With all the drama and outrage surrounding Global Radio’s decision to rebrand Choice FM as ‘Capital XTRA’ as of Monday 7th October, everyone has questions.
How long ago did Global make this decision? Did the DJs know about it all along? And how exactly did they get sacked?
I got hold of Choice FM’s veteran DJ Daddy Ernie who gave me a very candid account of exactly what happened – and the rawness of the decisions made…
GEORGINA: Can you tell me exactly what happened ‘behind the scenes’ with this rebranding?
DADDY ERNIE: I got a call at 7:10pm on Wednesday 2nd October. We had all heard the rumours for weeks that there was something happening. First, Tim Westwood was brought in, and then I got a call from a well known person that we where going to be rebranded from Choice FM into Capital XTRA. The Voice had gotten wind of what was happening and called Choice on Tuesday, but Choice declined to comment on the rebranding. So anyway, on Thursday I attended this “important meeting” and they gave the usual corporate spiel. They basically told us individually about the rebranding, and that I along with others wouldn’t be a part of it, etc etc.
G: What did you say to them?
DE: I didn’t have anything to say to them. They have no idea about my culture. They suppressed reggae and dancehall. The mere fact there is no reggae or dancehall show speaks volumes.
G: Who from Choice FM/Capital XTRA told you that you were being let go?
DE: Robert D’Ovidio, he’s the programme director of Capital. The person who was meant to be breaking the news wasn’t there. He can’t face us; he is a puppet. I was basically told that my contract wasn’t being renewed. I have been at the station since day one, twenty-four years ago I joined, and I didn’t even get a chance to go on air and thank my listeners or anything. That is a disrespect to our loyal listeners.
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G: What’s going to be your next step? Will you take time to recover from this?
DE: I don’t have to recover. They have no affiliation to me or my culture and they have no respect. I just have to move on. The name ‘Choice’ cannot be erased from the history of radio though. We changed the landscape of radio in Britain – not just London – and no other legal station played black music the way we did, and never will. They have erased that name now. I want my great grandchildren to be able to know what I did and what I helped enable to happen for the black community. I want to make sure the name ‘Choice’ is always included in the history of radio and I want my great grandchildren to know that I was there from the beginning to the end, first through DJing on LWR & Time FM Radio and then on Choice FM. For now the community will make noise, but they know that in a few weeks all will be forgotten. I want people to write to the radio authority and make sure that people don’t just ‘move on’. If they wanted to uphold our legacy they would not take soca, gospel and reggae off air and change the name the final insult. Blessed love to all.