Radio Force 7

Radio Force 7 was a 1980s French FM radio station based in St. Malo, which grew to a network of several transmitters broadcasting to Brittany and Normandy. The programmes were also heard in the Channel Islands.

The studios were at 2 Rue A. Thébault, B.P. 60, 35406 Saint Malo cedex, somewhere between the Fire station and the train station (map)

The building is now the Hotel de la Gare (Station Hotel)

The contact details were:
Phone-ins: (+33) 02 99 40 32 32
Admin: 02 99 40 07 77
Commercial: 02 99 40 37 32
Fax: 02 99 40 13 03

Originally on 103.0 MHz in mono in the early 1980's a move was soon made to 95.9, and other frequencies were added around this coastal region such as 97.3, 99.2 (became 99.1), and 95.2 MHz. When "the Force" closed down in the spring of 1998 it operated in stereo on 97.4 MHz (St. Malo), 95.8 MHz (St. Brieuc), 104.1 MHz (Dinan), 102.1 MHz (Cherbourg), 104.9 MHz (Granville), and with RDS receivers the display showed "FORCE 7". To sustain the output overnight the service "L'Essentiel" ( was used from the Telecom 2B satellite. Force 7 was taken over by RFM, who continue to use the Granville, St.Malo and Bricquebec-Cherbourg transmitters as RFM Force 7. St.Brieuc now relays RTL, 104.1 Dinan became Fréquence-Ille and later Hit-West (

Force 7 était une radio locale basée à Saint-Malo; émise de Bretagne et de Normandie, Force 7 pouvait être écoutée des iles Anglo-Normandes. Crée sur 103 Mhz Mono, au début des années 80, la fréquence a rapidement basculée sur 95.9, puis d'autres émetteurs furent rajoutés sur le 97.3, 99.2 puis 99.1, et sur 95.2 Mhz. Lorsque la station disparut au printemps 1998 les émetteurs autorisés étaient 97.4 MHz (St. Malo), 95.8 MHz (St. Brieuc), 104.1 MHz (Dinan), 102.1 MHz (Cherbourg) et 104.9 MHz (Granville), tous étaient en Stéréo et RDS (code FORCE 7). Pour couvrir certains moments de la journée, la station diffusait le programe "L'essentiel" ( fourni par satellite. Aujourd'hui RFM a remplacé Force 7 tout en conservant un programme local avec les émetteur de Saint-Malo, Granville et Bricquebec-Cherbourg. RTL a été attribué depuis 1998 sur l'émetteur de Saint-Brieuc. Fréquence-Ille puis Hit-West ( couvrent la région a partir de Dinan.

A mention in the JEP in 1985 or 86 regarding accordion music.

Some history :
1979: there was a lot of pirate activity in France but many were raided and equipment confiscated.
1980-81: Presidential elections, and candidate François Mitterrand promises to authorize the 'free radios', more pirate stations start up.
19/sep/81: Mitterand elected and breaks the TDF monopoly of the airwaves, allowing local stations and reducing the sanctions against pirates.
16/mar/82: La "Radio Libre et Indépendante de la Côte d'Emeraude" (Free and Independant 'Emerald Coast' Radio) pirate station was started by students Christophe Lemaitre & Yannick James, but not in the evenings of July 82 as the transmitter in Rue Ville-Pépin à Saint-Servan interfered with TV!
29/jul/82: With near anarchy on FM, and after many complaints from the stations, the use of the frequencies was subjected to control of the state. The Haute Autorité de la Communication Audiovisuelle ("High Authority of the Audio-visual Communication") was supposed to supervise and manage the frequencies, however with few powers or possibilities for recourse in justice, they were largely ignored and little changed.
Oct 1982: Radio Libre et Indépendante de la Côte d'Emeraude becomes a legal (associated, 1901 law) station; Radio Force7.
1984: The 19/sep/81 law is extended, new scope for advertising, Force 7 changes legal status to 'SARL' (Société à Responsabilité Limitée which affords limited liability but is suitable to small companies and start-up operations, whereas SA Société Anonyme would be a limited liability company analogous to an American corporation).

Around this time (1984/5) it was Chris Landers who first recorded shows onto tape and sent them off to French stations, such as half a dozen that went to Canal Cent (Channel 100) on 100.1 (Dinan). Canal 100 used to stack up cassettes in a multiplayer for overnight play, so we could enjoy the same show many times! Chris and Andy J recorded one show together at Chris's place, and that was Andy's first experience of hearing himself on the radio.

