Heart of the airwaves

PUBLISHED: 15:54 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013

Gemma Shepherd and James Heming

Gemma Shepherd and James Heming

The launch of Heart 103.1 & 102.8 in Kent this month follows nearly 25 years of broadcasting by Invicta FM. Kent Life talks to the people who make it all happen

The Presenters

Gemma Shepherd
Presenter, Heart Breakfast
Mon-Fri, 6am-10am

Tell us about yourself

I worked as a breakfast show producer for four years, then launched the breakfast show on a new radio station in Manchester. I moved to London to produce Johnny Vaughan's breakfast show on Capital Radio, which was so exciting as I'd grown up listening to Capital! I didn't think it could get any better until I made the decision to become a presenter. It's the best decision I have ever made.

What do you love about radio?

I love waking up Kent every morning with James and we have as much to say to each other off-air as on! The most enjoyable part of the job is chatting to our listeners and hearing their stories - I could chat to them all day!

James Heming
Presenter, Heart Breakfast
Mon-Fri, 6am-10am

Tell us about yourself

I have been a radio presenter since 1994 but unofficially, it's been a lot longer, after spending way too much time in my bedroom with a record player and my cassette decks, not to mention the hours doing hospital radio on the Isle of Wight. I joined Invicta FM in 1997 and really don't know where the time has gone.

Any funny memories?

Highlight must be the amazing places I've visited, all in the name of work - from Arizona to Australia and most of Europe. We've given away some fantastic holidays to these places.
I love it when the destination has become so real on the radio and then someone wins the trip to exactly where you are, sometimes arriving before you have left. It's a great feeling.

Toby Anstis
Presenter, Heart Morning Show
Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm

Tell us about yourself

I started out on TV hosting BBC TV's The Ozone and entertainment shows such as The Electric Circus on BBC1 and the National Lottery Live. I also presented cricket films for Grandstand, plus live coverage of Party in the Park for ITV2, the Reading Festival and Children in Need on BBC1. In 2006, I hit the jungle in I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!I was part of the presentation team for BBC 1's Dancing in the Streets with Bruce Forsyth and Zoe Ball. I was also one of the judges on Living TV's Britain's Next Top Model and later the same year I was a judge on MTV/VH1's Wannabe pop show.

Your finest hour?

When I won my heat on Channel Five's The All Star Talent Show. Because I was short of a lesson or two, I won 60 per cent of the public vote and ended up claiming third place in the final! Last year, I had the honour of hosting the World Premiere of Mamma Mia - The Movie in London.

Paul Hollins
Presenter, Heart afternoons
Mon-Fri, 1pm-4pm

Tell us about yourself

I have been a presenter ever since leaving school. My careers tutor tried to steer me towards a job in hotel management, but instead I secured work experience at my local radio station - and the rest is history!

Since then I've worked for many of the UK's best-known stations, including Key 103 (Manchester), BRMB (Birmingham), Galaxy (Newcastle) and Capital FM before joining the line-up at Heart.

What do you love about radio?

I love it that this job allows you to meet some really famous people. I don't usually get starstruck, but I remember meeting George Michael and thinking 'he's much taller than I imagined!' It's also weird when they remember you - Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue always says 'hi Paul' whenever I see him... which is way cool and really impresses my mates.

Neil Kefford
Presenter, Drive-Time
Mon-Fri, 4pm-7pm

Tell us about yourself

I've been a presenter ever since I was six, when I used to sit in my bedroom pretending, and that's where it all started - with a cheap microphone and a couple of cassette machines. It was doing hospital radio in Chichester and Oxfordshire that got me my big break on 'real radio', and I spent most of my early years working in the Midlands, moving back south to Kent in 2006 to do the Drive-Time show.

What do you love about radio?

I'll often say being on the radio is the best job in the world. Well, it certainly is for a guy who wanted to do it as a child and has for 12 years been living the dream!

Matt Wilkinson
Presenter, Heart Club Classics
Mon-Thu, 7pm-10pm, Fri and Sat, 7pm-midnight

Tell us about yourself

I may be only 26, but I've spent the last 10 years broadcasting on a variety of stations throughout the UK. I joined Invicta on 22 June to present Club Classics.

Any funny memories?

At one of the first stations I ever worked at, the equipment was a little 'low-fi' and my co-presenter and I were responsible for flicking the switch to start broadcasting live in the morning. Unfortunately, on one occasion we'd got to the end of our two-hour show and were told by the next person on air that the 'switch' hadn't been flicked and we had in fact been doing our entire breakfast show to ourselves and no one was capable of listening to it!

Simon Beale
Presenter, Heartbreakers
Sun-Thu, 10pm-1am

Tell us about yourself

I originally came to Invicta in 1993 as a travel news reporter, before being given a chance to present my own show. First of all, I took over from Iain Collins on The Late Show in 1994, before launching The Morning Zoo with Neil Francis in August 1995. The Nealy & Bealey partnership ran for two years before I left the station in 1997. I have been back since, covering a few shows at the weekends.

Any funny memories?

We had Cliff Richard in one morning, and every time we went to start the interview, we asked him on air if he'd mind hanging on a bit and then carried on with the show. After about two hours of this, we finally started the interview for real, but Cliff just replied "I've run out of time, I've gotta go!" The good news is he did stay and played along with the joke (a true pro!). We even won a New York Radio Award for it.

Claire Lawson
Presenter, Heart Weekend Breakfast
Sat and Sun, 8am-12pm

Tell us about yourself

I did a bit of news reading on my University radio station, so when I heard an ad on a local radio station in Newcastle for traffic and travel presenters, I sent in my tape and after several live on-air auditions, I got the job. I joined Invicta in 2005 and have just returned after six months off to have my baby girl.

