Kiss 105

Feb 11, 2012, 03:30 PM

Kiss 105 launched at, well, 1.05 on Valentine's Day 1997.

The station was then owned by Faze, which also owned Kiss 102 in Manchester. It had a brand licence agreement for the 'Kiss' name with EMAP, which operated London's Kiss 100.

In 1999, Faze was bought by Chrysalis for £17.6m; and the Kiss stations were re-branded Galaxy, a name already used by Chrysalis in the South West. To say the re-brand had to be a little quicker than the new owners had expected would be an understatement.

At the start of 2011, by which time Chrysalis had become the foundation of Global Radio, the two stations, amongst others, became Capital.

I spent about six happy years working at 105 in its Galaxy days. It was a focussed station with real energy - and a great sense of time, place and originality. It had then just hit its peak: reaching 1m listeners. I recall one great tale of one of our sales team presenting to a London agency . They asked him the station reach. "One million", he replied. "No", dismissively shouted the agency guy, "I mean the reach, not the TSA". "Erm, one million", again said our guy, even beginning to doubt himself. It seemed 'them agencies down there in London' did not appear to believe any station outside the Capital could be that big.

My other vivid memory is 'Bank it Or Burn It'. A daring competition where we invited listeners to suggest how they might burn £5,000. Then we asked the listeners if she should have the money, or whether we should just burn it. Maybe not surprisingly, the evil listeners voted to burn it. So, we planned to - for real. The press hopped onto the story: 'hospital could save lives with new incubators if station gave it money rather than burn it'. A Bishop went on Newsnight, clad in purple in a book-lined study to criticise our efforts. The Local Council banned us from using their civic bonfire for the deed. Our sales director suggested clients were pulling out in disgust. Mike Cass, then PD, and I discussed whether to do an eleventh hour change of heart. We concluded that would be off-brand. Not that he'd have taken any notice had I told him not to press ahead. The Chrysalis Chief Executive called me to say the Chairman was worried: "Is this going to be all right?", coughed Phil. But we did it. We burnt the tenners. One by one. Our audience figures hit a high.

Great days. Great station. And its energy lives on. In some stations, that energy seems to be in the brickwork, and this is one of them. #radio