UK Radio Predictions 2017

By James Cridland
Posted 20 December 2016, 12.38am est
Lee Maguire

As we near the end of 2016, it's time, once more, to consider what the future of the UK radio industry might be in 2017.

Predictions made for this year were varied and interesting, and included:

  • Martin Phillp, correctly saying that Orion would be sold to Bauer (which happened in May).
  • Another win from Martin Phillp: "Katie Hopkins gets a regular weekend slot on LBC." (eurgh)
  • Martin Phillp also predicted "eagle3 rebrands as Eagle Oldies on DAB", which it did, for a while. It's now called "My Music Radio".
  • Martin and Art Grainger also predicted "The existing Trial DAB muxes are given a 12 month extension by Ofcom." - they did, but for two years, not just one.
  • Ian Beaumont (remember him?) predicted that Pop Up Radio would close - it did, in May. He predicted that Escape and KISS would both leave DAB (Escape leaving Cornwall, KISS leaving Plymouth), and that happened too. And his prediction that The Morning News with Lisa Aziz would disappear from LBC was correct, as of September.
  • James Martin correctly predicted that Neil Fox wouldn't return to Magic. His guess of Smooth was, however, a bit wide of the mark - he ended up at Thames Radio.
  • Art Grainger predicted that "The dispute over the X (or Exe) brand is resolved - amicably". That did happen, but it took its time, only actually happening in August.

So, what do you reckon for this year? Post your reckons below.


3 years, 5 months ago

Ahem. Eagle3 is still going strong on Surrey DAB. Eagle Oldies was another additional channel.

3 years, 5 months ago

Have to confess it's been harder to speculate on the next twelve months this time round.

Gem 106 retains full time local programming, the same as sister Bauer regional station Wave 105.

Anglian Radio sold to UKRD.

Local commercial multiplexes which don't offer DAB+ will offer slots which small scale stations accept.

Current pirate radio station Flex FM is awarded a London CR licence, emulating the success with Rinse FM becoming a legal station. (Fellow pirate House FM has also applied)

News Corp (News UK) restructure Wireless Group by selling local stations, relaunching talkRADIO as a tabloid newstalk station which listeners can also listen to via The Sun website. No change to talkSPORT or Virgin Radio. However the national stations move out of Hatfields into News UK's 'Baby Shard' HQ at London Bridge.

James Whale moves to 10pm on talkRADIO while Paul Ross, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Iain Lee depart.

Nation Broadcasting close Thames and Dragon Radio.

Fosse 107 has a turbulent year, but clings on to celebrate their first 12 months on-air.

3 years, 5 months ago

Let's hope you're right on the last one Martin! ;-)

I'm struggling with this one too.

The Wireless local portfolio gets sold. But to who?
Quidem sell Touch FM Coventry.
Bauer flirt with Gem going fully into Big City 1 but this doesn't last.

But after what's been a hell of a six months for myself, I actually think what we saw at Oak FM may well be just the first domino to fall. To survive you've either got to be part of a sizeable group, or slash the cost base to the bare minimum - and that involves making huge compromises in order to survive. We have done the latter (as well as remount a service in next to no time) and I hope it works. The focus has to be on what comes out of the speakers.

Now is a good time and place as any, by the way, to thank those in the industry who've lent their support and kind words since we went public with this thing. It's meant an awful lot. It has been quite a learning curve and I have learnt a lot, not least about myself!

3 years, 5 months ago

The Wireless local portfolio gets sold. But to who?

The smaller stations would fit UKRD, Radio Wave in Blackpool for example could become part of 2BR, however Pulse, The Wave/Swansea Sound and Signal Stoke (not Wolves/Shrops) may be acquired by one of the larger groups or are kept by News Corp.

3 years, 5 months ago

The Pulse is unlikely to be acquired by Bauer: it had to be sold when Emap first purchased the Metro Radio Group. I'm sure the rules have since changed; but it's relatively unusual in that it overlaps Radio Aire's coverage area by quite a degree.

