radio beacon

radio beacon

radio beacon: see radio range.
Beacon Radio is the name of a Radio station in the Midlands of England, previously known as Beacon FM, and before that Beacon Radio 303. Beacon Radio is owned by GCap Media but will soon be sold as Global Radio takeover the running of GCap.


The station began broadcasting to the West Midlands and the Black Country from studios at 267 Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton on mediumwave 303 metres, and 97.2 MHz (from Turner's Hill) at 6 a.m. on April 12, 1976.

The first presenter was Mike Baker and the first song to be played was Eric Carmen's "Sunrise" as the first record.

The station was originally set out to broadcast Beautiful Music including soul and country rock with a heavy bias towards American chart music swinging to the sounds of Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles.

The station's original Managing Director was Jay Oliver, an American who, with his Programme Controller Allen McKenzie (a Scot/Canadian), was responsible for the Mid-Atlantic sound that flooded the West Midlands for three years (including a US-style jingle package).

As with other UK commercial stations at the time, the station's commitment to news and speech broadcasting in its opening year, particularly in the evenings, was extensive; and its late-evening music programmes appeared to offer the presenters a freedom to enlighten with a wide choice of recordings, as well as to entertain.

The station became very successful, but was chastised by the UK licensing authority (then, the Independent Broadcasting Authority) for being too American sounding and not wide ranging enough in its programming. Due to this, the management and output were changed in mid-1979.

Its licence was later expanded in 1987 to cover Shropshire, ostensibly broadcasting from its offices in Shrewsbury on 103.1 MHz. Actually only the News service was generated in Shrewsbury, actual programmes was based at the Wolverhampton studios - although entirely separate programming for the two areas was provided during daytime hours (this was from time to time slimmed down or expanded as finances allowed). Since January 1989 the station has been FM-only, with Beacon's former AM frequencies of 990 and 1017 kHz becoming branded as a separate service "Nice 'n' Easy Radio WABC" (WABC stood for Wolverhampton And Black Country). This was shortened to "Radio WABC" in 1992.

In 1997 the local service essentially closed, and the service was networked (bar afternoon drivetime and News bulletins) under the banner of "WABC Classic Gold". This service is currently owned and operated by the UBC Media Group as Classic Gold 990 & 1017 (occasionally still referred to in jingles as "Classic Gold WABC").

The company had been reorganised in the late 1990s into "Beacon Broadcasting and Communications Ltd" (BBCL) - a holding company for the company's various activities. In 1995 GWR Group plc bought Beacon Broadcasting Ltd from BBCL (leaving BBCL as a dormant company). The FM licenses currently are owned and operated by GCap Media (formerly the GWR Group), which re-branded the FM service as Beacon FM in 1997, before reverting to Beacon Radio in May 2005. The thinking behind this reversion to the 'radio' title had been floating around for a number of years within the company - new digital radios do not promote a frequency on 'FM' therefore as a 'radio' station it should be branded as such.

Beacon Radio often broadcasts the same content as many other radio stations that are owned by GCap Media - particular between the hours of 10pm and 3am, when networked programmes are generated from a central point (for example in the early GWR years, network programmes came from Swindon, Wiltshire. At the time of the introduction of networked shows, GCAP or GWR as they were known then, were criticised by not only listeners but by the industry as well. However, during the last few years, ALL the major UK radio players have introduced what GCAP radio stations have been doing for many years, with many groups also using networked programming at 'off peak' times. Many believe this to be favourable to the listener, instead of "pre-recording" generic shows as smaller stations do weeks, sometimes months in advance.


Beacon Radio as well as its sister stations: brmb, Mercia fm and Wyvern fm in the West Midlands and Heart106 in the East Midlands are to be sold under new owner Global Radio's decision. Potential buyers have yet to emerge.

Former BRMB programme controller Mike Owen has emerged as a bidder for the GCap West Midlands stations put up for sale by Global Radio.

Owen is part of a local consortium bidding for BRMB in Birmingham plus Wyvern (Worcestershire), Mercia (Coventry) and Beacon Radio (Wolverhampton) and their AM Gold services

Past presenters

The latter DJ Mr Clements ('Clem') now resides in sunny Houston, Texas and is imminently undertaking the writing of a book which will expand on the early activities at Beacon Radio.

Live sport

The station now owns the commercial rights to broadcast live commentary on all of Wolverhampton Wanderers' and West Bromwich Albion's live matches, home and away throughout the 2008/2009 season. As well as updates from every Walsall Game. All games will be broadcast either on 97.2 Beacon Radio or on its sister station GOLD. Both of these stations are on DAB Digital Radio. This season 103.1 Beacon Radio will be broadcasting no football commentaries but will have updates from both Shrewsbury Town And AFC Telford on a saturday afternoon anchored by Stu Haycock.

97.2 Beacon Radio has the Beacon Radio Sports: Black Country Football Show which is anchored by presenter Nathan Alleyne (Beacon And BRMB Commentator) from the grounds, jointly produced by Steve Dabbs and Ben Tilley, and featuring sports news and updates from Dan Gavin. The commentary team during the show consists of Bill Hatton (ex-Wolf), Geoff Owen, George Andrews, 'Wolves legend' Robbie Dennison, 'Baggies legend' Tony "Bomber" Brown and Nathan Alleyne. Beacon also provides updates and goal flashes from every Walsall game, cementing it as the 'ONLY Black Country Football Show'.

As well as the commentary games, on a Friday evening, Beacon joins with its sister stations on the GOLD network which include, GOLD in Birmingham and GOLD in Coventry, for '90 minutes with the legends' which is hosted by Tom Ross and is joined each week by 2 guests (ex footballers) in the studio to take part in a phone in across the region. On a Saturday afternoon, Beacon joins with GCAP-owned BRMB for a pre match build up show presented by Russ Morris (ex-Signal 1) called 'The Kick About'. This show airs at 12- 2pm, and is described as 'Soccer AM on the radio'.

Tag lines

A tag line is a phrase which identifies a radio station, usually spoken alongside the station's call sign or in sung jingles & sweepers.

  • "Sunshine Music" (1976-1978)
  • "It's On Us" (1976/7)
  • "Summertime '77 from Beacon Radio 303 means: ..the best music"/..the best summer gold"/..all the hits all the time"/..more summer fun" (1977)
  • "We do it for you, on Beacon 303" (1978-1979)
  • "Better Music Beacon"(1985-1987)
  • "Latest Hits, Greatest Memories" (1987-1995)
  • "The Best Mix of Latest Hits and Greatest Memories" (GWR variant!) (1995-1997)
  • "The Best Music Mix" (1997)
  • "Today's Better Music Mix" (1998-2000)
  • "Today's Best Mix" (On Air) (2000-2008)
  • "Haven't You Heard?" (Website, Print etc) (2007-?)
  • "(The) West Midlands'/Shrophire's Hit Music Station" (On Air) (2008-?)

External links

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