Chiltern Radio was born on October 15th 1981. The franchise was to be a ‘twin station’ centred on Luton and Bedford and covering significant parts of Herts, Beds and Bucks. This coverage area included the Luton-Dunstable conurbation containing the largest population centre in East Anglia. This sophisticated population living on the edge of Greater London chooses to enjoy the countryside of the heart of England rather than that of the Metropolis. It was the countryside surrounding the Chiltern Hills that inspired the name Chiltern Radio.
Unlike other areas in the UK, the first local radio service for Herts Beds and Bucks came from the independent or commercial sector. In most other areas in the country the BBC had always managed to be first. This was an advantage for Chiltern Radio and the programme team were determined to maintain its primacy when BBC Radio Bedfordshire eventually came to Herts, Beds and Bucks several years later.
Chiltern 1 Jingle Package
Chiltern 2 Jingle Package
The Chiltern Radio Group underwent a number of changes as radio ownership rules were liberalised, first becoming part of the GWR Group in September 1995, making the FM stations part of their “Mix Network” and the AM stations part of the Classic Gold Digital Network. Ultimately, this meant more shared programming after 7pm from the headquarters in Bristol for what was the Hot FM network and only one live local show per day for the former Supergold stations.
When GWR merged with Capital Radio in May 2005 to form GCap Media, the combined group’s local FM network, including Chiltern, was renamed the “One Network” for advertising clients. GCap was itself bought out by Global Radio in 2008, with the new owners planning to operate many of their new acquisitions under Global’s existing Heart and Galaxy brands. As a result, in January 2009, Chiltern Radio was re-branded by its owners Global Radio as Heart, marking the end of the Chiltern Radio station name.