Bauer buys Wireless Group’s local radio stations

Wireless has sold its local radio stations in England and Wales to Bauer Media.

The news comes at the end of a week when the radio group has already purchased 36 radio stations from Lincs FM Group and Celador Radio.

Wireless stations Radio Wave, Wish FM, Tower FM, Wire FM, Peak FM, Signal 1, Signal 2, Signal 107, The Wave, Swansea Sound, Pulse 1 and Pulse 2 are all part of the deal. Wireless’s 80s digital services are also part of the deal.

The group of radio stations originally came together under The Radio Partnership, which was bought by the original Wireless Group for £95m in 1998 before being sold to UTV.

Paul Keenan, CEO Bauer Media and European Radio commented: “We are delighted with our acquisition of Wireless local licences. This group of established, successful stations complements our existing portfolio and extends our reach and local advertising offer to new areas of the UK“.

He adds: “The Wireless local stations acquisition further underlines our belief in the UK and in radio. Outstanding content and growing audiences have driven three years of consecutive records for UK radio ad revenue. As the medium grows ever-more digital and adapts to new listening devices the opportunity expands to offer new and interesting services for listeners and advertisers. It’s a very exciting time to be in the audio business.“

Scott Taunton, CEO of Wireless, adds: “Wireless local radio teams are talented professionals who serve their audiences with great passion. They are defined by their dedication to local journalism and commitment to serving their local communities. The stations are thriving, as yesterday’s RAJARs underline. We believe these local stations will find a good home with Bauer.”

He continues: “Wireless is a key priority for News UK, and this deal allows us to continue investing in our growing digital and national stations, talkSPORT, talkSPORT2, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio, and our successful Irish businesses.”

The deal is subject to the usual regulatory process and is expected to be complete by the end of February.

Wireless and Bauer already work together on the national DAB multiplex Sound Digital (along with Arqiva), and separately own local muxes in Central Scotland, Aberdeen, Stoke & Stafford, Swansea, Bradford & Huddersfield, and London.

Wireless also owns seven radio stations in Ireland and Northern Ireland – Q102 and FM104 in Dublin, Cork’s 96FM and C103 in Cork, Limerick’s 95FM, LMFM in Drogheda and U105 in Belfast, which are not affected by the deal.

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60 Comments
  1. AlexaPlayDespacito says

    Amazing news. Time to rebrand these failing stations and FAST

    1. RathergoodDAB says

      Re brand to generic, networked programming? Sounds very exciting.

      They had a good RAJAR actually. Increased reach 6% Quater on quarter and 19% year on year and market share increased to 5.8% from 5.4%.

      But I guess everyone has their price.

    2. waffeldoggy says

      Actually most of wireless local was up in Rajar. Especially the wave and swansea sound

    3. PopPicker92 says

      Sure it is! Amazing news for all those people working for those stations soon to be served their P45’s.

  2. Dave says

    Feel sorry for all the people that will be made redundant not just from Wireless but from all the Groups they have bought.

    Have to say though that buying just over 40 Stations in the space of a week has now completely changed UK Radio. Big bold move for Bauer, we’ll just wait for Global to buy UKRD and then I think that’s it?

    Bauer are now very nearly as big as Global, bet Ashley is scratching his head right now!

    Guessing they’ll wait till Ofcom give the green light for the networked regions / shows, then it’s game over and it’s just left to National Radio!

    Best of luck to all Presenters and Management within these Radio Groups.

  3. DAVID BAKER says

    Waiting now on UKRD and Global for their moves

    1. RathergoodDAB says

      Word on the street is that UKRD have bought Global.

      1. Ray Woodward says

        If only …

  4. Ian Scott says

    Which was will Nation go?

    Global or Bauer?

    Other than Nation and UKRD, what groups are left?

    1. RathergoodDAB says

      If you don’t know then I guess you shouldn’t be commenting about radio.

      1. Rupert Scott says

        Classic Rathernotgood radio out and about. No commercials on a commercial station

      2. sj says

        And if you can’t be polite to people and make reasoned arguments, I guess you shouldn’t be commenting on a forum.

