Global rejig creates comms opportunity

Global Radio is set for the biggest rebranding exercise in commercial radio history. The owner of the Heart, Classic FM, XFM and Galaxy brands has decided to scrap its 42-station One Network.

Stations such as Chiltern Radio, Power FM and Southern FM will all fall either into the Hit Music network, which will be headed up by Capital FM, the Heart network, or the Galaxy network.

Four further networks based on standalone brands Classic FM, XFM, Gold and LBC will make up the seven pillars of Global's new structure.

Stations coming under the Hit Music network will keep their current names and the amount of networked and syndicated programmes these stations carry will be minimal.

For PROs used to dealing with these stations not much will change, says John Chittenden, head of comms at Heart, Galaxy and LBC. 'We'll still retain local news teams and programming, and it's not going to be one central contact for the whole network.'

Both XFM Scotland and Power FM in Hampshire will fall into the Galaxy Network, along with Choice FM in London.

The remaining 28 former One Network stations will all become part of the Heart Network. Stations will keep their own breakfast and drive-time shows but other content will be networked, meaning the stations can be sold to advertisers as 'national brands locally delivered'.

According to Justin McKeown, divisional director of Trimedia UK, this is both a blessing and a curse for PROs.

'It's good news for national campaigns, but it's not necessarily good news for local and grassroots campaigns, and for PROs who operate on a regional basis,' he says.

'On top of that there's a financial driver - so they can demonstrate greater value to more advertisers.'

Six months ago, Global took its share of the UK's commercial radio market to nearly 40 per cent by buying GCap, parent company of Capital Radio, for £375m.

Matt Bourn, MD of Braben PR, says the rebrand of Global, which follows Bauer's purchase of Emap Radio and Virgin Radio's rebrand as Absolute, creates new challenges.

'I don't think the way in which you should pitch will change - make sure you know who listens to the station, their content and what the audience is all about,' he says.

'What's more critical is anybody who wants to pitch to radio stations right now will have to be immersed in what's going on in the radio landscape.'

But these changes, and the fact that up to 40 per cent of commercial radio stations currently are not profitable, does not mean commercial radio cannot succeed, says Bourn.

'It's such a rich sector and there is so much going on, it's really exciting,' he says.


Global is the third largest radio network in the UK with six million listeners a week

Heart 106.2 is the number one station in London for the 25-44 audience, with 888,000 listeners every week

The Galaxy network reaches more than 2.7 million listeners every week. Galaxy in Birmingham has 414,000 listeners, more than BBC Radio 1, BRMB and Kerrang


Global Radio The new structure

The new Global Radio in a nutshell

- The One Network, which contains 42 local and regional radio stations, will no longer exist. Five of these stations - BRMB, Beacon Shropshire, Beacon Wolverhampton, Mercia and Wyvern FM - will be sold off.

- Capital FM, Trent FM, Leicester Sound, RAM FM, Mercury FM, Red Dragon and Ten 17 will make up the Hit Music network. These stations will retain their current names.

- Power FM and Choice FM will join the Galaxy network, which includes four stations in the North East, Yorkshire, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as XFM Scotland.

- All 28 other One Network stations will become part of Heart. These changes will all happen over the next 12 to 18 months.

What is staying the same?

Classic FM, XFM and London talk radio LBC will remain as pillar brands, as will The Gold network.

What is the point of the rebrand?

It will help make Global more attractive nationally. It has promised a smoother transition between local and national programming.

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