Classic Gold GEM
|Broadcast area||Nottingham and Derby|
|Frequency||999 kHz in Nottingham
945 kHz in Derby
DAB in Leicester and Nottingham
|First air date||4 October 1988|
|Owner||Classic Gold Digital (UBC)|
Solid Gold GEM AM (later Classic Gold GEM-AM) was a United Kingdom radio station, broadcasting to much of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and East Staffordshire from studios in Nottingham, and later Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
The station ran as Solid Gold GEM AM until the mid-1990s when it was absorbed into the rest of the Classic Gold network, and was replaced on 3 August 2007 by a new network called simply Gold. The result of the merger of the Classic Gold and Capital Gold networks under one owner, GCap Media. The GEM name has since re-emerged with the launch of the Internet station Solid Gold Gem in 2012.
The station began as GEM-AM in 1988 (the letters GEM standing for Great East Midlands). It was one of the most well-regarded gold-formatted stations to come to the British airwaves in the late 1980s and was launched as a response to government disapproval of the simulcasting of radio companies' FM programming on their mediumwave frequencies. GEM was the offshoot of Radio Trent, which began to cater for a younger audience and became known as Trent FM upon the frequency split, and the new AM service was launched to much fanfare with a team of Olympic style runners completing a marathon from Leicester to Derby and finally to Nottingham (the three main areas to which GEM was to broadcast).
GEM's medium wave broadcasts to Nottinghamshire on 999 kHz and Derbyshire on 945 kHz were initially supplemented by transmissions on 1260 kHz to Leicestershire, but this last frequency was later given over to programming for Leicester's large Asian population (Sunrise Radio later Sabras Radio).
In 1994 GEM's owners Midland Radio plc were bought, by expanding radio company GWR, which gradually networked the station's programming with that of other gold stations it had purchased elsewhere in the country. The station was subtly rebranded Classic Gold GEM and over time, it became more Classic Gold and less GEM, until only four hours of local programming was left.
By the end of the 1990s, Classic Gold GEM and GWR's network of other medium wave Classic Gold stations across the country were sold to media company UBC, in order for GWR to comply with government rules of the time, restricting how much share of listening one company could own. This and the other stations in the group became known as Classic Gold Digital Network.
Presenters on the station included some who were already established personalities in the East Midlands region. Among them were John Peters (who launched the station as he had done with Trent in 1975). In the late 1980s a new South Asian Indian program brought extra listenership to GEM-AM from the large South Asian Indian community that lived in Derby and Nottingham. A number of the original presenters were later to be heard on a newer oldies and easy listening station broadcasting to the East Midlands, this time on Saga 106.6 FM, which came on air in 2003, and was later rebranded as 106.6 Smooth Radio after it was acquired by GMG Radio. Many of Saga 106.6 FM's jingles were made by JAM Productions of Dallas, Texas, and Steve England, and made reference to the Great East Midlands. Classic Gold GEM used ident jingles from Manchester company Alfasound, and then PAMS and JAM.
GCap Media and Global Radio
Having two gold networks on its hands, GCap decided to merge them. In early August 2007, the Classic Gold and Capital Gold networks were joined under the new name Gold. To "streamline" the business even further, the last remaining live local programming on Classic Gold GEM was cut, and replaced with an automated daytime programme (where the presenter's links between the records are all pre-recorded but made to sound live), the bare minimum required to satisfy regulators Ofcom. The decision resulted in the redundancy of long-time Classic Gold Gem presenter Geoff Hemming, as well as local presenters at Classic Gold stations nationwide.
The station had a 4% audience reach in Nottingham, and 6% in Derby in 2006. In 1993 the reach was 24% in Nottingham, 23% in Derby. (*RAJAR ratings 1993/2006)
The dwindling audience tuning into the station's crackly medium wave frequencies has in recent years been supplemented by those listening to a stream on the internet, and also on DAB Digital Radio in Nottingham and Leicester. The bit rate for this broadcast was reduced in 2006 to accommodate more radio stations to the digital multiplex, it has since been increased back to stereo.
After nineteen years broadcasting from the basement 'Studio B' at Radio Trent's Castle Gate headquarters, Classic Gold's Nottingham studios moved, along with Trent's, to the sixth floor of Chapel Quarter, an office building on the corner of Mount Street and Chapel Bar, in January 2007.
Solid Gold Gem
2012 saw the launch of Solid Gold Gem AM, an internet radio station following the original GEM-AM format. While Solid Gold Gem AM has no connection to the original GEM AM in Nottingham, its line-up features many of the original presenters including Andy Marriott, Krissi Carpenter, Paul Burbank, and Craig Strong. A commercial free station, it styles itself as "radio like it used to be". On 27 November 2014, and shortly after the station had celebrated its second anniversary, it was announced that Solid Gold Gem would cease broadcasting from midnight on 30 November. However, a week after its closure, a relaunch was announced for 15 December. The station would also now be managed by Len Groat, and a second station, Serenade Radio, launched in February 2015. No reason was given for the broadcasting hiatus.
- "Solid Gold Gem.am celebrates first year". Radio Today. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- "Online station Solid Gold GEM AM closes after two years". Radio Today. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Online oldies station Solid Gold Gem AM returns". Radio Today. 7 December 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Classic Gold's Homepage
- Classic Gold GEM at Media UK
- Tribute site to GEM-AM
- History of local radio in Nottinghamshire
- Article about broadcaster John Peters (which includes recordings of him presenting on the station)
- Solid Gold Gem