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|Broadcast area||Various parts of England and Wales (AM)
Much of England, Wales and central Scotland (DAB)
Across UK & Ireland (Sky, Freesat & Virgin Media and online)
|Slogan||The Greatest Hits of All Time.|
|Frequency||Various on MW|
|First air date||28 November 1988 (London station),
3 August 2007 (current semi-national network)
|Audience share||1.3% (December 2012, )|
|Sister stations||The Arrow, Capital, Capital Xtra, Chill, Classic FM, Heart, LBC, Real Radio, Real Radio XS, Smooth Radio, XFM|
Gold is a network of oldies radio stations which was formed by the merger of the Capital Gold network and the Classic Gold Network in August 2007. The Capital Gold network started in London in 1988 on Capital Radio's AM frequency, as the British Government urged radio stations to end simulcasting (broadcasting the same programmes simultaneously on FM and AM) and threatening to remove one of their frequencies if simulcasting continued. The original DJs included Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett and David Hamilton. Like BBC Radio 2 Gold aim their music at people aged 50 or over. However, in the last few years there has been a noticeable shift in general daytime programming from playing classic artists such as Sinatra, Presley, 'King' Cole, Como etc. in favour of more contemporary artists of the last 15 years or so, thus capturing yesterday's teenagers now today's thirtysomethings.
As required by the 1990 Broadcasting Act the IBA and the Home Office in 1987, all ILR stations were to permanently split simulcasting output on both its FM and AM frequencies in order to create new local radio stations and improve choice. Capital responded by launching a golden oldies station, 1548 AM Capital Gold in 1 November 1988 on its AM frequency while Capital on FM became 95.8 Capital FM, a chart contemporary music station. Both stations received brand-new jingle packages from Muff Murfin and TM Productions in Dallas. These were later followed up by new packages from Californian jingle house Who Did That Music (later Groove Jingles]) which went on to become well known and essential parts of its music programming.
Capital Gold featured a strong presenting lineup such as "Diddy" David Hamilton and Tony Blackburn, Tony having arrived from BBC Radio London. Kenny Everett returned to Capital, having been dismissed by the BBC some years previously following an insulting remark he made on-air about a politician's wife. Everett hosted daytime shows until his death in 1994. The mid to late 1990s saw Capital Gold rated London's most listened to AM radio station and third most listened to music station, behind Capital and Radio 1.
With Capital Gold proving very popular with its London audience, the station management decided to syndicate Tony Blackburn's Sunday soul show and expand its popular 'Sportstime' brand to Birmingham station Xtra AM which Capital Radio had purchased in 1993 along with BRMB to forming the Capital Radio Group plc. This was followed in 1994 with the purchase of the Southern Radio Group.
Both Capital Radio plc and GWR Group lobbied the then Radio Authority to allow syndicated programmes to be broadcast on its AM-owned stations. The Radio Authority agreed and it was announced early in 1998 that Capital Gold from London would replace Invicta Supergold and was the first station to be replaced, within weeks of the announcement Xtra and South Coast followed on 1 June.
The networking was agreed by the Radio Authority with the stipulation that at least four hours a day of weekday broadcasting were kept and local news, traffic announcements and advertising remained on each station. Listeners to the previous local stations listed above were dismayed that such a huge chunk of local broadcasting were to be eliminated resulting in the loss of jobs. Capital Radio boss David Mansfield maintained that AM listenership had steadily declined and required a consistent, high quality programme offering across all stations to remain competitive.
Initially the four hours were scheduled in the afternoon drivetime slot (3-7pm) with a networked breakfast/morning show hosted by comedian Mike Osman (7-11am). This surprised many people in the industry as this sidelined Capital Gold's biggest radio name at the time Tony Blackburn who had previously presented the weekday breakfast show to weekends. However, a few months later Blackburn was moved back on the weekday schedule although on the afternoon drivetime slot while local breakfast shows were reintroduced to meet the four-hour requirement.
A new jingle package from now defunct jingle company AJ Productions and a new slogan – "Great Time Music" heralded the major change.
In 1999 Capital Radio plc acquired Red Dragon FM and its medium wave service Touch Radio in South Wales with the end result being that Capital Gold replaced Touch Radio. 1999 saw the station's reach increase yet again- across the UK and Ireland on Sky.
In 2002, brand new logos and imaging re-launched the Capital Gold Network, with the new slogan, "The Greatest Hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s", and added a further medium wave station in Manchester after the former Wireless Group agreed to sell Big 1458 AM's broadcasting licence.
1987 also saw the launch of live, uninterrupted football coverage, entitled Capital Gold Sportstime and hosted by sports commentator Jonathan Pearce, who was known for his loud, enthusiastic delivery. Prominent football clubs featured on the show included Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham, Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and Wimbledon. In the West Midlands, Live Football Commentary is broadcast on The Goalzone with Tom Ross on 990, 1017, 1152, 1359 AM & DAB.
