All eyes on Portsmouth as licence becomes available

Tents in the Isambard Brunel car park in Portsmouth

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All eyes in the radio industry will be on Portsmouth next summer when regulator Ofcom decides what to do with the 107.4FM local licence.

At the moment the licence is held by the Celador Group and broadcasts its service The Breeze, networked from Southampton.

Back in the 1970s and ’80s, originally there was only one local commercial licence per area.

We had Radio Victory followed by Ocean Sound until regulations were slowly relaxed.

Choice has been the buzzword since the 1990s, with more licences being awarded for each area.

In 1998 a regional licence was created for the Solent region, offering real competition. This service is Wave 105.

Then at the turn of the century, smaller, incremental licences were offered and in Portsmouth Radio Victory returned. This soon became The Quay, which was eventually owned by Portsmouth FC.

We all know what happened to Pompey and the Celador Group purchased the licence.

Today radio is big business and large corporate companies are now behind these names, creating national brands. We now have Capital and Heart.

Celador too has created the brands Breeze and Jack. All clever marketing! But to much surprise, Celador has asked to cut short the Portsmouth licence and re-advertise it.

Now the city has the chance of some real choice, as Angel Radio has raised the money to bid.

Angel Radio has been going for a good few years now, broadcasting on short-range FM signals and digitally thanks to a group of enthusiastic volunteers.

The station caters for a much older market than current radio stations, offering company as well as fond musical memories for its devoted listeners.

Commercial radio stations over the past few years have all blended into each other, all aiming for listeners younger than 55. On Angel Radio, the only policy is nothing newer than 1960.

What will be fascinating come the summer is whether the regulator sticks to its word of offering listener choice to everyone.