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Alternative Revolution: Steve Coogan to get battered for cash

Helen Clifton talks to Steve Penk about the new Revolution radio but Martin Coogan has other thoughts

Published on September 5th 2008.


Alternative Revolution: Steve Coogan to get battered for cash

From the ashes of Oldham’s much-loved Revolution radio station could rise a phoenix. It seems former breakfast presenter Martin Coogan hopes to enlist the considerable talents of his brother Steve to launch a new independent radio station for Manchester.

He’s always on the lookout for positive places to put his money. There is no way that he wouldn’t. It’s as simple as that. Or else I’ll batter him.

The news comes just a day after the official announcement that the station has been bought by radio prankster Steve Penk, and two weeks since owners decided to flick the MOR switch, ditching the station’s independent ethos for Phil Collins and Simply Red.

The move prompted the station’s impressive roster of DJs to jump ship, with Mani, Mike Joyce et al all handing their notice in, while devoted listeners were left stumped at the sudden and inexplicable shift in music policy. It is understood that Elliot Eastwick is the only DJ not have quit.

Martin Coogan – who two weeks ago was heard sarcastically extolling the virtues of Celine Dion - said he was certain his brother would say yes to the venture. In 2006, Steve recorded the Revolution’s Christmas Day special.

“He will contribute. He’s always on the lookout for positive places to put his money. There is no way that he wouldn’t. It’s as simple as that. Or else I’ll batter him.”

Former Revolution Head of Music Phil Beckett confirmed that the new city centre station would broadcast the music their listeners know and love across Greater Manchester – and that they were already looking for premises.

“It is very exciting. All the former presenters are involved. We have got very good connections financially. People have come to us saying they feel bereaved, and how much money do we need to get things going again. The reaction has been incredible. We are going to do something. We are not going down like that, as Cypress Hill once said. We are going to rise again.

“I was quite disgusted at the way it happened. They just flicked a switch and that was that. They made us look like idiots and slapped the listeners in the face. It could have been handled a lot better.

“It comes down to the fact it was a maverick radio station. There hasn’t been anything else like it really. We were doing it from the heart. Every single person who was on air was doing it for a reason that most people in radio wouldn’t understand.”

But with a three per cent market reach and 17,000 listeners, the Revolution’s RAJAR figures make dismal reading. They have plummeted considerably since March 2006, when there were 65,000 people regularly tuning in.


Following the dotted line down the middle of the road

RAJAR measure listeners by transmission area, which in the Revolution’s case is Oldham, Tameside, Rochdale and Moston, with a potential listening population of 503,000.

This area can be increased for a fee – but Phil says they didn’t have the funds to do that.

“The fact of the matter is that people who listen in Chorlton and Stockport didn’t exist as far as the figures are concerned,” he adds. “I’m certain we had more listeners.”

Joint owners UKRD and Hirst, Kidd and Rennie – who also run the daily Oldham Chronicle newspaper – sold up to the former Key 103, Fox FM, Virgin and Capital presenter, Steve Penk, for an undisclosed sum late Wednesday night.


Will this presenter start another revolution?

Penk first heard rumblings the station was up for sale three to four months ago, and says the former owners changed the music policy after they realised the station couldn’t compete commercially.

“The old Revolution had become like a small members club. It was almost elitist. That's all very well for listeners who like that, but in this city you have XFM and Rock FM that are basically going for the same market. There is competition from superior radio stations.”

But XFM has reduced its Manchester output dramatically favouring a largely networked content. It seems there just might not be as large an appetite for indie-style radio in Manchester as advertisers would like.

“For a period, there was definitely a defection to XFM,” Phil says. ”But I don’t think they were the competition – its like comparing Smash Hits to Q. They are fast and furious and we were trying to be a bit more seasoned.”

Steve says his Revolution will emulate BBC Radio Two by being comfortable and mainstream, combining new accessible artists like Adele with old favourites like Blondie. According to OFCOM documents released this week, the station now aims to tap into the 25-54-year-old 'easy listening' market.

“The Rev is clearly not working in its current format,” Penk adds. “It has lost an unbelievable amount of audience: I am all about bums on seats and trying to get people to listen. I am hoping to offer good quality entertainment programmes. It's as simple as that.

“I suspect that the current Revolution listenership will absolutely hate what the new Revolution stands for. They don’t want to hear Madonna and Simply Red, but that is what freedom of choice is about.”

He calls attempts to discredit the RAJAR figures desperate, saying they are the currency of the industry. And while he has no names in mind for the new line-up, he says economics will dictate the choices, while adding he finds it “bizarre” that the old line-up left.

