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The Jim Lowe Editorial.
Updated to Wednesday,
03. January 2001
The Christmas Fiasco (03/01/01)
Yes, here we go again. All the sheep came out in force over
Christmas 2000 with Central moving on to other people's regular
frequencies. First they were on 105.9 but had to move because of
Sound FM returning. The frequency they moved to was 106.4, even
though Concept had announced 2 weeks earlier that they were going to
use the frequency. It seems that some opinions expressed by Egroup
members have been passed on to Jim Brown & Co.
He even mentioned the egroups on air. It is quite obvious
that someone in the Egroup is using a false identity to gain
information. Either that or some trusted member can't be trusted. The
whole idea of having a members-only email group is to prevent the
wrong people from getting inside information and any controversial
opinions expressed within egroups should not be considered public domain.
Central's Big Wattage ???
As it happened, most people reckoned Central's poor signal
strength didn't really do much damage to Concept's signal. Central
cannot even be heard properly in Liverpool City Centre on a clear
frequency which is ridiculous, as they are supposed to cover Central Liverpool.
Brown & Collins
Jim Brown and Dave Collins are well suited as they are both
full of bullcrap ! Dave Collins once went to a certain licensed
station and told them where a certain pirate station was broadcasting
from. Anyone who gets involved with Collins is just asking for trouble.
In my experience, honesty isn't one of Jim Brown's strong
Jim Lowe (3 January 2001)
Those Sheep Again ! (18/10/00)
Hello. I sent an article on 1/10/00 quoting
Kevin Roger's comment of "They all follow each other like
sheep" in relation to the way pirate stations seem to switch on
when the other stations are on.
The same scenario existed in the 1980's when I was on
Merseywaves.The station manager Paul Henderson (or Paul Horrendous as
he was know as due to his crap DJ,ing) used to say, "We'll be
all right this week. SCR (Storeton Community Radio) is on."
Then when I went to Central, they regarded Merseywaves
as the 'Shepherd ' station and used to say the same thing.
Julie FM was exactly the same.
Then in the 1990's NCR (North Coast Radio) became the
shepherds, and were later superseded by CFM, then Lazer, and now
Maybe the sheep should be more independent and develop
ideas of their own, especially the Collins & Brown species,
(usually identified by their fat, docile appearance).
In 15 years, nothing has changed.
What do you think ?
The Sheep Scenario Of Free Radio On Merseyside 1/10/00
Well, This week (1/10/00)has seen another good weekend
for pirate radio apart from Central's deliberately distorted
modulation, obviously intended to cause localized splatter to Lazer's signal.
Why does everyone have to switch on every Sunday ?
It is totally impractical nowadays with very few clear
frequencies on FM. There are 7 days in the week and it would be a lot
better if people had something to tune to in the week.
A good time to go on is from 9 - 12 midnight
when often there is very little to tune into on the radio.
The problem is, to quote Kevin Rogers, "They all
follow each other
What do you think ??
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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 then heard he had resigned from EMAP and went to
Century FM. He has since left, following the departure of station
manager John Myers, (Morgan).
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 wind.
Not very original !
*Looks like my predictions came true !
(Jim Lowe 26th April 1998)
Crash FM. Our Verdict
Crash relaunched in 1999 under the name of Juice FM.
Here are some opinions of Crashes 'progress'. Here are some reports
from 1998 onwards:
Crash FM has
revamped its output with a more commercial format and Radio 1 style
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!
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.