Heart 90s to launch on national DAB digital radio

Global is transforming its Heart 90s playlist service into a full national radio station on DAB, with Kevin Hughes hosting breakfast.

It’s the first of five new services all going national on DAB in the next week – as teased by Global over the last few days.

Heart 90s will officially launch tomorrow at 6am – Thursday 29th August – with non-stop music from the 90s and joins Heart, Heart Dance and Heart 80s which all have live national breakfast shows from Leicester Square.

Kevin Hughes currently hosts Saturday afternoons on Heart, and previously presented Drive on Heart South Wales. Before Heart, he hosted “Total Access” on Capital FM and the “Music Control” network evening show on the GCap One Network. He began at BBC Radio Wales hosting the evening show and Welsh Top 40, after he won Best Male Presenter at the Student Radio Awards.

The other four stations will be announced in the next few days, all brand extensions to Global’s current services. The teasers suggest the brand extensions will come to Smooth and Capital XTRA, plus another from Heart.

James Rea, Managing Editor of Heart tells RadioToday: “We’re incredibly excited to reveal the latest addition to the Heart brand – Heart 90s – launching tomorrow! The playlist is pure 90s feel good nostalgia and Heart 90s will celebrate the greatest hits from this iconic decade, which produced some of biggest feel-good records of all time.

“It’s a very exciting time for the nation’s biggest commercial radio brand and we have yet more huge news coming tomorrow!”

Bauer’s 90s station – Absolute 90s – launched in June 2010 in London before moving to the Digital One multiplex later the same summer. It remained on D1 for five years before being replaced by Magic. It then returned to the first national DAB multiplex for a year until January 2019 when its space was taken by Kisstory and Absolute 90s moved to the SDL national multiplex.

RadioToday’s take

Buckle up, Global is going for it. We’ve known brand extensions are a big thing for commercial radio, and since launching on its own player in 2017 with 30 services, Global will have seen listening stats for each one.

These five new services must be the most popular ones – the teaser video suggests a country station, a chilled station, an old-skool reloaded station and a disco/70s station could be coming.

We can’t help feel these new stations are in reaction to Bauer launching seven new services earlier this month, but timescales suggest the plan to put more services on D1 was made long ago. Plus – these are full-on radio stations rather than 24/7 streaming automation.

What’s next? Another Heart spin-off? We’ll let you know tomorrow!

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32 Comments
  1. Peter says

    It is not Radio its a jukebox as normal from global utter rubbish

  2. sj says

    While it’s always welcome news when new stations are launched, I can’t help but wonder what these jukebox-style services can offer long-term to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. A curated station or playlist on these platforms offers the ability to skip tracks and listen without ads (albeit with a subscription). Kev’s a good presenter but are a few speedlinks of a morning a compelling enough reason to listen?

  3. T1 says

    Builds the heart brand. Makes a lot of sense. Global have the best range of brands in the commercial market currently.

    1. Mr Boltar says

      Branding is for trainers and t-shirts. Radio is about more than that. Hopefully the next generation who work in it will realise that since the current one appears not to.

  4. Jeff says

    Britney Spears – ‘Oops I Did It Again’ released March 27, 2000. 🤦

    1. jeff c says

      playlisted by some millennial no doubt.

  5. J says

    I was thinking just recently that it would be good to have a 90s “pop” station. Absolute 90s is a bit more “indie”. This new Heart station to appeal to those of us who preferred Madonna and M People over Mansun.

  6. Gary Wilkinson says

    Yep…makes business sense…I will give it go as I like Heart Dance and it would be an excellent listen if the added a few more spice Dance Tracks…hopefully 90s will be varied plus Kevin’s a great presenter

  7. Richard says

    Where is the space for it on D1? Thought it was full up, with every station mono apart from Classic FM?
    Can an expert explain, or is it DAB +?

    1. mb23 says

      The new stations are almost certainly all DAB+.

      Heart 80s switched to DAB+ this morning so that creates space for Heart 90s to launch tomorrow using DAB+.

      If they switch Capital Xtra and two other services (e.g. Capital UK & Radio X) from DAB to DAB+ it would create enough room for the other four stations. Capital Xtra is currently using 112k.

