|Broadcast area||Greater London|
|Slogan||London's No.1 Hit Music Station|
|Frequency||FM: 95.8 MHz|
Virgin Media: 958
|First air date||16 October 1973|
|Format||Top 40 (CHR)|
|Sister stations||Capital Xtra|
LBC News 1152
Following the 1964–68 offshore radio boom, the Conservative Party promised in its 1970 general election manifesto that should it win, it would introduce local commercial radio in addition to the commercial television that had started in 1955. This was a result of lobbying from pressure groups including the Local Radio Association, who felt that commercial radio should be introduced following the launch of ITV over a decade before. The Tories, under leader Edward Heath, won and swiftly introduced the Sound Broadcasting Act 1972, which allowed for the introduction of Independent Local Radio and created the newly renamed Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) from the Independent Television Authority.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority advertised local radio licences in certain locations in the United Kingdom under the umbrella term of Independent Local Radio (ILR). London was due to receive two ILR licences: one for news and another for general entertainment. Radio Capital, later to become Capital Radio, was formed in early 1970 by David Maule-ffinch with the intent to apply for the general entertainment licence. In late 1970, Maule-ffinch's future father-in-law, Barclay Barclay-White became involved. The Radio Capital team that was finally in place at the time of application to the IBA included Sir Richard Attenborough, Sir George Martin, Bryan Forbes, Sir Peter Saunders, David Maule-Ffinch and Barclay Barclay-White. David Maule-Ffinch was a member of the board of Capital Radio and its largest stockholder until 1994, when he sold his controlling interest to Information et Publicite, a subsidiary of Havas, the French media conglomerate.
The IBA awarded Capital Radio the "London General Entertainment" service, while "London News" was awarded to the London Broadcasting Company, LBC.
IBA transmission tests commenced in January 1973 and Capital Radio went on air on 16 October 1973, eight days after LBC, using the following FM and AM frequencies: 95.8 MHz FM from the Croydon transmitter and 557 kHz (539 m) MW from London Transport's Lots Road Power Station, Chelsea. The medium-wave frequency and location were temporary sites as the then new high-powered medium-wave station at Saffron Green, Barnet, was incomplete.
Capital commenced regular transmissions with the British national anthem "God Save the Queen", then a message from director Richard Attenborough "...This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio" followed by the Capital Radio theme jingle, made by Blue Mink:
Capital started in the, literally, dark days of the three-day week when electricity was rationed because of a miners’ strike. In the days before its launch, staff worked in the gloom to get the station ready to go on air.
Capital's programming remit, as with all ILR stations at the time, was to appeal to the broadest range of people as possible, which included specialist music programmes, radio plays, classical music, community features and news documentaries. Capital's breakfast show was originally hosted by David Symonds, but he soon moved to the Capital Countdown show and he was replaced at breakfast by former Radio London partnership Kenny Everett and Dave Cash.
Immediately after going on air, Capital Radio suffered co-channel interference from Radio Veronica, a pirate radio station off the coast of the Netherlands. Veronica began broadcasting in the 1960s and it was suggested that the allocation of 539 metres to ILR may have been an attempt to block reception of overseas broadcasts — a battle which preceded the launch of BBC Radio 1. Capital finally moved into office blocks in Euston Tower in September 1973, just a few yards away from Thames Television headquarters. Euston Tower was, at the time, London's tallest office tower.
In 1975, the IBA finally opened the transmission facilities at Saffron Green which allowed both LBC and Capital Radio to move up the dial. Capital moved to 1548 kHz mediumwave (194 m) and LBC to 1152 kHz (261 m). Saffron Green needed to be highly configured as it was sharing the same frequency as other ILR stations and needed to prevent co-channel interference from new ILR stations in Birmingham and Manchester. Previously the Lots Road site gained Capital and LBC the semi-humorous nickname of "Radio Clothesline" however both stations could be heard as far away as the Midlands. FM reception remained unaltered.
Throughout the 1970s Capital cut its staff, including many journalists – a move that angered the NUJ. Richard Attenborough intimated in the 1990s in a "Capital Facts" sheet that the station almost contemplated closing down:
|“||Although one can say it now, one couldn't at the time, there were some weeks when the viability of the whole operation was in question and we might have had to close down. We almost didn't make ends meet.||”|
Capital saw off the recession, with the help of finance from a Canadian company, and continued broadcasting, eventually increasing its hours. The so-called 'needle-time' restrictions on playing music had been lifted, which meant it could play more music during the day as well as in the evenings where the eight hours were concentrated.
