Its content includes sport phone-ins, live sports commentaries, and general phone-in discussions. It is transmitted on 1089 and 1053 kHz across the UK and digitally via DAB digital radio, Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and Tiscali TV. talkSPORT is also streamed online; however, due to rights restrictions on live coverage, some live sport commentaries are not available online.
The station was originally and officially launched as Talk Radio on 14 February, 1995, with Sean Bolger and Samantha Meah presenting the original Talk Radio Breakfast Show. However the first live broadcast was Caeser the Geezer's phone-in which aired at 10:00 p.m. the previous night. Other presenters on Talk Radio included Jeremy Beadle, Scott Chisholm, Tommy Boyd, Anna Raeburn, Gary Newbon and Dale Winton. Also joining the lineup were Chris Ryder ("Caesar the Geezer") and Wild Al Kelly, dubbed as shock jocks by the media.
A year later Talk Radio launched a new breakfast show presented by Paul Ross and Carol McGiffin. Former BBC Radio 1 DJ and current Classic FM Breakfast presenter Simon Bates also joined the station along with James Whale and Ian Collins.
Talk Radio made their first foray into the world of sports radio rights bidding, by purchasing the rights to broadcast the Nationwide Football League from BBC Radio Five Live for the 1997-1998 season. In addition, the station broadcasts their first World Cup from France in 1998, with them bringing in the top Sky Sports commentary team of Alan Parry and Andy Gray to commentate on the major matches. Talk Radio also picked up the rights to broadcast Manchester United’s matches in the Champions League for the 1998-1999 season, a competition the Red Devils go onto win beating Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp.
On November 12 1998, TalkCo Holdings, whose Chairman and Chief Executive was former Sun Editor Kelvin MacKenzie, purchased Talk Radio. This led to a mass clearout of presenters including Nick Abbot, Anna Raeburn, Tommy Boyd and Peter Deeley, with them putting in place a more sports orientated programming schedule, including The Sportszone with Alan Parry, Gary Newbon, Tony Lockwood and Tom Watt. The day was coined "Black Thursday" by hardcore Talk Radio listeners and received press attention in several national newspapers.
In late 1999, TalkCo, rebranded as The Wireless Group, announced a relaunch of Talk Radio to become the UK’s first national commercial sports radio station called talkSPORT. The relaunch occurred at midnight on Monday 17 January 2000, and was accompanied by the station moving from Oxford Street to a new studio in Hatfields on the South Bank of the River Thames. Now dedicated to sports, the programming lineup was drastically altered, beginning with the "Sports Breakfast" show, a mid-morning motoring show called The Car Guys, with further sports programming in the afternoon and evening. Almost all the station's talk show presenters were axed at the time, including The Big Boys Breakfast with David Banks and Nick Ferrari, with only James Whale and Ian Collins surviving. To complement their new format, talkSPORT purchased the rights to broadcast Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle in the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup, England Internationals, UEFA Cup, England’s Winter Tours to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India, British Lions Tours to South Africa and New Zealand and rights to the Super League, Rugby League World Cup, and World Title Boxing Fights.
The new lineup involved a number of presenters and commentators. They included Alan Brazil, Mark Nicholas, Chris Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott, Alan Parry, Peter Shilton, Brian Moore, Brough Scott, Tom Watt, Gary Newbon, Ian Darke, Tony Banks and Alvin Martin.
In the last few years talkSPORT broadcast coverage of a number of sporting events including Euro 2000, 2002 World Cup, 2006 World Cup, Euro 2004, 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2004 Athens Olympics, England's Winter Tours to India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies, The Open Golf Championship, The Ryder Cup, Champions League, Premiership, Carling Cup, FA Cup, British Lions Tours of South Africa and New Zealand, 2003 Rugby World Cup, World Boxing Title Fights, Grand Prix, The Grand National, The Derby and The Cheltenham Festival.
In summer 2006, the station broadcast the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with live match commentary of all 64 matches in Germany. Commentary was provided by Jim Proudfoot, Chris Cooper, Nigel Pearson, Ian Danter, Tim White and Geoff Peters with punditary from Alvin Martin, Rodney Marsh, Gary Stevens, Jason Cundy and Micky Quinn.
In October 2006, talkSPORT secured national radio broadcast rights to 32 live Premiership matches each Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm for the next three years from August 2007. BBC Radio Five Live won six of the seven available broadcast rights packages of 32 games each from the Premier League; however, talkSPORT becomes the first national commercial radio station to broadcast live top flight football since the BBC first aired live football commentary of Arsenal v Sheffield United on 22 January 1927 in the Division One Championship.
In April 2007, talkSPORT were awarded "official broadcaster" status by the IRB for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. The tournament took place in September and October 2007.
In June 2007, it was announced that former Essex CCC captain Ronnie Irani will become the new co-presenter of The Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast from Tuesday 25th September, replacing Graham Beecroft. This has been of limited success with Irani being criticised by many listeners for being out of his depth. The decision to change the Talksport phone number earlier in the year from an 0870 number to an 0871 number led to accusation of profiteering on the back of listeners. This came at a time when many television companies were rapped by the regulator over unfair and misleading phone-ins.
Jeremy Kyle was signed by the station in July 2008 to present a new Sunday lunchtime sports show from 21st September.
Talk Radio is set to make a return to the airwaves in July 2008 on DAB digital radio as a sister station to talkSPORT after 4 Digital Group were awarded the licence for the second national digital radio multiplex in July 2007. Other stations that will be made available on the new multiplex include: Channel 4 Radio, E4 Radio, Pure 4, Sky News Radio (providing an additional London-based version of this service on 1152am, replacing the current rolling news service on this frequency run by LBC News 1152, subject to agreement from OFCOM), Virgin Radio Viva and Original amongst others.
Contained within the 4 Digital Group bid, Talk Radio was described as follows:
"Talk Radio will mix intelligent, entertaining and opinionated presentation with lively debate and phone-ins. Operated by UTV, it will break the mould of national news and current affairs radio by having a more interactive and compelling talkback element. Talk Radio's free-flowing agenda will be dictated by the unfolding issues of the day. From politics to the police, from immigration to Iran, if it's in the news Talk Radio will be talking about it."
Scott Taunton was previously the Business Development Director at UTV, responsible for radio and new media. A native of Australia, he has been working in the UK for a decade and took over from Kelvin MacKenzie as Chief Executive of talkSPORT in July 2005.
Moz Dee is talkSPORT's Programme Director replacing Bill Ridley in March 2008 who won the Programmer of the Year Award at the 2007 Commercial Radio Awards. Matt Smith as Programme Controller.