|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Slogan||Dance. Urban. UK.|
FM: 96.9, 107.1 MHz (London)|
11D (England/Wales/N. Ireland)
Virgin Media: 959
|First air date||31 March 1990|
formerly urban contemporary
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 Urban, Hip Hop and R'n'B music.
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.
Current notable presenters
- "Choice FM is dead" (PDF). New Nation. 2003-06-02. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Day, Julia (2004-10-12). "Capital gets go-ahead for London licence merger". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
- "Capital FM to replace Galaxy", Radio Today. Archived 2010-11-25 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Global to change Choice to Capital XTRA". Radio Today. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
- "RIP Choice FM – the station that best championed music of black origin", The Guardian, 2013-10-03.
- "Capital Xtra: audience figures". Media UK. Retrieved 2013-10-06.