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Natty B: End of Choice FM ‘an unexpected surprise’

AS YOU WERE: Natty B

ONE OF the Choice FM veterans who has been axed from the station after 14 years on the airwaves has spoken out about his shock over the decision to become Capital XTRA.

An internal email was sent to staff moments before the plans - which have been kept under wraps for months - were made public and followed an emergency meeting with Choice FM DJs which took place first thing this morning.

The email from Global Radio’s executive president Ashley Tabor read: “So, I think it's fair to say that a few Globalers have picked up something in the air recently, something going on, something in the making, something………..a little XTRA?

“Well, it's true. Today, I’m delighted to announce the largest brand extension in commercial radio history, and we’re very proud that it comes from Global.”

But his enthusiasm was not shared among staff who were left reeling in shock.

In a series of tweets, Natty B said: “It is with deep regret that last Sunday…was my final show on Choice FM. This has come as an unexpected surprise as has the news that the station will be now known as Capital Extra & will no longer [offer] reggae programming.

“I started at Choice FM in 2000 and enjoyed my time broadcasting the music that I love on (then) London’s only Black owned urban station. I would like to thank everyone that has been a part of my journey and hope to be back on the airwaves very soon. Peace!”

Tabor described the move as a “great moment” for listeners as he explained the expansion to offer “urban dance music” nationwide.

He said: “People right across the UK will now get to enjoy a truly national station in Capital XTRA - the only commercial station to play urban dance music nationwide.”

The Global Radio founder added that the station would be “taking the best presenters and shows and building on that by adding even more new talent to the line up and we believe Capital XTRA has a very bright future.”

The firm has invested an additional £1 million into the expansion, allowing it to broadcast nationally.

Big names who have joined Capital XTRA include hip-hop DJ Tim Westwood – who recently left rivals BBC 1Xtra – and R&B singer-turned-DJ Craig David.

But several Choice FM veterans have been pushed out in the shake-up including: Daddy Ernie, Martin Jay, DJ KC, Natty B and Dave P, who collectively are responsible for the station's gospel, soca and reggae offering.

In its press release, Global Radio the said it would “build on the heritage of the station” but concerns were raised that it was part of a wider cultural shift to move away from its core identity of black music.

The station - founded in 1990 by Neil Kenlock and Patrick Berry – was granted a commercial radio licence to address the lack of black music on the airwaves, primarily for listeners of “African and African Caribbean origin”.

It is on those grounds that the licence is valid, and under the terms the station is supposed to play a minimum of 21 hours of specialist music a week.

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