2004–2007: Pre-NE1fm projects and station launch
Prior to the formation of the project leading to the launch of NE1fm, a number of Restricted Service Licence broadcasts had taken place in Newcastle upon Tyne, many of which were operated by or involved founding members of NE1fm. These included ACE Radio, West End Broadcast and City FM, the latter of which ran from 13 September 2004 to 9 October 2004. Following this broadcast, an application for Ofcom’s advertised community radio licence for the area was made on 19 November 2004. The application of Community Broadcast Initiative Tyneside was successful, with a five-year licence awarded in 2006.
NE1fm launched on 8 June 2007 with a weekend of broadcasts from Newcastle’s Green Festival, resulting in much of the launch weekend being conducted via an outside broadcast studio at Leazes Park. During the weekend, the station broadcast a large amount of live music, particularly electronic music, interspersed with interviews with festival participants and general continuity from a variety of on-air personnel. On Monday 11 June 2007, NE1fm’s regular schedule commenced with the long-running alternative music show Unknown Pleasures.
2007–2009: Transmitter thefts and programming expansions
In the months following the launch of NE1fm, regular programming included Alternation, Atomic, Pavement Pizza and The Hedley Show. Broadcasts also took place from a number of other festivals, including the Asian-orientated Mela Festival, and the Newcastle stage of the AV Festival in March 2008, although broadcasts from the latter were met with problems and resulted in broadcasts ceasing before the festival’s conclusion. Other festivals and outside events covered throughout the station’s first year included the 2008 Irish Festival and the 2008 Eat Festival.
The station was, in November 2007, presented with a plaque by hardware chain B&Q as part of their annual You Can Do It awards, resulting in £5,000 of funding to fully construct a second studio and improve the station’s primitive facilities. The second studio was completed shortly thereafter. The station also during this period had its transmission equipment stolen, resulting in two off-air stints in December 2007 and March 2008, the latter of which was covered as the headline story on local news programme North East Tonight later that day.
Throughout 2008 and 2009, NE1fm continued to broadcast a wide variety of on-air content, with a number of long-running shows catering to audiences largely ignored by commercial radio stations in the region. Long-running shows included The Groove Principle, a soul music show, and Anyone For Country, a specialist country music broadcast. During this time period, however, a number of long-running shows ended their tenure on the station – either permanently or temporarily – including Ghetto Method and The Takeover. NE1fm also occasionally broadcast breakfast and lunchtime shows, although largely focused on evening broadcasts, with largely uninterrupted music broadcast overnight and during the day.