Gold (radio network)
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|Broadcast area||London, Manchester, East Midlands, Northampton, Peterborough (AM)|
UK (DAB+, Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media and online)
|Slogan||The Greatest Hits of All Time.|
|Frequency||945 & 999 AM & DAB (Nottingham/Derby)|
1332 AM & DAB (Peterborough)
1458 AM (Manchester)
1548 AM & DAB+ (London)
1557 AM & DAB (Northampton)
DAB+ (national, Digital One)
|First air date||2 July 1988 (Capital Gold)|
3 August 2007 (as Gold)
|Sister stations||Capital FM|
Gold is a network of oldies radio stations in the United Kingdom, which was formed by the merger of the Capital Gold network and the Classic Gold Network in August 2007. The station relaunched in March 2014 as a partly automated service, broadcasting in a smaller number of areas than previously, after many of the local AM/DAB Gold frequencies were turned over to Smooth Radio.
The Capital Gold network started in London in 1988 on Capital Radio's AM frequency, as the Government urged radio stations to end simulcasting (broadcasting the same programmes simultaneously on FM and AM) and threatened to remove one of their frequencies if simulcasting continued. The Classic Gold network was similarly formed from the AM transmissions of the former GWR Group's station licence areas. (Many of the FM pop stations to which the ...Gold stations were sister operations are themselves now part of the Heart or Capital networks).
The original DJs on the early incarnation of Capital Gold included Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett and David Hamilton. The hiring of radio personalities to host networked shows continued to be a feature of the Capital Gold and Classic Gold networks as they grew, though following the 2014 relaunch Gold only had three presenters. Most programming is broadcast from the Gold network studio in Leicester Square, London.
As required by the forthcoming 1990 Broadcasting Act, in 1987 the IBA and the Home Office ruled that all ILR stations were to permanently split their FM and AM frequencies (instead of simulcasting the same service) in order to create new local radio stations and improve choice. Capital responded by launching a "golden oldies" station on its AM frequency, 1548 AM Capital Gold. The station launched on 2 July 1988 as a weekend-only service and went full time on 1 November 1988, while on that date 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 Tony Blackburn, who joined from BBC Radio London and launched the station, "Diddy" David Hamilton, Paul Burnett. Paul Gambaccini and Kenny Everett, who returned to daily broadcasting at Capital Gold, hosting daytime shows on weekdays until 1994, when his deteriorating health meant he was unable to continue. The mid-late 1990s saw Capital Gold rated London's most popular AM radio station and the third most popular music station, behind Capital FM and BBC Radio 1.
With Capital Gold proving 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 had purchased in 1993 along with BRMB to form 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 their AM stations. The Radio Authority agreed and it was announced early in 1998 that Capital Gold from London would replace Invicta Supergold; 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 were dismayed that so much local broadcasting was 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 – 7 p.m.) with a networked breakfast/morning show hosted by comedian Mike Osman (7 – 11 a.m.). 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 in 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 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, new logos and imaging re-launched the Capital Gold Network, with the new slogan, "The Greatest Hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s", and a further medium wave station in Manchester was added after the former Wireless Group agreed to sell Big 1458 AM's broadcasting licence.
1987 also saw the launch of live, uninterrupted football coverage with a programme called Capital Gold Sportstime, presented by 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 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 which offered 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. Blackburn would later appear on the Classic Gold Digital Network, leaving when this was combined into Gold.
In 2004, station management decided to stop broadcasting live football coverage under the Capital Gold Sportstime title. Jonathan Pearce had moved 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 played a range of music, from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and added 1990s music and later. The station had a weekly playlist of new material, plus a "Rated And Recommended" list which was chosen by David Jensen. The station played classic hits and almost every song played was by a major artist.
On Saturday morning David Jensen hosted 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 a soul show called Soul Spectrum. On Sunday mornings from 11:00, a chart rundown show called From the Bottom to the Top featured the top 20 tracks when the featured guest was riding high in the charts.
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 p.m. on 3 August 2007). The majority of the shows and presenters on the new station were 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 noon and 4 p.m.
On 28 June 2010, the local afternoon programming on Gold stations in England was dropped by Global Radio following changes in OFCOM regulation. This led to all stations receiving networked programme content for London, though split local advertising and news bulletins continued to be dropped into the networked output. The broadcaster continued to be required to deliver a four-hour local show for Wales, which was broadcast on both the South Wales (sister to Red Dragon/Capital) and North Wales & Cheshire (ex-Marcher) Gold stations.