“That was their decision, but it’s a decision that dumbfounds me. They didn’t know who the new owner was going to be. Its all very well having principles but principles don’t pay the mortgage.”

Manchester is a crowded radio marketplace - with Key 103, Galaxy, and Century offering something not dissimilar to what Mr Penk proposes. He may struggle. And judging by the Rev fans’ reaction to the loss of their beloved station, they will jump at the chance to once again embrace its esoteric ethos.

If Mr Coogan can put his money where his brother’s mouth is, they may be tapping into a whole new demographic.

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58 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

we the peopleSeptember 5th 2008.

dear steve penk, i know you won't be able to resist reading these comments, (and allthe other one's on message boards that come up when you google 96.2 revolution)fair enough you had the money to buy the rev when it came up for sale, but PLEASE move on from the 'wind-up' format you stole years ago from stations in the US.We all know you've done it in the past but please, to say on air that you've had people asking to hear them again is just rubbish. Let's have something new.And when you finally tire of pouring your money into this venture and move on (which you will) will it provoke as muchresponse as all these messages on this and countless other message boards? In a word, no.

Mos EisleySeptember 5th 2008.

I loved the Rev like no other, but I too live in Mossley, just a few miles from Oldham, and I couldn't listen at home. If they are to make a success of the New Rev [which it should be, it was so good], they need to sort this out, and also get online, so I can listen during the day at work - the online player has never worked on apple macs.

Dennis/hattersleySeptember 5th 2008.

Joni Mitchell said 'you never know what you've got till its gone'which is the case of the rev in its old format,its not always all about money/format/RAJAR figures,Penk may be right about principles not paying the mortgage but without them you are nothing.Tony Wilson the great would be turning in his grave

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

Looking forward to the new station! Any news when this maybe happening?

gerard keaneySeptember 5th 2008.

Ged Keaney has got premises for you.Find him at the angel

baggioSeptember 5th 2008.

what jurgen says.it's ironic that steve coogan may be involved. his character alan partridge would make an ideal presenter for the revamped revolution.

PaulineSeptember 5th 2008.

So - elitist eh? So be it - we're Mancunians - it's supposed to be about the music Mr Penk. AS to listening figures - how can people who want(ed) to listen to the Rev when they could only get a signal in a car?! I could get a signal in Chorlton, mates couldn't, also City Centre/Sale/Baguley/Wythenshawe etc etc. Most mates/friends of/colleagues etc could only pick up a signal sporadically. Anyway, lets back to demographics - I'm one of your demographics for XFM et al but guess what? I'VE SWITCHED OFF THE RADIO. Not good for your advertisers eh Mr Penk? Especially since I buy stuff, especially NEW music and go to gigs. (I've switched to Radio 3 in the car -it calms me down when I think what they've done to the only Radio station worth listening to).So another crap, mediocre, Radio Station to add to the list of Egotistical DJ led nonsense. So, principles don't pay the mortgage do they Mr Penk? - to all the Rev martyrs - THANK YOU for the past couple of years - not just the classics BUT the education, the fun and finding new stuff to keep the world interesting. Please Radio Republic - make sure we can get signal!!

Eric the greatSeptember 5th 2008.

When the seagulls follow the trawler of the 'old' rev its because they know there will be Skate Bush,Cod Stewart and James Brown the codfather of sole to feast upon soon,I would go out tonight but heaven knows i'm miserable now as the new rev is Eartha Kitt

mark mSeptember 5th 2008.

so, let's let them carry on and lose more money??? if there are not enough people listening to get the revenue, or they are commercially crap then tough ****, they can not survive in business. they will have the same problem if they manage to set up again.

Sheridan WhitesideSeptember 5th 2008.

Gutted the Rev has been hoodwinked into MOR dross. I symbolically removed the station preset from my car stereo this weekend in protest!I was one of those listeners outside Oldham, Tameside, Rochdale and Moston who regularly tuned in - so get the RAJAR figures accurate and let's have the revamped station available on Digital radio a la XFM.

Bart PenningtonSeptember 5th 2008.

Is Mark M Steve Penk in disguise? Either way you're in the minority (and probably like Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie, Chris De Burgh and Cliff Richard)

Steve CSeptember 5th 2008.

I wondered what the hell had gone on with the playlist. Thanks for the explanation Conf.Will this see the triumphant return of Stefano Penkino, The Amazing Man. I sincerely hope not. Let's face it, a Radio 2 with adverts is needed about as much as a voice over on You've Been Framed.