In 1999 CE Digital, a consortium made up of Capital Radio plc and Emap Radio won local DAB digital radio licences for Manchester, Birmingham and London. This was followed by similar wins by Capital Radio plc in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Capital Gold actively encouraged listeners to switch to DAB Digital Radio as the added benefits of digital enable stereo broadcasts for the first time in its history.
In a dispute with station bosses Tony Blackburn left the station in 2002, having been at the station since Gold's launch in 1988. He hosted weekday drivetime and the Soul Spectrum until being replaced by Greg Edwards.
In 2004, station management decided to stop broadcasting live football coverage under the Capital Gold Sportstime title. It was felt that the loss of Jonathan Pearce to BBC Radio Five Live and the fees involved in acquiring live radio coverage rights had become too costly. A replacement sports show, Sports Saturday now covers sports results. A Saturday Football League preview magazine was shortly aired in 2004 but discontinued a few months later.
Capital Gold became an incredibly popular radio station and played a wide range of music from well-established music superstars, from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and added a fair amount of 1990s music and later. The station had a weekly playlist of new material, plus a "Rated And Recommended" list which is chosen by David Jensen, who returned to Capital Gold after a period at Heart 106.2 in 2003, played exclusively in his show. Predominantly the station played classic hits and almost every song played will be by a major artist.
The station featured regular feature shows. On Saturday morning David Jensen hosts a celebrity and showbiz programme and recent notable guests have included Paul Weller, Jools Holland, Jeremy Irons, Smokey Robinson and Juliette Lewis. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, Greg Edwards hosted an excellent soul show called Soul Spectrum. On Sunday mornings from 11am a chart rundown show called From the Bottom to the Top features the top 20 tracks when the featured guest was riding high in the charts. Also Nicky Horne had a classic album show aired on Sunday afternoons.
Classic Gold merger
Following the merger of Capital Radio plc and GWR Group plc to form GCap Media in 2005, a review of station assets was carried out by Chief Executive Ralph Bernard. One of the aims for 2006 was that Capital Gold would be carried on a national digital multiplex – enabling near-nationwide coverage – by the merger between itself and digital-only station Capital Life. However, following Gcap's purchase of the Classic Gold Digital Network in April 2007, the former plan was scrapped, and it was decided to merge the two networks to form the 'Gold Network.' This began at 7.00pm on 3 August 2007. The majority of the shows and presenters on the new station are taken from Capital Gold's former network, rather than Classic Gold's network with the exception of Erika North, who was the co-presenter on the Classic Gold breakfast show with radio DJ Tony Blackburn. She co-hosted the new 'Gold' breakfast show with James Cannon until December 2010; with Blackburn having quit the network completely, joining Smooth Radio. Local programming took the form of a voice-tracked show on weekdays between 12:00 and 16:00.
On 24 May 2012, Orion Media announced it would relaunch its Gold West Midlands stations on AM frequencies and DAB as Free Radio 80s later in the year. Free Radio 80s launched on 4 September 2012, playing non-stop 1980s music alongside local news & information and live football commentaries, ending a franchise agreement with Global Radio which allowed Orion to use Gold branding and carry network output from London.
Capital Gold Legends
Realising potential commercial revenues and the massive pulling power of the station brand, Capital Gold released a CD compilation early 2001 called Capital Gold Legends, featuring well-known artists such as Blondie, Queen and Tina Turner. This was followed in November 2001 by Capital Gold Legends Vol. 2 and in March 2002 of Volume 3. Since these releases Capital Gold have once again released another series in November 2002 with Sixties Legends, Seventies Legends and Eighties Legends.
- The Gold Network
- Gold Berkshire and North Hampshire (AM & DAB)
- Gold Bristol and Bath (AM & DAB)
- Gold Dorset (AM & DAB)
- Gold East Midlands (AM)
- Gold Essex (AM & DAB)
- Gold Gloucester (AM)
- Gold Herts, Beds and Bucks (AM & DAB)
- Gold Kent (AM & DAB)
- Gold London (AM & DAB)
- Gold Manchester (AM & DAB)
- Gold Northamptonshire (AM & DAB)
- Gold Norfolk and North Suffolk (AM & DAB)
- Gold North East Wales and Cheshire West (AM)
- Gold Peterborough (AM & DAB)
- Gold Plymouth (AM & DAB)
- Gold South Hampshire (AM & DAB)
- Gold South Wales (AM & DAB)
- Gold Suffolk (AM)
- Gold Sussex (AM & DAB)
- Gold Wiltshire (AM)
- Gold Cambridgeshire (DAB)
- Gold Central Scotland (DAB)
- Gold Exeter and Torbay (DAB)
- Gold Humberside (DAB)
- Gold Leeds (DAB)
- Gold Leicester (DAB)
- Gold North-East England (DAB)
- Gold North-West England (DAB)
- Gold Nottingham (DAB)
- Gold Oxfordshire (DAB)
- Gold South Yorkshire (DAB)
- Gold Swindon (DAB)
- Gold on television
- Freesat: 722
- Sky: 0121
- Virgin Media: 959