Capital (radio network)

Capital is a network of twelve independent contemporary hit radio stations in the United Kingdom, broadcasting a mix of local and networked programming. Nine of the stations are owned and operated by Global, while the other three are owned and operated under separate franchise agreements.[1]

Capital FM
Capital FM Network logo.png
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
Branding95-106 Capital
SloganThe UK's No.1 Hit Music Station
Frequency95-108 MHz depending on area,
DAB National on D1,
Freesat: 719
Freeview: 724
Sky: 0109
Virgin Media: 958
RDS: Capital_
First air dateCapital London, 1973;
other stations 1975–1999;
Capital (radio network), 2011
FormatContemporary hit radio
Language(s)English / Welsh
Sister stationsCapital XTRA
Classic FM
Heart Dance
Heart 80s
Heart Extra
Smooth Radio
Radio X

As of June 2018, the stations serve a combined weekly audience of 7.4 million listeners and target a core audience in the 15–34 age group; 57% of all listeners are within this demographic.[2]

Capital FM has a narrow playlist[3] with only a few changes per week, featuring songs from the last one to two years.[4] Unlike BBC Radio 1, Capital does not play rock, classic hits or alternative music.


Capital Radio, GWR and GCap MediaEdit

Capital started as the independent music radio station for London in the early 1970s.

In the 1990s, Capital Radio became one of the UK's major radio groups via acquisition of a number of local radio stations including Red Dragon FM, BRMB and Power FM. Rival GWR Group also acquired a number of local radio stations in the 1990s, including Leicester Sound, Ram FM, GWR FM, Chiltern FM, Hereward FM, Marcher Sound and Trent FM, which operated as part of the 33-station Mix network.

Capital Radio and GWR Group's merger in 2005 to form GCap Media resulted in the stations being amalgamated into the One Network. This continued until June 2009 when most of the stations, now in the ownership of Global Radio, who had purchased GCap in 2008, were rebranded as part of The Heart Network. This left Leicester Sound, Ram FM, Red Dragon FM and Trent FM which formed Hit Music with network content produced in Nottingham. In January 2011, these stations were rebranded as part of Capital, with the Leicester, Derby and Nottingham stations merged to form one regional station for the East Midlands.


The first Galaxy radio station, Galaxy 97.2, was launched in 1990 in South West England – initially broadcasting solely from Bristol – and operated under the Chiltern Radio Group. In 1994 the station won the first regional FM licence and moved frequency to 101.0 MHz, rebranded as Galaxy 101 and expanded coverage to include South Wales. At the same time a second studio was opened in Cardiff to provide some programming alongside the existing Bristol studio. Chrysalis Radio purchased the station in 1996 and, a year later, expanded the network by buying Faze FM's stations: Kiss 102 in Manchester and Kiss 105 in Yorkshire. In 1998, black community station Choice FM was acquired in Birmingham. Chrysalis Radio won the North East regional licence in 1999 and sold the original station, Galaxy 101, to the GWR Group in 2002 (this station is now Kiss 101).

In 2007, Chrysalis Radio was sold to Global Radio and following their subsequent acquisition of GCap in 2008, XFM Scotland and Power FM were rebranded under the Galaxy moniker in November 2008. Another rebrand followed in January 2011 when all Galaxy stations were rebranded as Capital.

Capital FMEdit

Within the first five months of the network, Capital's flagship London station regained its position as the most listened-to commercial station in London. However, Manchester, the North East, South Wales and Yorkshire lost listeners, contrasting with Birmingham, Central Scotland and the South Coast where listening figures increased.[5]

On 1 July 2011, Global Radio requested changes to the formats of Capital Birmingham and Capital Scotland, which had inherited obligations from previous owners. This was to enable format consistency within all nine Capital stations.[6] On 17 November 2011, Ofcom approved both format change requests.[7]

On 6 February 2014, Global Radio announced it would be selling two of its Capital stations – in Scotland and South Wales – to Communicorp. Capital's network programming and brand name is still used by both stations under contract.[8]

Two ex-Heart stations were added to the network on 6 May 2014: Capital Cymru (serving Anglesey and Gwynedd) and Capital North West and Wales, broadcasting from Wrexham.

