Radio X (United Kingdom)
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Slogan||Get Into the Music|
|Frequency||104.9 MHz (London), 97.7 MHz (Manchester), RDS:
11D (England, Wales, Northern Ireland)
Channel 0113 (Sky)
Channel 723 Freesat
Channel 621 (TalkTalk TV)
Channel 960 (Virgin Media)
Channel 923 (Virgin Media Ireland)
|First air date||1 September 1997 (as XFM)
21 September 2015 (as Radio X)
|Format||Alternative music, rock music|
|Audience share||1.2% (London), 2.2% (Manchester), 0.5% (total) (December 2012, )|
Radio X is a commercial radio station brand focused on alternative music, primarily indie rock, which is owned by Global Radio. Radio X launched nationally on 21 September 2015 as a rebrand of XFM and superseded XFM London and XFM Manchester.
XFM was created in London in 1992 by Sammy Jacob and Chris Parry (Jacob would later go on to co-found NME Radio in 2008, and CDNX (Camden Experience) in 2015).
The station was acquired by the Capital Radio Group (now part of Global Radio) in 1998 and relocated from Charlotte Street to Capital's headquarters at Leicester Square, where Radio X remains based today.
The station has previously employed a number of DJs that have since gone on to even greater fame including Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington, Stephen Merchant, Simon Pegg, Christian O'Connell, Russell Brand, Justin Lee Collins, Adam and Joe, Alex Zane, Tim Lovejoy and Dermot O'Leary.
The station became the first ever to release a band's album for free via their website. The album was You Cross My Path by The Charlatans. The station has since entered into arrangements with various other bands to offer free promotional downloads and offers.
Expansion of the XFM Network
In 2000, XFM London was added to a number of DAB multiplexes around the country, and in January 2006 its reach expanded when it replaced The Storm on a number of other local multiplexes, creating near-national coverage. It was at one point reported that this 'national' version of XFM London (known as XFM UK) would have local content drop-ins within it (e.g. news, travel) over time, but this ultimately never came to pass. Most DAB coverage of XFM carried the London version of the station, but for a time some multiplexes in the North of England instead received a feed of XFM Manchester.
In 2001, XFM rehired Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant to run the Saturday afternoon show. Karl Pilkington joined them to 'just push the buttons' but eventually became the focal point of the show. The trio often called the station a 'tin pot station', 'shoddy' and 'not just a small station in London but the smallest station in that building'.
On 9 June 2005, the group was awarded a permanent FM broadcasting licence to serve the city of Manchester as XFM Manchester. This station went on air in March 2006.
On 11 February 2008 GCap Media announced that they would be selling the analogue licence for the Manchester, Scotland and South Wales stations, retaining only XFM London. This decision was made in an attempt to shore up profits and concentrate on 'winning brands', calling the former nationalisation strategy into question. After this announcement, in early 2008, breakfast show host Alex Zane admitted on air that the future of the London station was also being reviewed, even making jokey references to perhaps being out of a job soon. The sale of the south Wales station went ahead, with Town and Country Broadcasting relaunching this as Nation Radio; the sale of the Scotland and Manchester stations was suspended when Global Radio entered into discussions to purchase GCap Media.
Following Heart and Galaxy owner Global's takeover of GCap Media, XFM Scotland became Galaxy (it went on to become Capital Scotland in 2011, leaving just Manchester and London with local XFM stations.
Following Global's acquisition of Real and Smooth Ltd, the Paisley/Renfrewshire 96.3 FM service previously broadcast as Real Radio XS became a new XFM Scotland in 2014. This service was available across central Scotland over DAB.
As of 2015, the London, Manchester and Scotland stations broadcast 43 hours a week of split local programming - weekday breakfast and drive, and four hours a day at weekends - with networked content, primarily from London, at other times. TV platforms followed the London schedule, and all three stations were streamed online.
