ON SATURDAY (Nov 30), Voice readers joined with BECTU, the UK's media and entertainment trade union, outside the headquarters of Global Radio, owners of Capital XTRA, to protest against the removal of reggae, soca and gospel from the station's airwaves.
Led by activist Lee Jasper, the crowd, holding placards and posters, repeatedly chanted "What do we want? Choice. When do we want it? Now!' as reggae music blasted from the sound system.
Former Choice FM DJ Daddy Ernie, famed for his popular reggae show, was in attendance and addressed the crowds sharing in the frustration and calling for change. Fellow DJ, 279, whose show was also cut in the October 7 shake-up at the station, stood shoulder to shoulder with his ex-colleague.
Taking the mic, Janice Turner, Journal Editor and Diversity Officer at BECTU said, "Global have decided they can drop their obligations to black community by dropping black music.
"[Global] don't care about diversity. All they care about is money," she added to roars of agreement.
Global Radio, the UK’s largest radio company, are now being monitored by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom who will decide whether to launch a full-scale investigation into whether there has been a breach of licence with the new format, which now operates under a ‘Dance. Urban. UK’ slogan.
However, the media giant insisted the changeover was simply a name change and the move required no prior authorisation from the broadcasting watchdog.
But many longstanding DJs playing reggae, soca, gospel and hip-hop, such as Martin Jay and Daddy Ernie, were axed and replaced by those who specialise in electronic dance music, prompting listeners to complain.
DJ Kris ‘Don’t Be Late’ Jay, a promoter at rollerdisco.com, who attended Saturday's march, said the change was a "violation of the United Kingdom's multicultural society".
He said: “Not on my watch. I would have to be dead in my bed before I do not come out to support something that affects our community. I have to come out and the community has to come out as it’s a violation of the United Kingdom’s multicultural society. Every person should take it as a personal attack on the community.”
Choice FM, founded in 1990, was granted a licence on the provision that it catered to an African Caribbean audience with a commitment of 21 hours of “specialist” music each week.