15th October 1992
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey
Ten years after BBC Radio Guernsey took to the air, Guernsey’s first commercial radio station launched under the highly appropriate name of Island FM.
The Radio Authority had received only one application for the Guernsey licence but five for the licence to broadcast on Jersey. So, as long as the financial and format proposals were agreed, Island FM’s acceptance was barely in doubt.
The Channel Islands’ independent TV franchise holder, Channel Television, was one of Island FM’s backers, and had also been backing Jersey FM, one of the unsuccessful bidders for the Jersey licence. This was a problem, as it had stated that it would only invest in Island FM if Jersey FM was also awarded a licence. Why? Because that way it could share resources between the two stations and, in doing so, reduce costs.
Despite this upset, Island FM went live six months later. The switch was flipped at 6.30am on Thursday 15 October 1992 after two weeks of test transmissions. The first words broadcast were, “It’s exactly six-thirty. This is Island FM. Good morning.”
As well as the studio presenter, there was a traffic reporter roaming the island on a motorbike so they could feed back live travel updates.
However, it wasn’t until two and a half hours after those first words were spoken that the station was officially launched. Deputy Valerie Renouf, president of the States Broadcasting Committee, did the deed. This was to be her last official duty as a States Deputy.
In February 1998, Island FM was acquired by Tindle Radio Group. Later the same year, Tindle bought Channel 103, which had been the successful applicant for Jersey’s commercial licence.
Thus, the two services were finally united. They were then able to share some resources, in a manner similar to that which Channel Television might have envisaged during its initial discussions six years earlier.