please empty your brain below

Laissez faire in a nut-shell. A race to the bottom.
I too used to enjoy Chiltern FM in the mid-80s, with a then little-known DJ called Paul McKenna. In retrospect, he ought to have pioneered trance music.

Most 'local' output is already dross in UK, and is likely to become worse with these changes. I am still impressed that you can access global radio via the web, and often listen to 'local' radio from across Europe and beyond.
Well, what do you expect? Your beloved BBC plays its part disposing of its competition. If the British Bread Corporation charged a £150 a year dining room licence, and 'gave away' all the bread that people could eat, that would give commercial bakeries a hard time, would it not?
Is your main reason for listening to the radio the music or the presenter?, if it's music, then radio isn't the monopoly supplier it once was - look at what happened to MTV for example, you can get all the music videos you want now - and they're not cut off early, plus it's the music I want to listen to, not the latest boy/girl band, or the radio edit, instead I can have the full 12:05 of Isaac Hayes doing Walk on By, followed by the 13:47 of My Favorite Things by John Coltrane, then how about Barry White and Let the Music Play - but the Rhythm Masters Vocal Mix version which lasts nearly 8 minutes - no news on the hour, no traffic reports, don't care about sport, this is better.
Radio Jackie broadcasting from above the flower shop in Central Rd. Worcester Park, the boys from the radio inspectors department forcing their way in to turn the station off. The dj signing off with the sound of the raid in progress. Memories from the 70's when local radio was real !
Since the sixties pirates closed, I have only listened to BBC Radio 4, World Service, etc. Pop music got tiresome in the 70s. I used to run a tiny medium-wave pirate station in Essex, after the pirates stopped in 1967, but got taken to court twice by the GPO team. My coverage was rather local, with my home-made transmitter.
Chiltern - oof-off - Radio! was the sound of my childhood; we all listened to that rather than Radio 1. (Except for the chart because the one on Chiltern was unofficial and rubbish). We had a connection with it becaue the presenters talked about stuff we cared and knew about - they chucked in jokes about the Arndale and if it was tipping it down with rain that got mentioned. Someone who was in a boyband in the 90s broadcasting from Leicester Square probably wouldn't have registered in quite the same way.
Having advised Ofcom's radio licensing committee in the mid noughties and evaluated many applications, it was striking just how marginal the finances of stations where back then, and that's before the explosion of media that bids for our finite attention. Thus it's inevitable that radio will suffer - we can only watch or listen to one thing at once.

I'd never realised until then just how tightly defined radio licences are in terms of content as well as geography. Here's the current Heart Bedford licence:
It's summarised as "A LOCALLY ORIENTED MAINSTREAM POPULAR MUSIC AND INFORMATION STATION FOR UNDER 44s IN THE LUTON & BEDFORD AREA." Which rules out most commenters here by age as well as geography, I suspect.
I haven't properly listened to a radio station for decades.
Pirate stations satisfied my listening requirements in my youth – Caroline and Veronica being the main ones, and the occasional Radio Luxembourg fading in and out if I wanted something different and the famous Horace Batchelor advert.

Capital Radio opened the same I started working in London and I can still recall the large Capital Radio 539 (the medium wave frequency) posters all over the Underground, with the number 539 made up of curved female (and male?) figures.

Capital Radio was an instant hit with me and I listened to it most of the time. The best DJ shows I liked were Nicky Horne and Kenny Everett and they both introduced me to new music (I mainly like instrumental) . They influenced my current and future listening and purchasing choices. I still have some cassette tapes of them that I recorded at the time (70s) that are as enjoyable now as they were then. It’s also interesting to hear the old adverts from what was effectively a pre PC / Mobile age when many City gents still wore the bowler hat and brolly uniform!

I don’t know when I stopped listening to Capital, possibly after Kenny Everett left. I think from that point, I was listening to my own music collection more and over the years this has evolved to mainly streaming my music to wherever device at home. My music collection being greatly enhanced by music purchased and downloaded from Bandcamp.

Personally, I find radio stations rather bland these days.

I suspect that many listeners’ habits have changed over the years. I don’t know how that affects radio listening figures. Do people still listen to a radio station in a car, or just load a CD, connect their bluetooth device etc.?
At least we still have Radio Jackie, albeit in a somewhat different form. I usually jokingly refer to it as Cheeze-FM, but really I have a soft spot for it. Still independent, still not available outside a certain swathe of outer South London.
Anyone else remember the Kit Curran Radio Show?
I have always listened to the radio and suspect now, I always will!

Earliest memories are Radio 2 in the kitchen while having breakfast as a very small child, Capital in my later childhood/teens, a spell living abroad where I listened to their local radio, and now it's Absolute Classic Rock which is on from the moment I wake until the moment I go to bed with short breaks for my MP3 if I'm out or TV if there's something on in the evening!
"What we have here is the irreversible creeping monopolisation of a previously diverse media platform" - too true. Global owns Capital, Classic FM, Gold, Heart, Smooth, LBC and various local stations. Bauer owns Absolute, Jazz FM, Kiss, Magic, Scala, and just recently bought three local radio groups: Celador (South West and the East) Lincs FM Group (Midlands); and Wireless (North West, Midlands and South Wales). Over 40 local stations in total. Clear Channel in the US (now sickeningly renamed "I Heart Media") finally destroyed any remaining variety in US regional radio. The same is happening here. Next stage, the end of most live radio.
I started listening to commercial radio when I went to Uni in Guildford and found Capital. I was hooked, especially Nicky Horne. When Capital wandered away from me I switched to the revolutionary GLR from the BBC. Strange I know. When that went all boring and parochial like all the other BBC Local Radio I moved to the equally revolutionary and accessible Classic FM.

