Ofcom approves format changes for Quidem stations

The go-ahead has been given to turn local radio services Banbury Sound, Rugby FM and four Touch FM stations into rhythmic-based, music-led services for 15-29 year-olds.

Quidem, which owns the six stations in question, has entered into an agreement with Global to broadcast one of its brands across all the frequencies it owns.

Neither party has confirmed to RadioToday which brand will appear, but from the new approved Formats, Capital is the most likely to be rolled out from Global’s station in Birmingham.

The format change request went to consultation, of which only two people responded, both against the move.

In approving the change, Ofcom said:: “We recognise that a broadly-based, locally-focused service in the market is being removed, it would be replaced by a service that would, in a different way, be distinctive from the other local analogue stations available in each licence area”.

RadioToday revealed in September that Quidem and Global had partnered for the move, which will result in at least 13 redundancies at Banbury Sound, Rugby FM and Touch.

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  1. Nathan Diamond says

    R I p fm radio in derby we can get this junk on 102.8 96.2 105.4 n soon 102.4 101.6 bye bye fm radio

  2. Radio Geordie says

    As Heart & Smooth are already available in most of Quidem’s area, it wasn’t likely to be anything else.

    Global’s probably eyeing up Signal 107 as another potential Capital, assuming Bauer has to sell it.

    1. Martin Kong says

      They won’t sell Signal 107 to Global. Instead it’ll probably be sold to either Nation or Helius.

      1. whitsal86 says

        I can’t see Signal 107 being forced to be sold, it’s a nice bolt-on for Bauer to Free Radio, if it’s not turned into Hits or GHR.

        It’s got decent presenters – Dicky Dodd, Steve Mason, Dannii Griffiths (I believe she’s also a pop star too, apparently…) and their newsreader Alice Watkins would probably be good at presenting; Bauer promoted Claire Kinnaird from travel to cover and then Webster’s breakfast show.

        That said – would Webster and Claire move from Tay FM Breakfast to Signal 107 drive maybe, to compete against Capital, if Steve Mason did mid-mornings? I think Tim Haycock is also in some sort of managerial role so it makes some sense…

        Would Midlands listeners take to Signal 107 having Webster and Claire from Tay, as a personality-driven drive show to compete against Heart and Capital?

        1. Martin Kong says

          Bauer have stated that they will sell Signal 107.

  3. Lee says

    Surprise surprise

  4. Mr Boltar says

    “would, in a different way, be distinctive from the other local analogue stations”

    Yes – in that it won’t be local. What is the point of Ofcom? They just rubber stamp anything these days. Its all whats good for business , not whats good for the listener. Sorry, but if you want to be in the radio business then sometimes profit has to take a back seat to programming or go find something else to do.

    1. mb23 says

      It was on the verge of going bust because of the large financial losses. This was the only way to save some jobs.

    2. sj says

      So you’d continue to run it at a massive loss? People aren’t listening to these stations. Look at the figures! 6% reach in Coventry. If Capital can triple that and then this group into a viable business then what’s the problem?

  5. SJ says

    They’ve tried to make it work but Touch FM Coventry’s got a 6% reach compared to Capital Birmingham’s 19%. No wonder the company’s losing money hand over fist. It’s really sad but I can’t say I blame them for doing this. At least the journos get to keep their jobs and the Quidem stations are less likely to go bust.

  6. Paul Swift says

    Hardly anyone is tuned to the new sound of Smooth in Peterborough and Northants. Just plays the same tracks day in day out. Should have gone to Capital brand. Why they turned Connect a Hit Music Station to a coffin dodgers one is still beyond me. Smooth East and West Midlands has lost thousands of listeners and really is in need of a revamp.

    1. mb23 says

      If they turned it into Capital it couldn’t share the drive show with Capital East Midlands (because of the different ownership).

      Communicorp own Smooth East Midlands so it can share the drive show with Peterborough/Northants.

    2. Mr Boltar says

      So anyone over 30 is a “coffin dodger”? And arn’t older people allowed to have music to their tastes , or does it all have to be urban shouty shouty with the occasionally autotuned wailing syrup and idiots in baggy trousers doing half crouches?

  7. Ted says

    Perhaps both current listeners objected?

  8. Guglielmo Marconi says

    RIP local radio in the UK. Soon all there will be to listen to will be Heart, Smooth and Capital. Wonder what the point of Ofcom is these days? They just seem to be facilitating the demise of local content.

