Media Lifeline: Capital FM

Management restructures have failed to restore Capital to its top-dog position in London radio.

September 2003: One month into his dual role as the managing director and programming supremo of 95.8 Capital FM, Keith Pringle confirms Chris Tarrant (pictured), the 17-year host of Capital's breakfast show, is to quit. Johnny Vaughan, the ex-Big Breakfast host, takes over in April 2004.

May 2005: Radio's mega-merger between GWR and the Capital group goes live as shares in the new GCap entity begin trading on the stock market - but the company is plunged into difficulties on the back of poor trading figures. There are soon rumours of conflict between its chairman, the ex-GWR boss Ralph Bernard, and its chief executive, the former Capital boss David Mansfield.

June 2005: A restructure at the flagship station (rebranded as Capital Radio) allows Pringle to focus on his managing director role as he brings in Nik Goodman, the GCap regional programming director and a former head of music at Virgin Radio, to head programming. Goodman faces a tough task - with Tarrant off the microphone, the station has lost its automatic top-dog status, with Heart 106.2 and Magic FM now pushing it close.

September 2005: With group revenue performance continuing to disappoint, Mansfield departs and Bernard takes over as chief executive. Speculation that this is a GWR putsch gains ground when other former Capital executives are also edged out - the commercial director, Linda Smith, the operations director, Paul Davies, and Graham Bryce, the managing director of Choice and Capital Gold.

April 2006: The bloodshed continues, however - this time, Pringle (pictured) and Goodman face the firing squad. Group revenue performance continues to disappoint and audiences, especially on the flagship Capital, are fragile. The pair are replaced by Scott Muller.

Fast forward ...

Friday 13 October 2006: Bernard forms a team of his most trusted colleagues. But as Black Friday dawns, the radio market is more turbulent than ever. Muller, who had joined from the Nova radio station in Australia, has a cunning plan to reverse Capital's fortunes by taking its "never more than two ads in a row" strategy to an extreme by dropping ads altogether and selling one giant sponsorship package to the highest bidder.

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