In anticipationSeptember 5th 2008.

especially for 'come on the new rev' - you're welcome to the new rev.. enjoy the it, enjoy the music played - the stuff you can hear everytime you turn the radio dial, meanwhile the old rev fans will look forward to the new rev (radio republic) and look forward to listening to new music, with dj's with normal size ego's, and dj's that actually know a lot about music (good music)...

BEMSYSeptember 5th 2008.

Forget the Revolution, join Radio Republic on Facebook. 830 members in 2 days but they need more...

brett the beagleSeptember 5th 2008.

It seemed for a while, to me and several thousand others at least, that radio could well have a future so long as the Rev was broadcasting. Instead of the trans-atlantic accented, MOR spewing troglodyte Pat Sharp-wannabes who's sole function in life is to pump mechanically seperated record company tripe through factory speakers (or make forlorn appearances at nightclubs that probably dont make sense to them any more), the Rev had presenters who were down to earth and personally acknowledged their fanbase. Not only that, they strongly supported and championed unsigned, local and emerging talent. Daytime radio was ace - eschewing the patronising 'hip', radio1 fodder for more substantial fare. Drivetime would often present new and interesting stuff. Late night would introduce you to hidden gems. I hope that they come back stronger and prove there's life in radio still in the wireless yet.

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

The ex-Rev DJ's new venture Radio Republic on facebook needs your support!!! Join www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36991574296… Or the myspace page onhttp://www.myspace.com/radiorepublicmanTell your friends!!!

HowardSeptember 5th 2008.

There are only a certain number of people willing to listen to MOR dross. Revolution won't increase the numbers listening to MOR, it will simply sperad them out more thinly. It may take some of LastCentury's, ShowerFM and even HidetheKey's listeners, lowering their figures, but it won't find a "new" audience.The listeners to the old Rev will migrate to the web, and even ZZZFM or Radio TerryChristian if they're desperate. Hail The Republic!!

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

They should forget broadcast proper and just go out online, could easily reach the same number of people and who can't play internet radio these days? Not forgetting the massive savings they'd make

AnthonySeptember 5th 2008.

Really is sad that The Rev as we knew it is dead, but if you're missing good tunes,have a listen here to Dermo's 'Lethal Dancehall' every Wednesday 7-10pm on http://www.manchesterradioonline.comGood luck to all the ex Rev presenters in your new venture!

FlannersSeptember 5th 2008.

Penk "calls attempts to discredit the RAJAR figures desperate". Well whilst the figures tell their own story so does the station's futile attempts (in the face of a plethera of new competitors) at marketting it's unique brand (ie. a proper station that doesn't talk down to it's listeners like kids !) to incontinent pentioners hobbling round the local Asda instead of the people who are actually interested in music ! There again they didn't count in the stats so what would be the point ?! Divs. As for Steve Penk ? Oldham and Tameside you are welcome to him :-]

Max DunbarSeptember 5th 2008.

Love this thread. The total lack of supportive comments for Penk seems to imply that his claim to be the 'Voice of the People' is about as reliable as Apache Communications.

JakeSeptember 5th 2008.

The only problem with the Rev was the people who were responsible for marketing it - they were CR@p. I only discovered the Rev by accident. It WAS the best radio station I have ever listened to and I recommended to all of my friends who then also tuned in (unfortunately they are south manchester so didn't count for RAJAR figures. It was a radio station that you could leave on all day because ALL of the DJs were incredibly passionate about the music they were playing. This made every show interesting and they introduced me to loads of classic that I missed and up and coming bands that I now listen to. I for one can't wait for the new station to get up and running with the same DJs and the same format.

aaronSeptember 5th 2008.

absolute crying shame what has happened to the rev'... hopefully a pheonix (with the name of 'radio republic') will rise from the ashes and grace our great city again with quality radio ( speak with dan le sac reference the spelling of phoenix)

Maria in TimperleySeptember 5th 2008.

I'm another listener from outside the RAJAR area. I couldn't believe how much the music had changed. I thought I thought I'd lost reception altogether! It's important that potential investors in the new station know about all the people that support the idea. There's a myspace page set up by the former rev presenters. They need as many people as possible to add themselves as friends. http://www.myspace.com/radiorepublicmanchester

Pol PotSeptember 5th 2008.

