Frequency (radio station)

Infobox Radio Station
name = Frequency 1350
city = Preston, Lancashire
area = UK: Preston MW & Online | branding =
slogan = Your Student Station
airdate = Late 2001
frequency = MW: 1350 MHz
share = 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000001%
share as of = October 2008
share source = [http://www.rajar.co.uk/listening/quarterly_listening.php]
format = Anything from obscure live Dire Straits tracks to the IRN tone
power =
erp =
class =
callsign_meaning =
owner = UCLan
website = [http://www.frequency1350.co.uk Frequency 1350] (Probably not working)

Frequency or Frequency 1350 is the student radio station at the University of Central Lancashire's Students' Union in Preston, Lancashire, England, in the United Kingdom. [cite web| url = http://www.mediauk.com/radio/341714/frequency-1350| title = Frequency 1350, University of Central Lancashire (Preston)| accessdate = 2008-10-09| publisher = Media UK]

The university (which is one of the largest in the country) funds the Students' Union and the Students' Union funds the radio station. The station is part of the university's Students' Union building on Fylde Road in Preston but has the benefit of 24 hour access.

Frequency is a member of the Student Radio Association, and has hosted its meetings (the last one to be held in Preston was in late 2005).

Broadcasting

Frequency is one of only a handful of radio stations in Preston, a major North-West city. Nearby stations include BBC Radio Lancashire, Rock FM, Preston FM, and Magic 999. Frequency does not attempt to compete with these professional stations (for obvious reasons), but instead offers a unique student niche output.

Broadcasting ceases for the Christmas, Easter and summer periods, but is available for most of the academic year. Unfortunately in 2006/7 broadcasting ceased a week before Christmas and two weeks afterwards, this was for essential re-wiring.

Currently, the station broadcasts on a mediumwave (AM) frequency of 1350 kHz in Preston, a city in Lancashire in the United Kingdom. The signal has a five kilometre radius. The station is also available worldwide via an online feed at yourunion.co.uk.

The population of the broadcast area is approximately 131,000. No listening figures are available but a former member of the committee said they would be surprised if it was ever in double figures.

The SU claim that the station has listeners in locations such as New Zealand and California. This is believed to counter-balance the lack of listeners actually in Preston. Part of this problem was attributed to a succession of broken promises claiming Frequency would be played in and around the SU, student halls, and SU shop Essentials. The latter broadcast BBC Radio One instead.

From 2008, the station intends to stop broadcasting on medium wave and broadcast solely online. It is believed this will coincide with a change of name with the now irrelevant ‘1350’ part of the name dropped. The station also intends to broadcast on FM during a few weeks of the year.

Worries have been expressed about the further harm this could do to listening figures because of the unreliable nature of the online feed.

Since its inception, the Frequency brand has become synonymous with poor quality service, impractical ideas, mismanagement and, perhaps most significantly, Joe Whitworth.

History

The station was founded by the UCLan Radio Society. It was originally launched in late 2001 as "Freak 1 C", before the name changed to "Frequency 1350" in January 2002. Before moving to its current location, the station was above the Night Owl store on Fylde Road, opposite the Ship Inn public house.

The actual station now comprises one small broadcast studio and an office. It also formerly contained an empty room which was converted into the News Room. On May 13, 2007, David McWilliam wired a microphone into the empty room briefly for part of 'All Request Frequency'. This was done via a very long cable which caused some health and safety issues. However, it remains the only time the two studios have been able to broadcast and communicate in unison.

The News Room has now become the main studio after student television station PS-TV moved into the old studio. This now means Frequency has moved its main studio twice in three years. This move is usually accompanied by a hand made MDF desk constructed by the current station manager. These desks have tended to wobble in the past.

It is thought the move will bring more “daylight” into the studio. However, continued complaints about the noise of an air vent located in the ceiling have been ignored despite interfering during broadcasts. The management believe the new studio is better suited for radio, ironically of course, this was the original studio before the controversial move by a former manager.

Organisation

All staff at the station are entirely voluntary and unpaid. There was some talk of possibly introducing a position of a full-time paid station manager, but so far this has not materialised.

The station manager is Andy Hudson and he’s supported by a committee. In 2007/8 Ben Sanderson was manager, Sinead Renouf was in charges of the reins in 2006/7, and in 2004/05, Emily Bull. The first ever station manager was Leanne Christmas.

Any member of the university's Students' Union can get involved in Frequency, whether as a DJ, a producer, cleaner, librarian, or just a general helper. The station would not exist without the hours of work put into it by students. It is notable that cleaners have often neglected their duties in the past, and so the station is currently carrying out a review of its cleaner recruitment strategy, with a hiring freeze in effect across the waste management department.

