Courtesy of AMFM.ORG.UK
A pop station reinvented as a black music champion 1983 – 1990
LWR took to the air as London Weekend Radio on 1 January 1983. The station was a joint venture between two DJ’s. John Dawson (Keith Greene) had started helping out on Radio Jackie and radio Free London before running his own station, South London Radio, where he refined higher-power VHF transmitters based on the RFL designs. Johnny Hywood had done shows on the smaller Bromley Sound as well as deejaying in a few London clubs and wine bars.
In early 1984 LWR were hit hard by a series of raids on their transmitter sites. Broadcasting from the tops of tower blocks meant that the authorities could turn up any time and take away the transmitter, no warrant necessary. However, other stations were by now exploiting a loophole in the law which meant a transmitter on private premises could only be inspected prior to a court ordering its seizure. The station decided that if it was to survive it would have to join them, and on the 10th March 1984 the station went 24 hours as LWR – London Wide Radio.
With the coming of the new Telecoms Act in 1984, which closed the loopholes under which pirates were more freely operating. LWR made the decision to close down on 14th July 1984 before the new act came into force the following day. A special goodbye broadcast went out from Johnny Haywood and John Dawson, thanking all fifty-one DJ’s that had passed through the station during this period.
When those stations that had stayed on weren’t subject to crippling raids, others began to gradually reappear. On 15 September 1984, LWR returned, minus Johnny Haywood – who was now DJing on cruise ships, later to join Jazz FM and with new backing from club promoter Zak & Dee Promotions, run by brothers Zak and Fuzzy Dee.
The new daytime schedule switched from soul with Mark Mason on breakfast to Zak’s mid-morning reggae show, back to soul with Ron Tom for lunch, reggae in the afternoon with J.J., then Tim Westwood on drive time with a more soul oriented selection – except for Tuesdays when he had his massively popular hip hop show in the evening. Westwood had first gained attention as warm-up DJ for Steve Walsh in the clubs, but it wasn’t until he began playing hip hop, that he started to make a name for himself. The Tuesday show would get one of the biggest mailbags on the station, sometimes receiving up to 15 mixes a week from young DJ’s.
More DJ’s were added as 1985 progressed, including future rap star Derek Boland presenting a mixture of soul, electro hip hop, Joe Douglas (later boss of the now defunct lNorth London legal station WNK) playing reggae and soca, reggae with Daddy Ernie (later on legal Choice FM), jazz from Steve Edwards (later on Jazz FM and Radio One) and the underrated Barry B, one of the first DJ’s with a regular live mix show on the radio in the UK. As well as more black presenters, the station also put more female presenters on air then many of it competitors, including DJ Camilla, Debbie Golpie, Angie Lamar, Sarah HB and DJ Elayne (Elayne Smith also later on Choice FM)
After the announcement of the new increment licences in 1988, LWR remained quiet about what its plans were. It wasn’t until December that they announced that the station would be closing down to apply for a licence. The final show went out on December 31st 1988 with presenters Chris Collins and WayneTurner, while a separate party took place in a London club.
When the winners of the incremental licences were announced and they weren’t among them – the radio authority said they never applied – it wasn’t long before LWR took to the airwaves again. However, when it was relaunched at the end of July 1989 it was minus many of it former jocks. Several had been headhunted by Choice FM, the black station that won the South London licence, while others were hoping they would be picked up elsewhere or in the second round of licences. This incarnation of LWR continued on to 1990, but with new legal competition and changing tastes it was not as successful and eventually left the airwaves.