GMG Radio is planning to launch a powerful hybrid formatted station – half speech and half rock music.
Rock Talk will launch across the north east of England and will broadcast speech all day and classic rock music all night if the group's application for the new licence is successful. Other known bidders at this stage include GCap Media and Celador.
Aimed at the 35 – 64 year old adults, Rock Talk will serve a generation of listeners not already catered for in the Tyne & Wear and Teesside regions and will give speech radio a real chance of commercial success.
"This is the first time any group has mixed two formats together as a complete hybrid in this way but we believe, and our research shows, there is a real correlation between rock and speech," said GMG Radio Chief Executive John Myers.
"There's a gap in the market for speech, but as we believed in Manchester, a 24 hour talk station wasn't financially viable. This new format will provide a commercially sound platform for speech during peak hours, whilst retaining that audience during the evenings and weekends with the music of their youth."
This powerful unique format will also help commercial radio in the fight to claw back audience from the BBC.
Broadcasting to up to two million adults, Rock Talk would feature pure topical speech programmes of interest to listeners in the north east from 6am – 6pm every weekday, and classic rock music from legends such as The Who, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin from 6pm to 6am and all weekend.
Rock Talk is one of two applications that GMG Radio has submitted to regulator OFCOM for consideration. The second application is for its successful Smooth FM format, which targets the listener aged 50+ with a melodic mix of relaxing music from artists such as Abba, Dusty Springfield, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. Music from the 60s and 70s will provide the backbone of listening, while lifestyle orientated speech will also play an important part of the programme schedule.
The brand is already a huge success in the geographically similar north west region of England and GMG Radio believes Smooth FM has equally huge potential in the north east.
The group's extensive audience research revealed two gaps in the listening market in the region – one for speech and the second for a station serving the more mature adult.
John Myers added: "Research shows that there is more than one gap in the market in this region. They're both audience winners – we'll leave it to Ofcom to decide which one best serves the north east market!"