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)
6 thoughts on “Hwyl fawr Red Dragon FM”
I LOVE the lineup in the Party In The Park promo. Especially Misteeq. Also the subtle mention of FIVE LIVE.
They certaintly were great times. I still remember driving down for my interview from an identikit GWR station in the Midlands. The station just sounded huge and had so much Welsh pride at a time when Cardiff was undergoing so much change. And like you made some good friends and even met my wife!
I’m a little sad sitting on the train into central London on bank holiday Monday morning to oversee the first Capital Network show.
Yachid Dah Red Dragon FM!
Great nostaligic audio and an enjoyable read into your time there too, never commented on your blog posts before but always enjoy reading/listening to your stuff James, keep up the good work 😉
I remember fondly freelancing weekend breakfast at West Canal Wharf for Touch Radio, just before it changed to The Capitol’s Gold, and then Capitol Gold during 1999-2000. The FM/AM stations always were precious to me and to have the chance of working there was just a dream come true. But as Capitol syndicated more programming from London we were let go. Happy fun times.
Chris Morgan (spelt big “M”, small “organ”)
I always thought Red Dragon Radio was a good name for a Welsh Commercial station. It was an interesting two years I spent there from 1986 to 1988, presenting mainly six four hour Night-time programmes a week. They changed their Programme Controllers at least four times during that period… But THAT first jingle package was so popular, even the listeners used to request us to play the main theme every couple of days.
Just had to place a footnote here… A few months back I celebrated 40 years in the radio industry. And Chris Ashley, who took the station on air, was kind enough to voice some humorous sweepers for my current radio shows. It was a sad day when he left Red Dragon for pastures new, even though we kept in touch afterwards.