On 18 January 2016, Global added the former Juice FM station in Liverpool to the network, after approval was given to buy the station from UTV Media for £10 million.[9]

In January 2018, Global added the former Juice 107.2 in Brighton and announced it would launch Capital Brighton on 3 September 2018.[10]

In July 2018, Global brought 2BR in Lancashire from UKRD.[11] The station was merged with the Manchester station and joined the network on 8 April 2019.[12]

In February 2019, following Ofcom's decision to relax local content obligations from commercial radio, it was announced Capital would replace its local breakfast and weekend shows with additional networked programming from London as of Monday 8 April 2019. This reduces total weekly hours of local programming on each station from 43 to 15.[13]

Capital Cymru retained its own local breakfast and weekend shows due to separate Welsh-language obligations.[14] In May 2019, the station dropped all networked output and introduced a full schedule of local programming, including additional Welsh-language shows.[15] Capital Cymru also retains the network's branding and much of its CHR music playlist.

Local Drivetime shows were retained, but some are now shared between stations. Local news, traffic updates and advertising is retained across all stations.[16]

In September 2019, Quidem, the owners of six local radio stations in the English Midlands, announced it had entered a brand licensing agreement with Global, citing financial losses.[17] Two months later, following OFCOM permission to change the stations' formats,[18] it was confirmed they would merge and join the Capital network on 2 December 2019.[19] As per the Communicorp-owned stations, Quidem continues to own the station as a franchise.

Merged station Closed stations Studios
Capital Manchester and Lancashire Capital Manchester
Spinningfields, Manchester
Capital Mid-Counties
(from 2 December 2019)
Touch FM Coventry
Touch FM Stratford-upon-Avon
Touch FM Warwick
Touch FM Burton, Lichfield and Tamworth
Rugby FM
Banbury Sound
Capital Midlands Capital Birmingham
Capital East Midlands
Capital South Capital Brighton
Capital South Coast
Segensworth, Fareham

List of Capital FM stationsEdit

Production and programmingEdit

Capital stations based in Central Scotland and Birmingham produced and transmitted specialist output for the network on Saturday and Sunday overnights respectively. However, in July 2012, this was replaced with content from 95.8 Capital studios in Leicester Square, London, where all the networked programming is now produced. Breakfast and drive-time shows on weekdays and weekend afternoons are produced and broadcast from local stations' studios.[20] Capital also broadcasts via a number of DAB ensembles that do not correspond with a local FM station, and as an audio channel on the Digital Terrestrial Television and Digital Satellite platforms. These platforms take a national feed with programming (except adverts) identical to that of 95.8 Capital London.

Prior to January 2011, Leicester Sound, Ram FM and Trent FM shared off-peak programming from Trent's studios in Nottingham, whilst Galaxy programming came from studios in Leeds, Yorkshire. Red Dragon FM and Capital were entirely autonomous, producing all of their own output.

The Capital radio network production and station sound was created by former Capital producer Arden Hanley[21] and was then overseen by Chris Nicoll, who also runs production brand Wizz FX, until his departure in 2015 to join Wise Buddah.[22] Howard Ritchie,[23] Helen Austin[24] and Kayne Harrison are the voiceover artists for 96-107 Capital.

Virgin Media became the first sponsor of 95-106 Capital. The six-figure deal begun on 4 January 2011, with weekday drive-time shows branded as The Virgin Media Home Run across all nine stations for a six-month period.[25]


All Capital stations broadcast local news updates under the name of Capital Reports, every hour from 5am to 7pm on weekdays and from 6am to 12pm at weekends.

Network opt-outsEdit

  • In Anglesey and Gwynedd, Capital Cymru broadcasts local programming 24 hours a day as part of its Welsh language requirements - including presenter-led shows from 6am-7pm on weekdays and 9am-4pm at weekends.[26] Welsh language music features in its playlist and local news bulletins are broadcast in both Welsh and English. As of May 2019, the station does not carry any Capital networked programming, apart from The Official Big Top 40 on Sundays.
  • The North Wales Coast, served by Capital North West and Wales on 96.3 FM, carries an hour-long Welsh language music programme at 5am on Sunday–Friday mornings.
  • In Birmingham, Capital Midlands opts out on Friday morning from 2–4am to air a specialist urban music show with Sacha Brooks.

