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EDITIONS
Friday, 16 August, 2002, 20:43 GMT 21:43 UK
Radio gets Xtra something
Excalibah
DJ Excalibah has been described as "The UK's finest hip hop DJ"

When 1Xtra kicked off at 6pm on Friday led by inaugural presenters KC and Rampage, even the DJs seemed shocked that the period of seemingly endless hype was finally at an end.

"We're making history!", one repeatedly insisted. "Go and hug a close family member."

The smoothly-executed opening half hour delivered the inevitable rounds of back-slapping and excited promises about what was to come.

Many of these were of a worryingly vague "we'll play a bit of everything" variety, but for the first half-hour everyone seemed far too excited to waste time on such specifics.

Rampage are Mike Anthony and Treble T
Rampage opened proceedings at 6pm
The DJs, who on day one also included Rodney P & Skitz, Ms Dynamite and Dem Lott, swiftly demonstrated their useful ability to launch without warning into sets and thereby entirely bypass the need for jingles, which for BBC radio is surely a welcome innovation.

The symbolic importance of 1Xtra is summed-up well by Trevor Nelson: "In my whole life time I never ever thought the BBC would ever inject this amount of money, energy, time and dedication to a black music station."

1Xtra sounds every bit as slick and polished as you would expect of such a well-funded venture. The presenters, revelling in a format that requires them to DJ in both senses of the word, all clearly know their stuff.

Femme Fatale
At 24, DJ Femme Fatale is already a veteran of UK Garage
1Xtra's ongoing challenge will be in supplying suitably specialised content whilst remaining accessible to the masses. With impressive on-air talent and hefty resources in place, this venture really ought to be a success, but the critical factor will be whether the potentially huge audience actually gets a chance to tune in.

Whilst the majority of listeners are expected to access it via digital television, 1Xtra's well-designed website should prove an important weapon in securing pivotal internet traffic.

The site's front page changes in close sync with the station's output, and a list of Recent Trax (sic) tells you exactly what you've just heard, or indeed missed.

Significant step

By touting itself as "the new home of black music", 1Xtra arrives with rather loftier ambitions than 6 Music, the BBC's previous digital-only radio station.

Within London, Kiss and Choice might take issue with the notion that their new BBC rival is truly unique, whilst sister station Radio 1 already features plenty of similar content.

1Xtra is undoubtedly a welcome and significant step for the UK's black music scene, but perhaps a rather more important and intriguing milestone in the advance of digital radio.

1Xtra is available on digital radio and on the internet.


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