Orion Media Chief Executive Phil Riley says his group's new Gem station will complement the Capital and Smooth networks to help commercial radio thrive in the East Midlands.
Speaking on this week's Radio Academy podcast, Riley told host Trevor Dann that he believes changing the station from a Heart franchise to a station with more regional content will help them increase audience as well as revenue.
Speaking about the re-brand this week, Phil said: "We wanted to take advantage of the move of a number of our competitors to more networked offerings, and offer something that was more local. We wanted to do that in large part because that's what we do everywhere else within our small radio group."
This week has seen a major change in the landscape of commercial radio in the East Midlands, with Trent, Leicester Sound and Ram merging and creating Capital FM, Heart re-branding to Gem and Heart London replacing Galaxy on the DAB multiplexes. It comes after just last quarter Smooth East Midlands lost all local programmes to become a national service with regional travel, weather and news.
Phil says he believes the changes leave Gem with a chance to provide listeners with something different to their competition. "There's a great opportunity for us to be the local card in the East Midlands alongside Capital and Smooth," he said. "For a station like Gem which sits in the middle between a hit music service and the Smooth melodic service there's a great opportunity for us to grow our audience both ways. I genuinely hope that Capital takes listeners from Radio 1 and Smooth takes listeners from Radio 2 and that we mop up all the people who still want local radio and between us all three of us in the East Midlands can grow."
At Gem, national advertising will continue to be sold by Global Radio, as it was under the Heart brand. Phil says: "Gem will continue to be sold as part of a national adult contemporary network sell, along with Heart and Real. If you were an advertiser that felt comfortable on the Heart network you should feel comfortable on Gem. Early indications are that it's business as normal for national advertisers and our bookings are where we'd expect them to be for the beginning of this year. In the local marketplace I think we are expecting to do better going forward because we are now offering local advertisers a much more comprehensively local service and one where in particular if you're an advertiser that wants to take advantage of sponsorship and promotions, well we've just got more time to do that locally now."
You can listen to the RadioTalk podcast from the Radio Academy [link=http://www.radioacademy.org/listen/podcasts/]here[/link].