The Radio Thread

Please treat other members in a constructive and friendly manner: Our Community Guidelines.
  • This thread is a general discussion of all radio related topics. The main theme is likely to be the demise of local commercial radio and concentration of ownership, with a handful of large media companies mopping up the remaining independents. In truth there aren't many independents left and the largest of these will be targets for the larger players wishing to fill any remaining gaps in their networks.


    At the moment Bauer's recent acquisitions seem to indicate an underlying plan to close down their medium wave networks and transfer the services to FM. In the Midlands, Greatest Hits Radio switched frequencies with the local FM version of Absolute Radio (which had replaced the locally based version of Kerrang). The medium wave service becoming Absolute Classic Rock in Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Shropshire but remaining as Greatest Hits Radio in Coventry (which wasn't in the Absolute Radio FM coverage area). Bauer has subsequently closed the MW transmitters in Wolverhampton & Shropshire. A pattern that seems to have been repeated in Liverpool, where Greatest Hits Radio switched frequencies with the FM based Radio City Talk. Bauer has now stated that Radio City Talk is no longer viable and plan to return the licence to Ofcom (having stripped the valuable FM frequencies to use for GHR). So, a pattern is developing. It may be an indication of what Bauer plans to do with the newly acquired FM services in areas where it already has "local" services on FM and medium wave. The medium wave GHR could be transferred to the new FM frequencies followed by a closure of the MW transmitters. There will be gaps and any remaining independents within those gaps could be bought up fairly quickly. This type of mopping up exercise is not really bringing more choice to the listener. There is also a possibility of Bauer entering into a franchising agreement with Nation (along the same lines as that existing between Global and Communicorp) and with other players, not wishing to sell up, such as the arrangements between Global and Quidem (a franchised "Capital Mid Counties" replacing the former Quidem services).


    Bauer acquired the local radio stations of UKRD, The Lincs FM Group, Celador and the Wireless Group (former UTV radio stations) in a major acquisition sweep. The purchases have recently cleared an investigation by the CMA. The request to Ofcom for a change of "approved areas" is an indication that Bauer could have plans to merge the acquired stations on a regional basis and, possibly, absorb them into the existing Hits Radio & GHR networks.


    Interesting times and this thread will examine this sort of development as it unfolds.

  • Or local commercial radio which is part of some national big company piles on listeners all the time whilst the local BBC radio loses listeners

  • Radio as a whole is losing listeners as younger listeners tend to prefer the likes of Spotify, Google Music / Youtube Music, Amazon Prime Music, Deezer etc even though radio stations have their own streaming apps.


    BBC local radio especially so as their aged audience is, literally, dying off. BBC LR seriously needs to attract and hold new users, it provides local news, information etc that the commercial stations are no longer prepared to fund. Community radio provides some local information but simply doesn't have the funds to provide a useful service, so that isn't going to provide an adequate service. Community radio seems to work better for local communities of interest. Hopefully small scale DAB will bring many more of these stations and more choice for the listener.

  • BBC LR seriously needs to attract and hold new users

    Ours is run by and presented by people who would have been ideal on the Home Service of the 50s !

  • Ours is run by and presented by people who would have been ideal on the Home Service of the 50s !

    To be fair, that varies across the country. There's no shortage of younger broadcasters, many of these were made redundant when commercial radio stations became pseudo-national stations with most programmes coming from national studios. Most of the radio stations operated by the big commercial stations now only provide either the breakfast or drive-time shows from the local studio. Many of these "locally" presented broadcasts are now shared between several of the former stations from a regional hub.


    Some BBC locals have already recruited from this market but there is a hell of a lot more work to be done. BBC LR is currently on a further cost cutting exercise, closing down what remains of the satellite offices / studios. New technology has reduced the need for remote (often unmanned) studios across each local radio area.

  • Most of the radio stations operated by the big commercial stations now only provide either the breakfast or drive-time shows from the local studio. Many of these "locally" presented broadcasts are now shared between several of the former stations from a regional hub.