Gold is now owned by Global Radio. As part of the terms and conditions of Global Radio's takeover the local stations in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton became under franchise to Orion Media. 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 and 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.
Transfer of AM and DAB outlets to Smooth Radio
On 28 February 2014, Global Radio announced that all but four AM transmitters and three DAB transmission areas would be transferred to broadcast their recently acquired Smooth Radio station with effect from Monday 24 March 2014. Only London, Nottingham, Derby and Manchester would continue to receive Gold Radio on AM frequencies, and London & Home Counties, Yorkshire, Leicester and Nottingham areas on DAB. These remained with Gold as Smooth Radio is broadcast on FM in London, the North West and the East Midlands, and the Yorkshire DAB broadcast was a relay of the London service. Global encouraged listeners not in these areas to move to Smooth Radio, or else continue to listen to Gold via satellite, cable, or internet streaming.
Expansion of DAB outlets
On 7 September 2015, Global Radio announced Gold would take over the local DAB multiplex slots previously occupied by XFM, following the latter's rebrand as Radio X and its move to the Digital One national multiplex on 21 September 2015. The announcement said Gold would become available again on DAB in Manchester, Birmingham, Ayr, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Cornwall, Exeter/Torbay/North Devon, Kent, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Reading/Basingstoke, Southend/Chelmsford, on the Sussex Coast and in Swindon. This is in addition to Gold's existing DAB availability in London, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Yorkshire.
On Monday 10 June 2019, Gold will be expanded to transmitting nationally via the Digital One multiplex, broadcasting in the DAB+ format; the station had been using DAB+ for its transmission in London since early 2019. The relaunch as a national service was accompanied by a new breakfast show hosted by DJ James Bassam, joining from sister station Capital.
In September 2019, many of the local-level DAB transmissions of Gold were turned over to the new service Smooth Country, requiring listeners in affected areas to migrate to the national DAB+ transmission of Gold. Gold continues to broadcast on DAB in the East Midlands, where Smooth Country took the place of Chill.
Capital Gold released a CD compilation early in 2001 called Capital Gold Legends, featuring artists such as Blondie, Queen and Tina Turner. This was followed in November 2001 by Capital Gold Legends Vol. 2 and in March 2002 by Volume 3, and in November 2002 by Sixties Legends, Seventies Legends and Eighties Legends.
- On AM and digital radio
- Gold Cambridgeshire (Peterborough AM & Peterborough/Cambridge DAB)
- Gold East Midlands (Nottingham/Derby AM & Nottingham/Derby/Leicester DAB)
- Gold London (AM & DAB+)
- Gold Manchester (AM & DAB)
- Gold Northamptonshire (AM & DAB)
- Gold UK (national) (DAB+ and digital TV)
- Freesat: 722
- Sky: 0121
- Virgin Media: 923)
- Former Gold stations (now Smooth Radio)
- Gold Berkshire and North Hampshire (AM & DAB)
- Gold Bristol and Bath (AM & DAB)
- Gold Central Scotland (DAB)
- Gold Cumbria (AM & DAB)
- Gold Dorset (AM & DAB)
- Gold Essex (AM & DAB)
- Gold Exeter and Torbay (DAB)
- Gold Gloucester (AM)
- Gold Herts, Beds and Bucks (AM & DAB)
- Gold Humberside (AM)
- Gold Kent (AM & DAB)
- Gold Norfolk and North Suffolk (AM & DAB)
- Gold North East Wales and Cheshire West (AM)
- Gold North-East England (DAB)
- Gold North Wales (AM & DAB)
- Gold North-West England (DAB)
- Gold Oxfordshire (DAB)
- Gold Plymouth (AM & DAB)
- Gold South Hampshire (AM & DAB)
- Gold South Wales (AM & DAB)
- Gold Suffolk (AM)
- Gold Surrey (AM & DAB)
- Gold Sussex (Berkshire, East & West Sussex) (AM & DAB)
- Gold South Yorkshire (DAB)
- Gold Swindon (AM & DAB)
- Gold Wiltshire (AM & DAB)
- Audio of the launch of Capital Gold's weekend-only service
- Gold to be Free Radio 80s in West Mids, Radio Today, 24 May 2012
- Changes to AM and DAB transmission, Gold Radio, 28 February 2014
- , Radio Today, 7 September 2015
- "Gold is now national across the UK, with James Bassam on The More Music Breakfast Show!". Gold. Retrieved 30 June 2019.