Connect FM given Ofcom go-ahead to merge with Smooth

Ofcom has approved the request from Communicorp UK’s Connect FM to share all programmes with Smooth Radio East Midlands.

The Connect FM licences – one for Peterborough and one for Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough – fell in the regulator’s East region, while Smooth East Midlands is in the Central region. That meant the stations had to seek permission to create a new ‘approved area’ to enable them to share programmes 24/7.

Communicorp tells RadioToday the transition will happen on October 1st 2019.

Ofcom ran a consultation earlier this year, to which it received no responses. Communicorp UK had made the request following its purchase of Connect FM – as well as Heart Hertfordshire – from Adventure Radio back in February.

Publishing the decision, Ofcom said: “We have approved Format change requests for the Connect FM services in Peterborough and Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough which will allow them to provide their locally-made programming from anywhere within this new approved area, and to share this programming with each other and also with the East Midlands service. The two Connect FM services will be rebranded as ‘Smooth Radio’ as a result.”

The changes mean that Smooth moves from AM to FM in Peterborough and Northamptonshire, with Global recently getting permission to put Gold back on 1332 and 1557 AM.

Smooth East Midlands is owned by Communicorp and has regional weekday breakfast show presented by Gareth Evans. All other programmes are provided by Global from Leicester Square.

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  1. Mark Levy says

    More networking. Yeuk

    1. mb23 says

      Connect was losing over £100k a year.

  2. Paul Swift says

    Ofcom are an absolute shambles. I emailed them back in February and not even a curtious reply. I wish the old presenters well and have sympathy for all of Peterborough and Northants that are going to be put through the same old repetitive tracks for the rest of our lives.

    1. mb23 says

      Connect has large net liabilities on the balance sheet, so I’m not sure why you think it’s Ofcom’s fault. Are you expecting the regulator to bail them out financially? There are some licences that should never have been advertised in the first place, the areas were too small.

      1. Paul Swift says

        How can you change a radio station overnight targeted at 15-35 year olds to over 50s coffin dodgers channel ! No doubt you are some sort of Global Anorak !

        1. Alan Blair says

          You’ll be a coffin dodger yourself one day.

      2. Mr Boltar says

        If the areas were too small how does community radio manage? If you target the right audience you get the listeners.

        1. Sj says

          Community radio isn’t managing in many cases. But maybe the networking and merging of these little commercial stations, too small to be viable, might be a boost for the community stations. As for Connect, watch its reach double from 10% to 20% once it becomes Smooth.

        2. mb23 says

          A lot of the community stations are staffed by unpaid volunteers. The commercial stations are staffed by radio professionals.

  3. Richard says

    I am over 50, can’t stand Smooth, listen to Absolute brands Classic Rock, 80s and the main station. Gold, Arrow (defunct) found Atlantis, Planet Rock, Virgin and a bit of Radio 2,JW, TB, and Hughie Lewis as he plays lots of Blues!
    Hate melodic old style Radio 2 stuff!

  4. RathergoodDAB says

    There is quickly becoming very little station choice now, especially if you only listen to FM/AM still.

    1. mb23 says

      It’s difficult for an independent operator to make a profit in any market where there are 50+ DAB stations available. It’s the same radio advertising cake being cut more thinly.

  5. sj says

    Like the Touch FM stations, Connect has sounded confused for many years and has struggled to attract an audience. It calls itself a “hit music” station while throwing in obscure 90s tracks, and is mostly automated with very little sense of localness anyway. I’d bet my mortgage the audience doubles in a year or two. So, while sad an old brand is going, I’m not convinced this a bleak day for the good people of Northamptonshire and Peterborough.

  6. Nathan Pierce says

    Yes, the day has arrived! Connect has been going down hill every since 2018 when they rebranded as the Hit Music Channel and got rid of so many good shows like Mark & Liz at Breakfast, Endless Love, Jagger & Woody, Pure 80s & Pure 70s. I’ll miss it, but now all that Northamptonshire and Peterborough need is a rock station, Virgin Radio anyone? When is the rebrand date?