    Ours is totally manned by local presenters I think except for late evening and night time

    The BBC is too, the problem being that they are the same people who have been there since the station started

  • Ours is totally manned by local presenters I think except for late evening and night time

    The BBC is too, the problem being that they are the same people who have been there since the station started

    In your area, Heart South West is manned from London with the exception of the "local" drivetime show which comes from Bristol. A big change from when Atlantic FM provided local programming for Cornwall.


    Pirate FM has been operated by UKRD and is one of the few UK stations to have held onto local programmes, in this case broadcasting from Redruth. Bauer has purchased UKRD, along with Wireless Group, Celador and Lincs FM. Bauer has asked Ofcom for a broadcaster specific "approved area" for the South West (and another one for the South), an approved area is basically a region in which all radio stations can be merged, with "local" content coming from any location within the approved region. Bauer's proposed "South West" region includes 12 radio stations: Ex-UKRD - Pirate FM (Cornwall), Ex-Celador - The Breeze: Bath; Bridgwater & West Somerset; Bristol; Cheltenham; Shaftesbury; Torbay; Warminster; Weston-super-Mare; Yeovil and Ex-Celador - Sam FM: Bristol; Swindon - so a possibility that Bauer could also use Bristol as the "local" studio. Pirate has automated programming overnight, so that could be replaced with programmes from one of Bauer's networks as a first step to integration into the networks.


    As far as the BBC local hanging on to the people who have been there since the early days, possibly a result of these stations being organised regionally rather that there being a coherent national policy. Quite a few of the locals have adopted this policy but as the older employees retire, this should change. There have been a few indications that changes are afoot, such as the rebranding of the Surrey & Sussex stations but, unfortunately, the standardised schedule of 4 hour blocks of programming (a Covid-19 lockdown measure) will inevitably cause further delays.

  • I think Cornish folk would react badly to any attempt to provide their programme from anywhere the other side of the Tamar. They tried moving cancer services to Derriford in Plymouth - uproar so the plans were dropped

    They are very parochial here

  • I think Cornish folk would react badly to any attempt to provide their programme from anywhere the other side of the Tamar. They tried moving cancer services to Derriford in Plymouth - uproar so the plans were dropped

    They are very parochial here

    Right but how did they react to Atlantic FM morphing into Heart South West with most programmes now coming from London and weekday drive-time coming from Bristol? How many even noticed? The statement you made is typical of those made all over the country when Global reduced the number of regional studios used for the Capital and Heart networks. The changes went ahead and the radio stations still have listeners with the new set-up so, in reality, local protests will count for little.


    Global have been very determined to push through the changes, Bauer has a track record of being slow to change so takes much longer to introduce any changes. Their plans have already been delayed by the CMA investigation and will be further delayed by the Ofcom consultation on the requested approved areas but when that has completed, expect them to move quickly to absorb the new acquisitions into the existing networks.

  • Right but how did they react to Atlantic FM morphing into Heart South West with most programmes now coming from London and weekday drive-time coming from Bristol? How many even noticed? The statement you made is typical of those made all over the country when Global reduced the number of regional studios used for the Capital and Heart networks. The changes went ahead and the radio stations still have listeners with the new set-up so, in reality, local protests will count for little.


    Global have been very determined to push through the changes, Bauer has a track record of being slow to change so takes much longer to introduce any changes. Their plans have already been delayed by the CMA investigation and will be further delayed by the Ofcom consultation on the requested approved areas but when that has completed, expect them to move quickly to absorb the new acquisitions into the existing networks.

    Atlantic were never very good or popular, they were initially staffed by cast offs from Pirate and it just did not work

  • Atlantic were never very good or popular, they were initially staffed by cast offs from Pirate and it just did not work

    Although popular enough for Global to acquire it to extend the Heart Network into Cornwall.

