Bauer Media continues to grow with two acquisitions

Bauer Media has bought itself 33 analogue radio stations and three digital services after buying Lincs FM Group and Celador Radio, but will sell some of those for competition reasons.

KCFM will be sold to avoid problems with Bauer’s current station in Hull, Viking FM, along with Sam FM South Coast to avoid issues with Wave 105. The Breeze Solent, which is made up of licences in Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester, will also be sold on. Nation Radio has already agreed to buy these stations.

The move gives Bauer a soft AC network across the south of England, an adult hits network in the southwest, a network of local stations in Anglia and Lincolnshire, and a hit music station in Bournemouth.

It also spells the end of radio for Paul Smith CBE, Chairman of Celador Entertainment Limited, and Lincs FM Chief Executive Michael Betton, both founders of their own radio groups.

How these stations will fit into the Bauer portfolio of Hits and Greatest Hits has yet to be announced, but it almost doubles the amount of ‘radio brands’ owned by Bauer.

The stations in full are:

  • The Breeze (Andover)
  • The Breeze (Bristol)
  • The Breeze (Basingstoke & North Hampshire)
  • The Breeze (Bath)
  • The Breeze (Bridgwater & West Somerset)
  • The Breeze (Cheltenham & North Gloucestershire)
  • The Breeze (East Hampshire & South West Surrey)
  • The Breeze (Frome & West Wiltshire)
  • The Breeze (Newbury)
  • The Breeze (North Dorset)
  • The Breeze (North Somerset)
  • The Breeze (Reading)
  • The Breeze (South Devon)
  • The Breeze (Yeovil & South Somerset)
  • Sam FM (Bristol)
  • Sam FM (Swindon)
  • Sam FM (Thames Valley – digital)
  • Dream 100 FM (Colchester)
  • Town 102 (Ipswich – digital)
  • The Beach (Norfolk)
  • North Norfolk Radio (Norfolk)
  • Radio Norwich 99.9 (Norwich)
  • Fire Radio (Bournemouth and Poole)
  • Lincs FM (Lincolnshire & Newark)
  • Compass FM (North East Lincolnshire)
  • Trax FM (Doncaster & Bassetlaw)
  • Dearne FM (Barnsley, Penistone and the Dearne Valley)
  • Rutland Radio (Stamford & Rutland)
  • Ridings FM (the Wakefield district)
  • Rother FM (Rotherham)
  • Suffolk First (Suffolk – digital)

Numerous operating changes are expected at these stations following the sale – and we’ll keep you informed during the coming weeks and months with any details.

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34 Comments
  1. AlexaPlayDespacito says

    Amazing news for UK Radio. Bauer sweeps in and saves failing local radio stations once AGAIN. Time to syndicate quality radio onto these dead in the water brands.

    1. Joe Smith says

      Hahaha brilliant!

  2. James Riley says

    I agree. It’s about time these failing stations were sold. Let someone who knows what they’re doing have a go.

  3. Craig Strong says

    Will there be such a thing as ‘local’ radio now?

  4. paul says

    Wouldn’t it make sense to give Fire to KISS Network?

  5. Vinny says

    I’m assuming the East Anglian stations will become Magic and the breeze too. Very boring radio and sad times can’t stand magic and I’m in the age bracket. Sadly local radio is dead apart from BBC and community stations.

    1. mb23 says

      Greatest Hits Radio with regional drive, as in the West Midlands.

      Magic is a national station on DAB.

  6. wayne shaw says

    What about the Stations in south Yorkshire will these be closed

  7. GlobalAshley says

    Blah, blah, death of local radio, bring back the pirates, something, something, something, TV people coming over here, taking our radio jobs. (I say ‘our’ radio jobs, I’ve never actually managed to work in radio even though it’s my right because I once picked a song on a Community Radio station).

    1. Iona says

      I thought it said “leave a nice reply”.

    2. neal says

      Sorry GlobalAshley but I doubt maybe you are old enough to remember the days when radio was actually exciting and worth listening to. If you seriously think the pile of dirge that is commercial radio these days can in anyway be compared to pirate Radio London and Caroline in the sixties or even BBC Radio London in the seventies with the likes of Robbie Vincent David Simmons Charlie Gillett Stuart Coleman and Steve Barnard you are deluded. Luckily thanks to the internet I am no longer bothered by the corporate buy out of radio stations in this country as there are over sixty stations in my TuneIn radio app that happily totally wipe the floor with what you and an every increasing population seem happy to put up with! All about the money and not about the product as usual!

      1. Chris Moore says

        Those of us who were fortunate enough to work in commercial radio during the 80s and 90s when stations broadcast around the clock with plenty of opportunities for all are grateful for those times,

        There was a time during the commercial radio explosion when there were licences flying around like confetti that were too many presenting vacancies which resulted in people who shouldn’t have been to walk past a radio station let alone be on one.

        I’m in the process of digitising my collection of cassettes which features a lot of audio from those times and I have to say some of the stuff we did has not aged well and in some cases was absolutely terrible.

        I have amazing memories and am incredibly nostalgic for those times but I’m aware that it wasn’t the way some who post on here would have it.

  8. Radio Geordie says

    I’m surprised they bothered to buy the Lincs FM group as most of their stations overlap with Bauer stations already.
    Rother, Trax & Derne all overlap with Hallam
    Ridings overlaps with Aire
    Even Viking & Lincs have a large overlap as well as Lincs overlapping with Gem106.
    It does beg the question why they bothered to buy the whole group if they are likely to dispose of most of them.
    Celador on the other hand, you can see why they bought this company as they only owned Wave & Kiss in any overlap areas.
    The Breeze services are likely to be re-branded as Greatest Hits whilst the digital only services are likely to be ditched in favour of either Hits Radio or Greatest Hits, assuming their aren’t already available in those areas.
    Fire, I have to agree with Paul, likely to be re-branded as Kiss.