Rebrand to Radio X
On 7 September 2015, it was announced that XFM would be rebranded as Radio X on 21 September. The rebranded station launched with new presenters including Chris Moyles, Vernon Kay, Johnny Vaughan and Ricky Wilson joining some existing XFM DJs on a refreshed schedule. The new-look station is available nationally via Digital One national DAB, with all local-layer XFM carriage dropped (replaced in many cases by Gold). The new national Radio X also replaced XFM on FM in London and Manchester, and on other platforms including TV and online. There is no longer split content local to Manchester, and the only variance between the UK, London and Manchester services is the advertising.
XFM Scotland closed on 13 September 2015, with Global Radio handing back the Paisley licence to Ofcom.
XFM's last programmes aired on 13 September 2015. A 'holding' service of music and announcements began transmitting on national DAB under the Radio X title on 14 September, with this service also taking the place of XFM on FM, TV and online until the full launch of the new Radio X on 21 September.
The first song played on the rebranded Radio X, by Chris Moyles just before 7am on 21 September 2015, was Love Machine by Girls Aloud, an off-format nod to media reports of a male bias by the new station.
The stations which once comprised the XFM network were:
- XFM London, which has been broadcasting on 104.9 FM in the Greater London area full-time since 1997 (and by Restricted Service Licence from 1992).
- XFM Manchester, which was launched on 97.7 FM on 15 March 2006.
- XFM South Wales, which broadcast to Cardiff & South Wales between 29 November 2007 and 30 May 2008, was sold to Town and Country Broadcasting. It then launched Nation Radio on its frequency.
- XFM Scotland, which in its more recent form launched on 96.3 FM from the Paisley area on 7 April 2014 and closed on 13 September 2015. An earlier XFM for Scotland had run from 2006 on the frequencies now assigned to Capital Scotland
Current hosts on the network include:
- Hattie Pearson (weekday overnights)
- Ross Buchanan (weekend overnights)
- Rich Walters (weekday early breakfast)
- Jack Oliver Saunders (weekend early breakfast)
- Chris Moyles, hosting The Chris Moyles Show (weekday breakfast)
- Jon Holmes (weekend breakfast) (Formerly of Xfm London)
- Vernon Kay (weekday mid mornings)
- Ricky Wilson (Sunday mid mornings)
- Elis James and John Robins (Saturday mid mornings)
- Dan O'Connell (weekday lunchtime, Saturday evenings)
- Ian Camfield (weekend lunchtime)
- Johnny Vaughan (weekday drivetime)
- Jo Good (weekend drivetime) (Formerly of Xfm)
- Phil Clifton (weekday evenings) (Formerly of Xfm)
- Clint Boon (Sunday evenings)
- John Kennedy, hosting Xposure (Monday - Thursday nights) (Formerly of Xfm)
- Lliana Bird (Friday - Saturday nights )
- Maz Tappuni, hosting Communion Presents (Sunday evenings)
Former hosts on the network include:
- Josh Widdicombe, who alternated on Saturday & Sunday mornings from February 2013 until July 2015.
- Eddy Temple-Morris, host of The Remix, whose final show after 15 years on XFM was on 4 September 2015.
- Dave Rowntree, whose final show was on 13 September 2015.
- Matt Dyson, who worked at XFM for 15 years as a side-kick on the breakfast show and with his own show at weekends.
- Danny Wallace, former host of the breakfast show, with Matt Dyson and Work Experience Steve (Stephen Ferdinando)
- Karl Pilkington
- Stephen Merchant
- Ricky Gervais
- "Radio X confirmed in single Chris Moyles tweet". RadioToday. 6 September 2015.
- XFM application for North East licence from Ofcom site (pdf)
- Plunkett, John (11 February 2008). "DAB 'not economically viable'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 February 2008.
- "Full line-up for Global's Radio X confirmed". RadioToday. 7 September 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Shepherd, Jack (21 September 2015). "Chris Moyles hosts comeback Radio X show: Dismisses 'male-focussed' agenda and plays Love Machine by Girls Aloud". The Independent. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- "How We Met: Karl Pilkington & Ricky Gervais". The Independent. Retrieved 26 October 2015.