Andy says "Later we did a tape for Force 7, just voiceovers, again hoping to hear ourselves. At the time Bobby Smart was using an american count-down from 10 to 1 for his chart show, so I did a similar countdown, leaving spaces for Bobby to talk inbetween. It was a long voiceover to record, trying not to let Chris put me off with face-pulling, but it worked out well enough for Monsieur Smart to end up it using for years afterwards, long after the lunchtime specials had finished. Everyone took the mick big time, because I was so hyped up on the final "and this week's number one!" *cringe*

1986: The law of July 1982 is amended, stations have freedom of use their frequency. The "High Authority" is replaced by the National Committee of the Communications and Libertés (C.N.C.L.) with the capacity to control the stations and to sanction them, but only the ministry for the postal and telecommunications authorities can allot the frequencies.

RF7 purchases Brittany FM in Dinan and so obtains a second frequency, 97.3, not legal, but that reflects the state of management of the FM band by the C.N.C.L.

Next, a third frequency arrives, 99.2 at Granville.

In 1987 A Jersey based businessman Terry Lidgett recognised the potential for a Channel Islands audience - at the time the only radio provided in the islands was speech based BBC local stations and the BBC National networks 2,3 and 4 (no radio 1 yet) - stereo pop music was only really to be found on the numerous French FM stations. Mr Lidgett and the French managers of Radio Force 7 in Brittany arranged for the station to start to become more bi-lingual and English commercials began to feature.

This caught the attention of some would-be presenters in Jersey, who phoned the Jersey contact number and after talking to Mr. Lidgett three of them sent in demo recordings which were impressive enough (at the time!) to secure them a place on the air.

This was how the "Lunchtime Special" came about - an hour of music recorded in sections on cassettes, which were then sent over to France to the main studio in St.Malo, where they were played at lunchtime. At the start of each section the presenter would countdown "3 2 1" before starting the first record, this was to help the French DJ to cue the tape, so that the English programme would start seamlessly after a commercial break (sometimes they would even get clever and start the show by saying "Thank you Kristoph, ...." and Kristoph would say something first so that it really sounded like they were talking to each other live!)

Each show was recorded in three sections, so that two commercial breaks could be inserted. This usually worked very well, but as the last section was on the other side of the tape it was sometimes difficult for the DJ in the studio to cue the tape in time - once or twice the Jersey DJ was heard counting down "3 2 1" ! Considering that ordinary cassettes (AGFA) were used, the sound quality was actually rather good at best, though mostly slightly less clear than the live shows from St.Malo. Most listeners probably would not have noticed the difference, but there was a slight loss of clarity and stereo separation, the usual level of hiss on cassettes was not too apparent as the overall sound levels never really dropped enough for hiss to be heard on its own - the shows were non-stop music (with some jingles) with speech over the music (never speech on its own). The idea was to keep speech to a minimum, as well as to use both English and French - the Franglais pronunciation must have been very amusing to the French listeners (some 750,000 of them, according to the audience research figures).

1988: RF7 increases power at Granville (moving slightly from 99.2 to 99.1) for better coverage including Jersey...

The first of these Lunchtime Specials went on air on 25th January 1988, hosted by Steve Ross, followed that week by Andy J and DJ Biko. Steve did Mondays and Fridays, Andy did Tuesday and Thursday, Biko did Wednesday, and later Alistair Laignel filled a Saturday slot. Another hour of "Breakfast Show" was added a few months later, along with extra presenters Jackie Monkman, Chris Landers, Rob Gallichan, Andy Cadec, David Watts and Rene Toudic.

These shows rapidly became very popular, with their chart based and classic pop, and some were even recorded live at Outside Broadcasts from local shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Stickers soon appeared, pens and lighters were also available from a Jersey P.O.Box. Fan mail (good and bad!) started to arrive, and the local press carried programme details of all Force 7 shows, including the French "animateurs" such as Scott, Kristoph and Bobby Smart. The presenters (some with no previous experience) soon found their pictures appearing in the paper, and had the "pleasure" of listening to themselves on the radio (as the shows were pre-recorded!), quite fun driving around in the summer sunshine listening to the radio and thinking "Hey, that's me!". One DJ (who shall remain nameless) found that some of his best, home recorded, shows were performed half naked after a couple of bottles of strong Diamond White cider! The "Diamond White Sessions" would be a little difficult to get away with on other stations...