  • For those interested in such things, this weekend is another of the monthly appearances of pop-up radio station, Radio Caroline North. Usually these weekends involve live broadcasts from the Ross Revenge and a chance for members of the public to visit the historic radio ship. The Covid-19 lockdown has once again prevented radio Caroline from using the Ross Revenge but the station is still on air from land-based studios and broadcast via Manx Radio's 1368kHz AM frequency and online, with the occasional simulcast on Radio Caroline's usual 648kHz frequency from the Orfordness site.

  • I just had a look at Ofcom's official "approved area" list for the West of England. It extends from Cornwall to the Solent area but omits areas normally associated with the west (such as Cheltenham & Gloucester which are in Ofcom's Central "approved area" list). I have to say I prefer the areas chosen by Global and by Bauer.


    Similarly, the Ofcom list puts the Home Counties in the South of England when they seem to be more naturally matched to the East, or perhaps Central for Northamptonshire. Global puts these into the East region. Bauer has seemingly left them in the South, probably because Bauer doesn't currently own anything in the Home Counties, other than Mix 96 in Aylesbury, so probably better grouped with their stations in the South.


    I'm not over keen on Bauer splitting Dorset between the South (Dorchester & Weymouth) and South West (Shaftesbury) areas but understandable as Shaftesbury is included in The Breeze (Somerset & Dorset) radio station.


    Ofcom's original plan was for the approved areas to closely match ITV regions. No real surprise then that, as Ofcom's areas don't match the ITV regions at all, the large radio groups are asking for areas which do closely match the ITV regions.

  • Although popular enough for Global to acquire it to extend the Heart Network into Cornwall.

    I think they thought they would have the same success as Pitrate FM had

    They didn't

  • I think they thought they would have the same success as Pitrate FM had

    They didn't

    If Pirate FM is such a success why did UKRD sell up?


    I doubt that any fully staffed local radio station is sustainable in this day and age, there is simply too much competition for the advertising market, UKRD found some success by running radio stations mainly in areas where there was no direct competition, such as the North Yorkshire stations which have no real commercial alternatives covering the same area. Some of the smaller areas with direct competition such as Star North East and Sun FM had already been disposed of, along with The Bee / 2BR, which Global needed to extend the reach of Capital beyond Manchester in the North West. Networking allows the broadcaster to cut costs by sharing programmes between stations, which UKRD was doing in North Yorkshire, sharing programmes between Minster, Stray & Yorkshire Coast Radio. With no sister stations nearby, Pirate didn't have that option and automated programming doesn't hold an audience.


    ILRs could be quite profitable in the 80s but these stations can no longer attract that amount of listeners and the advertisers are going elsewhere to reach more people.

  • If Pirate FM is such a success why did UKRD sell up?

    I don't know, why do any of these big organisations sell off their assets?

  • UKRD wasn't a big organisation, it was a relatively small player. They grew their market share in 2009 by buying out TLRC but then had to dispose of the less profitable stations. The portfolio was made up of mainly third tier ILR franchises (the ones held back because the areas were relatively unprofitable) and the SALLIES - the small town / city based stations, many of which never turned a profit.


    We are now in a time where radio listening is in decline and advertising revenue is dwindling. These areas are useful as satellite transmission sites to extend the large networks with minimal operating costs, but left alone they stations would just go bust. They sold up to take the money and run before the debts mount up. It's been known for a long time that UTV (Wireless Group) wanted to dispose of their local radio stations.


    For Bauer, the big expansion plans really got underway with the purchases of Absolute Radio and the Orion Group. The fact that Bauer acquired UKRD, Lincs FM Group, Celador and and the Wireless Group local stations within a few weeks of each other is a pretty strong indication that these groups were looking to exit the local radio market without delay. Global had already been cherry picking the best stations to expand their networks, but even Global purchased the radio assets of the CN Group to extend Heart and Smooth into North Lancashire / South Cumbria. Communicorp has also been expanding Global's network though their franchising agreement. Communicorp bought the Heart Hertfordshire franchise from Adventure Radio and also bought Bob FM in the north of the county from Shadow Radio Holdings, merging both stations into an enlarged Heart Hertfordshire franchise, covering the whole county. Communicorp also bought the Connect Radio stations from Adventure Radio and absorbed these to extend its own Smooth East Midlands franchise. Quidem's stations in the Midlands have been little more than automated juke boxes for some time, rather than sell to Global, they now have a franchise agreement with Global to carry the new Capital Mid-Counties across their portfolio.


