Buzz FM began broadcasting to Birmingham on 102.4 FM at 8am on Monday 14th May 1990. It would go on to broadcast for over 4 and a half years, before finally signing off and giving way to Choice FM on January 1, 1995.
Here’s a timeline of the station.
May 1990: Buzz FM launches on 102.4FM with the most up-to-date digital music equipment, the studio boasting a CD record library outputting 3,600 different tracks.
1991: David Maker (Jazz FM) and Peter Salt (Red Rose) were joint directors of Buzz FM. According to this thread on Jinglemad Mark Hanna worked for both Jazz FM and Buzz FM and did all the post production work on the “Rhythm Of The City” jingle package. The package was selected from TM by Rob Jones. Buzz FM had the package first, but it was then taken up by Jazz FM.
February 1992: Buzz FM was purchased by Glasgow-based Radio Clyde. They were to invest more than £1 million in Buzz over the next 10 months, only to see the station plunge £293,000 into the red as the recession hit advertising revenue.
11 May 1992: News editor Howard Bennett and his son Marcus were both sacked from Buzz FM as part of a shake-up. Now part of Radio Clyde Holdings, new station manager Tony Ingham stated that Buzz would now take hourly national news bulletins from Independent Radio News.
December 1992: Around 15 December, Buzz FM owners Radio Clyde Holdings announce they will close Buzz FM unless a new investor is found. Step forward former Radio Caroline DJ Chris Cary to the rescue. Chris purchased the station on 22 December 1992 for just £1. In return he put up £500,000 to cover Buzz’s debts. Although Chris said we would not change the station’s name, it would play more “recognisable songs” and more black music – with specialist programmes moving into late night slots. At this point Buzz had about 12 staff and employed several freelances.
May 1993: Chris Carey reports that he had brought down Buzz’s average weekly running costs to between £5-6,000 per week and that Buzz was making a profit of around £2,000 per week. Chris also reported that Buzz would be applying for the regional licence (which later went to Heart FM). However, it was also reported in the Birmingham Evening Mail that a “dirty tricks” campaign was being launched against Buzz, as a letter was faxed to the newspaper warning that Buzz was in breach of it’s licence conditions for not playing enough Afro-Caribbean or Afro-American black music. The letter was said to have been signed by the Radio Authority’s deputy chief executive, Paul Brown.
9 October 1993: The Radio Authority announce that London-based record company Chrysalis Records have won the West Midlands regional licence – they will begin broadcasting in 1994 as 100.7 Heart FM. The planned music policy was for “adult-oriented with a softer feeling encompassing easy listening, melodic current songs and soul, to appeal to both men and women aged 24-55”. This came as a blow to Buzz FM who had bid for this licence and would have given Buzz a huge boost in terms of transmission coverage, since the allocated power on the 102.4 frequency made reception tough, even in it’s intended transmission area. Buzz FM is put up for sale by Chris Carey – with no guarantee of the Radio Authority renewing the licence he decided to sell up.
9 October 1993: Buzz FM Ltd’s licence, due to expire on 31 December 1994, is advertised by the Radio Authority. Also up for offer is an AM licence (on 1458 kHz) which will be allowed to broadcast from 1 October 1994. Closing date for applications is 11 January 1994, with the non-refundable application fee being £975 for the AM licence, £1475 for the FM licence or £2,450 for both licences.
11 November 1993, 5:15pm. Buzz FM is dramatically taken off air by owner Chris Carey. He arrived at the station with removal trucks and took away the broadcasting equipment.
25 November 1993, 10:24pm: Buzz FM is rescued by Muff Murfin who purchases the station from Chris Carey and re-launches it at 10:24pm, two weeks after it had been taken off air.
31 December 1994: During the last evening of Buzz FM, listeners could hear a strange noise on 102.4 FM as it appeared as though someone had switched on a higher powered transmitter to conflict with 102.4 FM. Perhaps the new Choice FM transmitter was being tested? The conflicting signal stopped at 11pm to allow the final hour of Buzz FM to broadcast uninterrupted. Additional details:
Much of the last evening of Buzz FM was blotted out as someone switched a higher powered TX over them on 102.4 with a strange noise which was switched off for the last hour of Buzz.
31 December 1994: Buzz FM ceases to broadcast at midnight on New Year’s Eve, to replaced by Choice FM on 102.2FM, broadcasting on a new frequency and with a higher transmitter power to improve the station’s reception within the broadcast area.