    1. Eddy says

      Thank goodness for Radio Caroline real music and caroline flashback still independent and run by proper DJs who know there music

      1. Nathan says

        Love radio caroline I have it on online the best

        1. Dave says

          Touch fm has had it, s day no one was really listening in any great numbers same with community radio.
          There are hundred plus stations on DAB these days plus on line all to choose from.
          Times have changed & sadly the small stations are no longer viable. I think all credit to quidem,s management for keeping the stations going for so long,

          1. Mike Rose says

            Touch had it’s day the day it started. Terrible name, terrible attempt at replacing Centre, Kix & The Bear which were doing so much better beforehand. Small scale exceptions which, had they have been left alone, would have probably still been there today doing alright for themselves. But someone from down under had this “great” idea, which started with an increased percentage of soul music…not long after he’d been booted from Classic Gold…partly for sticking “KLF” on the playlist!

  9. whitsal2 says

    Capital is the wrong choice. Why not Radio X instead? At least this Radio X gets a local drive show.

    Smooth and Heart don’t suit the TSA.

    Kirsty Leahy is VERY Radio X if they let her have a personality-driven drive show like Johnny Vaughan does.

    1. Martin Kong says

      Because Capital will bring in more listeners and take some from Free Radio. Secondly if Global purchased instead a partnership with Quidem and change it to Radio X all programmes will come from London with no local hours. Plus Radio X reach would only be about around 5%.

      1. James Martin says

        Not quite true – a three hour local opt would still be required, especially as it is a franchise, but there’s nothing to say that they couldn’t do 1pm to 4pm – it just has to be between 6am and 7pm.

      2. Whitsal2 says

        Radio X can still have local drive per the ownership regulations since it’s a franchise.

  10. danny m says

    i ask you who actually listens to this stations that are going. why do you care so much about local radio. no one made a fuss when tape changed to cd then onto streaming services. its just more convenient. the uk is so small that even a national station is pretty much still local. it’s not ofcoms fault, its amazon and other online stores. they killed the high street and so killed the advertising pockets of the local radio stations. times change and unfortunately local radio is just a sad copy of capital smooth and heart. lbc is the master. but if you don’t want that, treat yourself to a podcast. there are millions out there. who needs sad-fm its nearly 2020.

    1. sj says

      I think your comment sums up what most people on here won’t accept. We just don’t care enough about local radio in this country anymore. The only way radio can survive against podcasts and Spotify is with big national shows and brands. You can blame Ofcom, Global or anyone else but it’s the (lack of) listeners who are killing local radio with their lack of enthusiasm for it – and they’re the only people who matter in the end.

      1. Radio Expert says

        You know what – nail on the head there.

        Look at Woolworths and more recently Thomas Cook. Beloved, but couldn’t really adapt to the changes in the zeitgeist and thus became irrelevant in the modern world.

  11. jerry chesterman says

    The smaller local stations were originally given a license to serve a local area for what was called Independent local radio.If these stations are unable to sustain a profitable service ,then they must surrender their license to give another party a go . Selling out to simulcast national services is not in the listeners best interest.

  12. Len Groat says

    “broadly based” ?

    “for 15 to 29 year olds”


  13. Lee says

    How come commercial radio advertising revenue is rising, and more people are listening according to Radiocentre and RAJAR respectively yet local companies like Quidem cant make local radio work. I think its all about more and more profit, or the findings of Radiocentre and RAJAR are in dispute. I suspect its all of these. What happened the local sales teams-who were on commission and a basic salary or commission only – where they could have won new local advertising and increased revenue. Oh i forgot they were mostly slashed for national advertising sales. The problem with that is you put your eggs all in one basket.

  14. Jerry says

    Not on DAB and with more and more people listening to dab radio at work, home, car or listening via smart speaker people have more choice. If you got a brand new car you are hardly going listen touch on fm when you go 40 plus stations on dab.

  15. Lee says

    Isn’t Quidem managed by Steve Orchard, one of the guys who brought Radio 210, 2CR, GWR, Mercia, Essex FM, Chiltern then syndicated most output from Swindon, then merged with Capital and sold to Global in favour of profits and synication? Steve Orchard and the GWR crew started this mess in UK commercial radio.

  16. Radio Expert says

    The truth is these stations have struggled for many years now. The fact that only two objections were submitted of Ofcom – with neither of the arguments really holding any sort of water – is a pretty devastating blow on how many people are actually bothered about losing these stations.

    Sadly, I do wonder if commercial radio has any sort of future – localness is no longer fashionable, sadly.

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