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THE JIM LOWE EDITORIAL   The Concept Complaints Desk

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The "Pirate" band. Frequency Sharing    UK Free Radio News

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The Jim Lowe Editorial. Updated to Wednesday, 21. June 2000


The Jim Lowe Editorial. (21 June 2000)

Frequency Limitations

The Radio Authority is to fill up the FM with incremental stations between 106 and 107 Mhz. Also more RSL's are appearing at the bottom of the band on 87.7 etc.

In the future, low power licenses will be allocated on frequencies which national radio networks use in other areas, which will sometimes limit the signal of the RSL to it's own area only.

The plan is to eventually shift the national networks to Digital Radio (DAB) which will probably be re-launched again. At the moment Digital Radio is on a temporary frequency af about 200 Mhz. but will eventually be moved to a UHF frequency. It will not be worth buying a receiver till then. Unlike Sky Digital customers, we won't be issued with free upgrades when analogue radio is eventually phased out.

Will this mean the FM will just have low power stations leaving more room for pirate activity ?

Sky Digital has an excellent choice of radio channels as well as specialist music channels which can be subscribed to for about 60-00 Pounds a year. Not Bad !

There is also a web site which lists Sky Digital channels: Sky Digital EPG

Independent Local Radio seems to be at an all time low with the former Gold stations being renamed 'Magic' and featuring more syndicated programming and mainstream play listing. They have lost their local identity. There seems to be less local input than ever since they were all 'cloned'.

Radio 2, however has improved with the addition of 2 more former Radio 1 presenters. Steve Wright in the afternoon (just like in the 80's) and Janice Long at midnight.

Tony Blackburn also does a soul show on Jazz FM Saturday at 1600 to 2000.


Central 'wakes up' after 12 years

There has been a slight increase in free radio activity in Merseyside recently with exactly 4 stations on air, one on the medium wave.

Apart from the usual appearances from Sound FM and the Pulse(CFM), there is now a half hearted effort from Jim Brown who is putting out old drifty jingle tapes and a bit of recently recorded ego tripping shows, and calling it Central Radio International on 106.1. The modulation is a mess and the frequency control is unstable. Sounds about right for him !

Jim Brown,s old mucker Phill Davies is on 1422 Khz. with Liverpool Pirate Radio which has been stronger recently. The only thing that spoils it is a strong heterodyne whistle which is sometimes louder than the audio. Why don't they just pool their resources and put one decent transmitter on ?

Steve 'Rodent Features' Mason is still doing a half hearted effort called Pure FM on 106.2-3. Now we know what RDS stands for. Random Drift System !


The Pirate Band


According to Link Exchange, the concept web site had 423 visitors between 30th and 31st August 1998. This may be due to us signing up with search engines recently.

The August bank holiday brought out the usual stations such as Concept, Pirate FM' Pure FM and CFM. Pure FM weren't content with playing mindless music. They had to move right next to Concept in order to cause interference. Previously they had been jamming Radio Tarkwa when they were in 105.8, and now Concept is the station they have targeted. Pure has not been on for months, and now that a bank holiday has come up they decided to switch on just for the nuisance factor. What is wrong with these people?

Frequency Sharing. Will it work What do you think? Email me !

The unofficial pirate band is diminishing even further with 106.9 Silk FM on and 107.2 Wire FM from Warrington due on shortly. There are only 106.2 to 106.4, which are really clear in the Merseyside area. It seems that my prediction about frequency sharing will become a reality soon. Some pirates will claim a frequency belongs to them and should be available to them 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, but those days are well and truly over. All stations please take note!

Fringe frequencies

If a pirate is on the same frequency as a distant station, it still has the potential for generating a complaint, whether or not it is causing interference in the station's main service area

The Tarkwa Scenario

Radio Tarkwa got raided in 1996 for that very reason when South Flintshire Radio is alleged to have complained of interference on 105.8. Whether or not interference was caused is irrelevant, The offence of illegal broadcasting had still been committed. This why a frequency sharing 'agreement' will be necessary if high power pirate radio is to continue on FM. <P/

1998 Wireless and Telegraphy Act

There are more amendments due to be made to the existing Wireless and telegraphy act which will include things like interference from thermostats on central heating systems etc. No doubt it will increase the powers of the RA to make it impossible for pirate stations to operate. Fortunately Merseyside is not the Pirate Radio Capital of the UK.