  7. DELL says

    Once moving the dial ment choice now its same old same old back to internet stations world wide for me lot more choice .or give my community radio a chance BIG CITY here I come

  8. T1 says

    Global knows how to attract listeners and is buying up the stations that don’t make money and don’t know how to attract listeners. This makes business sense and I don’t know why people are complaining.

    As for choice, I remember when we only had 60 commercial stations around the UK. We now have hundreds and millions on the internet. Choice has never been so good.

    1. Neal says

      Choice on the Internet yes. Choice on FM/AM is zero. DAB Is hopeless if you are driving around the country. Global wins not particularly as it is a clever or a good business model it succeeds sadly because listeners don’t want anything new or exciting to listen to. They want safe radio with the same tracks over and over and over again. The problem with that is unless you are over a certain age you will not have a clue about how exciting music radio used to be. How you would tune in daily or weekly to hear your favourite DJ or specialist music show. Now it’s just bland and boring. Top stations for me now are 92.5 The River from Boston and Laurel Canyon Radio. Pure Gold Spain shows a clean set of heels to Global’s Gold about how many millions of oldies there are to play out there as opposed to hundreds and how great it would be to have United DJ radio on FM instead of bloody Heart. So sad to read of the death just last week of Les Adams who had a show on that station. Please stop saying how great Global’s music stations are because they are pathetic compared to any of the above stations I’ve mentioned let alone many others I have not. The fact I can listen to them in the car with virtually no loss of connection most of the time compared to the sorry state of DAB we will I firmly believe get to the point where with cheaper and cheaper unlimited data packages internet radio will wipe the smirk off of the big guns faces in this country and I for one can’t wait for day to arrive!

      1. leftfield lenny says

        Neal, you must be in the same age bracket as I. In fact, I tend to only listen to the radio (DAB/FM and occasionally AM) either for a dedicated show or mainly to catch up with the news. I now either stream via Bluetooth internet stations playing exactly what mood of music ~I want at that moment, or play my own selection off my USB stick. Baur and Global can do one. I only have to suffer them at work, alas.

  9. Dean says

    I’m not exactly a flag waving fan of networking – actually, in fact, I really don’t like it at all – but when Ofcom open a consultation and not a single person replies, then clearly there isn’t a particularly strong feeling in the local area that Connect needed ‘saving’ from Global.
    Add to that, as others already have, that it seems the other choice was to fold the station up altogether and you have your answer.

    1. Dean says

      Correct myself – Communicorp not Global!

  10. Cliff King says

    I can hear Howard Rose spinning in his grave. Soon there won’t be anymore “Local” stations as the Big Boys buy up their frequencies.

  11. David Hine says

    I don’t know why the big operators still bother with loss incurring Medium Wave now. Can’t be any listeners left there. Let Medium Wave be used for Amateur Radio and small hobby local fun stations like they do in Holland and Spain, David Hine

  12. Rod Watts says

    Why put Smooth on it?… would have made more sense, to put Capital like in Leicester on……So 106.8 from Peterborough and 107.4 from Kettering, And 97.2 from Wellingborough all going to be Snooosse Radio, I am yawning already
    Now doubt going to be run from Coventry, now that’s Local, Not
    So the Only Local radio, will be Community stations, Like Corby radio and Harborough FM
    When Connect was Called KCBC on AM, it had lots of Listeners, but it was sold, moved to FM and they moved studios to Peterborough,
    took them a long while to recover listeners

    1. Nathan Pierce says

      I can still receive Capital on 105.4fm in Kettering so not really needed.

    2. Leftfield Lenny says

      Connect FM was originally Lite FM and based in Peterborough from its formation. The owner sold the station to KCBC’s owners who moved it out of Peterborough probably to consolidate running expenses.
      Oddly though, the original founder of Lite Lite FM now runs Peterborough’s community radio station, PCR FM.

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