radio was available nationally when the likes of Kenny Everett was around & not the dross that it is now. I feel let down for example, that I wasted so much money on DAB! I can get more choice on the Internet.

    2. mb23 says

      Radio Jackie isn’t a “commercial success”, it has a £300k deficit on the balance sheet and is kept on the air by a rich owner who has an interest in radio.

      It’s up to him if that’s how he wants to spend his money.

      1. Joe Smith says

        Radio Jackie is a success full stop.

  7. Radio Fader says

    Well done to the crew past and present at Radio Jackie.

    Live and local 24 hours a day, I like the varied playlist with some 80s tracks that I haven’t heard for years that sound good, but have somehow dropped off from the playlists on other stations. Love it!

  8. Lee says

    Congratulations Radio Jackie for being live and local 24 hours a day. You are a shinning example of how local radio should be rather than the corporate greed of two companies which govern most of UK commercial radio these days.

  9. neil mclean says

    In the past i’ve spoken to likes of Gary king and Paul Phear about the repetition at smooth and suggested songs and they are in agreement with their company Global that tight narrow playlists are what the majority want so not got a leg to stand on and I gave up so maybe their presenting team are brainwashed too or they look at their wage pack each week and think easy money!!

  10. Paul says

    The debt at Radio Jackie is was inherent from it’s previous owner Radio Investments.

    Founder Tony Collis chooses to underpin the station as he wishes, but you never hear him complain or whinge like other bigger radio companies.

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