Ian’s first foray into Local radio had been with the two founders of Kick fm in Newbury which was then taken under the wing of Andy Craig, news anchor at Meridian Television and the owner of Milestone Pictures. Ian and Phil had both worked for Milestone up to April 2000 and one of the many front-line trial RSLs the company undertook was for a commercial station in Reading under the working title of “New City Radio”.
The group formed for this project was awarded a licence to serve Reading on 8 March 2001 and the new service, branded as “Reading 107” was launched on 30 September 2002. The studio complex was built within the main Stadium structure of Reading Football Club and studios were designed and constructed by Richard Lawley’s company Studio Schemes Ltd.
Transmission had originally been offered to one of the larger site-owning organisations but when we were shown the on-going TTC rental charges we made the point that the station could have fully-owned equipment for slightly more that it was being asked to pay as a full-specification 12-month rental fee. We had pinpointed Thames Water’s Park Lane tower site as ideal for covering Reading and that was chosen together with a digital microwave link from the imposing roof of the Stadium.
As it happened, Thames Water was scheduling the removal of its own radio system from the tower and we were able to not only combine the removal and installation work on the same day but also re-use the existing main feeder cable which was now redundant. Reading 107 was one of the first small stations to be cleared with mixed polarity propagation but initially it was decided on a cost basis to use only vertical polarity at the allocated 100W. We installed a Jaybeam model 7017 groundplane antenna at the head of the mast on the tower deck which afforded astounding coverage. The station later decided to invest in a Shively mixed-polarity system which improved penetration into the denser parts of Reading but cut down on the overall coverage distance.
We now have plans to install a Lindenblad-format antenna which will fully capitalise on the aggregate 200W allocated to the site.