Doing the splits 

20 December 2021


Television & Radio 1987 cover

From ‘Television and Radio 1987’, published by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in December 1986

Usually Independent Radio stations broadcast the same programming on both their FM and AM frequencies. However, the Home Office has permitted, for a limited period, six experiments to be run where stations may put out different services on FM and AM: split frequency broadcasting, as it is called.

Leicester Sound has been able to increase its programming specifically for the Asian community from five to seven hours, and from two to three days a week. Scheduling these programmes on AM has enabled the much-requested fuller coverage of rock and disco music on FM.

For Piccadilly Radio, in Manchester, the experiment provided the opportunity to cater for classical music enthusiasts. The station recorded three Hallé Orchestra concerts during its 1986 Promenade Season.

Material in the Hallé programme informed concert-goers of the broadcasts. The audience at the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ was able to listen again to the concert 30 minutes after it had finished, while driving home from the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Two more concerts were broadcast on sequential Sundays.

Every Sunday afternoon, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., during the Rugby League season, Viking Radio in Humberside split to present country music with Tex Milne on FM, whilst covering Rugby League, particularly Hull Football Club and Hull Kingston Rovers, on AM.

GWR – covering Swindon, West Wiltshire and the Bristol area – does split programming on three separate days for different audience interests. On Thursday evenings between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., folk music features on the AM service whilst Worldwide’s music and interviews, primarily for the West Indian and Asian communities, is broadcast on FM. Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturdays ‘golden oldies’ records play juke-box style on AM with country music on the FM frequency. On Sundays, half an hour of farming news is broadcast on FM in the early afternoon. Later that evening, FM listeners can hear rock n roll at 8 p.m. or tune into the religious programme Sunday P.M. on AM.



Marcher Sound, the local station for Wrexham & Deeside, provides a service in Welsh for its listeners on the AM waveband each weekday evening at 6 pm.

Capital Radio in London chose to create a new sound on FM between 10 a.m. and 10 pm. every Sunday, coming together with AM for The Network Chart Show.

Tony Hale, Capital’s Head of Music, explains the philosophy of the separate service – called CFM – that began on 4th May 1986: ‘… at a single stroke, the quality music market was for the first time given an outlet. No longer was the listener who was ready and able to buy good quality equipment forced to listen to a diet of Top 40, that might as well have been on AM only. All those compact discs of the acts you would love to be able to go and see at Wembley were once more within earshot’.

‘And those disenfranchised radio listeners of the 60s will go for it. They are 20 years on from their first experience of radio … and people call them yuppies. They are listeners… and CFM 95.8 in super stereo in London is for them’.




You Say

1 response to this article

Nigel Stapley 20 December 2021 at 10:39 pm

The funny thing about Marcher Sound was the the English Service on FM was transmitted from a transmitter about 3.5 miles inside Wales whereas the Welsh Service (such as it was) on AM was broadcast from a transmitter about 400 yards inside England.

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