Ron Onions and early Capital Radio

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July 9, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

In the early 1975’s off-shore, or pirate radio, depending on your perspective encouraged a massive change of output inland.  The idea of commercial radio going against the grain of the BBC went along with the radical changes in television, such as the introduction of ITV.  Capital commenced with “God Save the Queen”, then a message from Richard Attenborough hailing the words “…This, for the very first time, is Capital Radio” followed by the Capital Radio theme jingle, made by Blue Mink.  And that was on the 16th October 1973.

Capital Radio's headquarters. The parent company has rebranded stations it owns including Red Dragon and the Galaxy Network under the name Capital. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

Capital Radio’s headquarters. The parent company has rebranded stations it owns including Red Dragon and the Galaxy Network under the name Capital. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

 

While bids for the UK’s radio licences were going ahead, Ron Onions was cutting his already sharp teeth in the states.   It was a golden professional period for the British journalist and Onions relished the opportunity, putting together the BBC’s coverage of major events like the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and the Apollo moon shot as well as taking Doris and Sarah down to Florida to watch the launch of Apollo 11.

He was also a terrific improviser relating one story whereby a quick office whip-round secured an exclusive interview with Muhammad Ali. The overheard gossip of American journalists in the office next door enabled him to scoop everyone on the news of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding plans with Onassis.

Eventually he wanted to bring his family back to England, and he fell out with the BBC; his restlessly creative spirit couldn’t stand being shunted into a London desk job. But then the new challenge of commercial radio came to the rescue. First (thanks to its chairman Richard Attenborough, with whom he remained friends) Onions became boss of the London music station Capital Radio’s fledgling newsroom.

By 1975 Capital Radio was the victim of the economic climate.  The miners strike and three day week hit the stations revenue streams in a dramatic way.  By which time Ron Onions was appointed head of the London Broadcasting Company.

Today, Capital Radio is part of the nine station Capital radio network thanks to a merger with Global Radio which also owned Hit Music and the Galaxy networks. The merger also shook up output as Capital London localised presenters as well as being responsible for playlisting music which is syndicated across the nine station Capital radio network, during weekday drivetime and weekend mornings.

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