September 1995: ex record producer Jezz Wright launches London Calling as 'radio-on-demand' platform playing 20-minute shows playing unsigned bands and artist from London.  Shows comprised of music and jingles only, with playlists viewable on website.

December 1995: Tas Persaud joins Jezz Wright (station founder) to present the first presenter-led shows: a Chillax music show and a synthesized 'Breakfast' show with more mainstream unsigned talent.

Talented designer Kevin Spark produced the graphical styling that was to become the trademark of London Calling

Because Windows Media did not support streaming media at that time, listeners had to click on a java applet to listen to a mono, 8 bit audio recordings of dubious quality. But these were the heady days of 56K dial-up modems. Jezz partnered with a pioneering tech company from Israel called Emblaze, and applets were embedded into each individual programme page for listeners to listen to each broadcast.

Late 1995, Microsoft released ActiveMovie with DirectX Media SDK for the Windows Media player. ActiveMovie incorporated a new way of dealing with media files, and added support for streaming media (which the original Media Player could not handle). This proved to be a game changer for London Unlimited.  Whilst in the UK, nobody was listening, as very few had reliable internet access, in the states it was a different story - and thousands were tuning in to hear a slice of the real London Underground.

Having missed out on the .com domain, Jezz renamed the station London Unlimited and in 1996, enlisted the help of friends, former colleagues and the odd London pirate DJ to bolster the line-up: 

September 1996: Mark Wright, Danny,  & Estelle joined the line-up. Mark & Danny presented Garage and House Music shows - whilst Estelle joined Jezz on the Breakfast team

The shows were sometimes pretty outrageous, with a punk ethos wrapped around a 90's Britpop culture. Certainly there was nothing like it on UK radio at the time (or since) Nothing was off limits! The humour and satire was sometimes eye watering - but very funny none-the-less.

This was unregulated territory, and London Unlimited exploited that to the fullest. Bless 'em.


Some evening in March: Mr Microsoft himself.  Flushed with this success, Jezz reached out to the man himself, Bill Gates. ‘as a journalist in those days you had be able to track down anyone, anywhere, any time – the World Wide Web was not in the workplace – but it could still be a valuable tool at home. I had had an argument with my then girlfriend about how I thought Bill Gates was a genius and was revolutionizing and democratizing the broadcasting world.  She thought he was the devil incarnate!  So after a glass of wine (or two) I stomped up to my office to track him down and tell him my thoughts.  Getting through to him at Microsoft would be a dumb idea – but Bill had just launched the philanthropic William H. Gates Foundation, and it was there I reached out to him”


For around two weeks Jezz heard nothing and then the Vice President of MSN Europe reached out and said LU were exactly the sort of broadcaster the newly launched Windows Media Platform would like to promote and showcase.


Suddenly LU appeared on Windows Media banner ads, the front page of Windows Media Portal and people started writing reviews and spreading the word on forums. “I was completely unprepared for this level of exposure” says Jezz “streaming bandwidth back in those days cost a fortune and despite our low-bandwidth streams, we’d been constantly busting our bandwidth allocation with our ISP.  Now we absolutely bent the dial! So much so that BT must have thought their monitoring was flawed, as they never called us out on it. They did approach us to advertise their products though – so they must have realised something big was happening, and perhaps it was useful R&D for them to monitor how far we could take this”.

The Business

Londonun Ltd was incorporated in 1999. 

Jezz enlisted the help of good friend and extremely talented broadcast and writer Simon Hardeman and invited him to be Co-CEO of the company. “Simon was a class act, a good friend and a great presenter”, explained Jezz.  

“I had booked him on the TalkRadio shows I was producing as an up-and-coming comedian and left-of-centre commentator.  His shows on London Unlimited were the most popular by far" 

Did that qualify him as the right Co-CEO?”  Jezz pauses, “These are life lessons you pick up along the way – we were both 'corporate' novices back then. We certainly helped pave the road for others to follow and  we picked up a 'real-world' MBA along the way.


Big Broadband PLC

June 1999: LondonUnlimited was the first internet radio station to serve world-wide geographically targeted ads.

Feb 2000: LondonUn Ltd. became Big Broadband PLC and attracted venture capitol

March 2000: London Unlimited undertook a complete revamp of shows and presenters. 

April 2000: Ad revenue deals were signed with Monster Mob and Hiwire.

At this point in the Web’s existence, a new phrase would come to define the opportunities these new start-up were given: ‘the dot.com bubble’. “It wasn’t that difficult to secure funding – but we just didn’t know what we were doing. It was not so much about excessive and extravagant spending, we’ve all read about dot coms burning through piles of cash, that wasn’t us, it was just, we were more concerned with radio production than running and expanding a business. doh!”    By this point they had an estimated half a million listeners tuning in weekly (a huge amount for that time) - servers were struggling, and they needed more cash.

The Headlines

11 September 2001 at 1:14 pm BST changed everything.  A second round of funding now didn't look possible, and the big boys were already moving into their new & unsigned radio space (BBC Radio 6/Virgin)

Jezz left LU and returned to his previous career as a television producer. Simon continued for another six months before LU drifted gently out to sea and out of sight.  But what fun was had in those few short years!

1995 - 2002

We hope to be able to bring you samples of shows when we have permission to do so or the money to defend the many lawsuits that would follow from Generation Snowflake

Nathan Spacer - radio archive