Oxygen student radio comes alive `on air'

Student broadcasters in one of the studios at Oxygen

Oxygen 107.9FM, the first fully licensed student-run radio station in the UK, went on-air at 1:07:09 p.m. on Valentine's Day, aimed at serving the Oxford student community.

The chart-topping band, Reef, helped launch the station on a stage outside Oxygen's studios in the Westgate Centre, where a large crowd had gathered for the final countdown to the station `going live'.

The celebrations marked the culmination of three years of preparation by Mr Philip Weiss and Mr Nick Molden, who founded the station in January 1994, when they were both at Christ Church. Mr Weiss, now Station Director, said: `This is a new departure for the UK radio industry. Oxygen 107.9FM will be at the cutting edge in training young people and experimenting with new programme formats.'

The programming department of Oxygen 107.9FM comprises more than 300 volunteers from the University and Oxford Brookes, responsible for a round-the-clock schedule 365 days a year.

The station is committed to a significant speech content including phone-ins, discussions, comedy, drama, hourly bulletins from 8 a.m., and Oxford Today, a weekday news programme (5–7 p.m.). There will also be more than 40 hours specialist music shows a week, including hip-hop, house, jazz, jungle, and techno.

Highlights during the past week have included guest interviews with John Craven, Hugh Laurie, Tony Benn, and Professor Richard Dawkins. The Head of Programming is Mr Damian Smyth (Trinity College), and Mr Matt Green (Balliol College) is Head of Current Affairs.

Following a one-month trial in November 1995, the station was awarded a full local broadcasting licence by the Radio Authority in September last year, in the face of opposition from two other bidders. The new station is owned 51 per cent by Oxford Student Radio Trading and 49 per cent by The Local Radio Company. Oxford Student Radio Trading is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oxford Student Radio, which is a registered charity, with 14 trustees, including Mr Anthony Smith, President of Magdalen, Mrs Ruth Deech, Principal of St Anne's, and Mr Peter Oppenheimer, Student of Christ Church.

Under this structure, Oxford students control station management and programming, while benefiting from the capital, continuity, and other resources provided by The Local Radio Company.

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