BigL to return to medium wave 1395 KHz on 1st November 2009.
Posted by Mike, G7FEK on Sun, 25 Oct 2009 14:45:47 +0000

Troubled anorak radio station BigL plans to broadcast again on medium wave on 1395 KHz from 1st November 2009. Here I comment about this and other revival radio stations.....

BigL 1395 AM - Version 3

This new variant of the station will be operated by KBC Radio in Holland. KBC also operate short wave broadcasts. KBC's plan is to promote KBC products to Dutch truckers while broadcasting music in the format of BigL through the AM transmitter. Since they only need to cover Holland, it is possible they may run the transmitters at lower power than the BigL licence permits.

The BigL Failure(s)

BigL is loosely based on the 60's pirate station Radio London.

This is just my opinion but no-one seemed to grasp the concept of listener relevance at this station. BigL hoped to build a daytime UK audience on the Eastern UK and a national night-time audience, however, the format really only appeals to those who remember the original station from the early 1960's - a minority of people, many retired, who grew up in the south eastern UK in the early 1960's. It is not hard to figure out why advertisers and listeners didn't come in great numbers. The original station only existed for three years. To put listener relevance into perspective, I'm now 42 and I wasn't even born when BigL Radio London closed down!!.

More popular shows broadcast by the station were the request shows hosted by DJ's such as Shaun Tilley and Opal Bonfante, neither of which were in the "Radio London" format. The requests made by listeners were often of less common 1970's and 1980's hits which don't receive much airplay today on stations such as Gold. Shaun Tilley's program has a very 1980's "Radio Luxembourg" feel. Not surprising since Shaun was once a Luxy DJ.  (Thanks Shaun and Opal, I loved your BigL appearances - best thing on the station)

If listeners counted for anything, BigL would have taken note of this trend. It's also worth noting that Radio Luxembourg was also known as Big-L in it's past and broadcast back to the UK from Europe. Something could have been made of this connection. Trouble is, this station was an anorak's plaything for the owner, and not created for the listeners.

Radio One Gold

There have been rumours of a possible new station to launch on BigL's transmitters. I'm unsure of the progress of Mike Read's "Radio One Gold" idea, but this is a better concept than BigL in my view. Why? because so many of us grew up with Radio One and fondly remember the old pre mid 1990's format. The listener relevance reaches the whole UK, all ages from 20 somethings upward, and the DJ's were well known.

BUT - Listing to the demo of the proposed format it was again 1950's 1960's music based and like a 60's pirate station. - Did Mike Read not realise that Radio One spent only three of its years in the 1960's and was primarily a 1970's / 1980's station?

So What might work?

Simply, a pure pop based gold station in the fast paced format of 1970's / 1980's like Radio One / Radio Luxembourg / Laser 558 and Atlantic 252. These were all great stations and there is nothing like them today. Radio One Gold would be a great station done if in this format and accessible to listeners.

Platforms

Here's the other problem with today's retro / anorak stations. Platforms must have the desired reach. BigL is not able to transmit on medium wave between 7pm and 10pm due to Radio Tara using the frequency. The Radio Luxembourg revival station is (was) internet based, but proposed "DRM digital radio" as it's broadcast platform - There are no DRM receivers available in the shops, years after the technology was launched!!. The Luxembourg revival station also cheated their past listeners and potential audience, by creating a pathetic "classic rock" format station, fully automated, which was nothing like Luxy - but that's another story about another failed broadcast radio project, but needless to say, they didn't listen to the audience and have no listeners or advertisers. I will write an article soon on this station.

Back to platforms, BigL is no longer on Sky so only has the internet and possible relaunch on 1395 AM. Medium Wave is, at least, an accessible platform, but is expensive and is not too popular with today's listeners. You cant get a Sky receiver in your car so that's no great loss!!.

A DAB / Freeview combination would have a good reach and possibly stimulate DAB sales. It is difficult, but not impossible, to get on these platforms.

Medium wave is a great platform too as you can also listen in the car. But BigL's off shore broadcasts are subject to fading and interference which is not so well tolerated today and are not available in the evenings. The right transmitter site and a lower frequency would make the medium far more effective.

What do you think about Revival Radio stations? Please feel free to comment below. You don't need to be a member of this website.

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ARTICLE UPDATE:

This project appears to be delayed somewhat. To keep yourself updated with KBC / BIGL, please vist the KBC Radio website here:

http://www.kbcradio.eu/

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Comment by 'Fred Bramley' on 8 Jul 2018 - comment
“Trans-World Radio (not RadioTara) used 1395am from Albania at 120kW! The Dutch Marine authority imposed 5kW Restriction at Trintelhaven due to electro-magnetic ignition Hazard/! When the entire site was cleared, it was (AEG) TRAM 10kW & not Nautel 50kW! Nozema/Novec BV sent false info to many interested UK broadcasters! LIARS www.transmittersrus.com/shop/tram-10 £8,407 ”

Comment by 'g7fek' on 27 Feb 2010 - comment
“I'm not finding reception particularly strong here in wiltshire. Nowhere near as strong as previous Big-L with the 75KW transmitter. I'm guessing low power - maybe 5 to 10KW tops.”

Comment by 'Kev.' on 28 Jan 2010 - comment
“God I wish I could spell !! Here = hear. Kev”

Comment by 'Kev' on 28 Jan 2010 - comment
“Great to here BigL back again! I live on the West Wales coast and spend my day in the car. Mornings and evenings are obviously the best time but it is still there during the day oddly when I am driving near the sea !! Must think it is still on a boat. Kev”

Comment by 'mike' on 17 Dec 2009 - comment
“BigL has finally returned to medium wave. Signals here in North Wiltshire are not bad after 10pm. There is a very weak daytime signal, which will be lost in the Summer. However this is not surprising for this frequency and I am not in the daytime capture area. Adverts are mostly for KBC as expected and mostly in Dutch. Nice to here CB radio gear being advertised on commercial again (last heard that about 1983!!) Anyway, welcome back Big-L 1395 and lets hope that with backing from KBC they can make a success of the station this time.”

Comment by 'g7fek' on 13 Nov 2009 - comment
“I am still waiting !!!! :)”

Comment by 'Anonymous' on 2 Nov 2009 - comment
“UK-based Big L have just announced that the return to the air of 1395 kHz, which is being facilitated with the sponsorship of Dutch-based KBC Radio, has been delayed by a few days. The target date for the resumption of transmissions from the Dutch mediumwave transmitter at Trintelhaven was 1 November, but due to what are described as technical problems, this has been put back to midweek. According to a reliable source, there are some problems with the mast that cannot be fixed until some parts are delivered on Monday. The KBC Radio website also carries information about the delay, and adds: Check out this site the coming week for info about our test transmissions.”

Comment by 'Anonymous' on 26 Oct 2009 - comment
“It will be nice to have something other than Gold and Absolute Radio to listen to on MW.”