Buzz FM

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Buzz FM
CityBirmingham, England
Frequency102.4 FM
First air date14 May 1990
FormatPopular, Jazz, Soul, Asian, Reggae, Calypso, Hip Hop and others

Buzz FM was a United Kingdom radio station which was on the air between 1990 and 1994. It was broadcast to Birmingham on 102.4 MHz, and was launched as the city's fourth radio station after BBC WM, BRMB and Xtra AM. The signal came from a transmitter which was located on the roof of Metropolitan House, a tall office block at Five Ways in the city's Edgbaston district.


The station began broadcasting on 14 May 1990 with a view to providing Birmingham with a locally orientated service that would give priority to the city. In addition, Buzz FM promised to offer listeners a wide range of music that it felt was being ignored by other stations. Daytime programming would be taken up with shows that catered for a multi-ethnic audience, while night time broadcasting would be given over to specialist shows. Listeners to Buzz FM could expect to hear music as diverse as easy soul, contemporary jazz, hip hop, reggae, calypso and classical music.

The first show, the Breakfast Show, was hosted by Welsh broadcaster Mark Williams, and there were high hopes for Buzz, but within a year, the station was experiencing difficulties. A massive shortfall in advertising revenue meant that it was losing money, and there were also problems with reception. The frequency that had been specified by the Independent Broadcasting Authority coupled with the relatively low output of its transmitter (when compared to its rivals) made listening a frustrating business. Listeners living on the fringes of its catchment area could expect interference from stations in neighbouring areas, while motorists (part of the station's target-audience) also experienced difficulties in receiving the signal.

A number of attempts were made to rectify the station's problems. After investing around one million pounds into the station Radio Clyde obviously could not make a go of things at Buzz either, the station was still losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and so at the end of 1992 the station was once again sold on, this time to Chris Cary in December for one pound. Chris Cary was known for his previous work in the offshore ("pirate") radio scene.

Under Chris Cary Lindsay Reid was Chief Engineer, Alistar Cochrane was Head Of Sales and Head Of News and Features was Sybil Fennell - well known for her longstanding work with London news station LBC. Birmingham native John Ryan was brought in from local radio in Ireland to present the breakfast show and by the middle of 1993 the financial losses were under control and Buzz FM started to go into profit. At this time Buzz FM sounded like a very slick, commercial and vibrant station in a radio market that was becoming increasingly competitive. But once again problems with reception were causing issues for its long term success. There were several management shake-ups, and Buzz was even sold on to the businessman Muff Murfin in 1993. However, audience figures and revenue failed to improve significantly. Not even the recruitment of some former BRMB presenters (including Brandan Kearney and Graham Torrington) helped to improve the station's fortunes, and the end finally came in 1994.

The station's licence was due to expire at the end of 1994, but despite an application for it to be renewed, the Radio Authority declined the request. The licence was actually awarded to Choice FM, and Buzz FM ceased broadcasting at midnight on 31 December 1994. Choice FM began a few moments later.

Because of the reception difficulties experienced by listeners to Buzz FM, a new frequency had been specified for its replacement (102.2 MHz) together with a stronger signal output. Choice FM Birmingham was on the air for four years before being taken over by the Chrysalis Group in January 1999, who changed the station's name to Galaxy Birmingham it is now known as 102.2 Capital FM Birmingham.

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