- Ocean FM (UK)
:"For the Irish radio station, see Ocean FM"Infobox Radio station
name = Ocean
12 October 1986
frequency = 96.7 MHz and 97.5 MHz
share = 6.0%
share as of = September 2007
share source = [http://www.rajar.co.uk/listening/quarterly_listening.php]
format = Adult Contemporary
website = [http://www.oceanfm.com/ www.oceanfm.co.uk]
Ocean is a British
independent local radiostation serving South Hampshire, West Sussexand the Isle of Wightprimarily for Portsmouthand Southampton. Originally called Ocean Sound it plays popular adult contemporary (AC) music together with hourly local news and information. Recently the station has adopted more of a rock oriented sound. The station is unusual in having two sister stations - Power FM(103.2 MHz), also serving South Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and Capital Gold1170/1557 AM. Power FM is a complementary station, featuring mainly contemporary pop and dance music, whilst Capital Gold is a syndicated Oldiesmusic station, with local hourly news. Ocean broadcasts on 96.7 MHzand 97.5 MHz FM, DAB Digital Radio and online [http://www.oceanfm.com/] .Ocean is now owned by Global Radio.
Ocean Sound's predecessor,
Radio Victoryprovided the first local commercial radio service in the South of England in 1975, with its small transmission area around Portsmouth. The station was disliked by the then regulator and when it Independent Broadcasting Authorityre-advertised the Portsmouth licence to include Southampton and Winchester, Victory lost out to a new consortium called "Ocean Sound Ltd". Ocean Sound proposed an expanded coverage area taking in Southampton. Radio Victory ceased operations in June 1986, three months earlier than the expiry date of its franchise, with a test transmission informing listeners of the unprecedented situation. Ocean Sound took over programme provision that October from a new purpose-built broadcast unit in a business park at SegensworthWest on the western outskirts of Fareham, Hampshire.
Ocean Sound debuted on
12 October 1986, initially with two services - Ocean Sound (West), covering Southampton, Winchester and much of the Isle of Wight, and Ocean Sound (East) serving Portsmouth and the surrounding area. Ocean Sound (West) used 103.2 MHzFM and 1557 kHzAM. Ocean Sound (East) used 97.5 MHz FM and 1170 kHz AM. The East service underwent a change of frequency from that inherited from Radio Victory (from 95.0 MHz to 97.5 MHz FM). Both services shared breakfast and evening programmes with daytime output and specialist programmes broadcasting uniquely on each service - for instance on Saturday evenings, an Isle of Wight programme with Jean-Paul Hansford would air on Ocean Sound (West), while an alternative would air on Ocean Sound (East). This was prior to the termination of simulcastingprogrammes on FM and AM, which would see both services transformed.
The reason that two stations launched, rather than an expanded solo station is that then Managing Director David Lucas identified two potential audiences: one familiar with commercial radio (in the East area), and one largely acquainted with the BBC (the West area, of which the majority of local listening was to
BBC Radio Solent). Ocean Sound (East) therefore sounded livelier than its West counterpart, which took on a softer sound.
Once the franchise was won, Ocean Sound needed brand-new state of the art studios in Segensworth West, a district outside
Fareham, beside the M27 motorwayin Hampshire. This move to base themselves outside the two major cities of Southampton and Portsmouth was a strategic one, so as not to appear sounding biased in favour of either city and to remove any lingering associations with Radio Victory, a poorly received radio station primarily focused on Portsmouth.
The following is an excerpt of a 1986 interview with then Managing Director David Lucas in an
Independent Broadcasting Authoritypublication:
"The original plan was to have studio buildings and offices in both Portsmouth and Southampton,' says Lucas. 'But that is an unnecessarily complicated way of doing the job. The important thing is for the programmes themselves to provide a strong and relevant local identity. Contribution studios have been established in both Portsmouth and Southampton to provide direct city-centre access to the airwaves for interviewees and guests."
"...But Lucas, like some other radio managers, wonders whether the high standards of IBA studio specifications are always necessary. 'A significant proportion of studio costs comes in sound-proofing them'; says Lucas. 'Would it really matter if the listener heard the occasional lorry rumbling past outside? With most stations operating on close mic techniques anyway, peripheral noise can be minor'"."
Once the studios were complete, staff needed to be hired - almost from scratch. Sales managers and a Head of News were all recruited, ironically from Radio Victory. Construction of the new studios took under a year and finished in time for the station's launch in 1986.
6 December 1987, Ocean Sound's coverage area was extended with an additional service covering the Winchesterarea. Entitled "Ocean Sound (North)" - The Light FM, this would relay the Ocean Sound West service, with locally focused news, travel and programmes during the morning, early afternoon and early evening. Ocean Sound North could be heard on 96.7 MHz FM.
The Gold, The Power and The Light
1988 saw Ocean Sound undergo a massive re-organisation of its frequencies and services. The main changes were:
*"Ocean Sound (East and North)" on FM would become FM-only and simply renamed Ocean Sound and The Light FM
*"Ocean Sound (West)" on FM would become Power FM
*"Ocean Sound" on AM would become The Gold AM
The Gold AM launched on its medium-wave transmitters, effectively permanently separating from its FM counterpart. An all-oldies format playing 1960s and 1970s pop music, it won the right to use the name after a court battle with County Sound, a station originating from
Guildford, Surrey, selected "County Sound GOLD", later resulting in the Surrey station adopting its "First Gold Radio" moniker. Ocean Sound and The Light FM continued as before on 97.5 and 96.7 MHz FM, whilst Ocean Sound (West) relaunched as a music-intensive youth pop station - 103.2 Power FM on 4 December, 1988. Power FM was designed as a direct competitor to BBC Radio 1in the area, with a heavy rotation of chart and Top 40pop and mainstream dance, with quick hourly news and information. It aimed to win over Radio 1 listeners who were frustrated by the fact that the BBC station would remain on mediumwaveonly in the area until May 1990, despite the fact that in the autumn of 1988 it was regularly plugging its new FM transmitters, sometimes giving the impression that it could already be heard on FM throughout the UK.
Mergers, takeovers and relaunches
Sussexradio station Southern Sound looked upon Ocean Sound as a potential takeover target, citing its location in a prosperous and commercially attractive area of England. So in 1992a merger was agreed forming Southern Radio plc, which would see the following further changes to Ocean Sound:
*"Ocean Sound" and "The Light FM" would unite as Ocean Sound - Classic Hits (later abbreviated just to Ocean FM)
*Power FM would continue as before
*"The Gold AM" would merge with Southern Sound's AM frequencies to create South Coast Radio.
Ocean FM was reduced to an opt-out service from the main Sussex station, sharing output for most of the day with local news every half-hour at breakfast and drivetime. South Coast Radio would take on a much more relaxed sound with the slogan "Nice and Easy", playing mostly
Easy Listeningand soft Gold hits.
1994 Capital Radio, looking for expansion possibilities, opted to purchase Southern Radio plc, which included Ocean Sound, now renamed Ocean FM. This led to more changes, this time to the on-air sound rather than name changes. Whilst Power FM took on Capital FM's long-established, successful and highly-polished sound, Ocean FM became a more music-led station, playing heavy rotation soft adult contemporary hits, with its news and information sequences reduced in length and finishing with the sentence "And that's the way it is at
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