Classic Gold GEM

Classic Gold GEM
Classic Gold GEM
Broadcast area Nottingham and Derby
Frequency 999 kHz in Nottingham
945 kHz in Derby
DAB in Leicester and Nottingham
First air date 4 October 1988
Format Oldies
Owner Classic Gold Digital (UBC)

Classic Gold GEM (formerly GEM-AM) was a United Kingdom radio station, broadcasting to much of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and East Staffordshire from studios in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. In addition, regional news, weather, events and community information, local advertising (separate for Derby and Nottingham) and a four-hour live weekday regional programme came from a studio centre in Nottingham, home also to Trent FM.

The station, along with the rest of the Classic Gold network, was replaced on 3 August 2007 by a new network called simply Gold, the result of the merger of the Classic Gold and Capital Gold networks under one owner, GCap Media.



The station began as GEM-AM in 1988 (the letters GEM standing for Great East Midlands). It was one of the most well-regarded gold-formatted stations to come to the British airwaves in the late 1980s and was launched as a response to government disapproval of the simulcasting of radio companies' FM programming on their mediumwave frequencies. GEM was the offshoot of Radio Trent, which began to cater for a younger audience and became known as Trent FM upon the frequency split, and the new AM service was launched to much fanfare with a team of Olympic style runners completing a marathon from Leicester to Derby and finally to Nottingham (the three main areas to which GEM was to broadcast).

GEM's mediumwave broadcasts to Nottinghamshire on 999 kHz and Derbyshire on 945 kHz were initially supplemented by transmissions on 1260 kHz to Leicestershire, but this last frequency was later given over to programming for Leicester's large Asian population (Sunrise Radio later Sabras Radio).

In the mid 1990s, GEM's owners Midland Radio plc were bought, by expanding radio company GWR, which gradually networked the station's programming with that of other gold stations it had purchased elsewhere in the country. The station was subtly rebranded Classic Gold GEM and over time, it became more Classic Gold and less GEM, until only four hours of local programming was left.

By the end of the 1990s, Classic Gold GEM and GWR's network of other medium wave Classic Gold stations across the country were sold to media company UBC, in order for GWR to comply with government rules of the time, restricting how much share of listening one company could own. This and the other stations in the group became known as Classic Gold Digital Network.

Former Radio 1 presenter Tony Blackburn co-presented a national breakfast show on the network until 2007.


Presenters on the station included many who were already established personalities in the East Midlands region. Among them were John Peters (who launched the station as he had done with Trent in 1975), Craig Strong (who drove the Trent outside broadcast van on the launch day of GEM, behind the "Olympic" runners), Amanda Bowman, Andy Marriott, Tony Lyman Graham Wright and Paul Robey. Many of these original presenters were later to be heard on a newer oldies and easy listening station broadcasting to the East Midlands, this time on FM. This was Saga 106.6 FM, which came on air in 2003, and was later rebranded as 106.6 Smooth Radio after it was acquired by GMG Radio. The spirit of GEM-AM lived on throughout the Saga era with many of Saga 106.6 FM's jingles made by JAM and Steve England making reference to the Great East Midlands.

In the late 1980s on GEM-AM radio, a new South Asian Indian program was presented by Amarjeet Kooner, aka DJ Magnam, he brought extra listenership to GEM-AM from the large South Asian Indian community that lived in Derby & Nottingham.

GCap Media and Global Radio

In summer 2007, when ownership restrictions were relaxed, Classic Gold's original owners, now called GCap Media after a merger, bought the network of stations back from UBC Media Group.

Having two gold networks on its hands, GCap decided to merge them. In early August 2007, the Classic Gold and Capital Gold networks were joined under the new name Gold. To "streamline" the business even further, the last remaining live local programming on Classic Gold GEM was cut, and replaced with an automated daytime programme (where the presenter's links between the records are all pre-recorded but made to sound live), the bare minimum required to satisfy regulators Ofcom. The decision resulted in the redundancy of long-time Classic Gold Gem presenter Geoff Hemming, as well as local presenters at Classic Gold stations nationwide.

The station has 4% audience reach in Nottingham, and 6% in Derby. In 1993 the reach was 24% in Nottingham, 23% in Derby. (*RAJAR ratings 1993/2006)

The dwindling audience tuning in to the station's crackly medium wave frequencies has in recent years been supplemented by those listening to a stream on the internet, and also on DAB Digital Radio in Nottingham and Leicester. The bit rate for this broadcast was reduced in 2006 to accommodate more radio stations to the digital multiplex, it has since been increased back to stereo.

Regional news bulletins, recorded around 15 minutes before broadcast, are read at breakfast time and late afternoon weekdays by Global's news team in Nottingham. Outside of these times, national news is provided by Global Radio from its Leicester Square studios.

After nineteen years broadcasting from the basement 'Studio B' at Radio Trent's Castle Gate headquarters, Classic Gold's Nottingham studios moved, along with Trent's, to the sixth floor of Chapel Quarter, an office building on the corner of Mount Street and Chapel Bar, in January 2007.

External links

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