BBC Coventry & Warwickshire
|Broadcast area||Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire|
|Frequency||RDS: BBC C&W, 94.8 MHz, 103.7 MHz, 104.0 MHz, DAB Digital Radio|
|First air date||17 January 1990 (original)
3 September 2005 (relaunch after ten years of absence)
|Format||Local news, talk and music|
|Owner||BBC Local Radio,
BBC West Midlands
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire is the BBC Local Radio service serving the City of Coventry and the county of Warwickshire. The station broadcasts on 94.8, 103.7 and 104 MHz FM, DAB Digital Radio and is streamed on the internet via the BBC Website.
Based in the Priory Place Shopping Precinct at the heart of Coventry City Centre, its studio complex is home to radio, online services, an interactive open centre and facilities for regional TV news. It is also the only Coventry local radio station based in the city itself.
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire broadcasts local programming from 6am to 7pm every weekday and 6am – 6pm on weekends. It also simulcasts with other BBC Local Radio stations on evenings (both regionally and nationally), and BBC Radio 5 Live overnight.
BBC CWR Launch
BBC Local Radio in the 1990s underwent an expansion programme where counties and other areas without a local radio station were identified and five stations were to launch: BBC Radio Surrey, BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Wiltshire Sound and BBC Radio Warwickshire.
The Radio Warwickshire working title was changed to BBC CWR by the time the station launched on 17 January 1990. The name CWR (Coventry and Warwickshire Radio) reflected the wider area that the new station would cover, taking in the city of Coventry with the whole of the county of Warwickshire, which was then also served by BBC Radio WM. The station broadcast from a Victorian-style mansion on Warwick Road, close to Coventry railway station. Smaller studios were located in Atherstone, Nuneaton, Rugby, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick.
Problems and closure
From day one, BBC CWR faced strong competition from the established commercial radio stations in the area. Mercia Sound had been an outstanding success since its own launch ten years earlier in 1980. Xtra AM, the AM-only sister station from Mercia Sound, also enjoyed high listenership since it split from Mercia and launched in 1989.
CWR seemed to find it difficult to compete for the very large audiences built up by Mercia and Xtra. It was, however, well respected and highly regarded with its regular audience.
The BBC, under Director-General John Birt, deemed that CWR was not sufficiently successful in audience terms to warrant its continuation, and within increasing financial constraints in February 1995 CWR was to close. Regular listeners were hugely disappointed and phoned presenter Jon Gaunt to protest about the decision.
BBC WM merger
In 1995 BBC CWR merged with neighbouring BBC Radio WM in Birmingham, was renamed BBC Coventry and Warwickshire and would operate as an opt-out service from BBC WM with the remainder of the schedule as shared programming. This had the effect of alienating local listeners, whilst paradoxically presenters from WM, such as Ed Doolan, Malcolm Boyden and Tony Butler received high listening figures and distinctions with three Sony Radio Academy Awards, including Radio Station of the Year in 1996.
Its studios were relocated from Warwick Road to much smaller premises on Greyfriars Road. All local programmes except breakfast with Annie Othen, the afternoon show with Bob Brolly, Poles Apart on Wednesdays, and weekend football coverage of Coventry City F.C. were replaced with programmes from Birmingham.
2003 saw the station re-labelled as BBC WM across Coventry and Warwickshire.
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire relaunches
In 2003, the then Director-General of the BBC, Greg Dyke, announced on-air that Coventry and Warwickshire was again to have its own BBC Local Radio station. Describing the situation with presenter Annie Othen, Mr Dyke said that the station would be added to the BBC's Local Radio portfolio:
"I'm very pleased to announce that we're planning to open a new radio station in Coventry – an area that's been served by BBC WM since 1995. We hope the new station will be housed in a modern, vibrant building close to Coventry Cathedral in the heart of the city. Alongside the radio studios, there'll also be an open centre to provide access to BBC Learning facilities similar to the already established centres in Blackburn, Sheffield and Stoke. Open Centres provide a valuable community role, so this is an exciting venture for the BBC."
He also added that the 1995 closure of CWR was a mistake:
"The decision was made under different circumstances – and now we're in a position to change it."