        1. RathergoodDAB says

          If you read my replies to the other comments then you shall find what you seek.

          1. Joe Smith says

            What RatherbadRadio? No one is seeking that!

      3. Ian Scott says

        Well, that’s a fantastically rude comment from a radio station.

        Yu or course, know it all . . .

  5. deryn says

    THE END OF LOCAL RADIO

    1. RathergoodDAB says

      Its not the end Deryn, local radio will continue to live on, the night is darkest just before the dawn, and as soon we mourn the loss of these truly local stations community radio will become more relevant than ever to serve their local areas. While not offering as strong a commercial opportunity, their importance to serve will remain.

      1. Philip Bond says

        If I had some involvement in community radio circles I would certainly explore raising the commercial income limitations if only to allow local businesses access to radio airtime. The added revenue could also funda small core of professionals to raise standards and perhaps revive local radio.

    2. Chris Moore says

      Surely “the end of local radio” has taken place at least 347 times since 1996.

      1. Joe Smith says

        You haven’t had that many separate careers in local radio have you?

  6. Timothy says

    As the local newspaper industry went so goes local radio, swallowed into a couple of national monoliths with a corporate output and little or no room for local diversity. the EU is supposed to encourage competition; if the current “Government” can nod this through imagine the lack of protection post-Brexit.

  7. Tower of Power says

    Well here is a surprise – no doubt significant ‘savings’ will be made across these stations to provide yet more national radio..
    Glad I don’t work for the group anymore…. or Id be on the web now looking for opportunities….

  8. Lee says

    What a mess the UK Commercial Radio industry is in! Soon everything will be owned by Bauer and Global with national branding as expected. Just watch the big groups next move when OFCOM’s formatting/ programming rules change. Entire networking will become reality. I guess we get what we deserve in the UK. We have allowed this to happen. The more you listen to national brands the more the big groups will swallow the smaller ones and replace them with the nationals.

    Persoanly I don’t believe that more people are listening to UK commercial radio according to the latest RAJAR figures. The characterless presentation of many, the blandness, the same sets of commercials in a different order in every commercial set, the same songs played every day some every two or three hours, the same news bulletins read from a centrally provided script; and even LBC has signififcantly reduced it’s travel news service to peak hours only guiding people online for more information which is a bit difficult where your driving hoping to avoid a delay.

    I hope you enjoy the blandness of UK Commercial Radio. I for one have been fed up with it for years and now listen to radio from the rest of the world, mainly North America, where many stations actually play variety and have presenters with character. RIP UK Commercial Radio.

    1. Radio Fader says

      I agree.

      The presenters are just robots now, dictated to by suits. Sounds so cold.

      RAJAR, questionable figures for years!

      1. Radio Geordie says

        Rajar has been using an outdated system for years.

    2. sj says

      RIP commercial radio? It’s doing fantastically well and no doubt helped by having clearly-defined, big brands that listeners understand. Commercial radio groups make radio that people want to listen to and the competition has never been tougher… this sounds obvious but it’s clearly something many people on here have little concept of.

  9. iven says

    UK commercial radio is in worst state its been long time having two company controlling all radio isnt progress all in all this a bad week for local radio
    R.I.P
    1973/2019

    1. Mark Budgen says

      Exactly how independent television went.

      And look at what happened.

  10. Ian Scott says

    It’s not about producing local radio, it’s about the bottom line.

    Pure and simple.

  11. PopPicker92 says

    Well that’s a few more people losing their jobs, thanks to GloBauer’s ever increasing monopoly over ILR.

  12. Diandalscotland says

    Another sad day for local radio. Ofcom need to grow a pair and stop these takeovers. So I guess the Total Access chart will be binned for Bauer s. Wondor what Scottish Sun Hits will take now?

    1. mb23 says

      Apparently they haven’t bought Scottish Sun Hits.

      Ofcom can only refer it to the CMA if they think there are competition issues (Enterprise Act 2002).

