We have some really exciting news that Neil would like to share with everyone!
We are pleased to announce the unveiling of a blue heritage plaque in honour of Choice FM, the first and only black radio station with a London wide commercial licence. For those of you that are not aware, Neil was a co-founder of the station. On March 31st 1990, he and a group of pioneers launched the station on the 96.9FM frequency. This year marked the 31st anniversary and to commemorate its history the Nubian Jak Community Trust organised the unveiling with co-founder and photographer Neil alongside campaigner Daddy Ernie, former director Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE and Mayor Councillor Philip Normal, unveiled the plaque in Trinity Gardens, Brixton South London. It is at the address that the station launched and went on to be one of the most successful black media companies in the UK.
During its 23 year tenure, the station helped to champion black music of all genres and break acts from around the world. The station also covered stimulating debates on current affairs issues that were not covered by other mainstream stations. Choice FM was awarded a number of accolades including MOBO and Sony Radio Academy Awards. This plaque will be one of the few BAME plaques in Lambeth, giving the station a permanent place in British history.
Neil was delighted that members of the Choice FM family and the community were able to view the event through a special online celebration broadcast hosted by former Choice FM DJs Martin Jay, George Kay and Daddy Ernie on Youtube.
Plaque campaigner and former Choice FM DJ Daddy Ernie said “On Saturday 31st March a station was born that changed the sound of UK radio forever. Choice FM came from humble beginnings at Trinity Gardens and was the sound the community was longing for. It played the type of music that mainstream radio didn’t play, making global stars from R&B, Reggae, Dancehall and Soca artists. Now we pay homage and unveil a symbol to mark where it all started.”
Co-founder Neil Kenlock said “Many Black British people and those from many other communities remember Choice FM and the strong heritage that it has left behind. The station gave opportunities to UK and international artists, businesses, local community groups and charities like the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust who didn’t have a media outlet. Since Choice FM there has never been another black owned, commercial licenced station that broadcasts across London. Therefore, celebrating the anniversary is important, touching those who remember it and educating those who are not aware of this British history. The blue plaque will highlight the work of Windrush descendants and our huge impact on the radio and music industry in the UK. I’d like to thank everyone, including Lambeth Council for their support for this project.”
The plaque has been funded by the Choice FM Blue Plaque Group and other members of the black community who made donations through a Go Fund Me campaign. The donation page was set up to give people the opportunity to support the campaign for the plaque and raise awareness of the history. Funds raised will also be donated to an amazing charity (£4,500), The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT). Choice FM worked closely with the charity during their broadcasting years, to help provide hope for patients living with blood cancer and other illnesses. The Choice FM Blue Plaque Group continues to support their work through this campaign.
This plaque will ensure that the station and it’s community will always be remembered.
#ChoiceFMBluePlaque to support our awareness campaign.
(Photo credit Patrick Lewis 2021)