    As you can see, the small independent networks seem to be making a mad rush for the exit.

  • An interesting observation. Just as Bryanluc has stated, the general impression in the radio discussion groups has been of Atlantic being the most popular radio station in Cornwall, and the station most suited to the Cornish way of life. However, the listening figures don't concur with the anecdotal evidence.


    As can be expected for the industry has a whole, the figures for Atlantic show a steady decline over the years. Whereas the audience reach was almost 14 hrs/week in 2004/5, by the end of 2019 it had fallen to just over 7 hrs/week.


    The stats for Heart Cornwall / Atlantic FM are the most interesting, while those figures were available, prior to it merging with other local Heart areas with Cornish stats ending in 2015. Although Atlantic has been on a progressive downward slope for several years, Heart was actually increasing its market share and hrs/wk stats.


    https://media.info/radio/stati…rate-fm/listening-figures


    https://media.info/radio/stati…ornwall/listening-figures

  • Atlantic set itself up as an alternative to Pirate thinking it would cash in on the popularity of a local independent radio programme. It never really took off, the presenters were all failed cat offs from Pirate

    So Heart took over, trying to impose an "up country" programme on a very parochial audience. The Cornish do not like the English

  • Although that's not quite historically correct, Atlantic didn't suddenly decide to appear in an attempt to usurp Pirate.


    The IBA clearly didn't feel that Cornwall could support an ILR as they didn't advertise the region during their remit. Their main consideration when advertising these areas was that any licensed station should be able to support itself from the potential advertising revenue. I don't know though, maybe in Cornwall's case it was just held back because the English do not like the Cornish. ;)


    Under the Radio Authority, things were slightly different (even though it was still technically the IBA with a new name but with a "lighter touch" remit). The licences, after this point, basically went to the highest bidder with the main consideration being to increase choice. Pirate didn't launch until 1992, almost 2 decades after the first of the English ILRs and, by this time, the FM band had been extended to allow broadcasting to replace the emergency services on the higher frequencies. As a consequence, the new licences were FM only and the newer stations only operated a single service rather than the 2 FM + AM services operated in the legacy areas. Atlantic didn't arrive until 2006, the era of the SALLIES but, for some reason, Atlantic didn't just get a town based licence area but largely matched the licence area of Pirate. That's all down to the licensing authority deciding on which areas would get additional franchises.


    As with most of the rest of the country, the newbies had problems establishing an audience and gaining listeners from the established ILR service. People have a natural resistance to change. The audience figures show that Atlantic had mixed fortunes with figures fluctuating over time without a consistent upward or downward trend. Hours per listener had been progressively improving between 2009 and March 2011 but then dropped suddenly.


    Heart arrived in 2012, with an immediate improvement in listening figures, which continued to improve as the local programmes ended, being replaced by programming from Devon. By March 2015, the market share of Atlantic had increased from 3.4% to 8.8% in a period when there was a downward trend in general across the country. During the same period, Pirate's market share dropped from 13.9% to 11.7% with the downward trend continuing thereafter.


    It's hard to make direct comparisons after September 2015 as that's when Cornwall was replaced with the South West as the survey area for Heart. Nevertheless, the South West stats show that Heart's figures declining slowly, as is the national trend, with Atlantic also in decline but its decline is sharper.


    The stats show Heart's audience increasing as editorial regions have been merged, something I hadn't expected. For Atlantic / Heart, programmes have moved from Cornwall to Devon and then to London & Bath with networking. Over this period, its audience figures have improved. Maybe the Cornish, secretly, like the English after all. Shhh! though. I won't tell anyone. ;)


    Overall, the trends show the benefit of regional mergers as local services become unsustainable.

