Bauer to re-brand heritage radio stations to Hits Radio

Today, Bauer has announced that Free Radio, Gem Radio, Hallam FM, Lincs FM, Metro Radio, Pulse 1, Radio City, Rock FM, Signal 1, TFM, Viking FM and Wave Swansea are rebranding to Hits Radio. The changes will take place in April 2024.

Programmes are staying the same, with local breakfast shows followed by nationally produced programming at all other times. Current local or regional news, information, traffic and travel and ads will also remain. The Hits brand is home to shows from nationally known presenters including Fleur East, Sam Thompson, Gemma Atkinson and Sarah Jane Crawford, along with local breakfast shows.

The move means an end to heritage radio brands such as Metro, City and Hallam which are half a century old.

Bauer Media Audio UK CEO, Simon Myciunka said: ‘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.’

Gary Stein, Group Programme Director for the Hits Radio Network said: ‘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.’

The following stations will be rebranded to Hits Radio:

·       Free Radio Birmingham

·       Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire

·       Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire

·       Free Radio Black Country & Shropshire

·       Gem Radio

·       Hallam FM

·       Lincs FM

·       Metro Radio

·       Pulse 1

·       Radio City

·       Rock FM

·       Signal 1

·       TFM

·       Viking FM

·       Wave Swansea

Our View

This news marks a brave, if not entirely unexpected, new strategy from Bauer. The huge success of the Greatest Hits Radio network will have given Bauer the confidence that re-branding local stations and focusing on a ‘national brand, local delivery’ strategy can succeed. Much like they have done with Greatest Hits Radio, they will be hoping that a larger national brand will be able to attract big name talent and increase reach and share. These changes now mean that just shy of 2.8million listeners will have Hits Radio as their local station. This move also gives them a larger base to create a more representative competitor to Heart.

Only time will tell if Bauer will re-brand their Scottish stations as the Hits Radio Network, and we suspect they will wait to judge the success of this move before they do so.

Of course, RAJAR figures over the next 18-24 months will be the ultimate mark of success, but whilst it is a shame to see heritage names disappear from the market it creates a simplified product with huge potential for further growth.

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