Global Radio has confirmed that as of Monday 7th October, the London-based radio station Choice FM will be renamed and rebranded as Capital XTRA. The newly named station will act as an ‘urban’ spinoff to Capital FM, much like BBC 1Xtra is to Radio 1.
Rumoured to have been planned from months ago, it is not entirely clear how much will be changing. What we do know is that Tim Westwood, Craig David and Avicii will be hosting shows on the station, and Kojo and Jade will remain as hosts for the weekday breakfast slot.
It seems that the full extent of how much will be changing will remain unknown until Monday.
Streatham’s Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna yesterday took to Twitter to air his concerns over the rebrand, stating that it is “imperative that @CapitalXTRA retains the distinct sound of ChoiceFM – that is the test for me: soul, house, gospel, soca, raga etc.”. The Labour MP expressed his desire for the station to “[continue] to give London’s different communities a “choice” in the music they listen to on London’s airwaves”.
DJ Daddy Ernie, one of Choice FM’s much loved DJs, also took to the social networking site to express his views – and also to let listeners know that he would no longer be working with the station: “Just to let you the public who has supported Superjam for 24yrs as from today I will no longer be part of Capital Xtra moving forward. Shame”. It is clear that he also shares Umunna’s sentiments, stating that since the news emerged over the rebrand that “London has been crying. Don’t worry we move on. The phone hasn’t stop [sic] ringing.”
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Ernie continued to express his views this morning, and it’s clear that he has not taken well to being dropped from the station.
Choice FM originally launched in 1990, aimed at south London’s black community. It was fully independent until 2004, when Capital Radio Group took ownership and thus had full control. Subsequently taken over by Global Radio, it seems that this kind of overhaul, for lack of a better word, had been on the cards from day one of Global’s ownership.
I’m of the opinion that Choice FM did not ‘sell out’ as such, but that a business agreement took place. And more business agreements will occur further down the line. Many will disagree, but Choice FM became ‘commercial’ a decade ago, and this change will likely have no bearing on the music we will be hearing.
The social media protests are all very well, but I’m not sure where the outrage lies. A few weeks ago I happened to hear fifteen minutes of the breakfast show. Jade referred to Drake as the ‘best rapper alive’, or words to that effect. I recall hearing Chase & Status, Nicki Minaj, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke tracks played. If that’s not commercial, or ‘selling out’, then what is?
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Pirate radio DJ Joe Grime Tweeted “who cares” at the news of the rebrand, and whilst many may view the comment as insensitive or tactless, he has a good point. People can still listen to their favourite music via the likes of Colourful Radio, Bang radio and various other pirate stations such as Genesis. To me, Choice has been commercial for the past decade.
We’d love to hear your opinion about the rebranding. Do you think it was a long time coming? Do you share mine and Joe Grime’s sentiments? Do Chuka’s thoughts match yours? Let us know.