  • A decision has finally been made on what Bauer will do with its recent acquisitions. Most of the acquisitions, as expected, will join the Greatest Hits Radio network. The legacy tier 1 & 2 ILRs acquired from the Wireless Group will see their FM services joining the Hits Radio network (Pulse 1 (Bradford), Signal 1 (Stoke on Trent) and The Wave 96.4 (Swansea) - which will keep their existing names as other legacy radio stations in the Hits Radio network have done. The ex Wireless Group legacy AM/medium wave stations will be merged into the Greatest Hits Radio network. Fire Radio in Bournemouth will also join the Hits Radio network and keep its existing name.


    Again, as expected, Nation will enter into a brand licensing agreement with Bauer. These being the radio stations formerly owned by the groups acquired by Bauer (those purchased by Nation as their service areas overlapped existing Bauer station coverage areas). So mirroring the brand licensing agreements between Global and Communicorp. Nation-owned The Breeze 107 (South Coast), will be renamed Hits Radio, with Nation-owned KCFM (Hull) and SAM FM (South Coast) becoming GHR. As the stations under the brand licensing arrangements are not owned by Bauer, they will be required to provide the minimum hours of local broadcasting required by Ofcom. Currently this means either a locally produced breakfast or drivetime show on weekdays only.


    Lincs FM in Lincoln, Pirate FM in Cornwall and Sam FM in Bristol will continue without a rebrand and without joining a network for the moment. This is consistent with the approach in the East Midlands, where GEM 106 has some autonomy although, technically, is included in the Hits Radio network. These are areas (other than Bristol) which don't have legacy AM & FM services to join both of the existing GHR and HR networks. Perhaps Bauer will introduce a third network with a service catering for a wider range of music from both the HR (more recent hits) and GHR (older/classic hits) networks, appealing to a less targeted audience. Quite surprising that the same, middle of the road, approach hasn't been adopted for the UKRD acquisitions in North Yorkshire although these are a fairly good fit for GHR. That said, Lincs FM would also be a good fit for GHR.


    This opens the way for Bauer's regional Kiss stations covering East Anglia and the Severn Estuary to perhaps rebrand and join the HR network. Kiss is already available as a national station on DAB, so currently there is some duplication. Newer acquisitions in these regions having joined the GHR network.


    Many of the stations joining the GHR network in the North will allow Bauer to close the medium wave transmitters in these areas. MW transmitters are expensive to run and listening on those frequencies is at an all time low. Peak FM joining GHR is a surprise, it might have been better for it to have merged with Hallam FM in the HR network. However, Dearne, Rother and Trax joining the GHR network will leave Sheffield uncovered in the new GHR FM coverage in South Yorkshire. Not a major problem, Sheffield could keep the medium wave transmitter. Perhaps the plan is to use overspill from Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster & Bassetlaw and Chesterfield to cover as much of the Sheffield area as possible. That could also explain the UKRD services in North Yorks joining the GHR network. Ridings FM would only add GHR to the Wakefield area of West Yorkshire but, perhaps, with overspill from Wakefield, Harrogate and York, much of Leeds would also be covered.


    Bauer owned Wave 105 on the South Coast doesn't fit easily into the network structure, with overlapping SAM and Breeze already added to the GHR & HR networks through brand licensing.


    Clearly, the mergers and networking will result in a lot of regular and freelance staff losing their jobs. An unfortunate sign of the times.


    More about the regional structure of the new networks and how existing and newly acquired stations will fit into the new structure will be considered in later posts.


    https://www.bauermedia.co.uk/n…-commercial-radio-network

  • Like in the tv world, there are now far fewer companies doing radio, which will ultimately mean less choice in the end.


    I reckon going by all that info, local radio is something only the BBC will do in the end. And I don't care what Ofcom say about minimum amounts of local programming, we had all that with ITV pre the Broadcasting Act of 1990 and look where we are now.


