In the summer of 1984 London pirate Horizon Radio suffered a revolt which led to 11 DJ’s, lead by Tony Monson, leaving to set up a new station. This station was Sound Of London Alternative Radio – Solar.
Solar was first heard in late October 1984 on the old Horizon frequency of 102.5, with most of the old Horizon DJ’s. Obviously, the format was similar playing Soul, but also R&B, Afro, Salsa, Gospel as well as a bit of Jazz and Reggae. Horizon would later return with new presenters on 94.5.
Solar quickly became one the capitals bigger stations, so much so that when the government announced plans for community licences in 1985, Solar decided to closedown to apply for one of these licences. This happened on Sunday 29th September 1985.
102.5 wasn’t empty for long though. Some of the Solar DJ’s returned to the air as TKO. Much to the annoyance of the Solar management….
The government scrapped their community radio plans at the end of June 1986, so Solar returned to the air on a new channel of 93.0 FM. There were 2 weeks of tests before they launched a full 24/7 service on the 15th of December 1986.
Solar, along with LWR, Kiss and TKO, went on to become one of the main stations of the mid to late 80s. However, by early 88, the strain of operating a station 24/7 was beginning to tell. In March they had a studio raid after only a few hours of being on air and as the year wore on, gradually, various DJ’s began to leave.
In October 1988, Solar had its final raid. A few days later the government announced plans for new incremental licences so it seemed a good point to end pirate broadcasting.
Having previously applied for a licence in 1985, Solar thought they had a good chance, but as 1989 progressed it looked like Kiss were looking like a more credible bidder. Therefore Tony Monson decided to not apply as Solar, but became involved in the Kiss application instead.
Kiss won the London licence, but this was not the end of the Solar story. When Tony found himself out of the Kiss organisation, Solar returned via the Sky satellite service. They started with a frequency-share arrangement with a European rock music station which was off-air daily between 12-midnight and 6.00am, during which hours Solar Radio broadcast. This continued until they licensed their own dedicated (analogue at that time) channel in 1999.
The station continues to this day on the internet and on Sky digital channel 0129.
More on Solar can be found here:
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|Solar – 102.5 – Clips – 1984/85|
|Solar – 102.5 – London – April 1985|
|Solar – 102.5 – Andy Bailey – Chart Countdown – May 85|
|Solar – 93.0 – Mark McCarthy – Part 2 – 9/5/87||62 mins|
|Solar – 93.0 – Mark McCarthy – Sweet Rhythm Chart – Oct 1988||110 mins|
|Solar Radio – Tony Monson – Pirate Radio Special – 23/10/17||173 mins|