Notable presentersEdit

Capital TVEdit

Capital TV broadcast on the Sky and Freesat platforms from July 2012, and on Freeview in the Manchester area from October 2012, and was also available online.[27] The channel played non-stop music videos. It closed in October 2018.[28]

Capital XTRAEdit

On 3 October 2013, Global Radio announced that the Capital brand will be extended to form a new nationwide digital rhythmic contemporary radio station by rebranding Choice FM as Capital XTRA. The rebrand took place at 6:00am on 7 October. Capital XTRA is available on FM in London on 96.9 and 107.1 MHz and nationally on the Digital One DAB multiplex.[29]

Capital FM ArenaEdit

The Capital FM Arena was in Nottingham, and was sponsored as part of a deal which began with the predecessor brand Trent FM. In 2016, the naming rights of the Capital FM Arena were handed over to Motorpoint and the arena is now known as Motorpoint Arena Nottingham.[30]


Every year, Capital holds a Summertime Ball, held in June at Wembley Stadium, and Jingle Bell Ball every December at the O2 Arena. Capital also hosts Fusion Festival UK which takes place every year in Liverpool in September.

Help a Capital ChildEdit

The Capital London charity Help a London Child was founded in 1975 by Richard Attenborough CBE. It is a grant giving charity which means that twice a year, the charity provides practical and lasting support to groups working with thousands of youngsters aged 18 and under.

In the first year, £8,000 was raised and grants given to 10 charities in Camden. Since its formation, the charity has raised in excess of £22 million in the London area and awarded grants to areas of great need, directly helping over 1.4 million children and young people.

Grants are awarded to refuge and homelessness projects, support groups for children and young people with a disability, special need or an illness, as well as a range of sports, music, drama and leisure activities, holiday play schemes and residential breaks in the UK, cultural activities, supplementary schools, literacy programmes and much more.

It was the winner of Outstanding Contribution to London Lifestyle at the London Lifestyle Awards in 2010. In the same year, the charity allocated a record amount in grants (£1.6 million), supporting 84,000 children and young people across London where "you're never more than one mile away from a project supported by Help a Capital Child".

Help a Capital Child was launched as the main charity of the Capital Network. The first annual event took place from 14–16 October 2011 with sister station LBC 97.3 also adopting the charity appeal.


  1. ^ UK Tunes into Capital FM MacLaurin Media, 4 January 2011 Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ The Audience | Global
  3. ^ "Capital FM". Capital. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Music Scheduling @ Capital FM & Radio Hamburg". Radioiloveit. Retrieved 28 April 2013. Capital FM is pure CHR and therefore hardly plays anything older than 2 years. The majority of songs is from the last 12 months, with a major focus on current hits.
  5. ^ GLOBAL: Capital FM back at #1 Radio Today, 12 May 2011
  6. ^ Global requests Capital format change Radio Today, 1 July 2011
  7. ^ Ofcom approves Capital format change Radio Today, 17 November 2011
  8. ^ Martin, Roy (6 February 2014). "Communicorp buys 8 Global stations". RadioToday. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  9. ^ Global confirms Capital to launch in Liverpool, Radio Today, 5 October 2015
  10. ^ "Capital Brighton to launch on 3rd September – RadioToday". Radio Today.
  11. ^ Global expands in Lancashire after buying 2BR, RadioToday, 31 July 2018
  12. ^ Lancashire’s 2BR to join Capital’s new national radio network, RadioToday, 26 February 2019
  13. ^ Global to network Capital, Heart and Smooth breakfast shows, RadioToday, 26 February 2019
  14. ^ Local Capital and Heart Drivetime programmes remain in Wales, RadioToday, 8 March 2019
  15. ^ Extra Welsh programmes and presenters for Capital Cymru, Radio Today, 22 May 2019
  16. ^ Global to network Capital, Heart and Smooth breakfast shows, RadioToday, 26 February 2019
  17. ^ Quidem enters brand licensing agreement with Global, Radio Today, 2 September 2019
  18. ^ Ofcom approves format changes for Quidem stations, Radio Today, 14 November 2019
  19. ^ Global confirms Capital FM to replace Quidem stations, Radio Today, 27 November 2019
  20. ^ Media Week: Global radio takes Capital national
  21. ^ Arden Hanley at Radio Talent Archived 26 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Chris Nicoll at Radio Talent
  23. ^ Howard Ritchie at Radio Talent
  24. ^ Helen Austin
  25. ^ Virgin to sponsor nationwide Capital Digital Spy, 24 December 2010
  26. ^ Extra Welsh programmes and presenters for Capital Cymru, Radio Today, 22 May 2019
  27. ^ Laughlin, Andrew (12 October 2012). "Capital TV, Heart TV launched on Sky and Freesat". Digital Spy. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  28. ^ Martin, Roy (11 October 2018). "Global closes Capital TV and Heart TV stations". RadioToday. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  29. ^ "Global to change Choice to Capital XTRA". Radio Today. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Capital FM Arena to be renamed Motorpoint Arena Nottingham". 29 June 2015. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.

External linksEdit