Choice Fm has dropped their name to ‘Capital Xtra’. The station will now provide Urban Dance Music. The popular station took a backlash from its supporters via twitter. But is it a ploy to move away from its core identity of black music?

Global Radio’s rebranding of Choice FM has moved away from the identity the station once had with black music. Simply put, Global Radio has done ‘what’s best for business’. The new Capital Xtra reaches for a mainstream music audience with its refocus on ‘urban, dance, UK’ music. Of course the term ‘urban’ today incorporates a more mainstream take on music, bringing the likes of dance, electronic music to Capital Xtra.

Founded in Brixton in 1990, Choice became known as Britain’s first 24-hour black music station, targeting the African and Afro-Caribbean demographic. These were the objectives of the founders Patrick Berry, and Neil Kenlock who also created black lifestyle publication, Root Magazine.

Choice built its identity through bringing forward black music genres that were not widely broadcasted at the time. It made way for soca, reggae, gospel, dancehall and house music on UK radio in a big way. Consequently, Choice captured the loyalty of the African-Caribbean community by having DJs and presenters on the station who were committed and knowledgeable about these music types, and promoting a ‘choice’ on radio.

Capital Xtra’s new identity removes much reference to any work that Choice FM did to give a voice to black music. When Choice FM was bought by Capital Radio in 2004, the access to these traditional genres were watered down, and rescheduled to less sociable times. Nevertheless they were still broadcasted.

Capital Xtra has completely wiped out these music categories from its schedule removing DJs who were responsible for bringing black music to the airwaves. Gone from the station are Daddy Ernie, Natty B who worked so hard to bring reggae to radio, Martin Jay who had his regular, albeit late spot with the ‘Caribbean Affair’, and DJ 279 associated with promoting some great UK Hip Hop. Instead, Capital Xtra has brought in Craig David, Tim Westwood, and Aviici, who are all synonymous with today’s commercial, urban sounds.

There is little regard for the fact that Choice was based on being a station catering to black music, and not today’s mainstream urban dance scene. It was never founded to promote commercialised music. The focus of the station was deliberately niche as black music genres were not commonly heard on radio. A radio station that made history with promoting black music is now simply crossed out in favour of profitable gain.

Written by Nikita Rathod

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