Capital XTRA (formerly Choice FM) is a Global-owned radio station that broadcasts on 96.9 FM and 107.1 FM in Greater London. Nationally, it is heard on DAB Digital Radio, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media and Global Player. It specialises in hip hop, grime and R&B music, and is a commercial competitor to BBC Radio 1Xtra.
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Format||Hip hop, grime, R&B|
|Capital XTRA Reloaded|
First air date
|31 March 1990 (as Choice FM)|
7 October 2013 (as Capital XTRA)
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.
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.
Initially, the station 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.
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 BBC Radio 1Xtra to host the same slot on Capital XTRA in October 2018.
In September 2019, a new weekday morning show was launched, hosted by former evening presenter Yinka Bokinni, and Shayna-Marie Birch-Campbell.
Capital XTRA ReloadedEdit
A spin-off station, Capital XTRA Reloaded, was launched on 2 September 2019. It featured former Galaxy Birmingham presenter Sacha Brooks as host of the station's flagship show. Available nationally on DAB+, the station plays non-stop old skool hip-hop and R&B anthems.
Having launched with 850,000 listeners, Capital XTRA now reaches an estimated 1.9 million people across the UK.
- Yinka Bokinni & Shayna-Marie Birch-Campbell (Monday – Friday 0630 – 1000)
- Manny Norte (Weekdays 1000 – 1300, Sunday 1900 – 2200)
- Toni Phillips (Sunday – Friday 1300 – 1600)
- Mike Panteli (Monday – Friday 1600 – 1900)
- Robert Bruce (Monday - Thursday 1900 - 2200, Weekends 1600 – 1900)
- Leah Davis (Monday – Thursday 2200 – 0100, Weekends 0600 – 0900)
- Chris Ros (Monday - Friday 0100 - 0400)
- Jay London (Monday - Friday 0400 – 0630, Sunday 0900 – 1300)
- Teeshow (Friday 1900 – 2100)
- DJ Semtex (Friday 2100 – 2300)
- Shayna Marie (Friday 2300 – 0100)
- Remel (Saturday 1300 – 1600)
- Tim Westwood (Saturday 1900 – 2300)
- Afro B (Saturday 2300 – 0100)
- Ras Kwame (Sunday 2200 – 0100)
- Kemi Rodgers (Saturday – Sunday 0100 – 0600)
- Sacha Brooks (Capital XTRA Reloaded Weekdays 0800 - 1200)
- Will Njobvu (Saturday 0900 – 1300, Sunday 1600 - 1900)
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 well known DJs and experts in the music.
- Reloaded (Daily 1100 - 1200); an hour of uninterrupted old-cool Hip-Hop and R&B anthems. There are also 30 minute 'Reloaded' blocks at 1400 and 1800 every weekday (in the latter case, except Friday). 'Reloaded' songs are also played 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.
- Chilled (Sunday 0600 - 9000); R&B and slow jamz presented by Leah Davis. 'Chilled' also exists as a feature each weeknight.
- The Reggae Recipe (Sunday 2200 - 0100); reggae and dancehall music hosted by former Radio 1 DJ Ras Kwame.
Capital XTRA hosts a number of events to complement its radio broadcasts, 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 AJ Tracey, Aitch, Dappy, Hardy Caprio, Stefflon Don and WSTRN.
- "Choice FM is dead" (PDF). New Nation. 2 June 2003. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 June 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
- Day, Julia (12 October 2004). "Capital gets go-ahead for London licence merger". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Capital FM to replace Galaxy". Radio Today. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
- "Global to change Choice to Capital XTRA". Radio Today. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
- Dee, Boya (4 October 2013). "RIP Choice FM – the station that best championed music of black origin". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
- "Tim Westwood hosts last Radio 1 show, joins Choice FM". The Line of Best Fit. Archived from the original on 3 December 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Jez Welham to host Capital XTRA Breakfast". Radio Today. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "DJ TiiNY, Afro B & Robert Bruce Host Brand New Weekend Schedule On Capital XTRA!". Capital Xtra. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "1 Xtra's DJ Semtex resurfaces at Capital XTRA". Radio Today. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Yinka and Shayna Marie to take over Capital XTRA Breakfast". RadioToday. 19 August 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "Global to launch Capital XTRA Reloaded across the UK". RadioToday. 30 August 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "Capital Xtra: audience figures". Media UK. Archived from the original on 7 March 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- Official website
- Capital Xtra on Facebook
- Capital Xtra on Instagram
- Capital Xtra on Twitter
- Capital Xtra's channel on YouTube