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Capital London


Capital London

Capital London
Broadcast area Greater London
Branding 95.8 Capital FM
Slogan London's No.1 Hit Music Station
Frequency FM: 95.8 MHz
DAB: 12C
Freesat: 719
Freeview 724
Sky: 0109
Virgin Media: 958
First air date 16 October 1973[1]
Format Top 40 (CHR)
Audience share 4.6% (June 2013, RAJAR)
ERP 4,000 watts
HAAT 271 metres
Transmitter coordinates
Owner Global Radio
Sister stations Capital Xtra
Classic FM
Heart London
LBC 97.3
LBC News 1152
Smooth London
XFM London
Website Capital London

Capital London is regional radio station owned and operated by Global Radio as part of the Capital radio network.


  • History 1
    • Pre-launch 1.1
    • Launch 1.2
    • Capital in danger (1975–80) 1.3
      • Charities and the Flying Eye 1.3.1
    • Music Power (1980s) 1.4
    • One becomes two: the frequency split (1989–96) 1.5
    • 1997–2010 1.6
    • 2011–present 1.7
  • Notable presenters 2
    • Former presenters 2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4
    • Sources 4.1
  • External links 5



Following the 1964–68 offshore radio boom, the Conservative Party, under Edward Heath promised in its 1970 General Election Manifesto that should it win, it would introduce local commercial radio in addition to the commercial television that had started in 1955. This was a result of lobbying from pressure groups including the Local Radio Association, who felt that commercial radio should be introduced following the launch of ITV over a decade before. The Tories won and swiftly introduced the Sound Broadcasting Act 1972, which allowed for the introduction of Independent Local Radio and created the newly renamed Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) 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 Bryan Forbes, Sir Peter Saunders, David Maule-ffinch and Barclay Barclay-White.[2] David Maule-Ffinch was a member of the board of Capital Radio and its largest stockholder until 1994, when he sold his controlling interest to Information et Publicite, a subsidiary of Havas, the French media conglomerate.

Another application 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, eight 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 London Transport's Lots Road Power Station, Chelsea. The medium wave frequency and location were temporary sites as the then new high-powered medium wave 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 & Garfunkel's song "Bridge over Troubled Water" followed the jingle. The first radio commercial came from Bird's Eye fish fingers, which 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 originally hosted by David Symonds, but he soon moved to the Capital Countdown (Top 40 ) show and he was replaced at breakfast by former Radio London partnership Kenny Everett and 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 539 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",[3] however both stations could be heard as far away as the Midlands. FM reception remained unaltered.

Capital in danger (1975–80)

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 cut its staff, including many journalists – a move that 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 have had to close down. We almost didn't make ends meet."

Capital saw off the recession, with the help of finance from a Canadian company, 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.

Charities and the Flying Eye

They're even worse because they had the chance, coming right into the heart of London and sitting in that tower right on top of everything. But they've completely blown it. I'd like to throttle Aiden Day. He thinks he's the self appointed Minister of Public Enlightenment. We've just written a new song called Capital Radio and a line in it goes “listen to the tunes of the Dr Goebbels Show”. They say “Capital Radio in tune with London”. Yeah, yeah, yeah! They're in tune with Hampstead. They're not in tune with us at all. I hate them. What they could have done compared to what they have done is abhorrent. They could have made it so good that everywhere you went you took your transistor radio – you know, how it used to be when I was at school. I'd have one in my pocket all the time or by my ear'ole flicking it between stations. If you didn’t like one record you'd flick to another station and then back again. It was amazing. They could have made the whole capital buzz. Instead Capital Radio has just turned their back on the whole youth of the city.

Joe Strummer[4]

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 Grumman Cougar.

Music Power (1980s)

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. Charlie Gillett had his world music programme The World Of Difference on Sunday evenings. 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. Tarrant initially arrived at Capital presenting the weekday lunchtime show before being promoted. Joined by 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.

One becomes two: the frequency split (1989–96)

Capital FM's sun logo was also used by other stations owned by the Capital Radio Group

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.) that went on to become well known and essential parts of its music programming.


