|Broadcast area||London, Kent, Sussex,
Hampshire, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester (AM, DAB Digital Radio)
UK and Ireland (Sky Digital) and Freesat
|Frequency||Various on MW|
|First air date||28 November 1988 (London),
1997 (Kent, Sussex, Hampshire),
1998 (Cardiff and Newport),
October 2001 (Manchester)
|Audience share||1.8% (September 2007, )|
Gold is a network of oldies radio stations which was formed by the merger of the Capital Gold network and the Classic Gold Network in August 2007. The Capital Gold network started in London in 1988 on Capital Radio's AM frequency, as the British Government urged radio stations to end simulcasting (broadcasting the same programmes simultaneously on FM and AM) and threatening to remove one of their frequencies if simulcasting continued. The original DJs included Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett and David Hamilton.
Following the 1964-68 offshore radio boom, the Conservative Party, under Edward Heath promised in its 1970 General Manifesto that should it win, it would introduce local commercial radio in addition to the commercial television which started in 1955. This was a result of much lobbying from a particular pressure group, the Local Radio Association, who felt that commercial radio should be introduced following the launch of Associated Rediffusion and ITV. The Tories won and swiftly introduced the Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 which allowed for the introduction of Independent Local Radio and the newly-renamed Independent Broadcasting Authority from the Independent Television Authority.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority advertised local radio licences in certain locations in the United Kingdom under the umbrella term of Independent Local Radio. London was due to receive two ILR licences- one for news and general entertainment. Capital Radio, a consortium of the "great and good", backed by dentist Barclay Barclay-White and Chairman Richard Attenborough was one of fifty applications. Other applications came from a consortium headed by Opportunity Knocks television presenter Hughie Green, who had openly voiced the need for commercial broadcasting, having previously worked for Radio Luxembourg.
The IBA awarded Capital Radio the "London General Entertainment" service, while "London News" was awarded to the London Broadcasting Company, LBC.
IBA transmission tests commenced in January 1973 and Capital Radio went on air on 16 October 1973, ten days after LBC, using the following FM and AM frequencies: 95.8 MHz FM from the Croydon transmitter station and 557 kHz (539 m) MW from the London Transport Lots Road Power Station, Chelsea. The mediumwave frequency and location were temporary sites as the then new high-powered mediumwave station at Saffron Green, Barnet was incomplete.
Capital commenced regular transmissions with the British national anthem God Save the Queen, then a message from Director Richard Attenborough "...This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio" followed by the Capital Radio theme jingle, made by Blue Mink:
"Isn't it good to know, Capital Radio
You can turn on your friends, you can turn on the show,
you can turn on the world with Capital Radio Such a good way to make your day Capital sounds go round and round,
Up and down London town The brightest sound in London town Capital Radio in tune with London (yeah)"...
Simon and Garfunkel's song, Bridge over Troubled Water followed the jingle. The first radio commercial came from Bird's Eye fish fingers, which incidentally was also the first ever legal radio commercial on LBC.
Capital's programming remit, as with all ILR stations at the time, was to appeal to the broadest range of people as possible, which included specialist music programmes, radio plays, classical music, community features and news documentaries. Capital's breakfast show was hosted by popular television entertainer Kenny Everett and disc jockey Dave Cash.
Immediately after going on air Capital Radio suffered co-channel interference from Radio Veronica, a pirate radio station off the coast of the Netherlands. Veronica began broadcasting in the 1960s and it was suggested that the allocation of 534 metres to ILR may have been an attempt to block reception of overseas broadcasts- a battle which preceded the launch of BBC Radio 1. Capital finally moved into office blocks in Euston Tower in November 1973, just a few yards away from Thames Television headquarters. Euston Tower was, at the time, London's tallest office tower.
In 1975, the IBA finally opened the transmission facilities at Saffron Green which allowed both LBC and Capital Radio to move up the dial. Capital moved to 1548 kHz mediumwave (194 m) and LBC to 1152 kHz (261 m). Saffron Green needed to be highly configured as it was sharing the same frequency as other ILR stations and needed to prevent co-channel interference from new ILR stations in Birmingham and Manchester. Previously the Lots Road site gained Capital and LBC the semi-humorous nickname of "Radio Clothesline", however both stations could be heard as far away as the Midlands. FM reception remained unaltered.
The commercial radio climate during this period was very tough. Recessions, the miners' dispute and high inflation brought on by the Three-Day Week meant that revenues at Capital Radio suffered. Throughout the 1970s Capital reduced its broadcasting hours and cut its staff, including many journalists - a move which angered the NUJ. Richard Attenborough intimated in the 1990s in a 'Capital Facts' sheet that the station almost contemplated closing down:
"Although one can say it now, one couldn't at the time, there were some weeks when the viability of the whole operation was in question and we might had had to close down. We almost didn't make ends meet."
