brmb, Mercia, Beacon, Wyvern to be Free
Orion Media is to rebrand Birmingham station brmb as Free Radio from April this year, along with Mercia, Beacon and Wyvern.
The group says peak time output will remain local on the stations with no redundancies as a result.
It means the four heritage brands, which have each existed at least 30 years, will be lost from the UK airwaves. BRMB launched in 1974, Beacon in 1976, Mercia in 1980 and Wyvern in 1982 and have kept the same names since.
Orion Media bought the stations from Global Radio in 2009 along with Gem 106 (formerly Heart) and Gold West Midlands. Last year, Mercia was moved into BRMB in Birmingham to save costs.
The group says it will continue to provide listeners with local news, sport, traffic and weather information, with ‘continued commitment in 2012 to original and locally based journalism’.
Phil Riley, Chief Executive of Orion Media said: “The decision to change the name of our stations after each one has been broadcasting in their areas under their original names for so long has not been easy or one that we have taken lightly. We have given this a great deal of consideration and undertaken detailed research. The original on air names of each station means a lot to all of us at Orion, and we know and understand the deep affection many people have for those names. However, the radio market has changed dramatically recently and we have to adapt and respond.
“In the last few years, other commercial radio stations have consolidated around network brands, some with few or no presenters or journalists based in their transmission areas. They have used television and other marketing activity to promote these brands and rely heavily on established presenters operating from outside this area to attract listeners. As well as helping attracting audiences, they can use these single brands to sell to national advertisers.”
Phil added: “Free Radio will continue to be an integral part of the areas in which they broadcast, not only providing great entertainment on air but also as a supporter of the communities we serve, whether it’s fundraising for local causes or as host of major events.”