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LONDON’S CHOICE FM DITCHES ITS REGGAE FORMAT FOR URBAN CAPITAL XTRA!

End of an era for Iconic black radio station

By Elizabeth Pears—

GONE: Daddy Ernie

CHOICE FM have stopped broadcasting under the name listeners know and love.

Britain’s first black radio station – licensed specifically to cater to African and African Caribbean audiences – has been renamed Capital XTRA as part of a major rebranding exercise.

The end of an era was announced on Twitter on the third day of Black History Month.

The secret decision – which has been in the pipeline for months – was brought forward after The Voice broke the story in the newspaper this week, according to sources.

However, a spokesman for Global Radio claimed they always intended to go public today.

A well-placed industry source revealed how station bosses frantically called DJs last night and summoned them to a meeting early this morning to break the news.

As well as the loss of the iconic name, a number of well-loved Choice DJs have lost their jobs.

The first to be axed was reggae veteran Daddy Ernie who said via Twitter: “Just to let you the public who has supported Superjam for 24yrs as from today I will no longer be part of Capital XTRA moving forward. Shame.”

The DJ had earned the credit of heading the first and only five-day reggae show outside the Caribbean on legal radio.

Others who have been pushed out include popular personalities Martin Jay, Natty B, Dave P and DJ KC who announced their departures on social media.

Natty B

Natty B

A source said: “The fact that [Global Radio] has done this so underhandedly speaks volumes about the people now heading up the station. Surely their listeners are worth more?

“Some of the names that I’ve heard going mean that soca, reggae and gospel have now been erased from the station’s playlist. Our black identity has well and truly been removed from the station. Happy Black History Month!”

Under the terms of the licence, Choice on its two frequencies – 107.1 and 96.9 – is described as “a targeted music, news and information service primarily for listeners of African and Afro-Caribbean origin in the Brixton area but with cross-over appeal to other listeners who appreciate urban contemporary black music.”

It was founded as an independent radio station in 1990 by Patrick Berry and Neil Kenlock to address the absence of black music on the airwaves, and it was on those grounds that Ofcom continue to approve the licence.

Kenlock told The Voice: “The owners would be well within their rights to change the name.

ChoiceFM:London

“But whatever happens we expect them to continue to give our community, the black community, the access to broadcast, because that’s what Choice was about. That’s why we chose the name, because the guiding principle was that every community had the right to music of their choice. Change the name by all means but don’t disregard our community, that would be wrong.”

Kenlock warned Ofcom to ensure that Choice, or its equivalent, continued to broadcast music in the interest of black people. He added: “If [Global] plans to target other groups, Ofcom needs to offer new licences.”

A series of tweets from Global Radio said: “We are launching Capital XTRA, the first urban dance music station to be broadcast nationally this Monday, October 7.

“Capital XTRA will be the place for urban dance – Kojo and Jade XTRA in the morning kick it all off on Capital XTRA, this Monday at 6am.”

CHANGE HAS COME: Kojo and Jade will host a new show on Capital XTRA

In 2004, Capital Radio Group, then a minority shareholder, took full control of Choice in 2004 in an £11.7 million deal later merging with GWR group to form GCAP Media.

Four years later, Global Radio – Europe’s biggest radio group – agreed a takeover worth £375m.

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