Internet speculation over the future of Stockport-based 104.9 Imagine FM today led staff at the station to pull off an audacious "June Fool".
Imagine, which had been tipped for sale or closure at the end of June since a co-location request by its parent group UTV Radio was refused earlier in the month, played an elaborate joke on doom-talking forum posters. Messages alluding to a mid-day closure appeared on various media-related internet forums early on Monday morning, the date which had been mooted as the final one for the apparently beleaguered station.
As the 12pm news bulletin approached, speculation mounted as presenter Hanna Sillitoe forward-announced songs from Europe–the ubiquitous station closure anthem [i]The Final Countdown[/i]–and John Lennon's [i]Imagine[/i]. The news bulletin went out and the two songs were played. After [i]Imagine[/i], listeners and enthusiasts alike were treated to an agonising thirty seconds of dead air before the presenter announced "just kidding!". Nineties Take That classic [i]Back for Good[/i] was then played and the station returned to normal output.
Previously, UTV Radio MD Scott Taunton had said that "if a buyer or alternative broadcasting facility cannot be found by June 30 2008 UTV Radio (GB) will have no alternative but to hand back the licence to Ofcom and the station will be taken off air." It now appears that the station has moved to alternative premises.