Oak FM sold
By Martin Phillp
Posted 3 August 2015, 2.25pm edt
Quidem in a surprise move have sold Oak FM to a Derby based company ATR Media (Above The Rest) who offer online and press services.
Quidem claim the sale is so they can focus on their West Midlands stations, which includes Oak's now former sister station format Touch FM in Coventry.
So what will ATR do with Oak FM? Revert to AC? Completely 'Jack' it in or take it fully live and local?
Seems very surprising. ATR Media says, in a quote:
We’re very pleased to be entering the commercial radio market in a region where we are actively developing our on-line and press offerings. We see many exciting synergies between our existing media assets and Oak FM. Combining radio, online and local press creates a powerful platform for Oak FM’s future growth
...and that's lovely, but their website appears to contain a bit about websites and nothing about local press. (Their website is built with Wordpress and contains the Google Analytics tracking code twice, which is a bad thing.)
I dug a bit, and they appear to operate The Derbyshire Guardian's website - Paul Caplin, ATR's CEO, has written a few articles for that under the username "capvaradmin". The website says the newspaper is owned by Capvar Media Ltd, which Paul's also apparently involved with. They also own The Staffordshire Guardian. Both newspapers are printed, appear to be monthly, and have a healthy amount of advertising in them.
So, now I know that, I think I can see the game plan - own some free newspapers and also a radio station, and sell ads across both. I'd be surprised if the programming offer changes - a live breakfast show and automation the rest of the day; and I suspect the new owners may find it quite tough to even maintain that unless they have a Communicorp-like arrangement with Quidem to get news coverage and broadcast facilities.
So, now I know that, I think I can see the game plan - own some free newspapers and also a radio station, and sell ads across both.
It's a similar strategy Latest Media have with their local magazines and tv channel in Brighton.
Might be worth pointing out that Touch FM Tamworth, based in the same building at Coalville, is not part of the sale. So either Tamworth will have to move (the Kenilworth facility is in Tamworth's approved area) or like James suggests, there will be some sort of working partnership. Global and Communicorp obviously have set a precedent here, with both broadcast facilities and news teams being shared where they share a building, such as at Nottingham, Leeds or Newcastle.
Personally I hope there will be an investment in content, and I wonder if a new name will follow. Coventry could be interesting to watch, as it'll be on its own now in terms of format.
Might be worth pointing out that Touch FM Tamworth, based in the same building at Coalville, is not part of the sale. So either Tamworth will have to move (the Kenilworth facility is in Tamworth's approved area) or like James suggests, there will be some sort of working partnership.
The Bee and 2BR also shared premises when one was independent and the other owned by UKRD to share the costs of running the building. The Bee was eventually acquired by UKRD.
I wonder what the rest of Quidem will do, as they're back to where they were pre-2012 now? It would be an ideal expansion for UKRD who have a presence in the North and the South, but nothing in the Midlands.
It seems a bold move but one which could pay off... I believe there is a future for hyper-local radio. Combining online and print seems a good idea. A free newspaper in Hinckley certainly, for example, would be very welcome as we only have one paper, owned by Trinity Mirror, of very questionable quality and journalism.
The first change the new management are doing is re-introducing live drive from mid-September with Craig Strong.
Mark O'Sullivan moves to mid-morning.
Looks like they've opted to invest in content. Good call. I do think however they need a new name. Oak as a brand is rather damaged on both licenses. The big problem with that Bo-Rap stunt and relaunch is that they didn't tell anyone. The marketing was very low-key. If ATR are making more changes then they definitely need to make sure everyone knows about it. There's a lot of "lapsed listeners" who've been tempted away to Global and Orion's brands. Getting them to come back and re-sample the station will be key.
Mark O' Sullivan is Touch FM Tamworth's breakfast jock, still technically employed by Quidem so that's interesting.
Craig Strong briefly worked for Fosseway Radio, the old name for the Hinckley license, during the early days in the late 90's.
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