CO-FOUNDER OF CHOICE FM (NOW CAPITAL XTRA) REPLIES TO THOSE WHO SAY HE ‘SOLD OUT’

Choice FM co-founder Patrick Berry

Choice FM co-founder Patrick Berry

In an interview with The Voice co-founder of Choice FM Patrick Berry has replied to those who say Choice FM’s demise was signalled in the day he and his business partner Neil Kenlock sold the station to Capital/Global Radio almost a decade ago.

Berry said,

“The people that said we sold out don’t understand that you can’t keep a radio station fuelled on love alone. The local advertisers we had were not enough alone to keep it going. That’s what forced the sale.”

“I feel proud of what Choice achieved, and would have liked it to have lasted forever. It opened doors for black people in many different areas. Now that it is no more those doors will start closing again.

“When you don’t squeak, you don’t get oiled. Because Choice was there squeaking, black people could get jobs in the industry other than in the canteen or as security. I fear those opportunities may now slip and slide away.”

CAPITAL XTRA

In response to Berry’s reasons for selling the station he co-founded in 1990, an industry insider (who wishes to remain nameless) summed up my own thoughts regarding the sale of Choice FM back in 2004

The insider said:

“I understand running a business is tough. Finding the balance between profitability,  remaining relevant with your target market and business growth can sometimes cancel each other out. However,  if due care was shown and embedded around demonstrating a robust business strategy,  good governance and a commitment to discovering and supporting emerging talent from the African and African Caribbean communities I doubt advertising revenue would have dwindled. The likes of Capital would not have come knocking unless the business was viable and had future profitability.

Showing concern now over the actions of who you sold it to, knowing they were a station that had no real understanding of the communities it serves or the music and culture it distributes is too late in the day and the biggest factor as to why Choice FM is no more.”

For those of you who might have missed the news, last Monday Choice FM was officially put out to pasture along with a succession of popular radio personalities (DJ 279, Daddy Ernie, Natti B, Martin Jay, Dave P and DJ KC), and Capital XTRA was born.

It should also be noted that Choice veteran DJ Jigs resigned the following day.

Your thoughts please….

9 replies »

  1. Whilst it was painful to watch the demise of Choice FM I can totally understand why they chose to sell. It is easy for people to criticise when they have not had to lose their shirt.
    I have witnessed other radio stations come along who “cater for the community” and have only survived because a lot of their presenters do it out of love and don’t get paid.

    It is unfortunate that community radio has now merged into “urban” formats, but we are not the only community this has happened to and unless there is a sustainable business model for community radio this is just a taste of things to come.

    As I have said before to a lot of those who object. It is a lot easier and complain than it is to actually go out and create something.

  2. It is sad to see that Choice FM has completely gone. But what’s done is done! Global is not going to bring back Choice FM and they have no interest in serving the community.

    I will keep saying this – OWNERSHIP is key here. We need to focus on starting and building our own ventures/empires and then hold on to them. That’s the only way you become a major player in this land of ours. Other communities, in particular the Asian community figured this out decades ago.

  3. I can see what he is saying but when he expresses his regret at what they achieved as a result of having of it and what they have lost and the consequences, I wonder why he didn’t hang on to a percentage to be in a position to have a say and influence.
    What’s done is done.

  4. wow :
    Maybe MOBO is next.

    …hmmm. You’d be lucky to find the phrase “Music Of Black Origin” on their website.

    If Choice founders Patrick & Neil had “urban-ed” up the station themselves, would they have made the station a financial success and be able to keep control? Is it possible to have a “community” station that is also a commercial success?

  5. @Pheva

    If the right people are on board ( a strong business development team) who are dedicated and have good business acumen then I believe you can have a community station that is also a commercial success, and without going all out “URBAN”.

  6. From the time that big wigs were sniffing around Choice FM, this should have been a clear indication to Berry and Kenlock that Global Radio had obviously spotted potential in the station that they can tap into. That was not the time to sell up and walk away, that was the time to immediately hold a counsel and brainstorm as to what they were seeing that you possibly were not.

    There is also a flip side to this coin, for some reason black folks particularly here in the UK refuse to support their own unless it involves getting a trim at a barber shop, getting a weave installed at the hairdressers or purchasing some chicken and rice at a Caribbean restaurant. Surely we can branch out on a wider scale than this. In order for blacks to sustain businesses, hold onto them and thus prevent usurpation by “outsiders”, we must start to practice black group economics. Either start from now or perish Negro:

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