      Alternatively they could remove Capital UK, Heart Extra & Smooth Extra from D1 but they would have to restore local news bulletins to the London versions of Capital, Heart & Smooth.

      1. Lee says

        I dont think Global know the meaning if local!!! The cheaper the better for Global.

  8. Radio Geordie says

    What’s next?
    The Radio in the UK Twitter page are hinting they are as follows:
    Heart Disco
    Smooth Chilled
    Capital Xtra Old Skool
    Smooth Country

    It is also speculated that the Capital FM UK, Smooth Extra and Heart Extra services could be ditched as the localised versions are available on almost every local platform anyway.
    This would then allow for these new brands to launch on DAB+, in stereo.

    The reason for these brand extensions is as follows:
    More Brands = More Advertising = More Money

  9. Joe Smith says

    = More stations to turn off.

  10. Diandalscotland says

    Was hoping for Heart 70s as Absolute 70s is only on Tayside and not always available in Edinburgh area. Already have Absolute 90s.
    Missed opportunity from Global there to get a 70s station National before Bauer. Although if Global get there Country station National then ahead of Bauer.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      If there was to be a 70’s station, then it would make more sense to use the Gold brand or bringing back the Smooth 70’s station.

      1. mb23 says

        It’s predicted that Heart 70s is one of the five new stations, there is an image of a glitterball for one of them. There is already a Heart 70s stream on the Global Player.

        1. Callum Reddy says

          I’m uncertain as to whether the new Heart station will be Heart 70’s or Heart Disco, considering the song playing in the video is Le Freak by Chic which is a disco song, plus the disco ball in the background suggests it’s going to be Heart Disco.

    2. Jeff C says
  11. David says

    I know Global will base new services at Leicester Square as that’s just how they decide to run stations.

    It would be fantastic if Manchester, Leeds or Birmingham would be chosen to have services based at. Global have sizeable spaces in Manchester & Birmingham. Also would depend on if breakfast is presented live or is just Pre-rec or voice tracked.

    It will be based in London regardless.

  12. Radio Geordie says

    Its only a matter of time before Bauer put their new spin-off services on the Sound Digital platform by switching most of their DAB services on the platform to DAB+.

  13. DJX says

    I can’t see how this is more appealing than streaming services, global are trying to pick up every inch of market share they can with these extended brands, but in the not so distant future the up and coming generation will not listen to live radio, just as they have no idea what cassettes or CDs are or DVDs are. Live TV has had its day and so will radio even for Global’s polished offering, will be short lived.

  14. Lee says

    Not another music jukebox with high music track rotation in mono! God help us. I wonder how long these types of format will last against the likes of Spotify especially when Spotify and similar streaming services don’t have ads. We need serious quality output not bland quantity.

    1. David says

      Spotify does have ads. It’s also only just made a profit for the first time in February. Streaming services are popular, but on the whole they aren’t raking in the mega bucks either at this time.

    2. mb23 says

      It may be a jukebox but it isn’t mono. It’s in stereo using 40k DAB+.

  15. Dave says

    Heart 70s 90s 00s all on tune in already and gold 60s

  16. Nev jack says

    Doesn’t matter what station is on air ,1000s of listeners still only have dab radios, NOT dab+, so they stiĺ won’t be heard unless they fork out ANOTHER £50-£100 for a new model!!!

    1. mb23 says

      You can buy a DAB+ radio for about £25 on Amazon.

      1. Joe Smith says

        That will be good.

  17. george says

    Capital XTRA on D1 has switched to DAB+ too.

  18. Joe Smith says

    I expect Global to launch their new station “Heart Search For the Hero” playing the M People hit on a continuous loop any time now.

  19. lee says

    Another jukebox with a narrow playlist with one presenter at breakfast. Better to listen to Spotify or similar to hear the music you want without commercials albeit with a small subscription.

    Do you think Ashley Tabor would ever take part in a questions and answers session in open public forums as he seems very elusive. I would like to ask him about the state of UK Commercial Radio, and his teams contribution to it.

  20. Alan Hall says

    I have tried to get this station in Glasgow but can not, why.

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