Can't quite see how it fits into Global's plan - they already have a Capital and Heart in Yorkshire, and it's unlikely to work as Radio X or Capital Xtra.

However, it would fit quite nicely into Lincs FM's portfolio - it would complete their rural coverage of East, West and South Yorkshire...

3 years, 5 months ago

Steve Penk will launch a radio station aimed at people called Penk. A selection of music aimed at Penks. It will be announced on RadioToday... with an article. Comments will be disabled.

3 years, 5 months ago

Following the News that Vinyl sales outstripped MP3 sales figures in November and December - Kids get back into AM radio with sales of retro AM sets hitting an all time high.

DAB stations lose listeners in their thousands as the newly launched Radio Caroline Community radio station and Radio 5 live suddenly find that they are the most listened to stations in the South of England.

Global and Bauer rush to recommission all their old AM transmitters as a scrabble for AM frequencies ensues.

3 years, 5 months ago

Pulse could go to Communicorp though and expand Heart Yorkshire.

Can't see it going to Lincs. The two stations are leagues apart culturally. Can you see Betton keeping on Danny Mylo?

3 years, 5 months ago

Heart Yorkshire covers Bradford/Halifax/Huddersfield quite satisfactorily though. Not sure why that helps them.

They could, of course, buy Pulse anyway - though they don't appear to have ambitions further than keeping Global's brands safe for them. That said, maybe Radio X might work: remembering that Moyles is from Leeds (where Pulse is nicely audible).

There's another option: 102.5 to carry Radio X, and reduce Pulse to a Bradford service. That's not as stupid as it might initially seem: Bradford is where the audience and revenue is.

Cultural fit probably isn't a concern for Lincs. The acquisition of Pulse would cover more of the Yorkshire TV marketing area, which would be a benefit to them.

3 years, 5 months ago

Pulse could become a UKRD station, although it'd certainly be as cheap and cheerful as Eagle Radio, with Pulse 2 becoming a relay of My Music Radio.

Signal would be an interesting prospect, a virtual monopoly in a radio no-mans land, although I'd suspect it'd become a Heart with Smooth on Signal 2's AM frequencies.

Another option would be for Bauer to expand the Free Radio brand to Stoke.

The Communicorp option may be viable for The Wave/Swansea Sound for a Capital/Smooth replacement. Communicorp already own Capital South Wales.

3 years, 5 months ago

I wish a year ago I said Radio Dead could legitimately double the amount of artists it plays!

3 years, 5 months ago

But James it wouldn't have come into the thought process. Did it not only launch in March?

3 years, 5 months ago

Re Wireless, you're all presuming it will be sold. Try looking at it from the opposing angle in that News UK will want to add to their local radio portfolio and buy UKRD. All those stations would become part of a much bigger Wireless Network including shows like Total Access instead of evening and nighttime automation.

3 years, 5 months ago

Re Wireless, you're all presuming it will be sold. Try looking at it from the opposing angle in that News UK will want to add to their local radio portfolio and buy UKRD. All those stations would become part of a much bigger Wireless Network including shows like Total Access instead of evening and nighttime automation.

That may be a possibility once Ofcom remove the requirements for local programming in peak for increased local news coverage. However with the current regulations, I can't see Murdoch acquiring stations in very small TSA's yet.

UKRD really only have two big hitters, Eagle Radio and Pirate FM, however William Rogers has seen the light regarding DAB and has two decent stations which have potential with My Music Radio and Encore Radio, the latter tapping into the musicals market.

3 years, 5 months ago

They have only two "big hitters" but the portfolio is profitable - UKRD took a lot of difficult but necessary decisions to get the combined portfolio of themselves and what was left of TLRC back to health.

I do agree it could happen the other way round. Wireless don't do as much networking as they could - running local mids for example, which they don't have to do under current legislation. But I can't see UKRD selling to Murdoch, and it's certainly not something I can see Rogers doing.

3 years, 5 months ago

More smaller stations will rid themselves of national sales houses and take more and more "local" advertising to combat the squeeze on CPT.

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