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Bauer launches new national pop station Hits Radio

By | Published on Wednesday 18 April 2018

Hits Radio

Bauer Media is launching a brand new radio station called Hits Radio, which will replace The Hits radio. The ‘the’ having no place in a modern radio listening experience.

The Hits radio station originally accompanied the also Bauer-owned TV channel of the same name. As well as broadcasting online and through the Freeview telly platform, it aired in some regions on the local DAB digital network. In 2015 those local outposts were relaunched as ‘channel three’ of the local Bauer radio brand – eg Radio City 3 in Liverpool – before reverting to the name The Hits in 2017.

But that’s the old Hits, people. We’re here to talk about the all-new Hits Radio, which will be pitched at a slightly older demographic when it launches in June, and which will seemingly be more proactively pushed by Bauer as a national pop radio station. Presenters at launch include Gethin Jones, Gemma Atkinson, Dave Vitty, Wes Butters and Sarah-Jane Crawford.

Bauer’s network of local radio stations – which includes many of the classic local commercial FM brands like Clyde (Glasgow), Forth (Edinburgh), City (Liverpool), Metro (Newcastle) and Hallam (Sheffield) – will be rebranded from its current name of the Bauer City Network to the all-new Hits Radio Network.

That said, although now grouped alongside the new national station under the Hits brand, those local stations will still continue to operate under their current names. Except in Manchester, where Key 103 is set to become Hits Radio Manchester. The national station will be broadcast out of the city too, which is perhaps why the national and local Bauer stations will be more closely aligned there in terms of brand and, seemingly, programming.

Bauer’s main rival in the UK radio industry, Global, did away with its local radio brands, relaunching those stations as local outposts of Capital or Heart, in doing so basically making those two London stations national with some local programming. The argument was that in the social media age it made more sense having a small portfolio of brands that operate nationwide, rather than operating under different names in different parts of the country.

That doesn’t seem to currently be part of Bauer’s plans with the Hits network, beyond the Manchester rebrand. However, if the national station does build momentum, it might ultimately make sense to use that brand more proactively on a local basis down the line.

Confirming the revamp, Bauer Radio MD Dee Ford said: “Hits Radio has been informed by audience insight, combined with our talented programming instinct that unearthed a need for a fresh, exciting national radio brand. This family-friendly audience seek a brilliant alternative to what is currently on offer, and the new Hits Radio station and expanded Hits Radio Network offers an amazing opportunity for the music industry to reach them”.

Meanwhile Gary Stein, now Group Programme Director of the Hits Radio Network, said: “Manchester is fast becoming a central media hub of the UK. We are extremely excited to be launching a new national digital radio station based in this incredible city – it offers something really distinctive”.