XFM is coming to Manchester and I’m quietly optimistic. While I’m mostly a Radio 1 listener, I bore quickly of R&B, so I’ve been listening to XFM, London online for a little while. On the whole it’s a good mix of new British music (which still, even post John Peel, tends to be ghettoised into evening programming on Radio 1) together with some older stuff that they may play on Radio 2 (I wouldn’t know because I simply can’t bring myself to press that button). And they play lots of Manchester music our own local stations ignore.
Now I’m listening to the test transmissions in the car. It’s good to have some decent music played more or less without interruption and in full. Although from Wednesday 15 March, there will be DJs and ads (XFM don’t seem to break for ads as often as other commercial stations, but that may be a bad sign).
If any city deserves an alternative (or alternative-ish) music station, it’s Manchester. Yet the city is something of graveyard. Way back at the end of the 1980s (when I arrived as a student) there was Sunset then came a Kiss franchise in the early to mid 1990s. Dance music was where it was at and it was good to drive to, but in 1998 they became Galaxy 102 and (as industry insiders agree) turned into a poor copy of Key 103.
Despite that history, I reckon XFM, Manchester (97.7FM) has a good chance of making it. It will appeal to the 30-somethings, like myself, who like to keep on top of the new, rather than trying to get loads of elusive kids on board.