Rare FM

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Rare FM
A square black box with red concentric circles and the text rare FM overlaid in a white font
Current Rare FM logo
Branding Student Radio
Slogan Your soundtrack to London
Repeater(s) Central London: Two weeks a year on 87.7 FM
First air date 1998
Format Music (various genres) and talk
Owner UCL Union
Webcast 24/7 live stream and Listen Again podcasts
Podcasts with subscription options
Website rarefm.co.uk

Rare FM is the student-run radio station of UCL. The current station manager is Bianca Bana. The station magazine is Under City Lights, with editors Jake Crossland (also head of music) and James Bailey (also head of scheduling). The studio is maintained by the Head of Technology, Charlie Millner, and finances are managed by Treasurer Ashley Tan.


Rare FM was set up in 1998 as an affiliated society of UCL Union, headed at that time by Ed Jackson. It is managed by a committee elected annually at the society's AGM by its members.

Rare FM broadcasts continuously over the Internet, making use of MP3 and OGG streaming, streaming music when DJs are not live in the studio hosting their shows. On a normal day during the university's Autumn and Spring Terms, there will be approximately 15 hours of live original programming, starting at 9.00 a.m. and finishing at 12.00 midnight.

During the university's holidays and reading weeks, many of the student DJs leave London resulting in the output of shows per day decreasing, although some other shows are extended to cover some time that would otherwise be filled by streaming music as happens at night. Similarly, during the Summer Term many students DJs are unable to do their shows owing to exams.

Whilst students are not in the studio, music is streamed via a computerised playout system. Students are able to play music from a variety of sources including the studio database, CDs, cassette tapes, records, mp3 players, MiniDiscs and laptops.

Rare FM has started to provide some content via podcast. The podcasts are available via RSS feed available through the website and listeners can also listen and subscribe via the iTunes music store. Podcast material is also available to listen to direct from the website using a Flash-based player. The podcast show Some News Or Something has been nominated for the 'Media Project of the Year' award at UCL Union's Social Colours and Arts Awards Ceremony 2007.

Rare FM uses Restricted Service Licences to broadcast on FM to Central London, (as well as over the Internet as normal), for a fortnight each year. The first three broadcasts were for four weeks and the first broadcast, in 1998, used a high transmission site in Highgate giving what was claimed to be the largest coverage of any RSL station (much of London) with an audience of some 50,000. During this period, local London businesses are given the opportunity to advertise on FM. New Look advertised on Rare FM during the 2007 FM broadcast. The FM broadcast often poses a challenge in the form of London's many pirate radio broadcasters, but coverage can extend to a good portion of central London nonetheless.

After 2009, due to a lack of available frequencies and a surge in the popularity of internet radio, RareFM ceased broadcasting on FM and moved exclusively to an online platform: accessible from the website www.rarefm.co.uk and through various client applications such as TuneIn radio. The website is maintained by the website manager Jasper Murison-Bowie and Felix Harvey Jefferson, head of design. The social media platforms are run by Rhea Badwell, the secretary for sponsorship and marketing.

RareFM now broadcasts a published schedule of shows from November to June between the hours of 09:00 to 00:00. When not broadcasting set shows, the station plays a playlist which is put together fortnightly by the presenters and published by the Head of Music: Jake Crossland.

FM Broadcast History:

Year Date
1998 27 September - 24 October (4 weeks), from BBC Swain's Lane
2000 2 November - 29 November (4 weeks)
2004 1 February - 28 February (4 weeks)
2005 23 September - 5 October (UCL Fresher's Week)
2006 No FM broadcast
2007 6 March - 19 March
2008 4 March - 18 March
2009 No FM broadcast due to lack of available frequencies

Rare FM DJs also broadcast live at UCL and UCL Union events, such as the Freshers' Fayre and the Summer Arts Festival.


Rare FM is primarily a music station, which in past tended to focus on indie/alternative music. However, in recent years this focus has dwindled and a diversity of genres and interests is now widely catered to. Shows specialising in Funk, Soul, Disco, Jazz, Blues, House, Electro, Hip hop, DnB, Dubstep, Grime, Psytrance, Dancehall and Reggae all now feature on a schedule that of 2008 amasses over 130 DJs with a vast variety of tastes. Rare FM also broadcasts the weekly Student Radio Association chart show each Sunday.

More recently, the shows have further diversified, with the addition of talk shows and other music genres. RareFM also provides a platform for other societies at UCL to showcase their members as DJs.

Rare FM is believed to be the first radio station in the world to play a Coldplay track, the members of Coldplay having met at UCL, although there is still some debate about this.[1]

Outside of the music content, Rare FM has shows focusing on film, books, football and news from UCL Union's clubs and societies. The station regularly features interviews with musicians and comedians. Recently, special guests have included Alan Fletcher (Neighbours's Karl Kennedy and lead singer of the band Waiting Room),[2] Josie Long, The Spinto Band, the Five O'Clock Heroes, Jason Bavanandan (lead singer of the band Battle), Ty, Field Music's David Brewis (aka School of Language), Portland, Oregon folk outfit The Battle of Land and Sea and Agaskodo Teliverek. Past interviewees and/or studio guests have included Thirteen Senses, The Subways, Stewart Lee, The Magic Numbers, Graham Coxon, Gideon Defoe, Razorlight and Kings of Leon. Guests on the Blonde Bimbo Show compiled by Brooke Burfitt include Julian Bennett Hayley Westenra and Johnny Rotten.

During the 2009/2010 season, the station began Rare Sessions, a YouTube series in which bands perform acoustic songs around the UCL campus. Guests so far have included Gideon Conn, Dan Mangan, Hey Rosetta! and Woodpigeon. The series won UCL Arts Colors award in 2010.

Station Alumni of Note[edit]

Alex Zane [3] - DJ in 1999-2000 (with weekly show It's Alex Zane!), went on to be a presenter for XFM, MTV and Channel 4 where he hosted Popworld.

Nick Godwin - DJ in 2000-2001 worked as a DJ on London Live.

Karyn Miller - Head of Spoken Word 1999-2000 went on to be a successful journalist for Vogue and The Mail on Sunday.

Club nights[edit]

I Like It Rare![edit]

Rare FM previously ran a club night called I Like It Rare! beginning with a Christmas themed special in the Winter of 2006. The nights acted as a means to fund the station whilst allowing Rare FM DJs to DJ live at venues across London with live music provided by UCLU's own Live Music Society. The Elbow Rooms in Angel played regular hosts to the night and was the venue of the last I Like It Rare! in 2008.

Pensioners' Yacht Club[edit]

December 2009 saw the launch of a new club night, Pensioners' Yacht Club held at the Relentless Garage in Islington and it is expected that a similar night will follow during UCLU's freshers week in 2010.


In January 2015, Rare launched an annual party, called RareFest, at the Star of Kings bar. 3 floors were booked out, and an all day party feature DJs, live music acts and other performances was a roaring success, attracting hundreds of attendees. 2016 saw the return of this party and in 2017 it will run a third time, cementing it as an annual event. This is organised by the events secretary, who also organises the launch party. The current event secretary is Alja Podjornik.


RareFM runs a variety of socials for its members to meet, including a launch party. These are organised for the presenters and social members of the society. Current social secretaries in charge of organising these events are Matt Solomons and Max Thomas

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "(Incomplete) Station History". University College London Union. 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  2. ^ "UCL Union radio station relaunches". University College London. 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  3. ^ "Alex Zane". PFD. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 

External links[edit]