The big 'consolidation' of the radio industry had its pause button pressed after the big mergers of 2005. Emap and SRH stations were coming together, GCap Media sold a couple of stations and lost a few managers, UTV and SMG started talking seriously, and GMG wrote a couple of big cheques for quite a few regional radio stations.
It was the year of the podcast. Podcasts were launched by The Radio Academy, Manchester Utd and Big Brother!
Sally Oldham said hello and goodbye at TLRC, Michelle McManus said hello and goodbye to Clyde 1, Chris Moyles said "hello Ma'am" to The Queen, Essex FM said goodbye then hello to James Blunt, and UKRD said a final goodbye to Stroud.
2006 was also a sad year for radio as we lost a number of great radio people including Alan Freeman, Nick Clarke and Mike Dickin.
Join us as we go month by month through the world of UK radio during 2006, and bring you a few interesting and exclusive predictions for 2007.
CN Group won the new licence for Warwick, and closed down Kix 96 and FM102 The Bear. A week later a new Midlands brand appeared in the form of Touch. A Pete Price listener died live on air and made the national headlines. Capital FM re-launched as Capital Radio. After five years of digital broadcasting, The Storm closed down, and Christian O'Connell started his new breakfast show on Virgin Radio.
Interesting fact of the month: the audio of 'Terry' dying live on-air on Magic 1548 was downloaded over 10,000 times by people all over the world, with a particularly high download rate from Australia.
Saga Digital closed, Talk 107 and Touch FM Banbury launched, MNA won the new licence for Shrewsbury and Oswestry, and Johnnie Walker said he was giving up drivetime on BBC Radio 2. The RAB and CRCA announced plans to merge and form the RadioCentre, and
Michelle McManus joined Clyde 1 to host a weekly Saturday Night party.
Interesting fact of the month: The signs of Saga stripping down their radio assets started to appear with the closure of Saga Digital, and the rumours started about the closure of Primetime Radio.
Chris Evans is announced as the new drivetime presenter on BBC Radio 2, the new national chart show, The A List is launched. Scottie McClue joined Q96 and Sally Oldham joined TLRC as MD. CN Group sold Mid 106 FM in Co. Tyrone whilst Former Emap boss Tim Schoonmaker won the new Plymouth licence for Macquaire Bank. In Manchester, Xfm launched and GCap cancelled the sale of nine radio stations.
Interesting fact of the month: Diamond FM, the winning bid for Plymouth might not even make it on-air as rumours suggest Macquaire want to exit the UK radio scene just as fast as they entered it.
Another new station for Manchester as GMR reverts back to BBC Radio Manchester. GMG Radio boss John Myers returned to CFM to help celebrate their 13th birthday, and Chris Moyles met the Queen! Southend Radio won the Southend licence, whilst Capital Radio Managing Director Keith Pringle and Programme Director Nik Goodman left the building. Saga win the new licence for the northeast, and Emap bosses announced Bam Bam is leaving Kiss 100.
Interesting fact of the month: GMG wanted the northeast licence so much they entered two separate bids. They didn't win with either bid but eventually ended up with the licence having bought the radio assents of Saga later in the year!
A quiet month in radio apart from the Sony Awards. They see Chris Moyles awarded his first Sony in 16 years, whilst Kerrang walk away with four awards. Essex FM banned James Blunt in an obvious push to grab the media headlines, and Laser Broadcasting bought Sunshine 855 and Classic Hits. The battle between UTV, TLRC and Lincs FM for the Rotherham licence was won by Lincs FM Group.
Interesting fact of the month: United Radio commenced sponsorship of RadioToday.co.uk – a sponsorship that continues into 2007!
The closure of Primetime Radio and the launch of Channel 4 Radio. Milestone makes a final radio move with the sale of Passion 107.9 to Absolute Radio. River Media won the Newry licence with Five FM and Ofcom gave Emap a record fine for Kiss 100 of £175,000 for Bam Bam! DLT joins the Magic network and GMG bought Q96 on the condition they can house it at Real Radio in Glasgow. 99.9 Radio Norwich launched and the Arqiva Awards were announced in London with GCap Media taking home five awards.
Interesting fact of the month: We found out exactly why Bam Bam left Kiss 100 in such a hurry!