In 2007 the then manager proposed an extension to the committee. Despite being opposed by several members of the committee (one who resigned in protest) the plans were approved but never carried out. This was probably down to a realisation that they were never practical in the first place.

Unfortunately, committee meetings were poorly attended – sometimes involving just three members, not including the manager. Meetings were known to take place without an agenda and no paper or pen brought to make notes.

One notable feature involved a long list of technical problems with the studio being read out. These were invariably never corrected and continued to be read out for months. Banter was frowned upon – one committee member receiving an official warning for sarcasm.

Music

A playlist of 20-30 recommended songs makes up most of the musical content on the station; however there have been many problems with playlist music. Playlists are usually kept for two to three months at a time with CDs regularly stolen, lost, and generally poorly maintained.

It’s thought Frequency holds the record for the longest running unchanged playlist. Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape” featured on the station’s playlist for over twelve weeks. DJs regularly played their favourite tracks on the show, often resulting in the same few tracks being played week-in, week-out. One notable example was the continuous playing of the Steps song “Buzz”, from the album of the same name, throughout the station’s through-the-night output. The incident resulted in the CD’s owner destroying the album in an act of presumed uncontrollable rage – an incident that serves as a microcosmic metaphor of the station’s overall management.

An unfortunate episode in 2007 saw playlist CDs being used at a disco the night before and not returned the following day (Friday). Although the station manager apologised to all those presenting on a Friday morning (one person), the practice continued.

One of the most popular songs on the station is Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson’s 1985 classic “I Know Him So Well.” Suggestions it became the station’s theme tune were rejected. Frequency also toyed with the idea of making the playing of an Alison Moyet track every hour compulsory. Despite considerable support, this never materialised.

It is believed the most requested song on the station is “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai, but it has never been played.

Shows

Frequency broadcasts seven days a week. On weekdays this tends to be from 10am to midnight. Weekends have fewer programmes in general. Shows tend to last for a maximum of two hours; however, this has been extended to three hours in some cases to help fill schedule space.

This move has been attributed to a steadily declining number of volunteers. A record number of volunteers were signed up in 2006; however, those responsible for the record conscription were later accused of driving away potential recruits.

Shows on the station are student based, with music generally comprising of indie, rock, dance and pop songs.

The station plays continuous music when there is not a specific show on-air. This continuous music is played out using Zara Radio, a free playout software package installed in January 2007 by a previous station manager. Unfortunately, she installed it without telling anyone and subsequently no one knows how to use it. The music played out overnight is mainly 80s music but some current music is featured.

The station is unique in that it now doesn’t provide a Breakfast Show. The last Breakfast Show, hosted by Seb Noble, ran between 2005 and 2006. The two hour show was broadcast weekdays from 8am and provided a mix of music, information and entertainment. Nobody was found to replace Noble when he moved on from the show.

Daytime tends to consist of commercial sounding shows with specialist music programmes in the evening and at the weekend.

Certain shows were notable due to their host’s absence. The Big Drive Home featured guest presenters Seb Noble and David McWilliam either co-hosting the programme or presenting it individually on more occasions than the programme’s actual host. This is believed to be a radio first. The presentation duo are thought to have contributed to over 75% of the station’s broadcasting hours between 2006/7.

The station is also remembered for its broadcasting of the shortest radio programme in history. News and Classic Hits went out for ten minutes from 7pm on a Tuesday. Despite its short duration it was believed to be one of the station’s most popular shows.

Some presenters used content from the student newspaper Pluto on their shows. This caused one presenter serious problems with forward planning their show as it included reviewing Pluto. This was due out every other week but was often late, therefore not allowing the presenter to be able to review it until a week later.

The Pluto review section of The Jimmy and Craigy Show, hosted by stalwarts James Connor and Craig Laycock, was filmed as part of a Student Union promotional video, but the audio was muted on the final edit.

Reviews of the paper’s content were notably critical and sometimes fierce. They would sometimes last half an hour – unbelievable considering the sparsely populated news pages.

Specialist Shows

The station has developed a name over the years for playing diverse kinds of music. This included the 'Digital Illusions' show with Nicky Z, the renowned Cypriot DJ.

David McWilliam fronted the popular All 80s Afternoon (formerly Lunchtime) for three years, building up a cult following in the process. McWilliam established a reputation for innovative features and competitions on the show.