Capital saw off the recession and continued broadcasting, eventually increasing its hours. The so-called 'needle-time' restrictions on playing music had been lifted, which meant it could play more music during the day as well as in the evenings where the eight hours were concentrated.
The mid-1970s saw Capital Radio expand with the launch of the Help a London Child charity, which aimed to raise money for London's poorest children. The charity appeal went on to become one of the longest-running in broadcasting and the most recognised in British radio. In 1976, the Capital Radio Helpline launched, in conjunction with Thames Television , London Weekend Television and British Telecom which helped listeners through matters ranging from how to cook a turkey at Christmas time, to suicide intervention. The station has also lent its support to London based orchestras, choral societies, the British Film Institute Children's Film Festival and many other ventures.
1976 saw the launch of the Flying Eye, a traffic spotting light aircraft, which could see traffic congestion below on the streets of Central London. LBC also had a similar service but was forced to suspend operations due to cost. Capital's aircraft was originally a Piper Seneca model, and, later, a twin-engined Cirumma Cougar.
A new radio jingle package from Standard Sound heralded a new, refined sound for the station. Output was concentrated on its core playlist of contemporary chart music with the specialist music rescheduled to evenings. Jazz and soul programmes at the weekends, presented by Peter Young were well received by listeners. Several of Capital's early presenters had moved on, to be replaced by newer disc jockeys, some of which had experience presenting on Radio Luxembourg.
A brand new breakfast show started in 1987 and featured Chris Tarrant who arrived from popular television programme Tiswas. Chris initially arrived at Capital presenting the weekday lunchtime show before being promoted. Joined by the then unknown Kara Noble, the partnership proved very popular and the Breakfast Show eventually became one of the most listened to radio programmes on British radio. Many industry commentators consider the station's output in the 1980s represented Capital Radio at its broadcasting peak.
See also Capital Radio
As required by the 1990 Broadcasting Act the IBA and the Home Office in 1987, all ILR stations were to permanently split simulcasting output on both its FM and AM frequencies in order to create new local radio stations and improve choice. Capital responded by launching a golden oldies station, 1548 AM Capital Gold in 1 November 1988 on its AM frequency while Capital on FM became 95.8 Capital FM, a chart contemporary music station. Both stations received brand-new jingle packages from Californian jingle house Who Did That Music (later Groove Jingles  ) which went on to become well known and essential parts of its music programming.
Capital Gold featured a strong presenting lineup such as "Diddy" David Hamilton and Tony Blackburn, Tony having arrived from BBC Radio London. Kenny Everett returned to Capital, having being dismissed by the BBC some years previously following an insulting remark he made on-air about a politician's wife. Everett hosted daytime shows until his death in 1994. The mid to late 1990s saw Capital Gold rated London's most listened to AM radio station and third most listened to music station, behind Capital and Radio 1.
1987 also saw the launch of live, uninterrupted football coverage, entitled Capital Gold Sportstime and hosted by sports commentator Jonathan Pearce, who was known for his loud, enthusiastic delivery. Prominent football clubs featured on the show included Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham, Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and Wimbledon F.C.
See also GCap Media
With Capital Gold proving very popular with its London audience, the station management decided to syndicate Tony Blackburn's Sunday soul show and expand its popular 'Sportstime' brand to Birmingham station Xtra AM which Capital Radio had purchased in 1993 along with BRMB to forming the Capital Radio Group plc. This was followed in 1994 with the purchase of the Southern Radio Group, which owned;
Both Capital Radio plc and GWR Group lobbied the then Radio Authority to allow syndicated programmes to be broadcast on its AM-owned stations. The Radio Authority agreed and it was announced early in 1998 that Capital Gold from London would replace the following:
Invicta Supergold was the first station to be replaced within weeks of the announcement being made with Xtra and South Coast following on 1 June.
The networking was agreed by the Radio Authority with the stipulation that at least four hours a day of weekday broadcasting were kept and local news, traffic announcements and advertising remained on each station. Listeners to the previous local stations listed above were dismayed that such a huge chunk of local broadcasting were to be eliminated resulting in the loss of jobs. Capital Radio boss David Mansfield maintained that AM listenership had steadily declined and required a consistent, high quality programme offering across all stations to remain competitive.
