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Choice FM
Choice-fm-logo.png
Broadcast area England and Wales
Frequency 96.9, 107.1 MHz (London)
Sky Digital: 0114
freesat: 720
TalkTalk TV: 622
Virgin Media: 969
DAB Digital Radio (MXR Regional Multiplexes)
First air date March 31, 1990
Format Urban Contemporary
Audience share 1.6% (September 2009, [1])
Owner Global Radio
Website www.choicefm.com

Choice FM is a brand used by the UK's biggest radio company, Global Radio for its network of black music radio stations. It is anchored by an FM operation in London, and is also broadcast via DAB Digital Radio, Sky Digital, TalkTalk TV, Virgin Media and online.

Contents

Origins

Choice 96.9 began broadcasting in March 1990 from studios in Trinity Gardens, Brixton as Britain’s first 24 hour black music radio station with a licence, under independent ownership, covering South London.

Expansion and contraction

The group won a second licence (see Buzz FM) in 1995, bringing a local version of their London offering to Birmingham, on 102.2 FM - in place of Buzz FM.

The advent of digital radio in the UK saw Choice, which already had an active webstream, joining the new MXR consortium and launching a DAB service which anchored London output with news inserts produced by the consortium's news service DNN.

The Birmingham licence was sold to Chrysalis Radio in 1999 and became Galaxy Birmingham but Choice expanded within the capital in May 2000 when a largely independent North London licence was awarded for Choice 107.1, with the intention of reaching a larger Afro-Caribbean audience outside the limited range of the coverage from Brixton. The station was now broadcasting from Borough High Street, Borough, London.

Capital takeover

Having previously been a minority shareholder, Capital Radio Group took full control of the station in February 2004 and moved the station's base from the TSA to the group's central studios in London's Leicester Square. The move resulted in a community march from the coverage area and their studios.

By October 12, 2004, Capital had received and implemented a merger of their FM licences, operating a service across the capital on the two frequencies and cutting back on the North London-specific music requirements. [2]

The DAB service, meanwhile, also became a simulacast of the London station, with the demise of local drop-ins.

Choice today

Following their takeover of Choice, Capital Radio Group merged with GWR to form GCap Media. Choice was flagged up as one of the key brands of the new larger network, and the station was made available to digital TV viewers via its addition to Sky Digital (and later to Virgin Media).

GCap were subsequently taken over by Global Radio, who already owned the Galaxy Network of dance/urban music stations. Following this, Global have marketed the station to advertisers as part of the Galaxy network for package advertising deals, though on-air the branding of the stations remains largely separate, due to Choice having an all-urban format (Bauer-owned rival Kiss 100 operates a Galaxy-like dance/urban mix in London).

In August 2009, Galaxy moved from the South Wales & Severn MXR regional DAB multiplex to two local-area multiplexes in the area, with Xfm moving in the other direction. Galaxy was also installed in spare space on the regional multiplex to retain a dance/urban format on the service.[1]

See also

References

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