Purple Radio

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This article is about a student radio station in Durham. For the gay and lesbian radio station, see Purple Radio (London).

Coordinates: 54°46′24″N 1°34′18″W / 54.77333°N 1.57167°W / 54.77333; -1.57167

Broadcast area The World
Slogan Listen Live. Watch. On Demand.
Format Contemporary Hit Radio, News
Language(s) English
Owner Durham Students' Union
Webcast stream.purpleradio.co.uk/stream.php
Website www.purpleradio.co.uk

Purple Radio is Durham University's Official Student Radio Station.[1] Purple broadcasts online 24 hours a day during term time, from October until June each year.[2][3]


Purple FM (1996 - 2005)[edit]

Purple Radio was previously known as Purple FM and later Purple 107.[4] The station launched in 1996 and has been located variously within Dunelm House; in the College of St Hild and St Bede (1997–1999) and a small studio at Van Mildert College (1999–2002). Traditionally during this time the station aimed to run for two four week RSL FM broadcasts per academic year. The station initially broadcast on frequencies around 105.4 FM, though later a frequency of 107 FM was retained. During the November 1999 broadcast pioneering use was made of outside broadcast equipment that utilised the University's internal telephone network to send transmissions from remote locations to the studio. During 2000 Purple FM was simulcast over the internet for the first time; however this service was only available from 7am to 11pm as the equipment required to run the service was sited in a student's bedroom.

In the summer of 2002 the station moved into Dunelm House, the home of Durham Students Union. This move was made to the make the station more accessible and open to students from all parts of the university. The first broadcast to be made from the new studio was another four week FM broadcast in October of that year on the same frequency as previous licences. A further such FM broadcast followed in November to December 2003. Ironically the suite of rooms used by Purple Radio were the same originally used by the station prior to its move to Hild Bede college in the 1990s.

Purple Radio Logo post 2005-2010.
Purple Radio Logo 2005-2010.

Purple Radio (2005 - 2016)[edit]

The station re-branded itself as Purple Radio in late 2004 in order to launch a 24-hour internet service via its website;[5] this decision was taken due to the increasing popularity of the internet as a broadcast medium for student radio, the very high costs of broadcasting on FM, and the infeasibility of broadcasting on AM in Durham. In addition the award of a local FM licence to the new Durham FM that was preparing to launch in 2005 made it difficult for the station to successfully apply for RSL licences.

The first internet-based broadcast began on the first day of Epiphany term 2005, but was forced off air in late February after heavy snow storms leaked into the studio and damaged much of the station's equipment. After a studio re-build and a change of executive, the station was re-launched a year later on 16 January 2006 and successfully completed its longest period of continuous broadcasting on Friday 23 June. Since this time, Purple Radio has been broadcasting 24 hours a day during term time, except in exceptional circumstances.

Purple Radio Rebrand (2016 - Present)[edit]

Beginning October 3, 2016, Purple Radio launched its complete overhaul to include a brand new logo, website, and the introduction of Purple Radio On Demand. Work began on 17 March with the design of the new logo completed by the end of May. The website was then designed over the Summer.

September 2016 marked the acquisition of additional space, allowing Purple Radio to expand its office and begin plans for a second permanent studio.

Awards and notable events[edit]

  • In March 2017 Purple Radio was nominated for "Most Improved Student Radio Station" at the I Love Student Radio Awards 2017. [6]
  • On 17 April 2015, the station manager at the time, Jack Clare, took part in "Universities Challenged", a feature of Steve Lamacq's BBC Radio 6 Music show.
  • At the national Student Radio Awards 2014 Purple Radio won the Silver award for 'Best Technical Achievement' as well as the Bronze award for 'Best Marketing and Station Sound'. They were also nominated for the 'Best Student Radio Station' award.[7]
  • In April 2014 Purple Radio won the 'Best Audience Initiative' award at the 'I Love Student Radio Awards' taking place at 2014 Student Radio Conference. The same night saw Purple highly commended for 'Most Improved Station', while 2013-14 Station Manager, Rosie Kyrke-Smith, scooped the award for 'Most Committed Committee Member'.[8]
  • In June 2014 the outgoing Head of News and Sport, Isabella Allen, was awarded "Greatest Contribution to Student Media" at the Durham Students' Union awards, recognising her work in transforming Purple's news output.
  • Purple Radio were nominated for "Best Marketing & Station Sound" at the 2013 national Student Radio Awards.[9]
  • In June 2013 the outgoing Station Manager, Mark Heads, was awarded "Greatest Contribution to Student Media" and an Honorary Life Membership to Durham Students' Union for his work with Purple Radio. At the same awards, presenter Alex Morgan was awarded "Journalist of the Year" continuing Purple Radio's hold on the award.
  • October 2012 saw Purple Radio nominated for 2 national Student Radio Awards, "Best Station" and "Best Marketing & Station Sound".[10]
  • In June 2012 Purple Radio was awarded the DSU Award for "Society of the Year", the outgoing News and Sport Editor, Emma Francombe, was also awarded "Journalist of the Year"
  • Mark Heads (assisted by Sam Bason and Will King) hosted and stayed awake for a 50-hour show raising money for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation raising over £1000 in June 2013.
  • Two presenters undertook a 24-hour show in order to raise money for charity in May 2007[citation needed].
  • In November 2007 Purple Radio won national recognition at the Student Radio Awards in London for the first time; Jacob Niedzwiecki picked up a bronze award in 'Best Specialist Music Programming' for his drum and bass show 'Different Drum'.
  • Since 2009, Purple Radio has presented an outside broadcast from Van Mildert College's annual music event Jam By The Lake.[11][12]
  • Purple Radio hosted the Student Radio Chart Show on 11 May 2008.
  • 2009 - 2010 Station Manager Amy Collins won an award for 'Outstanding Contribution to a Station' at the I Love Student Radio Awards,[13][14] dedicated to the people behind the scenes.
  • 2009 saw classical programme A Little Light Music nominated for "Best Specialist Programme" at the Student Radio Awards.[15]
  • Purple generated revenue from running a work experience project for local school children. The Project was active during 2006 - 2007,[16] and sought to teach small groups of AS/A-level students how a radio station works and how to produce a good radio show.