Yorkshire Radio launched on DAB, Laser Broadcasting purchased Quaywest and BCR and Virgin Radio launched on Freeview. Tindle Radio won the new licence for Andover and local group KCFM won Hull. Trevor Dann was named as new Director of the Radio Academy and UTV eyed up SMG with a view to putting in a bid worth 300 million
Interesting fact of the month: DNN is dumped as a rolling regional news service on DAB, to be replaced by LBC with local inserts.
Tindle Radio sells Bridge FM to Town and Country, and Star Bristol gets a yellow card. In the digital world, Dixons online dumps analogue radio saying the future is digital. Meanwhile SMG officially rejects an offer of a merger from UTV.
Interesting fact of the month: Just one application received for the Perth licence. But it still took Ofcom three months to decide who won!
UTV withdraws another merger offer, UKRD pulled the plug on Star Radio Stroud and TLRC disposed of Win FM. On a more positive note, Kiss expanded and launched across the East and West whilst Kiss 100 attracted a re-brand. Both Brunel FM and The Severn (x2) launched, and Exeter FM won the new licence for Exeter. MFM reverts back to their original name of Marcher Sound – due to listener feedback.
Interesting fact of the month: Passion 107.9 ended its life by playing the Muppets Mahna Mahna for six hours, hosted by radio anorak and big brother runner up Eugene Sully. FM107.9 was born shortly afterwards.
Smooth FM London asked for a format change, whilst owners GMG Radio bought the Century FM brand. Tindle station Town 102 launched, as did Rother FM and CanWest's first UK station Original 106. Absolute Radio introduced Jack to the UK by winning the Oxford licence and Sally Oldham ended her six-month contract as MD of TLRC.
Interesting fact of the month: It was the month which had radio people all over the UK asking what Hula Hooping had to do with Chrysalis brand Heart.
UTV made another approach to SMG (the result of which we are still waiting to hear), and TLRC sold The Rocket back to the original owner. Perth FM won the Perth licence, Emap won the Liverpool licence, and Swansea Bay Radio launched.
Interesting fact of the month: City Talk set to return in Liverpool. Did anyone actually predict Emap winning the Liverpool licence?
Q96 closes to make room for Rock Radio. GMG bought the Saga radio stations, and to end the year on a high. Smooth FM got the format change they requested. GCap Media launched a new national digital radio station 'theJazz', replacing Primetime Radio. UTV won the Preston licence in a hotly contested race, and Five FM Newry launched just six months after winning the licence.
Interesting fact of the month: theJazz launched on Christmas Day – but in mono and at 96Kbps.
So, what will 2007 bring the wonderful world of the wireless?
There has been lots of Stock Market activity recently for both SMG and UTV so we are expecting something exciting to happen very soon. SAGA will be removed from the airwaves and re-branded, and we'll have licence awards in South Wales, Herefordshire & Monmouthshire, Aberdeen and Manchester.
New radio stations are expected to launch in Northallerton, Warwick, Southend-on-Sea, Plymouth, Hull, Andover, Exeter, Bristol, Oxford, Liverpool, Perth, Preston and the Northeast.
Meanwhile, the guys who brought us a wonderful industry publication during 2006 called Radiojam predict Emap going down the GWR route of cost cutting and networking on weekdays, TLRC selling more stations to try and balance the books, and Chrysalis giving serious thought to getting out of radio for good, despite winning the new Manchester licence.
John Ryan, the boss at BBC Radio Manchester remembers the highlight of his year was luring Anthony Wilson to join Terry Christian and Allan Beswick at the re-launched Manchester station. As for 2007, he welcomes the competition from the new commercial radio station, set to be licenced by Ofcom in January: “Bring it on, and good luck to all eleven contenders! More radio is great for radio.”
Steve Martin is the On Air Editor for BBC World Service and his resolution for 2007 is simple — to meet more of their 163 million listeners! Good Luck!
Here at RadioToday.co.uk we predict a fairly quiet year for UK Radio as far as buying, selling and merging goes (once UTV and SMG have worked out if they are joining forces or not). DRM will be the talking point, GMG will be busy playing with their new toys, Chrysalis will question what they can do to grow, TLRC joins forces with a surprising new radio partner, and GCap realise they can do for Country music what they’ve done for Classical music, and launch theCountry on DAB at 48kbps Mono.
Whatever happens, you can be sure you’ll read about it online, on your PDA, or on your mobile phone thanks to the wonderful work by the team at RadioToday.co.uk Don't forget our entire archive going back to 2003 is always available online.
Happy New Year!