Red Dragon FM holds a place dear in my heart. I worked there from 1998 (just after Capital Radio group originally took it over) and left there in 2002 (to head up the production department of the original Capital FM network). Those 4 years were really special – due mostly to the friends I made, the stuff we did and the City I still love. It was even the last station I did an on air shift on – covering a week of drivetime. From what I remember, the advice of the Group PD at the time (Clive Dickens) was to “shut up and just play the hits, mate”. Good advice!
Since hearing that Red Dragon FM was to become part of Global Radio’s Capital FM network, I’ve been trying to work out what to write as it breathes its last breath. And now that day has arrived.
I spent a couple of hours last night searching through a box of CDs listening to audio – and was pretty proud of what I heard.
This was the first huge station I’d worked at and it had a large pool of creative people. When I joined, Andy Johnson was the PD and the station was operating from the original premises in West Canal Wharf. On my first night, I was given a whistlestop tour of the patch by the drivetime guy, Warren Moore and the station producer Richard Firth. We ended up drinking beer looking over the Bristol Channel and having chips from a Chippie on Barry Island seafront. Class!
Capital Radio had bought the station from Emap and set about updating facilities and output. Capital’s influence on the station was pretty big to start with, but we always retained a distinctly Welsh feel to the sound and output. Within weeks, we were running the Birthday Bonanza promotion along with Capital’s BONG game. We even took some of the Groove Addicts jingle package of the time.
On air at that time (on Red Dragon and Touch AM); Jason Harrold and Emma Hignett on breakfast, Bobby McVay and Chris Moore, Tony Wright, Warren Moore, Charlie Power and Chris Bloomer. Then later, Ben Weston, David Francis, and Justin (Dai/Welshy) Waite. Beverly Cleall-Harding was MD, Nick Davidson ran the (huge) sales team and Andrew Jones ran an equally large news desk. Over time, people like Eirwen Parker, David Couch, David Rees and Simon Price joined the team with people like Alun Jones, Steve Martin and many many more. It was testament to the skills and creativity of that team that so many people moved on to other bigger roles with Capital or GCap. And so many more continue to make a massive contribution to radio in South Wales.
I guess much will be written about how another heritage station is being wiped off the map. But things change. Capital FM is sounding great as a hit music station in London. And Red Dragon has sounded almost identical to Capital for the past year or so anyway. Of course, there are some things that it’s harder to reflect in a station mainly produced from London, as I noted back in September.
To be honest, Red Dragon has changed loads since when Capital first took it over in 1998. The name may now be gone, but Red Dragon was always about an attitude, a pride in a city, a culture and a lifestyle. That has evolved as Wales has changed over the last decade or so. This is probably just a natural progression. And there’s no point aiming criticism at the team in Cardiff. I’m sure they are just as passionate about their station as they were when they joined.
So, let’s not dwell on yet another change to the radio landscape. If you worked there, be proud that you did. If you listened, thanks. And if you work for the new Capital FM South Wales – good luck.
And maybe play a little Tom Jones/Manic Street Preachers/ Catatonia on March 1st. Would it really hurt?
PS: Does anyone really know how many people (and animals) Cerys Matthews had in her entourage back at THAT Party in the Park??
——–(And now a little nostalgia)———–
For those who like a little nostalgia, here are a few gems from the my archive for you.
- Capital: National treasure? (independent.co.uk)