Colourful Radio was probably the first commercial internet radio station in the UK and possibly Europe
Launched: 2002 | Location: London
The analogue era of broadcasting as a pirate radio station was never an attractive proposition to our founder, Kofi Kusitor. Kofi started Colourful Radio in 2002 as an ‘internet audio stream’ (now widely known as internet radio) under the hugely popular and award-winning Black Britain Online, Black Enterprise and Black Enterprise Awards all part of The Colourful Network brand. This was at a time when streaming technology was in its infancy. Internal research backed informally by others in the industry suggest that Colourful Radio was probably the first commercial internet radio station in the UK and possibly Europe.
At a time when 99% of commercial radio stations’ format was music-based and London had just one commercial talk radio station, our founder hoped to fulfil a single unmet need – to provide a conversation platform for under-represented communities, particularly African Caribbeans, completely excluded – or absent – from life-changing public debate and activity to become involved and better engaged. As such Colourful Radio’s format started off as mostly talk.
Having won digital broadcast licences from broadcast regulator Ofcom in August 2004, our founder decided to engage a team of accomplished journalists and presenters to anchor live shows. So, on 17th October 2005 the station went live with its first live pilot for a week of broadcast during Black History Month. This pilot proved hugely popular than anticipated, which led to our founder’s decision to exploit the opportunity on a more permanent basis. Then began the station’s trajectory to the ‘best radio station’ in London.
In 2006, Kofi was nationally recognised with an MBE for ‘Services to Business’ by Her Majesty The Queen in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List having been at the forefront of marketing thousands of non-indigenous entrepreneurs and corporate executives.
In 2007, Colourful Radio was selected by 4Radio (then owned by Channel 4 Television) to be a service provider alongside Virgin Radio and Disney on its national digital radio platform. A year later with 4Radio abandoning it’s plans, Colourful Radio won space on the London-wide DAB platform.
Launched on DAB on 2 March 2009, and 5 years later with broadcasting fees for DAB having risen year-on-year beyond the burgeoning independent station, Colourful Radio was forced to withdraw from the multiplex in January 2014. Colourful Radio was then restructured and has since been led by a fresh team and broadcasts in cities across the UK.
After over 770,000 online votes the 13th annual Urban Music Awards (UMA), on 21 November 2015, announced Colourful Radio as voted ‘Best Radio Station’ in London – the first independent radio station to win the award.