    I can understand about getting rid of non FM stations, but ultimately this is all about merging local stations into generic national stations.


    BTW, I never thanked jj on a good original thread. Thanks JJ.:thumbup:

    If my post is in this colour, it is a moderator decision. Please abide by it.

  • Ofcom aren't overly concerned about the minimum quota for local broadcasting. It can't be reduced any further without a change in the law and parliament has been somewhat tied up with Brexit and Covid-19, so that hasn't happened yet. It will. Pretty much everyone in the industry knows that commercial "local" radio is dead. Bauer needs some good brand names to build their future, HR hasn't really taken off and the Magic AM brands performed better than GHR, although networking London's Magic FM wasn't popular and lost a lot of listeners. There isn't much brand loyalty for the current network names. The latest set of mergers will reduce choice in so far as it will mean that adjacent areas will simply be duplicating local content rather than providing something slightly different. Or maybe the ultra local FM services (SALLIES) which will shortly be carrying the radio services already available on AM. Ultra local is a misconception as most of these stations merged and co-located long ago. Ridings FM moved in with Dearne FM in Barnsley, Trax FM in Bassetlaw moved in with its sister station in Doncaster. Ultimately, Dearne FM and Rother FM also moved into the Doncaster site. Soon, the content will all be from GHR in Manchester. I doubt that many people will miss these stations, Lincs FM Group stations sounded very dated and the voice tracked presentation, with the same presenter covering all stations, wasn't very appealing.


    Oddly, as these media giants close down local services, they do tend to open further national stations on DAB, covering different genres of music. So perhaps more choice in a way, just not more local choice.


    Many of the smaller stations being swallowed up by the "big two" covered areas that were too small to be carried over the geographically larger DAB networks. Many of these were earmarked for the new small scale DAB multiplexes. Following the acquisitions and mergers, the larger merged stations more closely match the DAB coverage areas and can now afford carriage. Or, where they are replacing an AM service, the service will already be present on DAB. Raising the question, how much demand will there be for SS-DAB without these stations?


    There are still gaps in networks such as GHR, perhaps Bauer will now seek to extend GHR further into Greater Manchester and try to buy out Revolution FM (Oldham) and Imagine Radio (Stockport), maybe extending into Cheshire by acquiring Dee 106.3 (Chester) and Silk FM (Macclesfield). Perhaps Mansfield FM would be an appealing target to consolidate coverage in the East Midlands. There is a slight problem in that Global has already acquired some of the smaller stations that would fill in the gaps, so neither of the media giants is likely to get full coverage.


    Some stations will be safe, such as Nation's Sun FM in Sunderland, which recently extended coverage into Durham and Darlington with the acquisition of Durham FM & Alpha FM. Even with the extended coverage, the area overlaps Bauer's Metro Radio & TFM, Global's Capital & Heart and Communicorp's brand licensed Smooth. So probably not very attractive to any of these. But who knows? Maybe another brand licence for GHR as medium wave services are closed in the North East - that really would give patchy coverage.

  • Bauer has already started to stamp its image on recent acquisitions with the former Wireless Group stations Signal 1, Pulse 1 and The Wave (Swansea) adapting playlists, jingles etc to fit into the Hits Radio format, "The Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks". Already taking some evening and weekend content from the network. Some of the former Wireless Group stations (Peak FM, The Wave (Blackpool), Tower FM, Wire FM, Wish FM & Signal 105) are also taking some evening and weekend content from the GHR network. With all stations joining the GHR network due to make the full changeover by September.


    The Pulse 2 website is indicating that changes there are due from Monday. Radio Today is reporting that former Wireless Group stations, Pulse 2 & Peak FM (in the Yorkshire, Lincolnshire + N Midlands region), The Wave (Blackpool), Tower FM, Wire FM & Wish FM (in the North West) and Signal 2 & Signal 105 (in the West Midlands) will start taking programmes from the GHR network from Monday 13th but will retain local breakfast shows for the moment.


