Orion Media has announced it will be launching an 80s station on DAB and four medium wave frequencies later this year under the Free Radio brand.
Free Radio 80s will take over from Gold, which Orion runs as a franchise from Global Radio and currently takes network programmes from Leicester Square with opt outs for sports commentary.
Orion says the station will be locally produced and presented and offer 80s hits along with local news, travel and information aimed at the 35+ audience. Football show ‘The Goalzone’ will feature live commentaries fronted by local sports broadcasting legend Tom Ross. It means the Gold weekday line-up of Paul Coyte, Tony Dibbin, Eamonn Kelly, David Andrews and Dean Martin will no longer broadcast to the West Midlands.
The Gold stations becoming Free Radio 80s in the autumn are the former AM sister stations of BRMB, Mercia and Beacon – which have had names in the past such as Xtra AM, WABC, Capital Gold and Classic Gold. Before the FM/AM split in the late 80s, the frequencies were used by the three heritage stations BRMB, Mercia and Beacon Wolverhampton.
Free Radio 80s will broadcast on DAB across the West Midlands as well as on 990/1017 AM (Wolverhampton and Shropshire), 1152 AM (Birmingham and North Worcestershire) and 1359 AM (Warwickshire).
Orion CEO Phil Riley said “We currently have 120,000 listeners across our AM/DAB network in the West Midlands. Our goal is to grow this audience by developing a music radio station that naturally sits closer to our FM brand.”
Free Radio launched on FM in March this year, replacing heritage brands BRMB, Mercia, Beacon and Wyvern.
The move to an all-80s format follows Absolute Radio’s digital station Absolute 80s and Swansea station Bay Radio, which also now just plays music from the decade.