Jobs under threat as Signal Radio faces a major shake-up

STAFF at Potteries-based Signal Radio face an uncertain future stemming from its acquisition by The Bauer Group from Wireless at the start of last year.

From September, Signal 1 will keep its on-air brand name, but only the breakfast show, while Signal 2 is to become part of Bauer's 'Greatest Hits' network of shows.

Signal was one of a group of local commercial stations in England and Wales brought together under The Radio Partnership, which was sold to the original Wireless Group for 95million in 1995, and then became part of UTV in MAJOR changes are to be made at Potteries-based Signal Radio resulting from its aquisition by The Bauer Group from Wireless at the start of last year.

From September Signal 1 will keep its on-air brand name, but only the Breakfast Show, while Signal 2 will become part of the Greatest Hits network of shows.

Signal was one of a group of commercial radio stations brought together under The Radio Partnership, which was bought by the original Wireless Group for 95million in 1995, before being sold to UTV in 1998.

A total of 49 out of the 56 FM licences held by Bauer will be branded as Greatest Hits Radio from September.

Dee Ford CBE, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Radio said: “Audiences love and trust radio. Expanding the Hits Radio Brand Network will ensure listeners to these acquired stations benefit from multi-platform digital distribution meaning they can continue to broadcast in an increasingly competitive, digital and voice-activated world. This ensures the provision of local news and information, traffic and travel as well as access for advertisers to highly valued audiences.”

Bauer says the changes mean that some staff roles will be put into consultation for redundancy and freelance contracts will be reviewed.

"The group says it’s ‘fully committed to supporting all affected employees throughout this period and will be working closely with them over the months ahead’. A period of consultation with employees potentially affected will begin today.

RadioToday has estimated that the current total of approximately 200 on air presenting roles across the former Wireless, UKRD, Lincs and Celador stations will be cut to around 40, with Greatest Hits and Hits stations only requiring one regional show from within each of the Ofcom-approved areas.

This calculation assumes that Lincs FM, Pirate and Sam FM Bristol will run their own programmes without taking any Hits or Greatest Hits networked shows.

These numbers also do not include local managers, programmers, admin or engineering roles – many of which are likely to still be needed as the Bauer radio operation swells into new regions it has not previously had radio stations in.

Some buildings could be surplus to requirements at a later date as fewer studios are required. Bauer has confirmed to RadioToday that it will operate ‘regional broadcast centres’, but says it will maintain a local presence in many areas for newsgathering and sales operations.

Graham Bryce, Group Managing Director – Hits Radio Network Brand, said: “We are committed to ensuring the future of radio in local markets and serving the needs of our listeners and advertisers. However, our top priority right now will be to support those affected through this period."

Bauer says the integration of the stations it bought last year into the ‘Hits Radio Brand Network’ will mean it becomes the largest commercial radio network in the UK, with the highest listening hours of any commercial radio brand.

The group also says it will continue to provide local news, travel, weather and other information broadly at a ‘local multiplex level’ as part of the drive to ensure each of the acquired stations has a path to a digital future. Advertising will be available at a local licence/transmitter level.

Signal's long-serving football commentator George Andrews said: "It feels like I've lost a family and I am sure others who have worked there have so many wonderful memories".


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