September 1988, begining of the end

However, a rival station called Contact 94 started in September the same year, beaming a very powerful signal to Jersey from Lessay on 94.4 MHz (later to move around between 93.8 and 97.7 for unspecified reasons, although there were reports that even if it did have a licence its terms were not kept). Broadcasting in English, with no French music, and with effective marketing this had a marked effect on the Force 7 audience. Although it was off the air for much of 1989, the damage was done and by the early 1990s the Force 7 lunchtime specials had ceased, some of the presenters having recorded some 300 shows. Not long afterwards Contact 94 with technical difficulties also no longer broadcasted to the islands, having ended up in mono with such low power that reception was quite difficult in Jersey. At one time Contact 94 was on 94.6 MHz, which was too close to BBC Radio 3 on 94.8 MHz and caused such interference that Radio 3 listeners were driven to complain. UPDATE: "Contact 94 was found by the French authorities to be illegal" - States of Jersey minutes 1989-feb-28

Car stickers as given away to anyone who wrote in.

THE FORCE IS WITH YOU newspaper adverts

St.Malo studio

The studio was on the first floor with a north facing window, if I remember correctly.

3 turntables were on the right of the presenter - the furthest away was a spare, always cued up with an emergency record to play when a mistake was made; better than silence!

Cassette decks mounted in the desking, for playing ads, jingles, and our tapes.

Alistair posing for the camera.

Rob Gallichan

Rob again



More press cuttings

Steve Ross presents the 'Outside Broadcast' (recording) in the window at Regent Radio (CR Regent) in Halkett Place (end of Beresford St), while Andy J pretends to be involved (actually just monitoring the recording levels.. complicated stuff!). Eddie the Eagle was spotted walking past with a small entourage, but he declined the offer to appear on the show :o)

We got mentions in the JEP, the Jersey Journal, and the CTV Times

Andy J's memories

"My bedroom studio, back in 1988. I somehow managed to fit some more contiboard to make a shelf or two in the middle of two fitted units, and this was where a 60 quid Altai VMM 500 mixer (4 stereo channels + mic) sat. This photo shows a mic that I never used on air, instead Chris L kindly lent me one of his pair of budget-but-nice-sounding condenser (electret) mics, and still isn't bothered about me returning it 16 years later! (I recently found some on the internet for less than 15 quid each and bought a few spares). The Aiwa F250 cassette deck above the mixer had cue/review and a mechanical pause, ideal for jingles. The CD player was a VERY early Philips, and mostly used for my intro music - cued up by a complete coincidence at time 3:21 on the particular track I used. Most music that I played was in the form of 45rpm singles borrowed from Alistair L (MANY thanks Ali!) and Terry also supplied some records too.. now/hits albums, new releases sometimes came our way, and bags full of French singles when we were later required to start playing some French music. The turntables were Technics SL-BD22, the cheapest half-decent vari-speed belt drives possible (first dozen or so shows were done with one of them being a direct-drive SL-D210 model that took a whole turn of wind-back i.e. it took a revolution of the record to get up to a stable speed - making cueing quite.. interesting!). My DIY felt slipmats here were updated to proper ones kindly given to me by Andy Cadec. The box to the left of the mixer was my electric DIY that switched the mains power to the turntables, allowing me to stop the record with the needle on it, wind it back from the start of the music, and press the button to start it at the required moment. I could also slow the music rapidly to a stop for a comic effect that amused me, but St.Malo thought that it was 'unprofessional'.. they didn't understand my 'art', hehe. Don't try this sort of switching at home folks, you get a massive THUMP sound on the audio unless you fit properly mains-rated capacitors across the switch contacts to absorb the power surge. My thanks to Malcolm L for his help and confirmation that my idea was along the right lines.. it worked a charm with not even a click audible. The wear and tear on a domestic stylus wasn't optimal though, I did pop into LJE or Sound Engineering for replacements a couple of times a year! Also in this pic are loads of Agfa C90 cassettes as supplied by Terry, my Marantz PM-45 amplifier (a What Hifi Best Buy of the time!), Technics Tuner and EQ SH-Z200, and the Teac V-450X used for recording. The mic looks high up, but I always presented standing up (makes a difference to the sound of the voice).. right hand on the faders, left hand on the switch box (held in place with lumps of Blu Tac of course).. monitoring via Wharfedale 304 speakers (on QED tri-stands) JUST loud enough not to cause feedback, with Sony headphones for cueing only - I just looked to the left all the time to check the tape deck level meters to make sure I wasn't overloading the tape. I later upgraded the recording deck to a better Teac V-670 with HX-pro, three heads & bias adjust - which all allowed me to get the best out of the tapes; pushing levels as high as possible without distortion, with better clarity and lower noise. I could listen to how the recording sounded direct from the tape (while it was happening), tweaking things to an optimum. Chris was so impressed he bought one for himself within a week! Even now, when I'm more used to CD, Minidisc, MP3 etc, these tapes still sound astonishingly good. Several months down the line we moved into town and this setup was temporarily put into action for a few weeks on a board strung along three chairs, with an interesting kneeling position for presenting.. then we moved again and a more stable studio was rigged up in the appartment in Grouville. Not quite as stable as Studio 1 was, any knocks on the shelf were picked up by the stylus, so I got around that by placing the turntables on bits of foam that isolated the vibrations. It worked, and it was putting a good use to those huge padded birthday cards that they made back in those days! This was a busy time for moving (6 times in 10 years), I finally 'flew the nest' not too long after and rented a flat in town, with a few shows cobbled together from the hifi heap in the lounge.. all good fun. And most of the gear still works, although the remnants of my vinyl collection never see daylight and the tape heads and pinch rollers don't get loving attention with a cotton bud anywhere near as often as they used to.. if at all!"