Jim Lowe.


The Concept Complaints Desk


COMPLAINT!

The Webb And Lowe Show 4th May 1998.

In the W+L show we have managed to annoy the people from Central Radio, (that has-been station from the 1980's) or Jim Brown, to be precise, who has been moaning about Tom Webb saying that Central finished because of squabbling between Jim Brown and Phill Davies. This is fact and if Brown doesn't like the truth, there is always the option of using the OFF switch on his radio. The idea of the Webb and Lowe show is to speak the truth and not as a mutual admiration society for ego trippers. If these people are so interested in Central, why haven't they brought it back after 11 years? Answer: Because nobody's interested.

Complaint dismissed !


The Buzz 97.1 Todays Best Music mix

Yes, it all sounds so familiar but this is the new ILR for the Wirral  area of Merseyside launched at 1200 on 14/02/99 featuring the same DJ's, the same playlisted music and the same 'City' sound-alike jingles.
The only differences being the name change (formerly MFM), the transmitter site (now at Storeton Hill on the Wirral instead of Moyl-Y-Park in Flintshire) and the seperation from the other Marcher stations.
They are promising more local news inserts also. It is about 500W in power.

We'll see !


Bland FM, your local ILR !

Take a tune around the FM at any time of day and what do you hear ? Play listed commercial stations playing the same tracks in sequence daily. This has become the norm for the majority of ILR's, as it removes any responsibility for music content from the presenter who just puts on the music and does the weather etc. There are many robot style DJ's who race through what they have to say as if it is all part of some production line to rake in money from the advertisers and sponsors.

At least Crash FM is trying to do something different, although most their audience will probably be students at Liverpool University. Time will tell whether they will survive, as most of the commercials seem to be for CD releases. Maybe one of the major record companies will buy it out as a going concern if it doesn't' succeed. Either that or they will resort to a daytime format of play listed stuff just like the others, followed by their minority stuff at night.

Jim Lowe


Previously

Easter '98

There has been a very poor turn-out this Easter with Pirate FM being the only station on Sunday night, and the occasional appearance of Cruise FM. Concept was cancelled due to Shure FM from Rhyl on 106.6

The poor turnout is probably due to Crash appearing in the middle of the unofficial 'pirate' band. Concept finally made it on to the air on Bank holiday Monday with an extended free radio news and quite a lot of stuff about legal radio stations including ILR's, RSL's and Short Wave plus some extracts from Glenn Houser's 'World Of Radio.'


This section consists of personal opinions and is not intended to be malicious or damaging to any individual or organisation


LOCAL RADIO

"Tragic 1548." Have they lost the plot?

Magic 1548 is to relaunch a revamped version of the station on Monday 13/09/99 and is axing popular presenters Billy Butler and Pete Price. Nobody seems to know what this 'new' station will come up with. There have been many negative responses on the phone-ins.

Scottie McClue (real name Archibald Colin Lamont)

In mid-April 1998, Magic 1548 replaced their late night phone-in man Gerry Phillips with a syndicated programme, "The Scotty McClue Mega Phone-In", which is apparently relayed by the other EMAP owned 'Magic' stations in Yorkshire and the North East. We now hear that he has resigned from EMAP and is going to Century FM. I presume that 105.4 in the North West will carry it from Winter Hill.

Scouse Bashing

The programme consisted of a self opinionated professional Scotsman with an exaggerated accent who has started slagging off people from Merseyside, referring to them as "thick heads" etc. This is because they have been ringing in to complain about the sudden 'disappearance' of Gerry Phillips, who said he was going to be back in "about two weeks".

Complaints

McClue seems to be trying to follow the example of Alan Beswick who did exactly the same thing in the 1980's but was eventually gagged by the IBA after insulting a female caller.

McClueless

*This Scottie McClue show will probably be dropped by Magic in the Merseyside area because of the amount of complaints received. Scottie McClue also appeared on the Billy Butler show on Friday but he was actually on a link from his local station. I saw a Scottie McClue video in Woolworth's recently. Apparently he is a stand up comedian who does impersonations etc. He says he doesn't actually get paid for his show but does it free to advertise his bakery business on the air. I listened to him on Friday night and there were a few serious calls but he seemed to be more interested in encouraging Yorkshire people to talk about breaking wind.

Not very original !