  13. John says

    Just wondering if they’ll dump signal 107 as there’s a complete overlap with Free (beacon west mids and beacon Shropshire) GHR from Birmingham covers most of not all of its patch. I guess they could rebrand as magic, as signal 107 isn’t on dab or we could get Absolute back in that TSA on fm. Currently it’s no different to Free or Heart, in format terms. Nation may be lined up, who knows!

  14. Jeff Featherstone says

    What matters is great radio with engaging presenters. In that regard the industry is in its best place for years. If that’s a product of national rather than local radio, bring it on!

    1. sj says

      Absolutely! If we all took a step back and thought about how real people consume radio and what they look for in shows (rather than sitting here with our anoraks on complaining there are fewer jingles and local shows these days!) then we’d realise things are actually pretty good.

  15. jack white says

    we need a 50s 60s radio station

    1. Jim says

      Classic Oldies plays classic 50s & 60s songs online 24/7 and it’s commercial free! Even ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton has a daily show on it from 10am.

  16. jack white says

    we need more local radio

  17. Rod Hardisty says

    The way things are going there’ll only be two groups left.

  18. Radio Geordie says

    I Love the Wireless groups strapline – 22 truly local stations across the country.
    Not any more.
    Mind you, they finally get to broadcast across the whole of West Yorkshire, something they’ve never been allowed to do and they have a ready made name for the merged service to be called – Ridings FM.
    The only thing that surprises me is that they didn’t (don’t) have to dispose of any of the smaller services due to overlap – I’m thinking primarily of Radio Wave in Blackpool and the three base in Orrell – Tower, Wish & Wire.

  19. John Tudor says

    I have a couple of friends working for the Wireless group, I don’t read here that the stations are going to be networked.

    1. mb23 says

      Swansea Sound can’t be networked with England in daytime. Ofcom’s nations rules for AM stations don’t permit it.

  20. Christopher Evans says

    You have only got to like at what has happened to the local newspaper industry in this country it’s nearly finished.

    The public want strong National Commerical radio stations and are voting with their rajars.

  21. Len Groat says

    No longer……

    ” 22 LOCAL radio station’s across the UK “

  22. John craigen says

    Scott Taunton, CEO of Wireless, adds: “Wireless local radio teams are talented professionals who serve their audiences with great passion. They are defined by their dedication to local journalism and commitment to serving their local communities. The stations are thriving, as yesterday’s RAJARs underline. We believe these local stations will find a good home with Bauer.” aye until Bauer changes everything to either Kiss, Kisstory, Magic Greatest hits network and Hits radio and then MR CEO Scott Taunton they’ll fire all the Talented Individuals and Network everything out of Soho Square in London. How about that for the final nail in the coffin of Local radio.

  23. Rob says

    Presumably the Bauer plan is to replace Heat off national DAB with local formats of the brand.
    Smart move. Only Global music brand it doesn’t currently match is Heart (which is daft given its audience) and target audience here will value an element of local content. Makes far more sense than having a local element to Hits. Better off networking Kiss here.

  24. Andrew Coulson says

    I guess this means that all local programming will go on the AM services and generally be more networking on FM. I listen to Pulse 1 and really enjoy this station. Radio is changing…

  25. Stephen Bottomley says

    Can’t see them keeping Pulse in a rented building when Radio Aire as a big building of their own.Can see jobs going as Bauer already got rid of some of them presenters on Pulse and surely not going to keep them on.Greatest hits mw transmitter extremely strong,so may cut station and pulse transmitter as can heard 828 on east coast.