Purple Radio allows any student at Durham University to join or start a show, and in some cases has allowed non-students to broadcast.

The station features a variety of shows, typically broken into 'Entertainment', 'Specialist' and 'Speech'. Entertainment shows feature a large number of songs with short links between, and are the staple shows during the day. Specialist shows are scheduled during the evening and pay particular attention to the music played, with an in-depth knowledge of a particular genre or style. Speech shows play very little music, and instead focus on analysis and discussion of subjects including news, sport and technology. Some comedy shows have also been broadcast on Purple Radio.

For Entertainment shows a playlist (composed of songs on an 'A', 'B', and 'C' list) is rotated and presenters must play a fixed number of tracks from the list.[17] They are also free to play their own choice of new and old music together with this allocation. Tracks from the week's playlist are voted for by members of the Music Team.


A Station Manager, appointed by the general counsel of Durham Students’ Union during Epiphany Term, runs the station. The Station Manager selects an executive committee (Exec), whose job it is to assist the Station Manager to run the station. The term for Station Manager runs from Easter Term (April) till the end of Epiphany Term (March) each year.

The Exec, assisting the Station Manager, currently includes the following posts: Assistant Station Manager, Programme Controller, Head of Promotions, Head of Music, Head of News, Head of Sports, Head of Production, Head of Broadcasting Standards, Head of Imaging, Head of Visualisation, Head of Tech.[18] Weekly meetings are held to discuss matters relating the station.

Current Exec[edit]

Position Name
Station Manager Alok Kumar
Assistant Station Manager Liam Procter
Programme Controller Emma Bailey
Head of Promotions Joseph Speller
Head of Music Edward Bloor
Head of News Eugene Smith
Head of Sport Bertram Moores
Head of Production Emily Kilner
Head of Broadcasting Standards Matthew Calvert
Head of Imaging Vacant
Head of Visualisation Imogen Simpson
Head of Technical Services James Mailey

Membership and Finance[edit]

Purple is a Recognised Media Organisation, along with Palatinate, Durham Student Productions and The Bubble. The station is expected to be self-financed although it is occasionally provided with some financial help from the union. The union also provides the office and studio space for the station to run on Level C of Dunelm House. One source of finance is membership fees - members of the radio station pay a nominal fee in order to pay for studio maintenance, promotions and projects. All presenters must be members of the station, and all members are encouraged to present shows. October 2016 marked the introduction of a lifetime membership available to all students of Durham University.

The number of DJs involved in broadcasting has increased vastly in recent years and the station now has in excess of 200 members. In addition to presenters, the station has a dedicated Production Team who work hard to produce the daytime schedule. There is also a Music Team who interview and review artists and live performances within Durham, Newcastle and the surrounding areas. The station's website is home to the Music Blog which is updated regularly with these. A number of other teams also exist within the station, such as Marketing, Visualisation and Imaging.[19]

Another source of income is advertising revenue, sought by the Head of Advertising who is responsible for finding sponsorship for the station. Previous sponsors have included 3, Gala Theatre Durham and Centrica.[20]

At the discretion of the Station Manager, all previous Heads of Sound and Web Services (formerly Technical Services) receive honorary lifetime membership of the station, upon completion of their time in office.


  1. ^ "Durham Students' Union Society Page". DSU Society Page. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Durham University Term Dates". Durham University Term Dates. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "DSU Intranet Purple Radio Report 6 November 2007". DSU Intranet Purple Radio Report 6 November 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "DSU Intranet Purple Radio Report 2 November 2003". DSU Intranet Purple Radio Report 2 November 2003. 
  5. ^ "DSU Intranet Union Meetings Motion". DSU Intranet Union Meetings - Read Motion. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  6. ^ https://www.studentradio.org.uk/2017/03/nominees-the-i-love-student-radio-awards-2017/
  7. ^ "Student Radio Awards 2014 Winners". Student Radio Association. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Winners for I Love Student Radio Awards". Radio Today. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "2013 Student Radio Award Nominees". Student Radio Association. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Student Radio Awards 2012: Awards Nominees". Student Radio Awards. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Jam By The Lake". Purple Radio: Jam By The Lake. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  12. ^ "JBTL 2011". JBTL 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "SRA Launches the First I Love Student Radio Awards". SRA Launches the First I Love Student Radio Awards. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Students Love Extra Awards". Students Love Extra Awards. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Student Radio Awards 2009: Awards Nominees". Student Radio Awards. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "DSU Intranet Purple Radio Report on 7 February 2007". DSU Intranet Purple Radio Report on 7 February 2007. 
  17. ^ "Playlist". Purple Radio: Playlist. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Purple Radio Exec". Purple Radio. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  19. ^ Teams Page - http://www.purpleradio.co.uk/teams
  20. ^ Hoy, Tim (12 November 2007). "Meeting of the Durham Students' Union Council Monday 12th November 2007": 8. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 

External links[edit]