Global Radio, owners of Choice FM, made an announcement today that sent shock waves throughout the urban music industry. They confirmed plans to rebrand popular radio station Choice FM to Capital XTRA.
The new station would now be broadcast across the UK, as the first urban dance music station. Previously Choice FM had a licenses which restricted their coverage to certain parts of London, mainly south London and north London.
The announcement raised many questions. Would Capital XTRA still be a ‘black’ radio station? Which DJs would be getting fired? Will the radio station lose its identity? And are they copying 1Xtra with their name change?
Hundreds of Twitter users bashed the radio station for the lack of creativity regarding their name choice and what seemed, to them, like an unexpected and rushed decision.
So Pappzd tracked down a representative from Global, who told us why they chose the name Capital XTRA and everything else you need to know.
We chose the name Capital Xtra because Xtra is exactly what it is! Capital Xtra is the UK’s first national commercial urban dance music station.
But we weren’t satisfied. We wanted the answer to the question that everyone was asking: what does the name change and the station going national mean for BBC 1Xtra? The Global representative made it clear that the BBC urban radio station had nothing to do with Choice FM’s new changes.
1Xtra is nothing like Capital XTRA – there won’t be anything like it on the air
They went on to add that despite public opinion suggesting the station was becoming more commercial and less black, Global are just providing a platform for a new and very popular genre.
Choice FM has been doing really well, we added nearly 100,000 listeners last year, which showed us the appetite for urban dance music. We believe this genre deserves a national platform in the commercial radio sector. There isn’t a station out there like Capital XTRA.
Listeners all over the UK can now listen to urban dance, rather than just London. They will discover new music first with us.
We asked the heads of other leading radio stations their thoughts on what the changes meant to them and to the urban radio space as a whole. Jennifer Ogole, CEO of We Are BANG Radio said:
I don’t know what Capital Xtra’s programming is going to be like but any less Black music on the airways is not a good thing. It’s not good for artists and professionals working in that genre and it’s not good for those in public who love Black music.
Mr Silk, Head of We Are BANG Radio also shared his thoughts:
A major platform has been changed that delivered influential music and Djs that have contributed in major ways to existence of major UK and USA stars in today’s market .. Without ChoiceFM many Music Acts would not of been as massive as they are today
Pappzd reached out to a rep from Colourful Radio, but they refused to comment, instead asking us to tune into their show at 7am where they will be discussing the change.
Those most affected by Choice Fm’s rebranding will be the musicians. We spoke to Tribal Magz, Young O, and J2K. Artists who have all had their music played on the station before.
Young O told us:
DJs like Ras Kwame, DJ Woody and Jenny Francis always supported my music on Choice FM when other stations didn’t. All thanks to them other stations now support me. I hope that stays the same. But Change is a good thing.
Tribal Magz said:
My latest single Simple debuted on Choice FM, and I grew up listening to Choice. The latest changes will be interesting to see the effects on the urban shows, and urban platforms
BBK rapper J2K said the modification “came out of nowhere” and added that he hoped the changes at Capital XTRA would benefit everyone.
A number of the most popular presenters and Choice FM shows will migrate to Capital XTRA, but for the unlucky few whose contracts weren’t renewed, it’s the end of the road.
The most notable changes to the line-up are DJ Daddy Ernie, Martin Jay, and Natty B who have all been let go and replaced with celebrity DJs such as Avicii and Craig David. So If you’re a bashment, reggae or soca fan, then you may want to start looking elsewhere for your favourite genre.
The Voice, a weekly tabloid that worked closely with Choice FM in the 90s and is self-styled as ‘Britain’s top black weekly’, called the change “the end of an era,” noting that the re-brand came just days into Black History Month. The significance of this correlation was unclear.
The Voice led with an angle suggesting a plot to erase black identity and claim to have broken the story, although Global say they always planned to go public with the news today.
Choice FM was founded as an independent radio station in 1990 by Patrick Berry and Neil Kenlock as a radio station primarily for listeners of
African and Caribbean origin in the Brixton area.
Kenlock told The Voice that although Global are within their rights to change the name, he expects them to continue to give the black community the right to music of their choice.
Change the name by all means but don’t disregard our community, that would be wrong.
Choice FM’s death and rebirth as Capital XTRA is clearly more than just a name change for people who really have a vested interest.
The first show will premier on Monday. Will you be tuned in?