Gold will take over the 1332AM Peterborough and 1557AM Northampton frequencies from Smooth Radio. The change will take place when Connect FM is merged into Smooth Radio’s FM network.
Connect FM was acquired by Communicorp earlier this year, who decided to merge the station into their Smooth East Midlands franchise. As yet, a date for the merge has yet to be announced. Connect FM currently covers Corby, Kettering, and Peterborough.
Meanwhile, Wohnort DAB reports that Connect FM has been relabeled Radio UP on the Herts Beds Bucks local DAB multiplex.
Note: Smooth Radio is almost entirely networked across multiple local and regional licenses, and as such fails the criteria for inclusion on the station guide of this website. Connect FM has not been included due to the plan to merge the station into Smooth Radio. Additionally, Gold fails the criteria, due it being owned by the domineering monopoly corporation of Global.
Global Radio’s Gold is to launch on the D1 National DAB multiplex on Monday (10th June). The service is expected to use DAB+, and occupy some of the space vacated when Heart Extra and Smooth Extra switched to DAB+ earlier this week.
Despite some reports suggesting that the service has already gone live, Gold is yet to appear on the D1 National multiplex. Nor is the service returning there, as to my knowledge Gold has never been broadcast on the D1 National multiplex before.
Gold is currently available in some areas on MW (AM) and DAB (normal format, 128 kbps stereo). It is unclear whether the service will stay on these platforms.
It is anticipated that Global will also launch another DAB+ service on the D1 National DAB multiplex. Details of this service have not been revealed.
Note: Gold fails the criteria for inclusion in the station guide, as the service is owned and operated by Global Radio, who are a domineering monopoly. Additionally, the service quality is deemed to be poor, as the majority of the service is automated without an obvious reason or benefit.
Global Radio has switched Heart Extra and Smooth Extra to DAB+. Both services operate on the D1 National multiplex.
Whilst both stations are now in stereo, a number of listeners will loose access, as many older DAB radios are not compatible with the newer DAB+ format. Heart Extra is using a bit rate of 32 kbps, giving relatively poor audio quality. Smooth Extra is using the slightly higher bit rate of 40 kbps.
This move frees up space on the D1 National multiplex, and will likely fuel rumours of the launch of a new station called Heart Dance.
In the past few days, it has been announced that Global Radio have acquired Lancashire local radio station 2BR from UKRD. 2BR currently broadcasts in Central and East Lancashire on four FM frequencies, from studios in Hyndburn. The station also broadcasts on Lancashire DAB (64kbps mono), and recently celebrated being on-air for 18 years, having first launched in July 2000. The station has grown since it first launched, with Central FM and The Bee merging into 2BR.
So what does this mean for listeners? Initially, the station will carry on unchanged, but Global has a history of rebranding stations into their national brands of Capital, Heart, and Smooth. As Heart is already available in the area, as Heart North West (formerly Real Radio) and Heart Cumbria and North Lancashire (formerly The Bay), it seems unlikely that 2BR will become Heart. There is a possibility that some or all of 2BR frequencies might be used to plug gaps in the coverage of the existing Heart stations.
Capital, although with a more hit music based format than 2BR, could launch on the frequencies, as Capital is not currently available in the area. Smooth Radio, with a limited coverage of the area may expand it’s coverage area.
Either way, a rebrand is almost certain. Local output will drop to 7 hours weekdays (Breakfast and Drivetime), and 4 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Most current presenters are likely to leave the station. Significant change is on the cards.