    Similarly, Radio Today is reporting that ex Celador Group stations, Dream 100, Radio Norfolk, North Norfolk Radio, The Beach & Town 102 (DAB) (all in the East region) together with The Breeze stations (in the South and South West regions) will also start taking programmes from the GHR network on the same date.


    The presenter of the GHR network breakfast show will present the drivetime show on these stations until September. Presumably, at that point, the regional breakfast show presenters will switch into the drivetime slot as breakfast becomes networked.


    According to the Radio Today news report, Signal 1 and Pulse 1 will take more shows from the Hits Radio network from the following Monday (July 20th) other than local weekday breakfast shows. Indicating that these stations will be fully integrated into the Hits Radio network from that date. Swansea's The Wave will also take programmes from the network from July 20th but will keep the local mid morning and drivetime programmes in addition to the breakfast show.


    For now, the ex-UKRD and ex-Lincs FM stations set to join the GHR network in September will keep their existing schedules.


    https://www.pulse2.co.uk/news/…ding-different-next-week/


    https://radiotoday.co.uk/2020/…ts-to-new-radio-stations/

    Edited 2 times, last by jj20x ().

  • In areas where Bauer only runs one radio station, rather that the legacy AM / FM dual station regions, it has traditionally operated a modified schedule for these stations, adopting a broader spectrum of genres in the playlist including content from both GHR & Hits Radio playlists. Stations such as Gem in the East Midlands and CFM in Cumbria have therefore retained more local content than the other stations in the group. It was no surprise that Bauer announced that a similar policy was announced for new acquisitions, Lincs FM in Lincolnshire and Pirate FM in Cornwall.


    The move towards networking has fuelled speculation on radio forums that Bauer would, perhaps, form a third network to provide off-peak programming for these networks. However, maybe the latest summary of changes produced by Bauer gives more of a clue to the future of these stand alone stations.


    https://www.bauermedia.co.uk/h…obrandnetwork-stationlist


    Quote

    The following new stations will be introduced:

    GHR – Cornwall, GHR - East Mids, GHR - Lincolnshire.

    The new DAB-only GHR services will remove the need to operate Pirate, Gem & Lincs as standalone services and allow them, over time, to adopt the playlist and be more tightly integrated with the Hits Radio network.


    Similarly, as soon as the North Cumbria DAB multiplex is launched, Bauer will be able to launch a GHR - Cumbria on DAB, allowing CFM to be fully integrated into the Hits Radio network.


    Radio Borders and West Sound Dumfries & Galloway are, technically, in a similar position but currently these locations do not have a DAB multiplex. However, West Sound Dumfries & Galloway has already adopted the Scottish GHR format, with Radio Borders adopting the Scottish version of the Hits Radio format.

    Edited once, last by jj20x ().

  • I get bored with wall to wall non- stop music channels. If I want to listen to music I prefer to choose my own, rather than listen to other people's choice, by listening to Spotify or Utube........... I do like discussions and now that Talk Radio has moved to DAB2 and Times radio has taken it's place on the DAB waveband, I am enjoying listening to Times Radio.

    All. Lives Matter

  • I get bored with wall to wall non- stop music channels. If I want to listen to music I prefer to choose my own, rather than listen to other people's choice, by listening to Spotify or Utube..........

    Spotify and other streaming services basically took the audience away from radio, which is why legacy stations are now struggling to survive.


    I do like discussions and now that Talk Radio has moved to DAB2 and Times radio has taken it's place on the DAB waveband, I am enjoying listening to Times Radio.

    Interesting that the Wireless Group didn't put the newer Times Radio onto DAB+ given that they promoted it as an upgrade for Talkradio.


    I hope the interviews become a little more challenging, the current approach is a little too friendly. Perhaps the trend for politicians to constantly repeat the mantra rather than actually answer questions makes this the easier approach. Unfortunately, the listeners won't learn very much from this type of interview.

    Edited once, last by jj20x ().

