Mo' money for Focal Radio
The "Secret Millionaire" behind the return of a digital radio station has been revealed.
Focal Radio, in Stoke-on-Trent, has been revived thanks to investment from multi-millionaire entrepreneur Mo Chaudry and relaunched today at 12pm with an interview with the new owner.
The local businessman, who owns the popular Waterworld leisure attraction in the city, has taken on the station's licence saving a reported 20 jobs. The new line-up relies heavily on students from nearby Staffordshire University in both presentation and news.
Mr Chaudry acknowledged the challenges faced by the station, but said it was a risk he was willing to face: "If you look at broadcast media here, there's the BBC, which seems to be becoming increasingly regionalised so there is very little local stuff, and Signal, which is purely commercial. It seems to me there's a niche in the market.
"Focal is all about community engagement – it's a platform for the community to have a voice.
"I'm under no illusions. It's a difficult market place and it's going to require significant investment – it already has so far. But everyone who knows me knows that if I go for something then I really go for it. It's a big risk but risk for me goes hand in hand with opportunity.
"The people involved are so committed and so dedicated to the station, which is the biggest asset any organisation can have."
Mid-morning Presenter Sam Plank is ecstatic that Mo is on board. "I am chuffed," said Sam. "He has been so supportive through our plight which has been a difficult time for all the team.
"Everyone has been working hard behind the scenes to get us on air and with Mo leading us we will come out of it stronger, bigger and better! This radio station is for the people of our patch and we promise that their voice will be heard.
"I've already said to Mo that if I’m not there – he should start without me!"
Station manager Verity Hilton added: "The team are raring to go because they've been off the air for a few weeks now.
"Everyone's really excited and they've already been out in the community looking for stories they can cover."
But popular presenters from the station's previous incarnation, including breakfast and drive DJs Glyn and Katie Johnson, will not be returning.
The station originally launched in November 2008, but was forced to stop broadcasting just four months later after running out of funds.
Focal caters primarily for over 35s in the day with specialist shows in the evening, including youth programmes and shows targeting the ethnic communities of the area.