Kaleidoscope's music policy was part of it's 'sound'. The idea was to create a station known for playing quality music and simply ignoring what many others felt obliged to play simply because it was in the national charts. But it didn't start like that. The early playlists of The Big K look very much like any other 'Pop' station of the time, with most of the 'Glam Rock' brigade being played as a matter of course. The only thing we did then was to play records that were ascending the charts and would have a certain freshness, not the overplayed ones that Radio One would go on playing for weeks. To this end we simply compiled our own Chart! Firstly called a "Prediction Top 20" this was soon changed to the "Tip Top 30" with "Tip" being another name for prediction, and in the words of it's compiler "These charts are based on record movements in the National Charts over the past three weeks, new releases that should do well and a bit of fiddling!" our first number one was "Crazy" by Mud.
On June 23rd the "Power Pick Play" was added as a featured record played every hour, the first was "Made in Japan" by Rigor Mortis they were never heard of again!
Predicting the future is always a haphazard affair, sometimes you get it wrong and sometimes you get it right. One or two of our Power Pick Play's by unknown artists went on to be very big hits indeed "Billy Don't Be A Hero" by Paper Lace was one, and right at the end in February 1976 our last, "The Arms of Mary" by The Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, became a hit sometime after we had closed.
In October 1973, eight months since Kaleidoscope (re)started Capital Radio opened. It's music policy was refreshingly different from Radio One and had some influence of what we chose to play. Now at least two stations were 'thinking different' unfortunately it didn't last as Capital's first set of audience figures (bad) saw them predictably panic and adopt a more conventional Top 40 sound we were back on our own again!
By 1974 much of what we played owed nothing to the UK charts or any other radio station we believed if we played what sounded "good" (to us) then listeners who liked what we liked would simply embrace it and not worry about what was a "hit" or not in the conventional sense. A typical playlist of September of that year saw such diversity as "Sweet Surrender" by Bread, "Mama Come Out" by Medicine Head, "Wintertime" by Kayak and "Already Gone" by The Eagles. One of the most bazaar songs we ever played must have been "Yum Yum Song" by Monty De Lyle who was reported to be an 80 year old who loved Rock n' Roll (!) it was one of those records that was so bad it was almost good!
Another building block in the Big K sound was the adoption of a format that is a balanced list of record "types" throughout a normal hour. A perfect format is the holy grail of programme directors, but is very hard to achieve. The first attempt simply followed a pattern of CHART - NEW - CHART - OLD - CHART - NEW - DJ Climber - OLD - NEW etc. The presenters (OK DJ's if you will) filled in their own choices on a blank 'format grid' from sorted boxes of records which were rotated thoughout the day. From the freedom of playing more or less what you liked on Radio Jackie the Kaleidoscope presenters were in a strait jacket. But it did give the station the cohesion it needed. Like the perfect pizza it was fluffy on top but with a firm base!
When it came to links the poor old presenters were still not able to prattle on as one they had. There was the unwritten 30 second rule, DON'T TALK FOR MORE THAN 30 SECONDS and NO DEAD AIR. If you are really interested in just what we had to put up with then follow this link to the internal memo to all presenters!