He also acted as the station’s Programme Controller and is recognised as revolutionising the station sound with his quality control measures. He was also behind the introduction of travel news to the station. Produced in-house, it featured prominently in The Big Drive Home and Sunday Session programmes. Frequency travel news became notorious for its irrelevance and the listing of every example of roadworks in the Preston area.

Every year the station broadcast a Students Union Election programme. Here, candidates for the various SU committee posts were grilled on their policies. Seb Noble presented a four hour special in 2007, tech-opped throughout by David McWilliam.

This arrangement was suggested as becoming compulsory for all shows, as well as presenters standing up. The idea was swiftly rejected.

Another popular show in recent years has been Mike Allen Gold, featuring classic hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and the Corrs.

Sports programmes can often be heard at the weekend. In 2006, the Saturday Sport programme used commentary and football match updates from Independent Radio News interspersed with music to provide coverage. However, when the studio moved into a new room this service was lost and never recovered.

Another well known sports programme was football comedy talk show Soccer AM/MW. The show contained various humorous features and football discussion. It was considered a pioneer in football shows as it focussed only on the game outside the Premier League.

Competitions

Many of the shows on the station have become synonymous with the competitions that featured on them. These included Quizmonia – a multiple answers based guessing game. The competition achieved a record number of entrants for the station during 2007.

In 2006, David McWilliam launched Through The Decades – a competition believed to be unique in its concept. During his McWilliam In The Morning programme, the host would play five songs - one from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and a current chart hit - all of which had a connection.

Other competitions which could be regularly heard included The Mystery Year, Call Your Bluff, and The Impossible Question.

Despite the variety of competitions on the station they were characterised by their difficulty and prizes were rarely won. Prizes on offer for many months included a greatest hits CD by A-ha and a Maroon 5 DVD. Both were never won.

In 2005, The Jimmy and Craigy Show attempted to give away a Noel Edmonds T-Shirt for an entire year with no success. The competition was eventually won by a passing motorist, but he chose to not collect the shirt. The shirt has since been destroyed in a washing machine malfunction.

Website

Frequency has consistently been blighted by the absence of its website which has suffered many technical problems over the years. It is thought this has severely harmed listening figures with the majority of the station’s audience thought to listen online via it.

It has also carried rarely updated news and the station schedule, as well as show information over the years. It was removed in spring 2008 and the station is still without a website to date.

News

Frequency has attempted to provide its own student news service over the past year. Former Communications Officer Ed Walker and former station manager Ben Sanderson invested thousands of pounds in equipping a news studio.

It was initially proposed that news would be provided every hour and an evening news programme would be broadcast every weekday. However, a lack of volunteers, poor news writing, and problems with the equipment blighted the development of the service.

It became increasingly neglected in 2008 to the extent news was no longer provided. The position of Head of News, formerly held by Matt O’Brien, is now considered somewhat of a Poison Chalice at the station.

The station has taken news on the hour from Independent Radio News since 2005. This service has sometimes been erratic and failed to work for the majority of 2008 due to technical faults at Frequency.

A former station manager proposed recording the IRN News and play it out five minutes later. This was hoped to accommodate for presenters unable to time their music up to the hour properly. Only two presenters ever managed this extraordinary feat on a regular basis. The proposal was unsurprisingly turned down.

Tagline

The station has adopted various taglines over the year. "Frequency 1350 – Your Student Station" has consistently been used.

Presenters have also been heard to back announce songs starting: “Across…” or “Local for…” followed by the name of three Preston areas such as Bamber Bridge, Walton-Le-Dale, and Fulwood.

Contrary to popular belief "Radio Frequency" has never been part of the station’s tagline make-up, despite it featuring prominently in the Pierre Talk Show during 2006.

Jingles

Frequency jingles are produced by independent jingle makers Udder Creative. Some of the jingles have become cult favourites with listeners over the years.

They have included references to well known Preston landmarks such as the main shopping street Fishergate, the Docks, and Deepdale – where Preston North End F.C. are based.

The station’s up to the news build includes local place names including Preston, Deepdale, Ashton-On-Ribble, Bamber Bridge, Penwortham, Walton-Le-Dale, and Fulwood.

Former presenters

Former presenter and Programme Controller, David McWilliam, now works across various branches of Boots in the Thames Valley area. He is believed to be one of the company’s rising stars in the south-east area.

Prestonian Craig Laycock now works in the communications department of insurance providers Unum UK Ltd. Fellow Soccer AM/MW presenter Matthew Turland is now employed by the Press Association.

Awards

Although the station has never won an award in its own right, it does regularly feature in the University’s Student Media Awards. Notable wins include Joe Whitworth’s gong in 2007 for his “smart trousers”.

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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