Target audience: 15- to 34-year-olds

Target audience: 15- to 34-year-olds

Estimated weekly reach: 500,000

Sales Director: Martin Ball

Cost of 30 second spot: pounds 85 average.

Main advertisers: Levi’s, Smirnoff, Dr Martens

’London’s only alternative radio station’ turned up on the airways on

Monday September 1 having, after the grim portents of the previous

morning, picked the worst day this century to launch an in-yer-face

radio station.

That it was left to Gary ’Shiny Happy Cheeky Chappy’ Crowley to

sensitively manage what was clearly a tricky situation must have brought

XFM’s directors out in a nasty rash.

After six years’ work not even the national tragedy of Diana’s death was

going to stand in the way of XFM’s launch and, once Crowley had

delivered a suitably sombre statement, the station got on with the

business of stealing listeners from Radio 1.

The team XFM hopes will perform this task are, a bit like Tottenham

Hotspur, a mixture of seasoned campaigners, journeymen (and women) and a

smattering of new blood. A cursory glance through the playlist reveals

that the exposed jugulars of London’s indie/student body are to be

attacked by the obvious (Oasis), the hip (Fatboy Slim), and the Obscure

(Smash Mouth).

My first brush with XFM coincided with the ebullient Mr. Crowley’s back-

bone lunchtime slot. Crowley sounds like a cockney Andy Kershaw combined

with Kiss 100’s Judge Jules and shares the latter’s personality for

cringe-worthy rambling. Clearly unwilling to upset my expectations,

within seconds of my tuning in Crowley delivered the unforgettable line,

’They be like roses their songs - bound to grow on you!’ Yes, of

course ...

XFM also believes its market is happy dabbling in old codgers: We had

Neil Young (’Some serious fretboard action going on there, I think he’ll

need a lie down after that one!’) and a competition to win a Bob Dylan

CD box set.

The cringes are actually part of Crowley’s charm, and the show was a

lively mixture of interviews and fairly raucous programming. Other shows

promise requests courtesy of another old hand, Claire Sturgess, before a

selection of listings, reviews and gigs presented by newer names.

As for advertising, Miller beer has bitten the bullet by sponsoring the

live gigs, while day-time slots are a mix of familiar names and ads for

indie venues and clubs.

’London’s only alternative’? A straw poll gave a thumbs-up as an escape

from the occasionally bland sounds of Kiss and the smugness of Radio 1

and Capital. Not Bad.


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