Radio 210 - Launch

Episode 369,   Mar 06, 2012, 11:56 PM

It’s a bit like the Carphone Warehouse not really selling carphones any more. Or ad agency WPP being in advertising rather than its eponymous business of Wire & Plastic Products.

2-Ten FM in Reading was a contradiction of a name, given the station had long since stopped broadcasting on 2-Ten; and when it had, that was on AM.

8 March 1976 saw the station crackle on air, with the help of Arthur Lowe; Paul Hollingdale; Richard and Karen. The station was launched by Thames Valley Broadcasting as Radio 210 (Two One Oh) in 1976, simulcasting back then, as all the new commercial stations did, on both AM and FM. Whilst FM was stereo and exciting, it was accepted that most listeners did not have a posh FM receiver. It was a bit like DAB is now - few Ford Cortinas back then had FM radios. So, AM was the lead frequency and remained so in programmers’ minds, even though actually, the switch to FM was relatively speedy. The fact that Radio One was only on AM until 1988 (apart from some great Radio Two simulcasts) did not help FM take-up.

So, like so many ILR stations, the AM wavelength (thus in metres, not kHz, remember your Physics) was incorporated in the early on-air imaging (Beacon 303, Trent 301, Piccadilly 261). But only Radio 210 adopted the wavelength as its actual name.

The name worked in a way, until the splitting of frequencies. The then regulator, the IBA had issued a ‘use it or lose it’ edict to stations in the late eighties, requiring them to broadcast separate programming on AM and FM. Like most stations (but not all); Radio 210 chose to put its heritage brand on FM; and a new station (210 Classic Gold Radio) on AM. So, Radio 210, as '210 FM' or '2-Ten FM' remained the FM identity, even though it was no longer on 210. I wish I’d never started writing this.

Maybe wisely, Global took the station into the Heart brand on 9 July 2010. The 210 AM wavelength (1431 KHz frequency) was turned off in 2015.