Andy J's Forcemobile! "This was my first car, a 1979 957cc Ford Fiesta in 'midnight blue' with a vinyl roof! The most gutless car I've ever had the pleasure of owning, with the hardest clutch too, but it didn't stop me thrashing it around like a lunatic. Actually, if I'd had anything more powerful I'd had probably killed myself, and my investment in P6s on wide alloys gave me enough grip to save my skin on several occasions. I had other typical teenage stuff, spotlights for cosmetic effect (no bulbs let alone actual wiring!), cheap stereo with graphic equalisers aplenty, and big parcel-shelf speakers shouting TSX-20 to the world. I was young, I didn't know better, LOL. The windscreen washer pump was a rubber bulb thing you squeezed with your foot to get the water spraying! Anyway, Terry let me have some huge stickers (like wrapping paper size) and I had great fun cutting out the stripes and smoothing them on the side panels without too many bubbles. I tended to park at my gran's place near a busy town junction, so my Force 7 advert was well noticed by many. So many in fact that I received a letter from the Regulation of Undertakings folk asking whether it was a new island business without permission! Terry kindly explained to them that there's a difference between paid promotion and an enthusiast supporting something. This was early in 1988 as things were getting going, but sadly before long the grippy tires worked against me - I stopped in a hurry a LOT quicker than the car behind me which stoved in my boot and wrote the whole thing off. Paid 1000 (sold as seen).. got two years out of it.. got 600 back on insurance AND sold the wreck for 100.. not bad value at all! The wheels got transfered to a couple of later Fords too :o)

While recording the cassettes we filled in the track details so that the St.Malo studio would know what we were playing and when to expect commercial breaks.

"My 21st birthday was at the height of my 'fame' (LOL!). My parents surprised me with this pink-n-green (RF7 colours at the time) cake festooned with records, guitars, an edible mic and headphones.. the Force 7 logo was on the other side too. Presented at the much missed Broadway restaurant that used to be in Castle St./The Esplanade"

Altai mixer as used by Andy J and Rob G.

There is an interesting website of old French FM stations at which includes a page for RF7 -

Another history

Force 7 was created in 1982 as a pirate station by students Christophe Lemaitre and Yannick JAME - the "independent and Free Radio of the Emerald Coast".

At the end of 1982 the radio takes the name "Radio Force 7" and legally transmits on 103.3 (103.0?) in Saint-Malo, later changing to 95.9.
Fin 1982, la radio prend le nom de Radio Force 7 et émet sur le 103,3 à Saint-Malo, puis changera pour le 95,9.

In 1987, Radio Force 7 gets a second frequency in Dinan (Dept 22), and a third in 1988 in Granville (Dept 50). From 1988 to 1990, Force 7 is bilingual because the radio is received in Jersey thanks to the transmissions from Granville.
En 1987, Radio Force 7 obtient une deuxième fréquence à Dinan (22), puis une troisième en 1988 à Granville (50). De 1988 à 1990, Force 7 devient bilingue car la radio est reçue à Jersey, grâce à l'émetteur de Granville.

In 1991 the CSA reorganizes the frequency plan: Force 7 changes its frequency to three transmitters (Saint-Malo: 97.4 - Dinan: 104.1 - Granville: 104.9) and gets two new frequencies: Saint-Brieuc (22) on 95.8 and Bricquebec (50) on 102.1.
En 1991, le CSA réorganise le plan de fréquences : Force 7 change de fréquences pour ses trois émetteurs (Saint-Malo : 97,4 - Dinan : 104,1 - Granville : 104,9) et obtient deux nouvelles fréquences : Saint-Brieuc (22) sur 95,8 et Bricquebec (50) sur 102,1.

