How boyhood dream turned into fully licensed radio station for Northamptonshire man

The radio star had a pretend station when he was a teenager. Now he has made that dream a reality
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Retro Charts Radio was started by 56-year-old Andy Johnson, who had been interested in radio since he was a young boy.

His older brother Ron was a presenter at Truro Hospital Radio, but Andy was nervous about speaking on air which stopped him from being a presenter.

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Fast forward a couple of decades and Andy has launched a new radio station in Northamptonshire, which first graced the airwaves earlier this year.

Andy Johnson set up Retro Charts Radio this year.Andy Johnson set up Retro Charts Radio this year.
Andy Johnson set up Retro Charts Radio this year.

He said: “Back in 1980, when I was 13, I pretended I had a radio station in my bedroom named after my road. It was called Radio Grafton Road.”

Andy then spent some time working at a community radio station, but he wanted to be happier with the music they played as he felt the station was trying to appeal to the wrong audience.

He added: “I wanted for middle aged people as they actually listen to the radio, whereas young people have things like Spotify.

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"Retro Charts is aimed at people over the age of 40 but my 23-year-old daughter likes to listen and try and guess what decade the music is from and she’s pretty good at it.”

Over his years as a radio and music fan Andy had amassed a large collection of vinyl, CDs and That's What I Call music discs. He often listened to them at random as he enjoyed the unpredictability of not knowing what was coming next. This concept would become a staple for Retro Charts Radio when it launched on January 16, 2023.

The fully licence station has more than 15,000 songs and Andy estimated that the cost for getting the station started was around £1,000, but the expense did not bother Andy.

The radio host added: “I had a passion for getting songs out there that people had forgotten about and probably had not been played since they where in the charts.”

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Andy says Retro Charts Radio is “ripping up radio rulebook” and has key features such as being a music only station and displaying the year of chart entry and its highest charting position of the song every time it is played on the website. The station also has a four-week no repeat policy.

This is all in an effort to remove any potential bias and have a completely random playlist. Andy added: “From Bring Crosby to Moterthed you never know who you’re going to get.”

Listeners have called the radio station a “breath of fresh air” and praised the randomness of the songs. Listeners have donated to the station to pay for the licence for the next year and Andy has even had music artists who have been played on the station send in custom made jingles to be played between songs.