These days we're very lucky that there's the wonderful Jack FM "Playing what WE want",(i.e. no requests ever) based in Oxford. Plenty of local news. Advertises charity events for free and plays all the good stuff from the 80's and more with no repeats 9-5 and plenty of digs at Heart. They have a breakfast show but it has too much chat and giggling for me but the rest of the day is DJ-free with amusing idents.
Is that run-down of Chiltern's opening day programming taken from DG's teenage diary, perchance?
The properly local raido stations are now the pirates - quite easy to pick out on a smartphone with an FM tuner. There are usually a handful within range in London.

At the other end of the scale, I have fond memories of idle evenings spent scanning the short-wave bands, listening to far-flung, fuzzy places. The modern version of that is the delightful

I find the music output on radio and streaming services terribly same-y with zero occasions when I hear something new and think wow!. Most of my listening now comes through an ad-blocking browser from YouTube. It may be the internet's content behomoth, but there are some amazingly rich seems of obscure, innovative and diverse creativity to be found, and it seems to be easiest to find it there.
I always thought the Capital DJ was called 'Little Nicky Little Nicky Little Nicky Horne'.
The power of a jingle.
It'll be interested to see how the community radio sector reacts to this news. [Disclosure: I'm involved with running a community station!] They could sweep in with very local breakfast shows of old, but as other commentators have said - the market has moved on, people who want music can get it from anywhere - so formats really must change if linear broadcast radio is to remain relevant. In that respect, it's potentially an exciting time for the community sector. My heart goes out though to friends whose jobs are now gone and their hundreds of colleagues.
In my opinion this is a good reason to slim down a bloated BBC - close Radios 1 and 2, plus 6 and all the other "add ons". They could keep the local stations and Radio 4, let the commercial world provide the rest.
I hope there will be a follow up article of what local radio stations do still exist within London (both fm and on digital).

I know you can actually pick up Radio Jackie for quite a good distance around the M25 and there is Time Fm which has clung onto existance despite several takeovers and relaunches.

And then there is always the world of hospital radio...

dg writes: Lists here... FM/digital/pirate
I have a bit of a soft spot for Wessex FM. Very local, covering a chunk of Dorset centred around Dorchester and churning out super-local news mixed with a rather eclectic playlist that tends towards cheese, interspersed with excruciatingly bad adverts for local businesses all with their own catchy jingles. you can even hire the Wessex FM mobile disco for your party or event! A local radio station for local people.
Meanwhile BBC Radio London seems determined to compete with LBC at breakfast and teatime, filling much of the time (cheaply, I suppose) by encouraging listeners to ring in and rant about things. I find myself wishing for the sort of innocuous BBC local radio most of the country still seems to have, with a combination of fairly local news and MOR music. Then again, come 10 am it all changes and the marvellous Robert Elms comes on and does London justice.

Do you have a complete set of Radio Listeners Guides, or is the one that map came from just a random copy? Highly recommended by the way and available at
I have Heart on as background music in my bedroom. It is suitably dull that it helps me get to sleep. It tends to play music from the 90s onwards so I do hear what passes for music these days. I do feel sorry for people who have lost, or will lose, what element of "local" radio they had.

I used to listen to Capital in the 80s but it progressively lost its London identity because of the mergers and takeovers DG mentions. Other than that I've never been a big local radio far - it was permanent Radio 2 when I grew up. I caused my parents great consternation when I retuned the radio to Radio One or Radio Luxembourg.

I now listen to Mad Wasp Radio, an internet station, more than any other radio channel. This is largely because of people I know that present some of the shows. It has decent variety. I also listen to some shows on Phonic FM based in Exeter. That has a very local focus for its home area but the shows are decent and play stuff that isn't in the mainstream. I now listen to more radio than I've done in previous decades but I tend to be very selective as to what I listen to.
It is a shame so many local radio stations are losing their local identity. I find Heart so bland surely it will be even more so with so litle local programming. Each version of Heart seems to have the same very limited playlist.

I count myself lucky that my local station (which I listen to every morning) is still going. It is part of UKRD group but they seem to value a local identify, rather than making all the stations the same. The breakfast show still has the same presenter as when the station launched back in 1996.

When I visit my parents their local station is also part of the same group and I also enjoy Pirate FM when in Cornwall, part of the same group.

But I compare with where I went to University where the main local station has been swallowed up by Heart and seems to have lost any local identity. In fact most places I go, it's the BBC stations, Classic FM and a local Heart station and often nothing else.

However there are still some great local stations out there. I remember finding even the Isles of Scilly have their own local station (Radio Scilly), which is still going. I was impressed such a small place supported a real community station.
My recollection is that the Holmes and Newman Breakfast Report lasted about a week and then for some reason Newman disappeared and it was just Holmes. I think I remember this being mentioned in the local paper. I still vaguely want to know why, did they have a row on air?
Human League: WXJL Tonight
My god, does Radio Jackie still exist? I remember listening to it when I first came down to London in 1978. My hubby and I had helped to run a student pirate radio station up in N. Wales and we often listened to Radio Jackie.
And who remembers 'You're Mother Wouldn't Like It! on Capital? There aren't any interesting music radio stations now and I can't listen to modern music, it's either insipid or incomprehensible.
All of these stations already have Toby Anstis
Shame, your summarising sentence lets down an informative and mostly accurate post.
"mostly accurate"
Deaf Jeff and yourself may be pleased to know that none of them now have Toby Anstis. ( As usual, DG, thorough and entertaining.

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