In 1993 Force 7 was bought by the group Roullier, who decided to sell it later in 1996.
En 1993, Force 7 est rachetée par le groupe Roullier qui décide de la revendre en 1996.

In 1998 the Group Europe 1 acquires Force 7 and makes it a local RFM : the RFM program is then only broadcast on the frequencies in Normandy (Granville and Bricquebec), Brittany frequencies broadcasting a local program.
En 1998, le groupe Europe 1 communication rachète Force 7 et en fait une locale de RFM : le programme RFM est alors seulement diffusé sur les fréquences normandes (Granville et Bricquebec), les fréquences bretonnes diffusant un programme local.

In 1999, Force 7 lost its frequency at Saint-Brieuc (attributed to the CSA RTL), the station began to broadcast on the frequency of RFM Saint-Malo (the old frequency then used to distribute RFM Europe 1). Finally, it leases its transmitter frequency to Ille Dinan, Rennes regional radio.
En 1999, Force 7 perd sa fréquence de Saint-Brieuc (que le CSA attribue à RTL) ; la station se met à diffuser RFM sur sa fréquence de Saint-Malo (l'ancienne fréquence de RFM servant alors à diffuser Europe 1). Enfin, elle loue son émetteur de Dinan à Fréquence Ille, radio régionale de Rennes.

Do not confuse Radio Force 7 (Saint-Malo) with Radio Force 7 Le Havre in the 80's, which also disappeared in the 90's. Despite the same name, they were different stations, independent of one another.
Attention de ne pas confondre Radio Force 7 (Saint-Malo) avec Radio Force 7 du Havre dans les années 80, disparue dans les années 90. En dépit de leur identité commune, les deux radios étaient indépendantes l'une de l'autre.

1989: The C.N.C.L. is replaced by the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel) charged to manage the 'French Audio-visual Landscape', with more powers to police the airwaves.
1991: To improve the use of the FM band, the CSA created the CTR (Radiophonic Technical Committees) and decided to replan the band. Following the invitation to tender, Radio Force7 kept the 3 existing frequencies (thus becoming legal) and obtained 3 new frequencies at Saint-Brieuc, Briquebec-Manche Nord and Lessay-Coutances which was declined as the area covered was not of interest. The station was disappointed that several national stations were now allowed in the region, likely to hurt audience figures, and also RF7 now had to stop its bilingual programmes because the power of the Granville transmitter was reduced and was not so well received in Jersey.
1993: First hard knock for RF7 as effects of the new frequency plans were felt, the station is purchased by the Roullier Group.
1995: New laws limit music output, 40% must be in French, regularly checked and controlled by an independent service which informed the CSA.
1996-98: The Groupe Roullier decided to sell RF7. The Groupe Europe Régies buys RF7 to relay RFM, which comes into effect on 17/may/98. RFM Force7 now occupies 97.4 in Saint-Malo, however the station lost two frequencies as the CSA did not authorize Dinan and Saint-Brieuc.
1999: A project of reform was being studied, to reinforce the legal arsenal of the CSA, but allowing more recourse for stations that could not dispute the sanctions inflicted by the CSA.

Some technical site details I found :
Saint-Malo 97.4: Site "TDF, lieudit Les Bergeons, 35350 Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes" 51m ASL, antenna @ 90m, 1kW, limited to 200W in sector 350°-140° (renewed may 2003, to 2008)

Bricquebec-Cherbourg 102.1: Site "lieudit Le Mont Servant, 50340 Saint-Martin-le-Hébert" 130m ASL, antenna @ 162m, 500W, no constraints (renewed may 2002, to 2007)

Granville 104.9: Site "château d'eau, lieudit Saint-Michel des Loups, 50400 Granville" 90m ASL, antenna @ 153m, 500W, no constraints (renewed may 2002, to 2007)

Some of the intrepid Force 7 presenters from Jersey carried on with radio on other stations, some were on BBC Radio Jersey, some are still on the commercial station Channel 103, and others still keep going with hospital radio in St.Helier, Radio Lions.

So that was that. Force 7, the first commercial FM radio in the Channel Islands. Cheers!


Anonymous said...

so great to hear such wonderful things that have since yet,never been bettered....keep up the force 7 memories,chappies!!!

Tony said...

Thanks for the write-up on the Breton radio scene - I visited the Force 7 studio among others during the summer hols back in the days of free radio so I'll have to dig out some photos - and tapes possibly if anyone's interested.