Bauer requests major change for 105.2 West Midlands

Bauer has requested a format change for its West Midlands regional FM licence, currently broadcasting national programmes from Absolute Radio.

Instead of “A rock-orientated station combining new music with classic album tracks aimed at 25-44 year-olds,” Bauer wants the new Character of Service to be “A classic pop hits service with local news and information aimed primarily at the over-30s in the West Midlands.”

This new service would become part of Bauer’s Greatest Hits network, also known as Bauer City 2 Network, but no on-air name has been disclosed at this stage. Bauer operates Free Radio in the region already, so Free 2 could be one option.

In addition, Bauer has asked Ofcom to change its Birmingham AM licence, and its Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury & Telford AM licence from “A classic pop hits station, with local information and occasional local sports coverage, targeted primarily at 35-54 year-olds, to “A classic rock music station.”

Again, no name has been announced should the request be approved, but one station matching the description is Absolute Classic Rock.

This West Midlands FM licence was launched in 2004 as rock service Kerrang! Radio. In 2013 Kerrang was replaced on 105.2 FM by a simulcast of the national rock station Planet Rock, taking advantage of a clause in the 2010 Digital Economy Act which allows regional FM licences to broadcast a national service on a local frequency, without any local content or production, provided that the service is also being broadcast nationally on DAB.

In 2015 Bauer decided to replace Planet Rock with the ‘rock-orientated’ Absolute Radio on 105.2 FM. It remained a national service with no requirement for local content or production.

The Birmingham AM licence was launched in 1974, as BRMB (which was also broadcast on the FM band). In 1989 BRMB ‘split’ its frequencies, and the AM frequency became Xtra AM, a ‘classic hits’ service, with BRMB (now Free Radio) majoring on more contemporary hits on FM. Xtra AM was rebranded in 1998 as Capital Gold and, since 2012, the licence has focused on playing music from the 1980s as ‘Free Radio 80s’.

The Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury & Telford AM licence launched in 1976 as Beacon Radio, later becoming WABC, Classic Gold, then Free Radio 80s.

Speaking about the licence changes, Group Managing Director of the Hits Radio Network Graham Bryce told RadioToday: “These licence requests follows the successful introduction of a classic hits format by Radio City 2 on FM in Liverpool as part of the Greatest Hits Network. We see an opportunity to further build this format on FM in the West Midlands, and for our colleagues at Absolute Radio for a classic rock format.”

The consultation for the changes is now open with a closing date of 5pm on 5 October 2018.

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  1. Adrian says

    As usual anything except pop and classic hits gets relegated off FM or so it seems.AM is not really suitable for music radio-classic rock or not-I suppose with DAB and Internet it doesn’t matter that much in the long run but it is nice to have Absolute on FM as an alternative and to replace it with yet more songs we’ve heard a thousand times before is a shame.

  2. Radio Producer says

    And of course OFCOM will roll over obediently, and allow it…..What a rubbish system we have in this country

  3. Nik says

    It seeens Bauer just can’t makeup their minds what to do with the FM license. 105.2 was Kerrang, then planet rock, then Absolute and now possibly free 2. It surely can’t be cost effective to keep changing names this often.

  4. John says

    Shame, I love Absolute on fm in Birmingham, I’d never listened before it arrived on fm as I never think to put a.m. on. This is such a shame. The 90s music they play is my favourite which you only hear occasionally on Free. Saying all that, I don’t bother listening at breakfast as I can’t stand that cockney bloke that replaced Christian. And Free is full of northerners these days ( presenters and callers!)

    I guess I’ll stick with radio 2 for breakfast and get a dab upgrade is on the cards for Absolute. Oh well.

  5. Lee says

    OFCOM will roll over obediently, and allow it. A gutless regulator. Waste of time.

  6. Radio Geordie says

    I’m just surprised its took this long for them to do this. I’m also surprised they didn’t go the whole hog and ask for the Liverpool AM to be changed to a classic rock service as well.

    The thing I don’t get though, is why they operate two classic rock services (Absolute Classic Rock & Planet Rock). When are they going to see there’s no financial gain from the two competing against each other and merge the two services?

    1. MB23 says

      They are different services. Planet Rock is more specialist with lesser known tracks, ACR plays the hits.

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