The mid-1970s saw Capital Radio expand with the launch of the Help a London Child charity, which aimed to raise money for London's poorest children. The charity appeal went on to become one of the longest-running in broadcasting and the most recognised in British radio. In 1976, Capital Radio, Thames Television, London Weekend Television and British Telecom launched the Capital Radio Helpline which helped listeners through matters ranging from how to cook a turkey at Christmas time to suicide intervention. The station has also lent its support to London-based orchestras, choral societies, the British Film Institute Children's Film Festival and many other ventures.
1976 saw the launch of the Flying Eye, a traffic-spotting light aircraft, which could see traffic congestion below on the streets of Central London. LBC also had a similar service but was forced to suspend operations due to cost. Capital's aircraft was originally a Piper Seneca model, and, later, a twin-engined Grumman Cougar.
A new radio jingle package from Standard Sound heralded a new, refined sound for the station. Output was concentrated on its core playlist of contemporary chart music with the specialist music rescheduled to evenings. Jazz and soul programmes at the weekends were well received by listeners. Charlie Gillett had his world music programme The World Of Difference on Sunday evenings. Several of Capital's early presenters had moved on, to be replaced by newer disc jockeys, some of which had experience presenting on Radio Luxembourg.
A brand new breakfast show started in 1987 and was presented by former Tiswas presenter Chris Tarrant. Tarrant initially arrived at Capital presenting a Sunday lunchtime show before being promoted to a weekday lunchtime slot. Joined by Kara Noble, the partnership proved very popular and the Breakfast Show eventually became one of the most listened to radio programmes on British radio. Many industry commentators consider the station's output in the 1980s represented Capital Radio at its broadcasting peak.
In 1987, as required by the 1990 Broadcasting Act, all ILR stations were to permanently split simulcasting output on both its AM and FM frequencies in order to create new local radio stations and improve choice. Capital responded the following year by launching a golden oldies station called Capital Gold, initially at the weekend prior to going full time on 1 November, on its AM frequency while Capital on FM became 95.8 Capital FM, a chart contemporary music station. Both stations received brand-new jingle packages from Californian jingle house Who Did That Music (later Groove Jingles.) that went on to become well known and essential parts of its music programming.
From 1997, the studios of 95.8 Capital FM have been based in Leicester Square, which is also home to Capital's parent company, Global. The studio complex is shared with many other stations, including Heart, Smooth Radio, Classic FM, Capital XTRA, Radio X, LBC and Gold.
The station launched its website in September 1996 resulting in high demand which led to it crashing within a few hours.
Beginning in late 2005, the station went through a number of changes. In December 2005, a new policy started of two advertisements in each break to win favour with listeners, though there were more frequent breaks as a result. This policy was changed within a few months.
On 9 January 2006, the station was relaunched under its original name Capital Radio, with a modified line-up of presenters and a slightly tweaked music format. After this re-launch turned out not to have had the desired success, a new Programme Controller was appointed in September 2006. Scott Muller came from the Nova group in Australia, and the station saw another tweak in style.
The changes continued seeing Capital re-branded back to "London's Hit Music Station", a play on the station's earlier brand of "London's Number One Hit Music Station" with noticeable improvements – leading to a rise in audience figures at the end of 2006. The station also changed its on-air name to 95.8 Capital Radio, incorporating the frequency of "95.8" back into the station since it was dropped at the January 2006 re-launch.
In March 2007, the station was then renamed Capital 95.8 and its slogan became "The Sound of London". The marketing campaign combined outdoor, cinema, and print adverts.
RAJAR figures for Q2 2007 showed Capital 95.8 slipping to fourth place in the London local radio market ratings, recording the lowest-ever share of the London audience and for the first time falling behind Emap-owned station Magic and Heart, now owned by Global. Capital 95.8's audience share slipped from 4.6 to 4.1 per cent over the quarter.
The station then returned to the "London's Hit Music Network" tagline on 10 December 2007, with ex-Absolute Radio presenter Greg Burns replacing Lucio on drivetime, and Lucio moving to the evening show. Lucio took over from Bam Bam (Peter Poulton) who left Capital in early December 2007. On 6 June 2008, Global completed its £375 million takeover of Capital's parent company GCap Media.
Capital London formed part of the then nine station Capital network on 3 January 2011 as part of a merger of the Global owned Hit Music and Galaxy networks. Weekday breakfast and drivetime plus weekend mornings were localised with other output simulcast with the rest of the network.
Capital London localised presenters are responsible for playing music which is syndicated across the nine station Capital radio network, during Capital Breakfast, weekday drivetime and weekend mornings.
On 12 May 2011 it was announced that 95.8 Capital remained the most-listened-to commercial radio station in London, on both share and reach, beating rival Magic 105.4. However, on 4 August 2011 it was announced that rival Magic 105.4 had overtaken the position.
As of April 2019 only weekday drivetime is exclusive to Capital London.