Choice FM was the first and only Black-owned radio station with a London-wide commercial licence. On March 31st, 1990, a group of pioneering entrepreneurs and DJs delivered the first historic broadcast on the famous 96.9 FM frequency at 16-18 Trinity Gardens, Brixton, South London. It was at this address that the station launched and went on to be one of the most successful black media companies in the UK. During its 23 year tenure, the station helped to champion Black music of all genres and break acts from around the world. The station also covered stimulating debates on current affairs issues that were not covered by other mainstream stations. Choice FM was awarded a number of accolades, including the MOBO and Sony Radio Academy Awards.
In 2004, the station was bought by the Capital Radio broadcasting group (Global) and on the 7th of October 2013 it was rebranded as Capital Xtra. To celebrate the rich history of the station, the unveiling ceremony took place with members of the Choice FM family, the Nubian Jak Community Trust and the London Blue Plaque scheme, the oldest of its kind in the world, launched in 1866 and run by English Heritage.
The plaque was funded by the Choice FM Blue Plaque Group formed in 2019 to raise the awareness of the 30th year anniversary of the Choice FM radio. The group consisted of members of the original staff members who worked at the station in the 1990’s and early 2000s, as well as other members of the Black community who made donations through a Go Fund Me campaign. The donation page was set up to give people the opportunity to support the campaign for the plaque and raise awareness of the history.
Funds raised were also donated to an amazing charity, The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT). Choice FM worked closely with the charity during their broadcasting years to help provide hope for patients living with blood cancer and other illnesses. The Choice FM Blue Plaque Group continued to support their work through the campaign using #ChoiceFMBluePlaque to support their awareness campaign. The blue plaque ensured that the station and its community will always be remembered.
The unveiling of the plaque took place on Wednesday 7th October 2020 on the wall of the station’s first office in Trinity Gardens in Brixton, south London and was followed by a reception near the historic Windrush Square in Brixton.
Partners: The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) is a charity committed to helping provide hope to patients living with blood cancer and other illnesses, where a matched donor (stem cell, blood or organ) is required to save a life. Our work is driven by a belief that no one should die waiting for a donor to become available.
On Saturday 31st March a station was born that changed the sound of UK radio forever. Choice FM came from humble beginnings at Trinity Gardens and was the sound, the community was longing for. It played the type of music that mainstream radio didn’t play, making global stars from R&B, Reggae, Dancehall and Soca artists. Now we pay homage and unveil a symbol to mark where it all started. Plaque campaigner and former Choice FM DJ Daddy Ernie,
To be involved in the blue plaque commemoration of Choice FM, feels like Nubian Jak coming full circle. The station helped to launch the Nubian Jak brand, so to memorialise the space where Britain's first licenced Black-owned radio station had its base is an honour. NJCT
Choice FM completely changed the way that the 15 to 24 demographic listened to radio alongside mature lovers of 90s R&B, soul, reggae and soca. It created connections between cultures through the music. Those continuous jams will always be a part of my soul and will also be part of the huge platform of my radio career. Smooth FM Radio presenter and former Choice FM DJ Angie Greaves
Many Black British people and those from many other communities remember Choice FM and the strong heritage that it has left behind. The station gave opportunities to UK and international artists, businesses, local community groups and charities like the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust who didn’t have a media outlet. Since Choice FM there has never been another Back-owned, commercial licenced station that broadcasts across London. Therefore, celebrating the 30th year anniversary is important, touching those who remember it and educating those who are not aware of this British history. The blue plaque will highlight the work of Windrush descendants and our huge impact on the radio and music industry in the UK. I’d like to thank everyone, including Lambeth Council for their support for this project. Co-founder Neil Kenlock
Choice FM was at the vanguard of change that exploded black music and its iconic fashion and cultural derivatives into British mainstream society. This well-deserved Blue Plaque forever immortalises the time and the place where black music, fashion, and arts became the norm and not the exception. Choice FM and its loyal stakeholders and listeners spawned a generational cultural shift across all communities, enriching our society as a whole for the better. Co-founder Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE