Radio station rocking USA - from Dronfield

A NORTH Derbyshire-based radio station is celebrating becoming a major success... in America.

Internet broadcaster radio2XS has just smashed into the US top 20 chart of online rock stations.

The latest monthly survey by US media site put the UK alternative webcaster at 19 in "all rock stations" for February 2005.

Although it is broadcast from Dronfield, the number of Americans listening to radio2XS has overtaken the figure in the UK.

The station was founded by former Hallam FM presenter Jeff Cooper, now managing director of Handley Media Ltd.

"It's a matter of access and credibility," he said.

"North Americans have more broadband access and they listen for longer, although the UK is catching up fast. We are now seen as a major shop window for new music in the USA, and, because much of what we play is British, this makes us a great way to get heard over there, even by music industry people.

"Several major US record labels now service us direct, rather than through their London offices, and around half of the demos we receive are from unsigned bands in the US."

Jeff once fell out with his bosses at Hallam FM when he played a track by Sheffield band Pulp, even though they were local and in the charts. The track did not fit in with the station's playlist criteria.

He was later invited back to host the Hillsborough-based, EMAP-owned station's rock show before quitting to set up his own enterprise.

But radio2XS, which broadcasts out of Manor Farm Studios at West Handley, near Dronfield, isn't resting on its laurels.

It opened a new base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the suggestion of a major advertising agency there.

"They approached us because they were big fans of the station and said we were doing it better than the Americans," added Jeff.

"They like our style and wanted a piece of the action.

"We are now looking forward to expanding our base there as they help to spread the word."