The 10 biggest UK radio industry stories of 2018

The last 12 months have been the biggest in RadioToday’s history, with over a million new people visiting the site, so here are the top 10 reasons 2018 was one of the most interesting years in recent radio history.

10. Key 103 replaced by Hits Radio

After 40 years of locally-named radio in Manchester, (Piccadilly) Key 103 rebranded to the more generic sounding name of Hits Radio in the Spring. Billed as a national radio station from Manchester, it is widely expected for the same to happen in other places where Bauer owns a similar radio station, such as Hallam FM in Sheffield and Rock FM in Preston.

9. BBC Sounds App announced

At a major bash in London in October, BBC Sounds was announced to the industry and the public. Some say it will be a great app, when it’s finished, as it still needs to gain some of the features from the app it will be replacing, iPlayer Radio.

8. Russ Williams removed from Smooth Radio

After two years, Russ was on then gone from Smooth Radio breakfast without trace or explanation. His producer also left the company shortly afterwards. Gary King was installed as the new presenter, which many in the industry assumed was a temporary move. 10 months later Gary is still on the show and no further news has been announced. A report in The Sun suggested Simon Mayo was in discussion with Global to take over the slot.

7. Charlie Sloth in an early departure from BBC Radio 1

The next time someone writes a book about radio with an example of how not to leave a radio show, there will be a reference to Charlie Sloth. He announced his exit from the station on-air but later took to the stage at the ARIAS (where he missed out on winning an award), to seal his fate of an early finish by raiding the stage.

6. Global makes plans for Lakeland Radio and The Bay

After buying Lakeland Radio and The Bay in November 2017, Global announced in January this year it planned to rebrand Lakeland as Smooth and The Bay as Heart. The two stations rebranded in March 2018 and currently provide seven hours a day of locally produced content.

5. Complaint upheld over Steve Allen on LBC

No, it wasn’t the recent comments about blind people, but the one about the travelling community made 12 months ago. Steve speaks his mind, and LBC management defends his actions, saying he hosts a “personality-led” show in his usual theme of acerbic commentary.

4. Christian O’Connell leaving Absolute Radio

We can blame OC for starting a trend of changing national radio breakfast shows. It wasn’t soon after that Evans et al announced they were also leaving. Christian is doing well for himself in Australia now, and Dave Berry, his replacement, is also making a success of the Absolute Radio breakfast show.

3. Zoe Ball taking over BBC Radio 2 Breakfast

It was one of the biggest talking points of the year – who will replace Chris Evans on breakfast at BBC Radio 2? Zoe, Sara, Fearne and even Jo were all in the running, as most agreed it will probably be a female. And it was. The first woman to host BBC Radio 2 breakfast is Zoe Ball, and she starts on January 14th.

2. Simon Mayo departing BBC Radio 2

Simon announcing he is leaving BBC Radio 2, along with the mystery surrounding his next move, makes this our 2nd biggest story of the year according to our industry data. We’ll bring you news on his next job in the upcoming days no doubt.

1. Chris Evans departing BBC Radio 2

After 33 years on the air, Chris Evans still makes the headlines. So when he announced out of the blue one Monday morning in September that he was leaving the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show after 8 years, we all knew it was going to be the biggest story of the year. And it was. The subsequent move to Virgin Radio made the story even bigger, and his rebirth on January 21st will no doubt also feature in our Top 10 list of 2019.

And that’s it!

Thanks for being part of the RadioToday story in 2018 – and look out for our predictions for 2019 coming soon!

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  1. ciaran flavin says

    Newspapers should be covering more what is happening at analogue national radio stations such as Heart, Smooth, Capital, Absoute, Talksport and Classic Fm. I cannot understand this obsession with radio 2 and indeed radio 1.
    The amount of meaningless drivel spoken on these stations is beyond belief. Ive heard Chris Evans one minute into a record speaking about doughnuts and Zoe Ball talking for 22 of the final 30 minutes of her saturday show.
    I would give the award for the best music show of 2018 to David Hamilton for his age uk Wireless show between 10 and 2. I wish radio today would give that station more coverage.Presenters are being withdrawn from age uk radio but of course it is a charity.

  2. Joe Smith says

    I have found a wonderful solution to Ego Evans. It’s called the off button!

  3. Liam Forristal says

    Thank you Stuart, Roy and whoever else contributes to Radio today. I do enjoy the reports.

    Maybe in 2019 you can include some comment. Whilst what you do is great. It feels very cosy. Very establishment. Not really challenging. Which is fine. There is a place for someone who just says ” here are the cookies” but it’s all a bit bland.

    Might I suggest a few regular contributors with volatile opposing views rather than just relying on us to comment.

    Just a thought.
    Well done and most appreciated.

  4. Ron Dobbyn says

    Whatever happened to the excellent BBC Radio London presenter Simon Lederman who vanished from the airwaves. Is he okay?

  5. Timbo says

    Evans announces in the street that he is paid too much again

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