I bet Steve Penk will bring a lot of originality to the new station.,his wind up's are legendary and imo not at all old hat. And if he can bring in stars in the mould of Les Dennis or Russ Abbott, im sure old "Penky" can breath new life into radio. Maybe he could team up with Manchester Citeh, and become a really MASSIVE station. Hail the Penk and all who sails in him.

crazyjohnSeptember 5th 2008.

I still find myself listening to The Rev now. I just can't resist that 96.2 The Revolutiiioooon. It's like the big H, I just cannae get off the skag, man. I'm a scatman.

Professor FlangecustardSeptember 5th 2008.

Penk - Your an idiot!

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

So that's what happened! I can not see Penks new station being a success. The play list is truly dreadful and the presenters horrific. Smarmy, classless. I guess one of the key probs with the Old Rev was that it just didn't have the marketing spend to compare with the big boys and lost out but as they've changed too I know that more and more people were returning but they will have to sort out that territory and get effective figures. This is indicative of the horrific state that Manchester Radio stations are in. Licenses bought under one agreement and then slowly changed so what we all thought we were getting changes and corrupts so we're left with little of any value and a massive conglomorate of tat.

isobelcalladineSeptember 5th 2008.

I must admit i wish steve penk all the best of luck with this radio station. It isn't easy when you are competing with other radio stations.

gedSeptember 5th 2008.

Lets get started.Go for it

KellySeptember 5th 2008.

I agree with toot toot - i used to listen in Warrington.. (crackly at times, but better than the other crap on the radio stations) - can the new station reach Wazza please. I miss you guys :-)

rubySeptember 5th 2008.

radio chuff chuff we have enough of what manchester had and needs is a radio station that played fantasitc music that others didnt, and music that you just didnt hear on the mainstream stations! why not get a internet station alon with mancon who could promote!

Dennis/hattersleySeptember 5th 2008.

glad to read the vast majority of support for the 'old' rev and hope the new venture takes off which im sure it will,Manchester la la la

VanceSeptember 5th 2008.

A massive shame. I was staring at the dial for five minutes when I heard the MOR dross they were playing the other day.Gave it one last listen this morning - some southerner going on about how he didn't like Croydon; all the personality of a paper clip.It's now removed from my autotune. Imagine being in a car crash (as I nearly was it put me off that much) and you were discovered having been listening to what that fine station has become.I work in the industry and hope to Christ it fails. I predict it will. It's a saturated market and there are more experienced players in it than Penk. And that the RAJAR figures were disingenuous is blatant: most people I know listened to The Rev at some point; none fell within the measured area.One thing I would say to those proposing an internet-only venture: in-transit listening is still very important. I hope the requisite funding is found and a new station shows these boring marketeers up for what they are. I for one would be prepared to help.

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

Thank god for that i too was wondering why the hell i got an ear bashing of Rianna rather than some classic northern or wicked indie. Coogan & the boys have to do it, rev is rubbish now its the same as the rest of them!!

Dennis/hattersleySeptember 5th 2008.

In response to

JohnSeptember 5th 2008.

Thank goodness someone has explained what happened to the Rev. Nearly crashed the car on the Tuesday morning we M People came on, thought Coogan had undergone a lobotomy.Steve Penk has obviously not listened to radio in Manchester for a long time, we need another MOR station like Wilmslow Road needs another kebab shop.Hopefully the new station will be just like the old one and not have to rely on advertising so much that they only play four songs an hour like other stations (yes Rock FM I mean you).

JurgenSeptember 5th 2008.

Let's hope the Coogan boys deliver the goods.And hopefully leave Penk penniless for having the arrogance to think he can kill a top notch radio station and replace with another Chav FM.

TrickytwattedSeptember 5th 2008.

Like everything else that true Mancunians put their minds to, Radio Republic will launch, will cover a wider audience, will turn a profit, will promote new local bands, will continue to play only the best music and will continue to be loved by us. Keep the faith people.

mark mSeptember 5th 2008.

Indeed.

Cockney BoySeptember 5th 2008.

I'm gutted. Been in Manchester two years now and not really listened to owt else cos not needed to - I mean where else could you hear New Order followed by Led Zep, John Martyn and The Whip? Soz to gush but best indie radio station I've heard since XFM was still pirate in London. More power to the Coogan's and best of luck with getting top tunes back on the air sharpish.

VanceSeptember 5th 2008.

Aye but The Rev was never pushed like many other stations. It went by word of mouth and folk finding it by accident. It needs a stronger signal and a few inventive promos if it relaunches. There is, without doubt, a market for good music in this city... and I don't mean XFM with its ad man's idea of what cool kids listen to...

VanceSeptember 5th 2008.

