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Focal Radio goes into liquidation

A digital radio station which went off the air earlier this month was put into liquidation on Friday – but hopes are still high for a revival.

Focal Radio, which broadcast from Stoke-on-Trent, was the first new commercial radio station in the city in over 25 years when it hit the airwaves last November.

But a delayed launch, long-term problems with premises and low advertising revenue meant broadcasts – and the station's cash – lasted just four months before closure on 11 February.

Now Trent Radio Station Limited, the company which owns Focal, have appointed liquidators at a meeting of shareholders and creditors on Friday after exhausting the majority of its working capital.

Today (Friday), parts of a revised schedule have been posted on the Focal Radio website and the station's phone number has been reconnected.

Bob Young, of liquidation specialists Begbies Traynor, explained: "It was a whole raft of things. It did take a little longer than expected to get the business on air so the working capital that had been lined up had to some extent been used up.

"I think it was a combination of that and a fall in advertising revenues, which all radio stations are experiencing."

However, Young remained upbeat about the station's prospects: "There are moves going on to try to take the business forward and I'm hoping the liquidation will simply be a tidying-up exercise of the limited company.

"Negotiations are ongoing and I'm fairly optimistic that we might at least be able to keep Sam Plank on the airwaves.

"The feedback I've had about the station is that it's been very well received and I think investors can see the opportunity."

The station, whose programming featured 30% speech, had been beset with problems since its launch was announced in 2007. Plans to move into a defunct museum in a town centre to the north of the city were abandoned, and Focal instead started broadcasts from alternative premises to the south of Stoke-on-Trent. However, this caused a delay of nearly a year to its launch.

It featured popular local radio stalwart Sam Plank and was managed by his wife, Verity Hilton. BBC local radio presenters Glyn and Katie Johnson made up the rest of the daytime lineup. Specialist shows included New Sounds with Gaz Ryder and a northern soul slot fronted by DJ Dave Evison.

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