  • The new DAB ensembles for the Channel Islands, North and West Cumbria & Morecambe and Lancaster have each been given an extra year to launch the new ensembles because of the Covid-19 situation. All licensees hope to launch before the extended deadline.


    It's all change on DAB for the new Bauer acquisitions. Pulse 80s will be removed from Bradford & Huddersfield, Signal 80s will be removed from Stoke-on-Trent and Wave 80s will be removed from Swansea. Surrey will lose Eagle 80s and Encore Radio and Suffolk will lose Suffolk First.


    The ex-Wireless Group ensembles now under Bauer ownership (Bradford & Huddersfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea) will add Absolute Classic Rock, Country Hits, Hits Radio, Magic Chilled & Magic Soul, in line with the mix of channels on the existing Bauer ensembles. Stoke-on-Trent will also add Magic Musicals.


    Most, if not all, of these changes should take place overnight on Sunday and be in place by Monday.


    Edit: Encore Radio was removed from the Surrey ensemble and Suffolk First was removed from Suffolk as expected. The 80s stations remain for now with the extra Bauer digital stations still to be added to the former Wireless Group ensembles.

    Edited once, last by jj20x ().

  • Thanks for the updates JJ.:thumbup::)


    Radio is not something I follow closely these days, so it's good that someone is keeping up to date with things.

    If my post is in this colour, it is a moderator decision. Please abide by it.

  • Some of the decisions made by Bauer about which networks the acquired stations should join don't make a lot of sense.


    Using brand licensing for the stations now owned by Nation in the Solent area brings 3 Bauer brands to the area. When we looked at the South and South West, the assumption was that the stations acquired by Bauer in the South would be used to extend the coverage of The Wave 105, which is relatively close to the format of the UKRD stations and seemed to be a good match. The decision to license Hits Radio and GHR to the stations acquired by Nation means there will be a significant crossover between these and The Wave. Effectively, the stations will be competing with each other in the same market. The assumption for the South West was that these stations would also follow the format of The Wave 105 or of Pirate FM, but be based centrally at Bristol.


    It seems that Bauer has gone for the one size fits all option and thrown most of the new acquisitions into the GHR network. GHR is understandable for the ex UKRD stations in the North West and for the ex Lincs FM stations in Yorkshire where Bauer don't need extra stations so are mopping up the frequencies to bring GHR to FM. Possibly allowing for the closure of the medium wave transmitters, or reallocating medium wave to one of the digital services, as Bauer did in the West Midlands before handing back the MW licences.


    Bradford, Stoke and Swansea are no brainers, easily dropping into the AM/FM split pattern of most of Bauer's legacy stations.


    The East and North Midlands stations could have been integrated in a much more creative way. Rather than dumping ex UKRD Peak FM and ex Lincs FM Group Rutland Radio as isolated islands into the GHR pool, Rutland and the Matlock frequency of Peak FM could have been merged into Gem, consolidating its rather odd coverage area.


    The Chesterfield transmitter of Peak could have been added to Hallam FM. Similarly, the Worksop transmitter of Trax FM could also have been added to Hallam FM. Matching FM coverage to the DAB service area. Bauer have stated that they intend to organise stations at a multiplex level and this would have made more sense than the current patch work approach.


    The East Anglian stations joining GHR makes sense if the Norfolk regional version of Kiss is transformed into an East Anglian Hits Radio network station. At the moment, it has no local services and is a local repeater of the national station. Similarly, if the Severn Estuary version of Kiss also becomes Hits Radio, then it would make more sense for the South Western acquisitions to join GHR than to be linked with Pirate.


    North Yorkshire is probably the biggest mystery of all. It is a massive gap between the Yorkshire Hits Radio group stations and TFM in the North East. The most logical move would have been to merge Minster, Stray and YCR into a new Hits Radio station for North Yorkshire and the HR format isn't too far away from the UKRD formats, providing blanket coverage of Hits Radio across the entire region. Instead Bauer is merging all 3 into GHR and significantly changing the genre of the station.


    It will be interesting to see how the RAJAR figures move over the next 12 months or so...