Hit The Road, Bloke: Jack Radio Format Expands To U.K.

The British don't know Jack, but they will soon. Jack-FM, the popular radio format that avoids DJs for an expanded playlist that sounds like an ADD iPod on shuffle, is going global. Its owner, SparkNet Communications, has hired an executive for worldwide expansion--and just landed its first station outside North America.

Ofcom, the independent communications regulator for the United Kingdom, last week awarded a radio license for a new station covering the city of Oxford and surrounding South Oxfordshire region to radio management company Absolute Radio International. ARI launched its bid behind the Jack-FM format. The Oxford UK station is expected to launch by March 2007.

SparkNet hired Ken Benson, former MTV vice president of music programming and co-creator of "Total Request Live," as international license administrator to lead Jack-FM's global efforts.

"We've shopped Jack in the U.S., and now we're looking to get more aggressive about opportunities abroad," says Benson, who previously held executive positions at Citadel Broadcasting and Pinnacle Media Worldwide. In the UK, he says, "One of the keys to our application was expanding listener choice."

Benson says three other U.K. bids for new station licenses in Liverpool, Manchester and South Wales feature the Jack format--and one additional country has an application pending, but he has declined to identify it.

The Jack format will be positioned and programmed similar to the U.S. and Canadian stations using it, although it will "obviously include certain hits that were big on the other side of the pond."

The Jack format is currently available in 37 U.S. and seven Canadian markets.

Next story loading loading..