|Frequency||FM: 103.4 MHz|
|First air date||5 July 1995|
|Audience share||13.2% (June 2013, RAJAR)|
|Owner||The Local Radio Company
Sun FM is a radio station serving the City of Sunderland and also available in Tyne and Wear, northern parts of County Durham in England. It broadcasts on the frequency 103.4 MHz and plays a mix of contemporary and classic popular music alongside local news, travel and covered ground breaking dance music in the early 90's.
The station now known as SUN FM was launched in 1990 as Wear FM (Sunderland Community Radio Association) was initially led by Pieta O'Shaughessey.
The station gained international acclaim for its community programming and social inclusion and won the Sony Award for UK Radio Station of the Year in 1992. Covering Durham and Sunderland, the station faced competition for its licence when it reapplied for it in February 1994 from the Wearside Broadcasting Company. Although the licence was retained, times were not good at the station - tension between management and staff led to a walkout in early March of that year. They felt that, due to their base being at the University of Sunderland, a takeover by the same was imminent. The University made various attempts to save the station but legislation prevented a public body owning the station and a commercial buyer was sought.
Wear FM ceased transmissions in 1995 when it was taken over by the Minster Sound Group, who relaunched the station as Sun City FM. Wear FM's Studios in the Foster Building were taken over by the University of Sunderland.
WEAR FM SPORT
Mainly broadcast on a Saturday morning from 8am to noon. This programme was produced and written by Gary Ellwood and presented by Graeme Anderson. The programme covered all aspects of sport within Wearside. The Sunderland AFC hour from 11 am was its most popular item. Probably the first and only audio fanzine for a football club.
WEAR FM RELIGIOUS PROGRAMMING
Wear FM had a regular Sunday morning religious spot. Amongst the presentation and production team were Barry Wilson from Peterlee and Neville Whitehead from Shiney Row. The programme covered faith and moral values with the aim of appealing to a wide section of listeners by including a diverse mix of religious music and interviews with people from all walks of life. The Sunday morning programme attracted celebrities to the show including Cliff Richard, Harry Secombe and Jan Graveson. Barry moved to Nottingham and spent 7 years working on BBC Radio Nottingham's- Thought for the Day.
From SUN City 103.4 to SUN FM
Sun City took over when Wear FM ceased broadcasting in 1995. Sun City 103.4's operator was financially penalised in that year by the Radio Authority for not coming up with elements of their Promise Of Performance, an agreement which formed part of their licence remit and not offering a balanced argument with options of sadism and the occult.
A sale to Border Radio Holdings, owners of the Century brand, followed with a new name of Sun City FM. In January 1999 Brian Lister joined what was then Sun FM in Sunderland as Managing Director. Sun FM was wholly owned by Border Radio and later became part of the Capital Radio Group when they acquired Border Radio in April 2000. Granada TV acquired the Border TV business for £50m, with the total deal of £146m to allow Capital Radio to hold on to the radio business. It was Scottish Radio Holdings that proved strong competition in the process, with SRH bidding £141m, but failing with an increased offer from the London based business.
Later, with Capital streamlining their businesses, and focusing on large area based stations, part of their 'Capital Cities' portfolio, Radio Investments Limited purchased Sun FM and its handling company 'Bucks Broadcasting' in March 2001. This sale also included the other group station, Mix 96 in Aylesbury. (Capital, along with sales of its 30% share in Wolverhampton's The Wolf to Forever Broadcasting, netted around £9.5 cash in the deals.) Brian Lister continued his work with RIL and was appointed Group Development Director in July 2001, responsible for licence applications and development work around the UK. He later left - what became known as The Local Radio Company - and is now a freelance consultant but still with a close working relationship with TLRC.
Today, Sun FM plays chart hits and oldies, and provides local news, sport and information on 103.4FM from its Sunderland based studios, reaching southwards through its designated broadcast area to Washington, Ryhope, Houghton-Le-Spring and Murton, and outwards to Newcastle, South Shields, Chester-Le-Street and Durham itself. In 2009 and moving on into 2010, Sun FM is under new ownership after the UKRD / TLRC ownership bid was successful.
The majority of programming is presented locally and live from Sun FM in Sunderland with overnight output 0000–0600 and weekday/Sunday nights 2200–0000 automated. The Vodafone Big Top 40 is syndicated from Capital in Leicester Square, London.