MBE for Choice FM founder Neil Kenlock

man speaking at public meeting
Neil Kenlock speaking outside the Black Cultural Archives in Windrush Square, Brixton, in 2017

Local resident Neil Kenlock, official photographer of the UK Black Panthers and co-founder of Choice FM, was awarded an MBE for services to media in the Queen’s New Year honours.

He is one of the founders of Choice FM, the only Black radio station to have held a London-wide commercial licence, and the first licensed British radio station to play music of Black origin 24 hours a day.

Earlier this year, 16-18 Trinity Gardens in Brixton got a blue heritage plaque to mark the place where Choice FM began life on 31 March 1990.

It was created by a group of entrepreneurs and DJs, including Neil Kenlock, and went on to be one of the most successful Black media companies in the UK. 

Choice FM also covered debates on issues ignored by other mainstream stations.

In 2004, the station was bought by the Capital Radio broadcasting group (Global) and on 7 October 2013 it was rebranded as Capital Xtra.

The Choice FM plaque, one of the few BAME plaques in Lambeth, is the 60th to be installed by the Nubian Jak Community Trust.

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth council cabinet member for equalities and culture, said at the time: “Choice FM will always hold a special place in the hearts of the Lambeth community, particularly in Brixton where it was launched.

“The first licensed independent Black music radio station gave us all a sense of pride and belonging.

“There has been no other to replace it, and we owe a great deal to its co-founders Patrick Berry and Neil Kenlock.”

alongside mature lovers of 90s R&B, soul, reggae and soca.

Neil Kenlock said: “Many Black British people and those from many other communities remember Choice FM and the strong heritage that it has left behind.

“The station gave opportunities to UK and international artists, businesses, local community groups and charities, like the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, who didn’t have a media outlet.

“Since Choice FM, there has never been another Black-owned, commercial licensed station that broadcasts across London.”