[updated and as accurate as I think we’re going to get it!]
With the announcement last week that the Rock Radio team (Tom, Ted, Billy and more) are making efforts to reclaim the airwaves in the name of RAWK, we popped down to see them as they regaled Buchanan Street with some quality classic tracks yesterday afternoon.
I managed to chat to the two gents and got a little more info about their bid for the 96.3FM Paisley/Glasgow frequency. Most of the info came from Tom, and I’ve had a dig on Ofcom’s website to pull out some more details.
96.3 Rock Radio as was
The history of 96.3 Rock Radio in a nutshell is this: it kicked off in 2007 and was an instant success with its apparently niche audience. The only issue they had was a limit on the range of the signal which was, when licensed, for Paisley/East Renfrewshire – though it did drift further east depending on how the wind blew on any given day! The station requested an increase in range from Ofcom, but this was turned down.
After four years, some men in suits who recently took over running the parent company decided that they knew better than the hard workers on the “shop floor / coal front” that their audience wanted… and rebranded. They shifted presenters around, changed the musical output to more “friendly” mainstream rock and made the station look and sound more like Real Radio Scotland… it maintained an audience but commercially, it failed. So they passed the station on to someone else who rebranded it, re-formatted it to XFM and further watered it down like every other bloody commercial station going and a year or so later ditched it and handed the license back to Ofcom.
In short – Rock Radio as it was originally was a successful format for 96.3FM. It wasn’t a huge success but it did work and could sustain itself. Now with the chance of an increased signal around the west of Scotland, the backers of Rock Radio Glasgow are convinced they can deliver and sustain a Rock Radio station for Glasgow.
96.3FM available again
Come 2016 and Ofcom made the frequency available for tender once more, only this time there were two options – Paisley (i.e. the same range as before) or an increased “Glasgow” range, as requested by the guys all those years ago. FYI it cost £10,000 to bid for the Paisley range and £25,000 for Glasgow (source). These are application fees and non-refundable. Ouch. However, I know that the backers (Ciaran, Donald and Paul) have put up the money and more (I’ve heard from credible sources they’ve invested £40k to get this far) That’s serious commitment to the Scottish rock scene!
The deadline for applications was last Thursday, May 26th at 3pm. Four applications were made and the details can be seen on this PDF, hosted by Ofcom. It’s interesting to note that all of them refer to “rock” music, not just the one from Rock Radio Glasgow (RockScot). However, what you and I know is that Rock Radio Glasgow’s definition of rock is the only one that’s even remotely likely to be accurate.
What people in Glasgow need, in terms of radio, is choice. Sure, we could listen to Planet Rock… if we have DAB. Or TeamRock… if we have an internet connection in the car. There’s nothing on the analogue airwaves that caters to us. I appreciate that there’s a need for competition in any medium, but we already have that around the city. If I want to listen to Radio Clyde’s idea of “rock”, I can choose Capital, Clyde 1, Clyde 2 (on MW), Heart, Radio 1, Radio 2…
Interestingly, Go Glasgow and Clyde Rocks (two of the applicants) have run trials already. ClydeRocks ran from April 30th on DAB and it was awful – the usual “rock” which consisted of nothing heavier than “Bohemian Rhapsody” and including many acts which simply aren’t rock. Go Glasgow has a DAB license already and the fact that it’s made up primarily of former Clyde and Real Radio DJs should tell you all you need to know.
What can you do to help?
Ofcom should be making a decision by the end of July (there’s no precise published date). Email them at commercialradio
- Paul Boon
- Senior Radio Executive
- Riverside House
- 2a Southwark Bridge Road
- London SE1 9HA
Please mark the envelope “West Central Scotland area licence”
Don’t beg, don’t be abusive, don’t slag off the opposition – but put forward a good case for why Rock Radio Glasgow would be the best choice in terms of giving a genuine alternative for listeners as well as being a proven past commercial success before it became the kind of station that the other tenders are suggesting from the off.
To my eyes, Clyde Rocks looks very similar to Clyde1 and Clyde2 only they’ve used the word “rock” a lot. You and I both know they think that Beyonce and Madonna are rock, and the license would likely allow them to cover even more local football, something I reckon is actually a major reason for them wanting it.
Go’s bid seems barely any different, though they’re focussing on the “Scottish owned and run” aspect – as if that would make the music any better. Certainly their DAB content is awful.
Original just seems all over the shop, trying to cover far too many genres – how are they going to manage that without specialist shows? In which case their major daytime output is… you guessed it, the usual bland
rock pop rubbish that every other ILR in the area.
The choice is yours, guys and gals, but we finally have a chance to get the best radio station I’ve ever heard back on air, and this time under the ownership of the people who made it great in the first place.