    1. Stuart says

      So they can have a Hits and Greatest Hits station in the same area?

      1. Rob says

        Gem106 and Lincs FM are a natural fit
        John Marshall deserves a wider reach

  9. Radio Geordie says

    I forgot to mention, the Celeador stations are all in areas which primarily have Global as a competitor so it was only likely that Bauer would be the only big fish able to buy them.
    I’m surprised though that the Wave 105 & Gem regionals haven’t been re-branded as either Hits Radio or Greatest Hits services.
    It only leaves Q, Nation & UKRD left as any credibile competition although its only a matter of time before the two sharks eye these up as well meaning that to survive, these two companies will have to do one of two things:
    1 – One buys the others out
    or 2 – They merge.
    Mind you, it would be no surprise if Global’s eyeing up Q.

  10. iven says

    local radio died long time ago R.I.P.

  11. Radio Producer says

    At least we’ll get away from Lincs’
    nonky playlists

  12. Aunty says

    I hope they didn’t pay more than £1 for the Celador stations!

  13. Sharon says

    Thank goodness for streaming sites… Take away local radio… You’re going to ostracised age groups… And by doing the “greatest hits” thingis just going to push audiences further out to streaming sites… A poor sad day for local radio

  14. Steve says

    If you wanted to hear what local commercial radio was like in the early 90’s tune into Lincs now. Tired format, cringing links, not even utilising beds to keep the output flowing. It worked in the 90’s but as time went on it became a dinosaur. I am very sorry for some of the talent whose future now looks uncertain at Lincs, there’s only one person to blame for their sorry state and I think anyone in the industry can guess who I mean. Bauer have played a blinder, in before Global, secured an FM reach that is one of the largest geographically in England for a local licence, secured a majority stake in a large DAB transmission area too and has a lot of ability to influence an audience. Good luck to them.

    1. RathergoodDAB says

      And you’d want to ‘influence an audience’ with generic, boring and un-relatable networked content? I agree that the logos are 90’s, but you can’t deny the service Lincs have given Lincolnshire by generating relevant and engaging content to their listeners.

      If you were a true radio advocate and understood the heritage Lincs Fm has within Lincolnshire, I suspect you would be in mourning too rather than championing the rich money grabbing national networks (which there are already too many of).

  15. Andy Barclay says

    R.I.P. Local radio…. It’s a disgrace what’s happened to Local independent Radio.. Killed of by governments of all colours…. R.I.P

  16. Neil wood says

    I think they are looking at Linc’s FM mainly based in Lincoln. That’s why I think the main purchase of the Linc’s FM group.

  17. Mr COLIN BROWN says

    I must admit that I will not miss The Same “Hits and memories” since 1992, but I am a little bit concerned about the overlap between Viking/Compass/Lincs and Hallam/Rother/Dearne/Trax and to some extent Gem/Lincs/Rutland

  18. Mr COLIN BROWN says

    Lincs FM group also have a share in a few DAB multiplexes that are crying out for more content

  19. Peterr GREEN says

    Where does that leave Ipswich 102 who have been on air for a relatively short time!!

  20. Jamie says

    Ridiculous that one company can own so many licences and by default produce the same drivel nationwide. I remember working in radio in 1995 when GWR bribed some MP to put the licence number bill through parliament when hardly anyone else was there and of course it went through no problem. The death of any real “local” stations.

    1. mb23 says

      The current legislation in place is the Enterprise Act 2002.

      The Global purchase of Real Radio showed that it’s possible to get round any issues by franchising.

  21. RathergoodDAB says

    And you’d want to ‘influence an audience’ with generic, boring and un-relatable networked content? I agree that the logos are 90’s, but you can’t deny the service Lincs have given Lincolnshire by generating relevant and engaging content to their listeners.

    If you were a true radio advocate and understood the heritage Lincs Fm has within Lincolnshire, I suspect you would be in mourning too rather than championing the rich money grabbing national networks (which there are already too many of).

    1. Steve says

      Sentimental wishes and harking back to heritage does not change business facts. The outfit must have a sustainable business model, advertisers must be willing to part with cash, advertisers won’t do this with a consistently falling RAJAR, lack of appeal leads to a diminishing audience. Why would I want to mourn any of that? Mass audiences don’t care about heritage, they care about appeal. Surely sustainability and commercial viability is advocacy of the industry, rather than pining after heritage services that do not fit with the current market.

  22. sj says

    The sentimental “proper radio is dead” comments were inevitable. But Lincs has been a timewarp station for decades. Its success has hinged on the fact it’s been in an area with very little competition for much of its life. Was radio better back in the 80s and 90s or just different? If you listen back now on Aircheck Downloads, the links often sound cringey and rambling. Radio HAS to be more audience-focussed than ever before. And I don’t buy this accusation that everything has somehow dumbed down. These big radio groups are having to fight for their audiences – between themselves – and against local radio stations offered by community groups and the BBC. Not to mention Spotify and everything else competing for our ears. As a listener, I feel like I’ve never had so much choice. Yes it’s sad about heritage blah blah blah. But things are changing and, in general, for the better, in my opinion.

  23. Colin says

    Wave 105 covers Bournemouth so surely Fire Radio will have to be sold on or rebranded Hits.

  24. David says

    So glad Celador Radio’s gone, Paul Smith had no clue how to run radio stations

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