  26. whitbar says

    Bauer could do this:

    Hits Radio – poor Rajar, so rebrand back to Key 103 and effectively reboot the station as a hybrid playlist of Little Mix/Selena Gomez with Absolute 90s/00s playlist. Gethin/Gemma/Dave replaced at breakfast by Greg James from Radio 1 and station moves to:

    Weekdays
    1am-6am John Isherwood
    6am-10am Tom Watts & Claire Chambers (from Capital E Midlands)
    10am-2pm Mike Toolan
    2pm-3pm Key Control (non-stop music)
    3pm-7pm Debbie Mac
    7pm-10pm Mark Crossley (replacing Sarah-Jane Crawford)
    10pm-1am Jacqui Blay with Late Night Love (pre-recorded)

    Saturday
    1am-6am Arielle Free
    6am-10am Mark Crossley
    10am-2pm Alex James
    2pm-6pm Alice Levine
    6pm-10pm Floorfillers with Dave Kelly
    10pm-1am In The Mix Non-Stop dance hits

    Sunday
    1am-6am ??
    6am-9am Kelly Pegg (pre-recorded)
    9am-12pm Steve Crumley (pre-recorded) – Sunday morning chillout
    12pm-4pm Alex James
    4pm-7pm UK Chart Show with Sarah-Jane Crawford (pre-recorded)
    7pm-10pm Jim Coulson’s Anthems show (pre-recorded)
    10pm-1am Alice Levine (pre-recorded)

    Wireless Stations: Make them their own network separate from Scottish stations, add Hallam, Aire, Viking, Forth One, West FM, Tay FM to the network. Better than the current Bauer stations – Olivia Jones is better than Sarah-Jane Crawford, and the presenters were allowed to speak a bit more.

    No daytime networking except Wish, Wire and Tower.

    Rock FM: Networked with Key 103, but has a playlist that’s hybrid of today’s pop music like Selena Gomez/Taylor Swift mixed with Absolute Radio playlist. No moving it to Manchester for grandfather clause reasons.

    TFM/Metro: They’re already one station, no need to make them part of a network. Same sort of playlist as Rock FM above.

  27. tony says

    signal 1 turning into the hits radio with in a year

  28. Sj says

    You’ve got community radio, BBC local radio and a world of internet radio to choose from. In fact, your ears have never had no much choice! And now Bauer, Global and Wireless are spending big money on presenters and content to compete for listeners. So it’s right that in this changing landscape there should be less regulation for these commercial, profit-driven companies. Job losses are always sad but why force commercial groups to do more local shows? Radio anoraks would be over the moon but does the average listener care? Really? Probably not, because they’ve never had so much choice.

  29. MRR says

    I suppose Wireless need the money to pay Chris Evans` salary!!. Guess Signal 2 will become part of the Greatest Hits Network now…..oh dear!!
    Its got to be one of the poorest excuses for an oldies station on the dial. I’ll be tuning to Angel Radio from now on….via the internet. What a great station.

    1. mb23 says

      I don’t think Wireless needed the money at all, their owners have just collected £30bn from the sale of Sky.

      1. Joe Smith says

        Yes but Mr Ego will believe he should be paid all of that!

    2. sj says

      And the fact you can do that – go online and listen to anything you like, or listen to community/BBC local radio – is exactly why less regulation and buy-outs by big groups is essential for commercial radio to survive. It’s natural to be nostalgic for “the good old days” but those old full service ILR stations wouldn’t cut it these days.

  30. Mike Rose says

    Just the start of the last groups standing…Global will have everything one day #wayitis

    1. Joe Smith says

      Except credibility.

  31. Lee says

    Totally agree with Joe Smith. UK Commercial Radio has had it in my view. They need to compete with the radio stations on the internet and offer something different not lift the white flag. If I wanted to hear the same songs over and over again without presenters and without hearing the same commercials then I could play my own music and hear something I liked rather than turn on UK Commercial Radio. I think UK Commercial Radio is missing a trick by not broadcasting enough comprehensive local travel news. Take LBC, owned by Global, as they have just greatly reduced their travel news output guiding people online but it would be hard, let alone illegal, to play around with mobile internet whilst d
    Driving to find the latest travel news to avoid delays. Also take Greatest Hits Radio who broadcast 3 travel news stories per bulletin for the entire UK. Just plain rubbish. They don’t help themselves.

  32. Linda Tams says

    Please don’t change our local Signal 2 radio, hit is perfect as it is, you will find lots of loyal listeners .

    1. Colin Williams says

      Exactly the same applies to Pulse 2.

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