Any funny memories?

At the launch of the new Space Mountain ride at Disney Land in Paris, they put a microphone on me and asked me to commentate live on air on the ride. Well, I just screamed and cried the whole way round and the only words that came out of my mouth had to be beeped out. It was so embarrassing and still makes me cringe!

Neil Bentley
Presenter, Heart Weekend Afternoons
Sat and Sun, 12pm-4pm

Tell us about yourself

The journey started on Power FM in 1991; at 16 I was one of the UK's youngest professional broadcasters. Radio highlights include Galaxy, Capital FM and now Heart.

What do you love about radio?

Being a DJ was always my dream and I was lucky to begin that at 16. My passion for music was the catalyst and to be able to enthuse about great songs and artists was amazing.

Celebrity newcomers

Jason Donovan
Presenter Heart Sunday Evening
Sun, 7pm-10pm

The back story

Jason became best known for his role as Scott Robinson in the hit Australian soap Neighbours, where he played opposite Kylie Minogue. His popularity continued in his new role as a pop singer signed to the Stock, Aitken and Waterman label PWL. In 1991, Jason moved onto the stage and lead roles in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the Rocky Horror Show and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang followed. He took part in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2006, finishing third, and alongside his current show on Heart, Jason is starring in the London production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre.

Emma Bunton
Presenter, Heart Saturday Afternoon
From Sat 27 June, 4pm-7pm

The back story

Best known as the Baby of the best-selling girl group of all time, Emma Bunton has enjoyed a highly successful solo career since the Spice Girls, including three albums and a string of top five singles, including a number one. No stranger to presenting, Emma has enjoyed co-hosting a number of programmes, including Richard & Judy, ITV's For One Night Only and Loose Women. Emma said: "When I was asked to present my own show, it was so exciting and felt completely natural - I'm loving being part of the Heart team!"

Behind the scenes

Stuart Vint

When I first started at Invicta Sound in 1988, we were based in Station Road East, Canterbury in the Old Depository, a three-storey building with the studios on the ground floor. Lots of money was spent trying to eradicate the rumble of the trains, which were just a few yards away! There were other studios in Earl Street in Maidstone. If something went wrong there, one of the three engineers would be sent off in the car with a handful of tools and spares to sort the problem out. We eventually relocated from Canterbury and Maidstone to a purpose-built studio complex at our current location in Whitstable. Before our present owners, Global Radio, we were owned by Capital Radio and GCAP Media. I'm sure that as we move forward as Heart, the listeners will be thrilled with what their local radio station is giving them - and it's my job to make sure we stay on air!

Neil Webster
Managing director

My first job was as a trainee marketing executive for Yorkshire TV and after hanging around the radio division, I finally convinced the boss to take me on as a trainee salesman. Equipped with a third-hand Ford Escort and a mobile phone the size of a car battery, I slowly learned how to sell advertising on radio stations like Jazz FM. I then joined Classic FM as part of the launch team and at first it was very difficult to get anyone to advertise; in fact my first 'order' was swapping some advertising for a Steinway mini Grand piano! I then became commercial director of LBC, and after a stint running a national sports newspaper, I was lured back into radio, joining the team here at Invicta/Heart nearly two years ago. The launch of Heart here in Kent is hugely exciting and it will represent the next exciting chapter of the station's history.

Heart launches at 6am on 22 June, broadcasting on 103.1 & 102.8 FM and online at heart.co.uk

History of Invicta FM and Capital Gold (Kent)

1984 Invicta Radio was launched across Kent after merging the East Kent local radio licence with the Maidstone/Medway licence. By 1988, Invicta Radio had built a strong relationship with its listeners

1989 Coast AM was launched to offer a 'Gold' service. Invicta Radio became Invicta FM, concentrating on current hits and recent releases

1991 Coast AM was relaunched as Invicta Supergold to reinforce the Invicta brand name. The company relocated from Canterbury to its current location in Whitstable. Invicta Sound plc merged with Southern Radio plc, operators of independent radio
stations in Sussex and Hampshire

1992 The current RAJAR system was introduced

1994 Capital Radio plc acquired Southern Radio plc

1996 A hits format was introduced to Invicta FM, aimed at the 15-34 age group

1997 The Invicta FM format returned to the current format of adult contemporary, aimed at 25-44 year olds. The music/speech ratio is 90/10

1998 The Gold stations of the Capital radio Group were networked to bring the Capital Gold service to Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Midlands, with each having their own breakfast presenter. The primary target audience of Capital Gold (Kent) is 35-54. The station plays the greatest hits of the past 40 years without the top 40. The music/speech ratio is 80/20

2000 An investment of £120,000 has been spent to refurbish the station at Whitstable, including the installation of a digital studio to prepare for the introduction of digital radio in the next four years. James Heming starts on The Morning Zoo

2002 The new logo was launched in October prior to our Party in the Park 2002

2003 Invicta FM's charity, Help a Kent Child was launched. The station was granted a digital licence in April

2004 Party In The Park was held at The Hop Farm in May. Invicta FM went digital on DAB

2005 Capital Radio PLC merges in May with GWR to form GCAP Media PLC

2006 Neil Kefford starts on Drivetime in April

2007 Invitca FM logo changes in September

2008 Gemma Shepherd joins James in November on Invicta FM Breakfast. GCAP Media PLC agrees a takeover in May by Global Radio for £375m

2009 Invicta FM becomes Heart on 22 June, joining 32 other stations to form the biggest commercial brand in the UK

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