The Jim Lowe Page
The Jim Lowe Editorial. Updated
21. June 2000
The Jim Lowe Editorial. (21 June 2000)
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:
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
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
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
Frequency Sharing. Will it work What do you think? Email
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!
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.
The Concept Complaints Desk
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
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.
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
"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.
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".
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.
*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
Not very original !
*Looks like my predictions came true !
(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
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
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!
Well, Crash seems to have survived up to now, although most
of the audience will probably be students.
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.