Northants 96

Northants 96

[Unreferenced|date=January 2008

Infobox Radio station

name = Northants 96
airdate = November 30 1986
frequency = 96.6 MHz
share = 11.8%
share as of = September 2007
share source = []
area = Northampton
format = Contemporary
owner = Global Radio
website = []

Northants 96 is a local commercial radio station in the United Kingdom.

Northants 96 broadcasts to the whole of Northamptonshire on 96.6 FM from its studios in Northampton town centre, via the transmitter located in the Kingsthorpe area. It is owned by [Hello World [GCAP Media] .


Radio from Peterborough?

However Northants Radio was not the first local commercial radio station broadcasting in the county. Hereward Radio provided programmes from Peterborough in the early 80s, using its former frequency of 102.8 FMFact|date=January 2008. Shortly afterwards due to general difficulties within the commercial radio industry at the time Hereward decided to pull out (Hereward continued in Peterborough). In 1985 the Independent Broadcasting Authority decided to reattribute the Independent Local Radio franchise to a new company, Northants Radio Ltd.

Northants' launch followed another less difficult period in broadcasting when local radio frequencies on the FM band were expanded and re-organised to form 'sub-bands' (104-105 MHz were reserved for BBC Local Radio, whereas 96.1-97.7MHz were given over to independent local radio). Local radio in the Northamptonshire's went as follows:

*BBC Radio Northampton (96.6 FM) moved to 104.2 FM.Fact|date=January 2008
*Northamptonshire ILR (102.8 FM) moved to 96.6 FM.Fact|date=January 2008

Northants 96 launched at 10.00am on November 30, 1986 with Tony West broadcasting the first regular programmes on the station. Following a synthesised alarm clock ticking saying: "Good Morning. 10am , Sunday 30th of November 1986, and this is the new sound of radio in Northamptonshire- Northants 96!" followed by a station idetification jingle and a welcome message from the then Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire.

Notable disc jockeys on Northants included Northants' first breakfast show, future well-known hypnotist Paul McKenna and David Prever, who would later move to Wiltshire's GWR FM

Its to be noted that Northants 96 and Northants Radio were interchangeable names for the station and also it relayed programmes on a mediumwave frequency- 1557 kHz which opened on June 25 1990.

The Hot FM and SuperGold

Northants 96 was essentially part of a regional collective of commercial stations- Chiltern Radio, based in Luton and Bedford. Station directors had to tackle a major concern in the area; "how do you make this station appear more 'local' than the previous incumbent, while saving money at the same time?" The result was that programmes were syndicated from Chiltern headquarters in Luton during the day, consisting of popular middle of the road music whilst 'opting out' for hourly local news bulletins. Thus "The Hot FM" sustaining service was born.

The Chiltern Radio Group did this by making use of new technology whereby a disc-jockey interjects with an identification jingle during a networked/syndcated programme by pressing a button with the result that depending on where the listener was, you heard "Northants 96- The Hot FM" or "Chiltern Radio 97.6- The Hot FM". This solved the problem of inexpensive local radio with the added benefit of totally opting out of the network for local emergencies, for example snow reports or flooding information.

In 1988 the Home Office declared that the independent local radio industry was sufficient enough to support a permanent split in AM-FM broadcasting and enforce this rule through the IBA. All BBC and ILR stations were required to broadcast separate programming or lose their licences.

The Chiltern Radio Network responded to this by launching its second sustaining service, SuperGold on July 15, 1990. SuperGold was a general golden oldies station broadcasting to Herts, Beds, Bucks and Cambridge on the medium wave band with Northants Radio SuperGold following suit. Both the classic and contemporary FM and the oldies AM stations were rated very highly, consistently beating its local competitor BBC Radio Northampton.

A better music mix, a hostile takeover

The Chiltern Radio Group, then a plc received a hostile takeover bid from GWR Group plc in 1995 which was reluctantly accepted. This affected both FM and AM stations and networked programming- "The Hot FM" closed and associated stations were rebranded "The New______- A Better Music Mix" while "SuperGold" was absorbed into GWR Group's existing Classic Gold network.Northants 96 however was less affected by this major change than other stations in the enlarged group (Chiltern Radio for example) becoming "The New Northants 96" whereas its AM station "Northants Radio SuperGold" became "Classic Gold 1557". The significance of this takeover was more resources meant a more local service; up to 15 hours a day were broadcast locally on FM as opposed to a mere 4 under "The Hot FM" whilst Classic Gold retained 8 hours.

Programming-wise Northants 96 underwent a subtle shift towards more upbeat contemporary and chart hits and less in the way of talk. A past slogan voiced by Eddy Temple-Morris claimed that "other radio stations talked over the end of songs, whilst we [didn't] - That's the Northants 96 difference". This over time evolved into the "Better Music Mix of the 80s 90s and today" and "Today's Best Mix for Northamptonshire".

Northants today

Like many commercial radio stations, Northants 96 has suffered a significant drop in listeners in recent years. [ see here]


* The Hot FM []
* Radio Authority Pocket Book 1994-2002

External links

* [ Northants 96]
* [ Classic Gold 1557]
* [ Classic Gold Network]

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