Capital Radio 604 was a radio station that broadcast to listeners in South Africa from transmitters located in the Transkei using Medium Wave (AM) on 603 kHz.
The station started transmitting on 26 December 1979 and was forcefully shut down by the first democratically elected South African government in 1996. This was viewed with extreme unhappiness by thousands of South Africans, as the Nelson Mandela administration that came into power in 1994, achieved the unthinkable by closing down the first independent radio station in South Africa. Capital Radio 604 had often supported the anti-apartheid liberation struggle and many highlighted the irony; that it was the very same government that Capital and its staff had fought for in the past, now forcing them, to stop broadcasting.
Capital Radio 604 changed radio in South Africa forever when it introduced listeners to great uncensored music, polished presenters, uncensored news, and great jingles. Previously, the state run radio stations (no private stations were allowed) were not allowed to tell the real news or play certain songs or music from certain bands.
While this station is off the air now, an archive web site (Capital Radio 604) exists that contains many photos, video, jingles, and recent interviews with ex-604 personal. There is also a podcast which allows listeners to hear re-broadcasts of old shows which originally aired in the 1980s.
Capital Radio 604 was an almost carbon copy of Capital Radio 194 (1548 kHz) in London (which later split to become Capital Gold and Capital FM). Capital Radio 194 operated on Medium Wave at 194 metres (hence the name) and veteran broadcasting executive Michael Bukht, Capital Radio London's first programme controller, acted as consultant to 604. Capital Radio 604 actually operated on 603 kHz, Medium Wave, but promoted a frequency to which the jingles would rhyme.
Bill Mitchell returned to re-word the deep gravelly voice drop-ins and simply said 604 instead of 194. Many presenters were chosen because they sounded like presenters that were already on Capital 194. Finally the Capital 194 logo was slightly modified by changing 194's swallow to a seagull (as a symbol of freedom) and obviously changing the number to 604.
Some of the household names who presented shows on Capital included Alan Mann, Dave Simons, Steve Smith, Darren Scott, John Berks, Jim Ellery, Tony Newman, Martin Bailie, Oscar Renzi, Kevin Savage, Tony Murrell, Alan Khan, Dave Guselli, Allan Pierce, Steve Crozier, Justice Ramahlola, Steve Bishop, Lee Downs, Barry Lambert, Richard Jones, Kenny Maistry, Tony Blewitt, Brian Oxley, Treasure Tshabalala and former Magic 1548 Liverpool presenter Richard Jardine, brother of ITV1 Formula One pundit Tony Jardine.
'Independent Radio News' on 603, based in Johannesburg, was the first radio news service in South Africa not controlled by government although it conformed with South African media laws. The news department boasted a team of experienced radio journalists including Will Bernard, Gary Edwards, Julian Potter as well as Paddi Clay, Michael Letellier, Mike Hanna, David O'Sullivan, James Lorimer, Manu Padayachee, Zahed Cachalia, Nigel Wrench and Beatrice Hollyer. It later included Reuben Goldberg, Cassandra Moodley, Jeremy Thorpe, John Maytham, Andrew Bolton and Shaun Johnson