Bauer is to scrap local weekend programmes across the ‘Hits Radio’ network of stations in England and Scotland. Separate programmes will be programmes are to be aired across the local stations in England plus Hits Radio, with a the Scottish stations having their own show.
Meanwhile the number of breakfast shows on Free Radio are to be reduced, with Birmingham, Shropshire and the Black Country sharing a show, while Coventry, Warkwickshire, and Hereford and Worcester will share a show. A single drivetime show is also to be introduced for the whole Free Radio network in the West Midlands.
Hits Radio is also due to get a new breakfast show, although the new line up is yet to be announced.
These changes do not apply to any of the UKRD, Wireless, Lincs FM Group, or Celador stations that Bauer recently acquired.
Update: Radio City, based in Liverpool, is to retain its current local shows on Saturday and Sunday.
As reported earlier, Bauer Media have acquired both the Lincs FM Group and Celador Radio. Here are further details of the stations acquired.
The following stations have been acquired with the Celador Radio portfolio:
- The Breeze (Andover)
- The Breeze (Bristol)
- The Breeze (Basingstoke & North Hampshire)
- The Breeze (Bath)
- The Breeze (Bridgwater & West Somerset)
- The Breeze (Cheltenham & North Gloucestershire)
- The Breeze (East Hampshire & South West Surrey)
- The Breeze (Frome & West Wiltshire)
- The Breeze (Newbury)
- The Breeze (North Dorset)
- The Breeze (North Somerset)
- The Breeze (Reading)
- The Breeze (South Devon)
- The Breeze (Yeovil & South Somerset)
- The Breeze (Winchester, Portsmouth, and Southampton)
- Sam FM (Bristol)
- Sam FM (Swindon)
- Sam FM (South Coast)
- Sam FM (Thames Valley – DAB)
- Dream 100 FM (Colchester)
- Town DAB (Ipswich – DAB)
- The Beach (Norfolk)
- North Norfolk Radio (Norfolk)
- Radio Norwich 99.9 (Norwich)
- Fire Radio (Bournemouth and Poole)
The following stations have been acquired as part of the Lincs FM Group:
- Lincs FM (Lincolnshire & Newark)
- Compass FM (North East Lincolnshire)
- Trax FM (Doncaster & Bassetlaw)
- Dearne FM (Barnsley, Penistone and the Dearne Valley)
- Rutland Radio (Stamford & Rutland)
- Ridings FM (the Wakefield district)
- Rother FM (Rotherham)
- Suffolk First (Suffolk – DAB)
- KCFM (Hull)
Some stations are to be sold on immediately to Nation Broadcasting, to avoid competition issues. These are KCFM in Hull, and The Breeze (Winchester, Portsmouth, and Southampton) and Sam FM South Coast in the Solent region.
It is yet to be announced what changes will take place at any of these stations, although it is likely that Bauer will merge several into their Hits Radio and Greatest Hits Radio brands.
Nation Broadcasting are yet to reveal what changes they will make to their new additions, but haven’t ruled out an expansion of the Nation Radio brand.
Wohnort.com is starting to report several changes to the sound quality (bit rates) of many of Bauer Media’s local services. Many of the Hits Radio and Greatest Hits Radio network stations have dropped from 128 to 112 kbps.
A more extreme example is the newly launched Manchester version of Greatest Hits Radio which is now mono at 80 kbps.
As yet there appears to be no changes to local DAB Bauer services in Scotland.
Whilst I’m here there is a slight change to the coverage area of Talk Radio, Talk Sport 2, Vand Virgin Radio, which are operated by Wireless Group. These are now on the Swansea South West Wales local DAB multiplex. Full details will be posted in a separate article once known.
Bauer have opted to cease broadcasting the syndicated Big Top 40 Chart show when the contract expires in December. A ‘This Weeks Biggest Hits’ show will be networked from Hits Radio instead. This will likely fuel rumours that Bauer will ditch local station names.
Global Radio, who produce the Big Top 40, have now chosen to withdraw the programme from syndication, affecting smaller stations operated by UKRD, Wireless Group, Quidem, Lincs FM Group and Nation Broadcasting.
From the new year, the Big Top 40 will only be heard on the Capital and Heart networks.
Here is this weeks news round up:
With Key103 becoming Hits Radio, Key 2 has changed its name to Key Radio. Absolute Classic Rock has joined the Manchester DAB multiplex, broadcasting in mono at 80kbps
London DAB stations Thames Radio will rebrand to Nation Radio later this month, but will remain separate from the current Nation Radio in Wales.
Devon community radio station Bay FM has relaunched as Exmouth Air.
Zack FM and Panda Radio have joined the Norwich trial DAB multiplex. Both use stereo DAB+ at 40 and 48kbps respectively, so not all radios will receive these stations. Antenna Radio has been removed from this multiplex.
BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Stoke have changed channel numbers on Freeview. Both can now be found on channel 726.
In connection with the upcoming launch of Hits Radio, Bauer have made some changes to their DAB service line up.
Absolute Radio 70s and Kerrang ceased broadcasting in London. Their two mono slots have been combined to provide a stereo slot for Hits Radio. Absolute Radio 70s and Kerrang are now available on the Tayside DAB multiplex.
Magic Soul has left the Birmingham multiplex, with Hits Radio taking over the space.
Hits Radio has been added to several local multiplexes, using vacant space. Except in London, the station broadcasts in DAB using 80kbps mono, and should be available on most DAB receivers.
The Hits, which currently broadcasts across Scotland and northern England will become Hits Radio from the 4th of June.
Bauer Media are re-branding Key 103 in Manchester as Hits Radio, on the 4th June. This service will also replace The Hits, and existing national service. A local service, presumably with existing local breakfast and drive time shows will be available in Manchester, with a national version carried elsewhere.
The Hits for a time, aligned with Bauer’s local brands forming a small network of ‘3’ stations in Scotland and Northern England, but has remained as The Hits on Freeview throughout.
This news comes after increasing cost cutting measures across Bauer’s radio stations, with Northsound 2 going digital only, and a reduction in Absolute Radio’s medium wave network about to take place. There has also been increases in the amount of Network programmes on some stations.
UPDATE: Hits Radio will also provide networked programmes all Bauer FM stations, including mid-morning, afternoon, and evening shows. Gethin Jones, and Dave Vitty will join Gemma Atkinson on the Manchester breakfast show, with Wes Butters hosting the Drivetime show. Mike Toolan moves to mid-mornings across the network. This explains the recently introduced ‘All The Hits on …’ slogan on the existing Bauer City network stations.