Local stations to rebrand in Global Radio shakeup

Global Radio is to axe the names of 29 local radio stations as part of the biggest rebrand in commercial radio history. By John Plunkett

Global Radio is to axe the names of 29 local radio stations as part of the biggest rebrand in commercial radio history.

The current three-strong Heart radio stable is to be transformed into a national network of 32 stations, spelling the end for familiar station names such as Invicta, Fox and GWR.

The new Heart network of stations will retain their own breakfast and drivetime shows, but much of the rest of the content will be syndicated across the entire network as owner Global Radio, the UK's biggest commercial radio group, attempts to take on the BBC.

Global Radio will retain the local identities of just seven of the 42 stations currently known as the One Network, part of the GCap Media group which it bought for £375m earlier this year.

Regional stations that will not become part of the Heart umbrella are London's Capital 95.8, Cardiff's Red Dragon, Mercury FM in Crawley, Trent FM in Nottingham, Derby's Ram FM, Leicester Sound and Ten 17 in Essex, while Power FM in Hampshire will become part of Global's Galaxy dance network.

Choice FM in London will also join the Galaxy network, although it will retain its Choice FM brand.

The rebranding will take place over the next 12 to 18 months and will see an unprecedented number of station names consigned to commercial radio history.

Other station names to go include Bedford-based Chiltern Radio, Plymouth Sound, Essex FM, Gemini FM in Torquay, Brighton-based Southern FM, Ipswich's SGR FM and Severn Sound in Gloucester.

Heart and Galaxy are two of seven "pillar" brands which Global intends to sell to advertisers.

The seven former GCap stations that are not rebranded Heart will become part of Global's Hit Music Network of stations.

The other pillar brands will be national station Classic FM, the two-strong Xfm network, golden oldies network Gold and London talk station LBC.

Xfm was reduced to two stations following the sale of its South Wales station, since rebranded Nation Radio, and the rebrand of its Scotland station to Galaxy.

There will eventually be six Galaxy stations, comprising the four existing ones in the north-east, Yorkshire, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as the former Xfm in Scotland and Power FM in Hampshire.

Global Radio, headed by chief executive Ashley Tabor, is using the rebrand to offer a national proposition to both listeners and advertisers.

Global, the UK's biggest commercial radio owner, has indicated that there will be increased investment in programming and marketing - said to amount to a £10m spend over the next two years - alongside the increase in syndicated programmes that are played out across each network.

It has also pledged a smoother transition between locally and nationally produced programming.

Five of the One Network stations will be sold as part of Global Radio's deal to buy GCap - BRMB, Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern in the West Midlands. It will also either sell its Heart 106 station in the east Midlands or continue to operate it as a franchise.

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John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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