From 1997, the studios of 95.8 Capital FM have been based in Leicester Square, which is also home to Capital's parent company, Global Radio. The studio complex is shared with many other stations, including Radio X, Classic FM, Heart London and LBC.

The station launched its website in September 1996 resulting in high demand which led to it crashing within a few hours.

Beginning in late 2005, the station went through a number of changes. In December 2005, a new policy started of two advertisements in each break to win favour with listeners, though there were more frequent breaks as a result. This policy was changed within a few months.

Capital rebranded under its original name in January 2006.

On 9 January 2006, the station was relaunched under its original name Capital Radio, with a modified line-up of presenters and a slightly tweaked music format. After this re-launch turned out not to have had the desired success, a new Programme Controller was appointed in September 2006. Scott Muller came from the Nova group in Australia, and the station saw another tweak in style.

The changes continued seeing Capital re-branded back to "London's Hit Music Station", a play on the station's earlier brand of "London's Number One Hit Music Station" with noticeable improvements – leading to a rise in audience figures at the end of 2006. The station also changed its on air name to 95.8 Capital Radio, incorporating the frequency of "95.8" back into the station since it was dropped at the January 2006 re-launch.[5]

In March 2007, the station was then renamed Capital 95.8 and its slogan became "The Sound of London". The marketing campaign combined outdoor, cinema, and print adverts.[6]

RAJAR figures for Q2 2007 showed Capital 95.8 slipping to fourth place in the London local radio market ratings, recording the lowest-ever share of the London audience and for the first time falling behind Emap-owned station Magic and Heart, now owned by Global Radio. Capital 95.8's audience share slipped from 4.6 to 4.1 per cent over the quarter.[7]

The station then returned to the "London's Hit Music Network" tagline on 10 December 2007, with ex-Absolute Radio presenter Greg Burns replacing Lucio on drivetime, and Lucio moving to the evening show. Lucio took over from Bam Bam (Peter Poulton) who left Capital in early December 2007. On 6 June 2008, Global Radio completed its £375 million takeover of Capital's parent company GCap Media.


Capital London formed part of the nine station Capital radio network on 3 January 2011 as part of a merger of the Global Radio owned Hit Music and Galaxy networks.[8] Weekday breakfast and drivetime plus weekend mornings are localised with other output networked from the 95.8 Capital studios in London.[9]

Capital London localised presenters are responsible for playing music which is syndicated across the nine station Capital radio network, during Capital Breakfast, weekday drivetime and weekend mornings.

On 12 May 2011 it was announced that 95.8 Capital remained the most listened to commercial radio station in London, on both share and reach, beating rival Magic 105.4.[10] However, on 4 August 2011 it was announced that rival Magic 105.4 had overtaken the position.[11]

Notable presenters

Former presenters

See also


  1. ^ Media UK - 95.8 Capital FM. Media UK. Retrieved 2012-09-08
  2. ^ Obituary: Barclay Barclay-White – Dentist who was instrumental in the launch of London's commercial broadcaster Capital Radio Times Online, 22 January 2007
  3. ^ UK Radio 3.
  4. ^ Coon 1977.
  5. ^ John Plunkett, "Capital Radio gets another makeover", The Guardian, 25 September 2008.
  6. ^ Second stage of Capital 95.8 campaign UTalkMarketing
  7. ^ Radio battle gets hot at the top Times Online
  8. ^ Global Radio takes Capital national, Brand Republic, 13 September 2010
  9. ^ "Capital to replace Galaxy", Radio Today, 13 September 2010.
  10. ^ "GLOBAL: Capital back at #1" Radio Today, 12 May 2011.
  11. ^ "GLOBAL: Capital slips down to number 2", Radio Today, 4 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Dave Kelly to replace Neil Fitzmaurice at Radio City,
  13. ^ Chris Moyles, BBC Radio 1.
  14. ^ "Margherita Taylor swaps Capital for Heart", Radio Today, 22 December 2011.



External links

  • Capital London
  • Help a Capital Child
  • Capital FM London Listen Live
  • Vintage Broadcasting

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