Rock Radio Glasgow – some more info

96.3 Rock Radio

[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 or send an old-fashioned letter to:

  • Paul Boon
  • Senior Radio Executive
  • Ofcom
  • 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.

More info and updates can be found on Rock Radio Glasgow’s facebook page and their website where you can sign up for an occasional mailer.

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May 31, 2016 1:20 PM

It’s the kind of views expressed in this article that made the originally rock radio so niche that it was unsustainable resulting in the license being sold on (not great history for the new application) Credit where it’s due the idea of bringing it back is a good one. But just what are you bringing back? Where’s the business plan? Unless you can provide a financially stable station it won’t work. Investors don’t invest when there is no return on their investment. You need to play music that’s commercial ‘Rock’ covers a wide range from punk to indie to classic… Read more »

Reply to  anon
May 31, 2016 2:06 PM

I agree that “‘Rock’ covers a wide range…” but it was one of the strengths of Rock Radio in the early days that they covered that range. When the station was forced to shift format, I collected data on the music they played over a one week period. Although the playlists did skew towards a suit-friendly sub-set of rock the DJs were still managing to get a wide range of artists and genres into their shows. The real problem was with the rock blocks – back to back songs chosen by algorithm rather than passion. Not sure what point you… Read more »

Reply to  David
May 31, 2016 4:18 PM

the point was that these stations survive on advertising and companies will buy advertising where there is more of a chance of hitting their target market or listners with more expandable income. It was basically a long way of me saying that i thought they would struggle to sell advertising. The other bids saying a specific age range shows they have done market research as they will not have said this age range without backing it up. Normally you would have 6 months to submit these applications however apparently this one has only given applicants 2 months suggesting to me… Read more »

Reply to  anon
May 31, 2016 9:53 PM

Further to my earlier reply, I’ll feedback on this comment. Again, for the reasons outlined before. Q – I thought they would struggle to sell advertising. A. Selling a targeted/niche radio station is not the same as selling a general interest station, they are different. Once you realise that and understand it, you can go about your business. I speak from the experience of selling not just Rock stations but Country, Top 40, Greatest hits music stations and more. The original 96.3 Rock Radio didn’t struggle, it did take a while to finds it’s rhythm (all targeted/niche stations do) We… Read more »

Reply to  anon
May 31, 2016 9:32 PM

Hi Anon, read this article tonight and then read through your comments. Great to have debate, especially one based on facts over fiction. I’ll get started and please take the retorts in the spirit intended, positive and to the point – not defensive and misleading. The time I have taken for the response is not for your benefit but the benefit of everyone who reads the Moshville Times and is seeking to understand more about the Rock Radio Glasgow bid. Q – Rock radio so niche that it was unsustainable resulting in the license being sold on? A. Rock Radio… Read more »

Reply to  Ciaran.
June 1, 2016 11:46 PM

I really hope this happens the only radio station I have heard where the Dj’s were not patronising (unless it was for a laugh )the music was great and I really couldn’t wait to listen to between jobs just to see what was played or what the Dj’s were talking about more addictive than many TV shows some absolutely awesome people who cared about the music and funny too gutted didn’t get the chance to get a picture with Tom Russel and Ted on Sunday but my young sons were being a nightmare (and have now been sold don’t worry… Read more »

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