Capital XTRA (originally Choice FM) is a Global-owned radio station that began broadcasting from London on 96.9 and 107.1 MHz in the FM band in 1990; alongside DAB Digital Radio, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media and online nowadays. It is a radio station that exclusively broadcasts contemporary Grime, Hip Hop and R'n'B music.
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Slogan||Dance. Urban. UK.|
|Frequency||FM: 96.9, 107.1 MHz (London)|
11D (England/Wales/N. Ireland)
Virgin Media: 959
|First air date||31 March 1990|
|Sister stations||Capital FM|
Choice 96.9 began as an independent company in March 1990, broadcasting from studios in Trinity Gardens, Brixton. It was Britain’s first 24-hour black music radio station with a licence, covering South London. The group won a second licence (see Buzz FM) in 1995, bringing a local version of their London offering to Birmingham, on 102.2 FM - in place of Buzz FM.
The advent of digital radio in the UK saw Choice, which already had an active webstream, joining the new MXR consortium and launching a DAB service which anchored London output with news inserts produced by the consortium's news service DNN.
The Birmingham licence was sold to Chrysalis Radio in 1999 and became Galaxy Birmingham, but Choice expanded within the capital in May 2000 when a largely independent North London licence was awarded for Choice 107.1, with the intention of reaching a larger Afro-Caribbean audience outside the limited range of the coverage from Brixton. The station was now broadcasting from Borough High Street, Borough, London.
Having previously been a minority shareholder, Capital Radio Group took full control of the station in February 2004 and moved the station's base from the target service area to the group's central studios in London's Leicester Square. The move resulted in a community march from the coverage area and their studios. It was accused of selling out as some of their DJs were removed and replaced by their Kiss counterparts who play some electronic music.
By 12 October 2004, Capital had received and implemented a merger of their FM licences, operating a service across the capital on the two frequencies and cutting back on the North London-specific music requirements.
The DAB service also became a simulcast of the London station, with the demise of local drop-ins.
Following their takeover of Choice, Capital Radio Group merged with GWR to form GCap Media in 2005. Choice was flagged up as one of the key brands of the new larger network, and the station was made available to digital TV viewers via its addition to Sky (and later to Virgin Media).
GCap were subsequently taken over by Global Radio, who already owned the Galaxy Network of dance/urban music stations. Despite the separate music format and branding, Choice was marketed to advertisers as part of the Galaxy network for package advertising deals. In 2010 Global Radio announced that the Galaxy network stations would be networked with 95.8 Capital FM, leaving Choice as a standalone brand again.
On 3 October 2013, Global announced that Choice would be rebranded as Capital XTRA on 7 October. A number of high-profile signings were made, at launch including former BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ Tim Westwood, and subsequently Kiss FM DJ Jez Welham for the station's flagship show, Capital XTRA In The Morning.
The station initially introduced dance music alongside the urban offering provided by Choice FM. However, ratings, particularly in London, suffered, leading to a move back towards the mixture of primarily black music genres that is now heard on the station, which has since proved a success in the UK radio listening measurement system, RAJAR. Despite this, the Dance. Urban. UK strap-line slogan continued to be used for a time, though it has now changed to The UK's Biggest Hip-Hop Station.
Capital XTRA refreshed its weekend schedule at the start of 2017, hiring Afrobeats artist and DJ Afro B to host the Afrobeats show, DJ TiiNY, Stormzy's official DJ, for a new Friday night programme, and student radio winner Robert Bruce for a new UK-music led programme, 'Homegrown'. In a coup for the station, legendary hip-hop presenter DJ Semtex moved from 1Xtra to host the same slot on Capital XTRA in October 2018.
Having launched with 850k listeners, Capital XTRA now reaches 1.8 million people across the UK.
- Jez Welham (Weekdays 0600 – 1000)
- Manny Norte (Weekdays 1000 – 1300, Sunday 1900 – 2200)
- Toni Phillips (Sunday – Friday 1300 – 1600)
- Mike Panteli (Monday – Friday 1600 – 1900)
- Yinka Bokinni (Monday – Thursday 1900 – 2200, Saturday 0900 – 1300)
- Jay London (Monday - Thursday 2200 – 0200, Sunday 0900 – 1300)
- Shayna Marie (Friday 2300 – 0100, Saturday 0900 – 1300)
- Leah Davis (Monday – Thursday 0200 – 0600, weekends 0600 – 0900)
- Shanie Ryan (various Fridays 0200 – 0600)
- DJ TiiNY (Friday 1900 – 2100)
- DJ Semtex (Friday 2100 – 2300)
- Remel (Saturday 1300 – 1600)
- Robert Bruce (Weekends 1600 – 1900)
- Tim Westwood (Saturday 1900 – 2300)
- Afro B (Saturday 2300 – 0100)
- Ras Kwame (Sunday 2200 – 0200)
Capital XTRA plays a mixture of black music genres, including Hip-Hop, R&B, Afrobeats, Grime and Afro-Bashment. Programmes include a mixture of playlisted shows and specialist strands, hosted by a number of respected, well known DJs and experts in their field.
- Reloaded (Daily 1100 - 1200); an hour of uninterrupted old-school urban anthems. There are also 30 minute 'Reloaded' blocks at 0900 and 1800 every weekday (in the latter case, except Friday). 'Reloaded' songs are also played irregularly between songs during other playlisted shows.
- Homegrown (Saturday 1600 - 1900); fresh and emerging UK music, including interviews and guest mixes. Hosted by Robert Bruce. 'Homegrown' also exists as a feature each weeknight.
- Afrobeats (Saturday 2300 - 0100); hosted by Afro B, 2 hours of British and African-American music.
- The Reggae Recipe (Sunday 2200 - 0000); reggae and dancehall music hosted by former Radio 1 DJ Ras Kwame.
Capital XTRA hosts a number of events to compliment its radio output, including:
- Reloaded Live; a club night which takes place at Electric Brixton, featuring old skool Reloaded anthems played by Capital XTRA DJs including Manny Norte, Yinka and Mike Panteli.
- Brunch 'N' Beats; an all day brunch party featuring sets from Capital XTRA DJs at Box Park, Croydon
- Homegrown Live; an artist-led event featuring performances from UK talent at Koko, Camden. Previous performers include Yungen, Yxng Bane, Dappy, Hardy Caprio, Chip and WSTRN.
- "Choice FM is dead" (PDF). New Nation. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
- Day, Julia (12 October 2004). "Capital gets go-ahead for London licence merger". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Capital FM to replace Galaxy", Radio Today. Archived 25 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- "Global to change Choice to Capital XTRA". Radio Today. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
- "RIP Choice FM – the station that best championed music of black origin", The Guardian, 3 October 2013.
- "Tim Westwood hosts last Radio 1 show, joins Choice FM". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Jez Welham to host Capital XTRA Breakfast – RadioToday". radiotoday.co.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "DJ TiiNY, Afro B & Robert Bruce Host Brand New Weekend Schedule On Capital XTRA!". Capital XTRA. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "1 Xtra's DJ Semtex resurfaces at Capital XTRA – RadioToday". radiotoday.co.uk. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Capital Xtra: audience figures". Media UK. Retrieved 6 October 2013.