The current owners of the 1584AM – formerly the home of London Turkish Radio (LTR) – have announced the frequency is on sale and would welcome interest from members of the British Turkish community.
The Medium Wave frequency was sold to Panjab Radio in 2015 by Turkish Cypriot businessman and former CTCA head Ahmet Baştürk. It has since come under the ownership of Spectrum Radio Network, which is currently using the channel to broadcast Love Sport.
Although LTR’s financial difficulties were well-known, its sale its sale four years ago came as a complete surprise to the large Turkish-speaking community in the North London, where the station’s coverage is focussed. It meant for the first time in 25 years, British Turks no longer had an official voice on Britain’s airwaves.
LTR ran from its Wood Green High Street studio from 1990 to 2015
LTR was co-founded by two Turkish Cypriot teachers and community stalwarts, Erkan Pastırmacıoğlu and Kelami Dedezade, who obtained the 1584AM licence from UK broadcast authority OFCOM back in 1990.
Initially operating as a part-time community channel from its studio overlooking Wood Green High Street, the station quickly became a vital platform for community communications. Politicians and other notable faces from Cyprus, Turkey and Britain would all drop into the studio eager to engage the British Turkish community.
The station was the launchpad for the careers of dozens of its presenters. Several on the LTR roster became household names, among them Osman Balıkçıoğlu, whose comedy sketches in the Cypriot dialect had listeners in stitches, while Fevzi Turkalp ran the well-respected weekly Young Turks talk show, and Ümit Dandül, who was the long-serving programme controller and popular prime-time host, and the voice behind numerous adverts. There were also shows aimed at a younger audience by the likes of DJ Ramsey, Nev G, Akin Pastırmacıoğlu and his brother Ahmet (Mr P).
At the turn of the new millennium, the station faced a range of difficulties. Most Turkish Cypriots wanted content in English. Many other lived out of range of the station’s coverage, across the river in southeast London and Kent.
LTR also had stiff competition from pirate Turkish stations that proliferated across North London. These appealed to the newer Turkish Kurdish community that did not like the official tone of the Turkish Cypriot-run station, which towed the official Turkish and TRNC government lines for its current affairs and news content.
Pirate stations, such as Bizim FM, had far lower overheads and also deliberately undercut LTR’s advertising rates, leaving the OFCOM-regulated station unable to generate sufficient income to cover its running costs.
Spectrum hope availability of 1584AM will attract interest from Turkish entrepreneurs
Its demise after 25 years, however, was mourned by many British Turks and Spectrum, the media company which has taken over the 1584AM frequency, hopes its newly available status will attract interest from the community’s entrepreneurs.
A spokesperson for Spectrum told T-VINE that they were open to “any serious offers” and that OFCOM would be “happy to see the Turkish community back on air on its old frequency”.
It is understood that Spectrum is after a one-off fee to buy the frequency outright. The new owners then have a small yearly fee paid to OFCOM, along with the station’s overheads, such as studio costs, presenter and technician fees, and music royalties.
While the station’s reach in London is limited to the north of the city, it remains accessible via the old radio dials. Buying these highly-prized frequencies remains increasingly difficult, because so few come up for sale.
Today, the trend is moving towards DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). However, not everyone can access these channels unless they by specialist DAB receivers or download station-specific apps for their devices, such as mobile phones. The running costs for these stations are also far higher.
DAB licences can usually only be rented. London-wide coverage costs a minimum of £5,000 per month, plus the usual station overheads.
Anyone interested in making a bid for the 1584AM frequency should contact Ipek Ozerim at Prickly Pear in the first instance, either by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org calling the office on 020 8988 7880.