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire relaunched as a stand-alone station on 3 September 2005 with full local programming for 15 hours a day.
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire has a varied mixed programming format, and plays much more music than other BBC Local Radio stations, such as BBC Three Counties Radio, which is predominantly speech-based. The local diverse make-up of the region also plays a part in the station's schedule, although Asian programmes have been transferred to the BBC Asian Network, on medium-wave in the area.
The station also runs an Open Centre at Priory Place, where people take part in learning and creative activities.
The majority of the station's programming is produced and broadcast from Coventry. During off-peak hours, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire also carries regional programming for the Midlands, produced from sister stations BBC WM and BBC Radio Shropshire. As with all BBC Local Radio stations, it also airs the networked weekday evening shows, originating from BBC Radio Leeds and produced independently by Wire Free Productions.
During the station's downtime, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire simulcasts BBC Radio 5 Live overnight.
The station provides coverage of a range of sports, including live commentary, reports and updates. The flagship sports programme is BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Sport (also referred on air as Sky Blues Sport). It is broadcast mostly on Saturday afternoons (and occasionally on Sundays & weeknights). The mainstay of the coverage is live match commentary of Coventry City games (home and away in the Football League, FA Cup, Football League Cup and Football League Trophy). Commentary is provided by Clive Eakin, Geoff Foster and (occasionally) Martin Winch.
Since their relocation to Coventry, the station has provided live match commentary of Wasps RFC games (as a part of BBC Sport's national contract with Premiership Rugby). Games in the Aviva Premiership, Anglo-Welsh Cup and European Rugby Champions Cup are broadcast predominately on the DAB digital service (and, on occasion, also on FM).
Online match commentary & radio reports of Nuneaton Town's games is also provided. The station also covers Coventry RFC, with regular reports of games from John Butler and Richard Moone. If there is no Coventry City game being broadcast, both Nuneaton Town games and Coventry RFC games are broadcast live. Commentary of Warwickshire County Cricket Club games can be found on air and online.
The station also covers the wider sporting scene in the area, through in-depth monthly programmes on non-league football (Climbing the Pyramid), ice hockey (Face-Off), speedway (Tapes Up), rugby union (Ruck 'n' Maul) and cricket.
The BBC initially supplied two powerful FM transmitters for BBC CWR to cover the whole of the county. A 2.2 kilowatt transmitter at an existing tower at Meriden provides Coventry and North Warwickshire with good signals on 94.8 MHz, a frequency vacated by BRMB Radio in Birmingham before it moved to 96.4 MHz in 1989.
The South Warwickshire area receives a strong signal on 103.7 MHz from a 1.4 kW transmitter located at an existing television relay site on a hill at Lark Stoke, 7.5 km west-northwest of Shipston-on-Stour and 12 km south of Stratford-upon-Avon.
A small pocket of poor reception in Nuneaton was later resolved by adding a low power relay transmitter on 104.0 MHz
BBC CWR went digital shortly after the launch of the local DAB multiplex on 31 January 2001 with NOW Digital 12D Coventry in the Coventry area with transmissions from Samuel Vale House (central Coventry), Barwell Water Tower near Hinckley, Meriden and Leamington Spa. BBC C&W is carried along with other local stations Free Radio formerly Mercia FM, Classic Gold 1359 and Touch FM.
Notable past presenters
- BBC Radio WM
- Free Radio
- Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire
- The New 96.2 Touch FM
- The New 107 Oak FM
- Classic Gold
- MDS975 – BBC CWR History 
- Aircheck – History of Radio articles .
- BBC Coventry and Warwickshire .
- BBC Coventry and Warwickshire
- Media UK BBC Coventry and Warwickshire
- MDS975's BBC CWR page
- History of local radio in Warwickshire
- MDS975's Memories of Mercia Sound page
- MDS975's Warwickshire radio transmitter coverage maps
- Barwell Water Tower (Digital)
- MB21's Lark Stoke transmitter page
- Leamington Spa (Digital)
- Meriden transmitter
- Nuneaton transmitter
- Samuel Vale House (Digital)
- David's Transmitter World