Initially the four hours were scheduled in the afternoon drivetime slot (3-7pm) with a networked breakfast/morning show hosted by comedian Mike Osman (7-11am). This surprised many people in the industry as this sidelined Capital Gold's biggest radio name at the time Tony Blackburn who had previously presented the weekday breakfast show to weekends. However, a few months later Blackburn was moved back on the weekday schedule although on the afternoon drivetime slot while local breakfast shows were reintroduced to meet the four hour requirement.
A new jingle package from now defunct jingle company AJ Productions and a new slogan - "Great Time Music" heralded the major change.
In 1999 Capital Radio plc acquired Red Dragon FM and Touch Radio in South Wales with the end result being that Capital Gold replaced AM station Touch Radio. 1999 saw the station's reach increase yet again- across the UK and Ireland on Sky Digital
In 2002, brand new logos and imaging re-launched the Capital Gold Network, with the new slogan, "The Greatest Hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s", and added a further medium wave station in Manchester after the former Wireless Group agreed to sell Big 1458 AM's broadcasting licence.
In 1999 CE Digital, a consortium made up of Capital Radio plc and Emap Radio won local DAB digital radio licences for Manchester, Birmingham and London. This was followed by similar wins by Capital Radio plc in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Capital Gold actively encouraged listeners to switch to DAB Digital Radio as the added benefits of digital enable stereo broadcasts for the first time in its history.
In a dispute with station bosses Tony Blackburn left the station in 2002, having been at the station since Gold's launch in 1988. He hosted weekday drivetime and the Soul Spectrum until being replaced by Greg Edwards.
In 2004, station management decided to stop broadcasting live football coverage under the Capital Gold Sportstime title. It was felt that the loss of Jonathan Pearce to BBC Radio Five Live and the fees involved in acquiring live radio coverage rights had become too costly. A replacement sports show, "Sports Saturday" now covers sports results. A Saturday Football League preview magazine was shortly aired in 2004 but discontinued a few months later.
Capital Gold is now an incredibly popular radio station and plays a wide range of music from well-established music superstars, from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but recently added a fair amount of 1990s music and later. The station has a weekly playlist of new material, plus a "Rated And Recommended" list which is chosen by David Jensen, who returned to Capital Gold after a period at Heart 106.2 in 2003, played exclusively in his show. Predominantly the station plays classic hits and almost every song played will be by a major artist.
The station has some regular feature shows. On Saturday morning David Jensen hosts a celebrity and showbiz programme and recent notable guests have included Paul Weller, Jools Holland, Jeremy Irons, Smokey Robinson and Juliette Lewis. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, Greg Edwards hosts an excellent soul show called "Soul Spectrum". And on Sunday mornings from 11am a chart rundown show called "From the Bottom to the Top" features the top 20 tracks when the featured guest was riding high in the charts. Also Nicky Horne has a classic album show aired on Sunday afternoons from 4pm.
Capital Gold also has a series of intimate live concerts which go under the banner of "Legends Live". Artists who have played a Legends Live gig include Hall & Oates, Donny Osmond and The Zombies. The latest announcement is that in December 2006 Jools Holland is playing one of these Legends Live gigs, with special guests Lulu, Paul Carrack and Ruby Turner.
Following the merger of Capital Radio plc and GWR Group plc to form GCap Media in 2005, a review of station assets was carried out by Chief Executive Ralph Bernard. One of the aims for 2006 was that Capital Gold would be carried on a national digital multiplex - enabling near-nationwide coverage - by the merger between itself and digital-only station Capital Life. However, following Gcap's purchase of the Classic Gold Digital Network in April 2007, the former plan was scrapped, and it was decided to merge the two networks to form the 'Gold Network.' This began at 7.00pm on 3 August 2007. The majority of the shows and presenters on the new station are taken from Capital Gold's former network, rather than Classic Gold's network with the exception of Erika North, who was the co-presenter on the Classic Gold breakfast show with radio DJ Tony Blackburn. She now co-hosts the new 'Gold' breakfast show with James Cannon; with Blackburn having quit the network completely, joining Smooth Radio.
As a result of the acquisition of GCap Media in 2008, Gold is now owned by Global Radio. This merger resulted in Global exceeding the number of outlets it was legally permitted by OFCOM in certain parts of the country. As a result some Gold AM licences will cease transmission at the end of August 2008.
Realising potential commercial revenues and the massive pulling power of the station brand, Capital Gold released a CD compilation early 2001 called Capital Gold Legends, featuring well-known artists such as Blondie, Queen and Tina Turner. This was followed in November 2001 by Capital Gold Legends Vol. 2 and in March 2002 of Volume 3. Since these releases Capital Gold have once again released another series in November 2002 with Sixties Legends, Seventies Legends and Eighties Legends. The full list of releases are as follows: