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End of an era as more original ILR stations axed including Metro Radio and Radio City


End of an era as more original ILR stations axed including Metro Radio and Radio City

The rebrand of the Bauer Media Group owned stations takes place this April…

Bauer Media Audio UK CEO, Simon Myciunka:

‘Today marks a brand-new chapter in the history of these local stations as they become Hits Radio. The stations’ transformation into a nationally recognised brand ensures that we will continue to provide our listeners with the content they love, seamlessly blending the best that local and national radio has to offer.’

Metro Radio in Newcastle launched in July 1974 and Radio City hit the air in October of the same year. TFM, which launched as Radio Tees began broadcasting June 1975. Originally stand-alone Independent Local Radio stations over the years more and more content has been shared between each of the stations, with a united operation known as the Hits Radio Network in England and Wales – home to shows from nationally known presenters including Fleur East, Sam Thompson, Gemma Atkinson and Sarah Jane Crawford, along with local Breakfast shows.

Bauer Media Audio UK has today confirmed that fifteen of its regional stations in England and Wales are to rebrand to Hits Radio from April this year. Despite the rebrand and loss of some of the heritage names, Bauer promises that there will still be plenty of ‘local’ content broadcast across the network. With a music formula of current chart hits and biggest throwbacks, listeners will still be able to enjoy a mixture of local and national programming as well as all of their regular local news, information, traffic and travel.

Originally from breakfast through to late night, each station would offer a full regionally tailored output with Metro Radio in the North East for example offering everything from a breakfast show with travel, news and local features to a late-night phone-in. There was also a mix of offerings to wide age ranges from Love In the Afternoon to Hits not Homework and a two-hour retro chart rewind at lunchtimes on Sunday. The ILR stations were linked, via the regulator the IBA, to ITV stations with cross-promotions for many years. This practice ended in 1991.

Gary Stein, Group Programme Director for the Hits Radio Network:

‘We are passionate about radio and the unique mix of companionship, information and entertainment that it offers and want to make sure it thrives in years to come. The audio landscape has evolved dramatically in recent years and, thanks to advances in digital listening, there is even more choice for audiences than ever before. By transforming local stations into this nationally recognised brand, we’re really excited by the potential that Hits Radio has to grow.’

There will be no scheduling or local presenter changes as a result of this rebrand and all stations will retain their Breakfast shows the company have also confirmed.

The following stations will be rebranded to Hits Radio:

Free Radio Birmingham. Originally BRMB launched in February 1974. BRMB last year re-launched as an ultra-local station for just Birmingham city. Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire originally Mercia Sound began transmitting in 1980 while Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire began life in 1982 as Radio Wyvern. Free Radio Black Country & Shropshire started broadcasting in April 1976 as Beacon Radio.

Gem Radio has already had several names having launched its Nottingham service in September 1997 as Radio 106. As part of an expansion of North East Century Radio 100-102FM, it was rebranded as Century 106 a year later – coinciding with the launch of Century 105 for the North West (which is now a Heart station). A failed bid to launch a Leeds Century Radio in 1999 (after a month-long trial service) saw no further ‘Century’ named stations and, eventually, all the Century names were defunct; after a spell as Heart Nottingham, the station for the East Midlands became Gem Radio in 2010.

West Yorkshire’s Pulse 1 with for many years its memorable jingle’s, ‘You’re on the Pulse’, first went to transmission in September 1975 as Pennine Radio, rebranding as Pulse FM in 1991. Signal 1 began as Singal Radio in 1983 for Staffordshire and South Cheshire. while Viking FM took to the air in April 1984 broadcasting to the East Riding of Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire. The Wave broadcasting to Swansea launched in 1974 as Swansea Sound. Rock FM started life in 1982 as Red Rose Radio for Lancashire.

Another long-established brand is Hallam FM, launching as Radio Hallam for Sheffield in October 1974 and Lincolnshire’s Lincs FM ‘The songs you grew up with, from the Humber to the Wash’ began broadcasting in March 1992. As noted earlier Metro Radio, Radio City and TFM are also changing to Hits Radio.

Last year independent broadcaster Boom Radio celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first ILR station going on air.

Some of the ILR stations in the early 1980s

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