*Looks like my predictions came true !

Scottie McClue had a web site www.mediauk.com/scottie/index.html

(Jim Lowe 26th April 1998)

Scottie McClue now works for Century FM 105.4

Crash FM. Our Verdict

 Crash FM has revamped its output with a more commercial format and Radio 1 atyle jingles. When it first started, it sounded like an RSL but it's now improved quite a bit.

July 1998 Janice Long has now been dismissed from Crash FM and is to be replaced by a former Kiss FM DJ. The station showed signs of trouble on their launch day 27/3/98, when their managing director resigned. There have also been reports in the local press about their listenership falling.

Radio listenership per station is falling anyway due to more stations sharing the market. This year alone three new stations have appeared in the Merseyside area alone.. 107.6 Crash FM Liverpool, 107.2 Wire FM and 107.9 Dune FM Southport.

105.4 Century FM which is the biggest regional station outside London and will have the advantage of providing cost effective advertising accross the region, unlike most ILR's.

Previous Crash Stuff

I see that Crash 107 FM has now arrived on 107.6 !

I first heard them on Thursday 26th March at 0015. I naturally assumed that they were going to appear on 107.00 and wrongly monitored that frequency for three days !

The Big Launch

Their much awaited but anticlimactic launch was officially supposed to be at 1:07 on Friday 27th March, but it was actually at 1:08 and 10 seconds, to be precise. Janice Long forgot to fade down the music and proceeded to introduce the station anyway. The local cable TV station Channel 1 from Liverpool supplies their news. Their DJ line up included former Culture Club lead singer Boy George, who did a dance show between 1600 and 1800. They are also going to broadcast live concerts from local clubs.

Will Crash Work ?

The style of music played by Crash FM is definitely for a minority audience of students etc. This format is quite varied but isn't in demand 24 hours a day. On Saturday night I only heard some man/woman transvestite playing 70's music and making 'trannie' references etc. The presentation was amateurish and the show was probably pre-recorded. At that time they should be playing live dance mixes and doing live 'shouts'. Their launch day seemed promising with live bands and mix DJ's but now they seem to be losing it a bit, with quite a few mistakes. Apparently they have had the licence for about a year and they were given the ultimatum by the Radio Authority of either going on or losing their licence. It's all very well doing an RSL or two, but keeping a station going for eight years is a big commitment and could prove costly if it doesn't succeed.

I will say one thing in there favour. At least they have been playing tracks by The Fall!

(Jim Lowe

4/7/98:

Well, Crash seems to have survived up to now, although most of the audience will probably be students.


Any comments or suggestions ? conceptradio@hotmail.com


PREVOUSLY (21/02/98)

Hello and welcome to the first Internet edition of the Jim Lowe Editorial. This is the fourth edition, which usually appears in the Concept Newsletters. Previous editions will eventually be added onto an additional webpage on this site for reference, along with some features about stations on Merseyside in the 1980's. In future editions, I will be expressing some of my controversial opinions. There has been very little free radio activity during 1997. The pirates have lost interest, especially since the raids on CFM and Tarkwa. We now get just the occasional appearances from Pure FM, Studio FM and Cruise, plus a few tests from CFM on low power.

Generally speaking, there isn't much that hasn't been done on radio. Most commercial stations stick with safe policy of a play listed format where music gets priority and speech is kept to a minimum case people tune away. Most ILR stations will have the obligatory 3-in-a-row every hour after the news and the weather which is done in a racy manner in order to fit in the timed talk-over music and to avoid crashing the sponsor's message. Then at 20 minutes past the hour, the presenter will probably get to say something without reading from a script, (usually some well used cliché's to avoid being controversial, the last words being the station's name and frequency). This routine is repeated after the next bunch of commercials, followed by another 3-in-a row, and so on to the next hour followed by the same thing again.

Some of these stations might as well be automatic, as it doesn't matter who the presenter is. It will still sound as boring as ever. Even the 'Gold' stations have adopted the same policy of mixing 70's and 80's music with some of the lighter new releases. The only difference is they might do a late night phone-in to stop people tuning away to the BBC Local Radio. Most people tend to listen to the same station all the time, usually the strongest station they can get, because radio has now become the 'poor relation' of television. Most listings magazines have relegated radio to Some obscure page, completely separate from their TV listings. Only the Radio Times gives any proper details of radio programmes.