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
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
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
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.