Nice one Ged. Sounds like the start of a mission on Grand Theft Auto.

HowardhSeptember 5th 2008.

All traces of 96.2 The Revolution have been successfully removed/deleted from my home and car radio and my home computer. 96.2 now ceases to exist. I look forward with great pleasure at not hearing any of the dross that will infest 96.2 when S**** P*** takes over. Vive La Republique!!!!

RichardSeptember 5th 2008.

I never listen to any Manchester mainstream radio - what a load of rubbish the 102/103 boys play with their jumped up no brain DJ's and sh*** music. We live in Manchester one of the most creative music cities in the world and we have to listen to that sh***. Where is THE Manchetser station playing local music - I am sure there must be a demand for a local radio station. Abu Dhabi SOS - we need a billion or two over in the radio department!

Professor FlangecustardSeptember 5th 2008.

Hope he does those hilarious phone calls he used to do last century...they were soooo funny. You are an idiot Penk!

come on the new revSeptember 5th 2008.

what you all going on about the old rev for. It was always **** and so was the djs.its about time someone new come in and will sort it out steve penk is very good at what he does and i wish him all the best.for all of you going on and on about the old rev get over it.go to some other stations..anywayA big r.i.p for the old revolution.its been dead for years.

Collette WalshSeptember 5th 2008.

It is only fitting that Manchester has a station that actually reflects its musical acumen... why go the populist route?? With some decent investment (the hard work and talented presentation was always there) the new station could return to its cult status.. and I can hear the likes of Grace Jones, Elliot Smith and Interpol within the same hour again. Good luck guys. x

Dennis/hattersleySeptember 5th 2008.

AND another thing while i'm at it i had to listen to Mike Mc blethering on about Citeh on XFM all the time as i retuned the dial from 96.2

Toot tootSeptember 5th 2008.

Sounds promising, so hopefully things will come good for Beckett and the boys. I can't see there being much goodwill towards Penk's Revolution especially considering how the whole 'switchover' was managed.I've picked The Rev up in the car as far out as Alderly Edge, so I think those listener figures were undoubtedly larger than RAJAR recorded. Having said that, it always went fuzzy as soon as you headed into Mossley meaning I couldn't listen to it at home, so I hope Steve Coogan's money can pay for a transmitter that covers Mossley too :)

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

Revolution was the best radio station by far! I was gutted, when i heard it had been sold. Revolution was doing everything right, apart from marketing themselves... We managed to get all our mates listening, but before we'd mentioned it to them, they had never heard of it. Please hurry up with the new station.. my ears are bleeding at the moment...

Ste CSeptember 5th 2008.

Former Revolution Head of Music Phil Beckett said “It comes down to the fact it was a maverick radio station. There hasn’t been anything else like it really. We were doing it from the heart. Every single person who was on air was doing it for a reason that most people in radio wouldn’t understand.”Steve Penk said “That was their decision, but it’s a decision that dumbfounds me"Seems Mr Beckett was right to me.

AlanSeptember 5th 2008.

Steve Penk is an idiot - he bounces from project to project and each time he fails to gel with anyone with an IQ in double figures.My dislike for him stems from his Piccadily Radio days as Timmy Mallet's holiday cover. even as a 13 year old I hated the tosser with his prank phone calls and crap jingles.The rev will have lost many more of their 17,000 listeners, and I can't see them gaining many new ones, because why would you want a Radio 2 with adverts.

Dan ShawSeptember 5th 2008.

The top jocks of the 'old' Revolution including Mike Joyce have now gone to Manchester Radio Online.

mark mSeptember 5th 2008.

hardly, i just don't think that a commercial radio station can be run in non commercial manner. it's all well and good to say that it was a great station and played great music, which it did. it's quite another thing to make money doing it too. funnily enough, you need to make money if you run a commercial radio station.

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2008.

Penk is an idiot!

KirstySeptember 5th 2008.

The Rev was unique, I tuned in daily for the past 3 years and live in the Stockport area and so did alot of our friends so its ashame these listeners were not included. I now drive to work without the radio on as I cannot listen to the overplayed bilge on other stations (apart from Clint Boon on Xfm in the afternoon as this is the nearest we'll get). If this comes off it will be fantastic - Phil, Steve, Mani, Mike Joyce, Cottee this is an SOE - SAVE OUR EARS.

CroctearsSeptember 5th 2008.

Don't the Coogans need an Ofcom licence to run a radio station? Not even Steve can conjure one out of thin air, and Penk's just bought the last one for sale!

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