Xfm, 104.9FM (for those within the M25, down to Guildford and up to Oxford), Sky 864, DAB and xfm.co.uk.
Xfm is a Londons local alternative radio station.
It was founded in the early nineties by a group of musicians and DJs, including The Cure, who wanted a radio station that actually cared about music, rather than demographic.
Originally a pirate radio it was granted temporary licenses several times. However, each time the temporary license expired the radio authority failed to grant them a full license.
Eventually the station was granted a full license and was started in ernest. With a linup that included Claire Sturgess (the only original DJ still with the station), Scott Mills and Ricky Gervaise the station traded under the tag line "London's Music Alternative". The original license was granted for the station to play contemporary, alternative, guitar based music, and to provide a quantity of live music.
The station ran successfully for several years, slowly increasing its listener base, with the increase in the quality of adverts reflecting this.
In the late 1990's the Capital Group bought the station. Overnight the group sacked all but one of the DJs and rebranded the station, removing the "alternative" from the motto.
Widely seen as Capital's attempt to provide competition for Virgin radio, the station's output changed rapidly. The station focussed on a very limited playlist, with short repeat periods, playing mostly american based MOR and AOR. The "contemporary, alternative, guitar based music" quickly became sixties British classics, middle aged american rock and mediocre dance. Worst of all, the station's live music shows were axed and sport took the majority of the stations output at the weekend.
This marked the station's lowest point. With DJs such as Suggs and Bob Geldof playing "classic British rock" the station lost listeners almost as fast as it changed over DJs. Schedules changed on a monthly basis, with no DJ wanting to stay on the station. Listener figures plummetted and adverts for local shops and restaurants became the only source of revenue.
At this time the NME campaigned for the station to be sold, their were protests outside the Capital Groups Leicester Square HQ and a campaign was organised to bring the station to justice for failing to meet its conditions of license. The station was found GUILTY of failing to meet its license conditions, and fined an embarrasingly small amount of money.
Since then the station has improved beyond its original state and has become a beacon for alternative music in Britain and beyond. Although only a local station, Xfm is vital for the UK. DJs on national radio stations tend to listen to Xfm, and its output effects their choices more than any other station.
The station now plays a good mix of mainstream indie and punk, deeply obscure alternative music, classic punk, leftfield dance and some minority music. With the shift to more obscure music the audience returned. Sport continues to dominate saturdays, but to an excellent standard. Live music has returned to the station and a large quanitity of live gigs in Greater London are sponsored by the station.
There are several Xfm branded albums available, all of excellent quality.
Of note, the station's best DJ is Zane Lowe, who will shortly by moving to the BBC Radio 1's The Evening Session.