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The future of Stray FM

The future of Stray FM

Published by Harry Long at 5:12pm 29th May 2020.

Changes will be coming to the airwaves of North Yorkshire in the autumn, with the announcement this week that the counties three commercial radio stations are to become part of the UK’s largest commercial radio network.

Stray FM, Minster FM and Yorkshire Coast Radio will be rebranded as “Greatest Hits Radio”, offering classic hits from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

The three stations were bought last year by Bauer Media, Europe’s leading digital commercial broadcaster whose existing stations include the national stations Absolute Radio, Kiss and Scala.

Bauer say that the changes will: 

“Secure the multi-platform digital future of these stations in a radio market which is seeing a significant shift towards consumption on digital platforms.

"It enables the creation of a national network which delivers the optimum mix of local content that listeners highly value alongside content from nationally known presenters, whilst also providing significant scale for advertisers.”

The stations are expected to be rebranded in September. The proposals will see the retention of local news, traffic and travel and other local information alongside national names presenting programmes across the network, there will be a regional Drivetime programme for Yorkshire.

Group Managing Director of Hits Radio Brand Networks, Graham Bryce, says:

“We recognise the depth of local support for these stations among loyal audiences who care about the presenters and staff, as well as the content that they produce. I want to personally assure those listeners that these stations are not closing. They will retain local news content, which we know is highly valued by listeners, as well as local information, traffic and travel. They will also remain engaged in local charitable activity, retain their presence in the community and reflect the major events and stories that we agree are important to listeners. 

"This change is designed to ensure that the future success of these stations matches their rich heritage. Across the country, the local radio industry is adapting to significant shifts in listener behaviour towards consumption on digital platforms. We must stay ahead of these changes to ensure that our cherished local institutions can thrive into the future.”

All three stations currently broadcast on FM and DAB as well as online and on smart speakers. Greatest Hits Radio will be available to listeners on all these platforms with no need to retune.

The changes are part of one of the biggest shake-ups to UK radio in recent years. Bauer bought four other UK Radio companies last year, UKRD (previous owners of StrayFM, Minster FM, and Yorkshire Coast Radio) along with Lincs FM, Celador Radio, and parts of Wireless. The acquisitions added 40 radio stations to the Bauer portfolio. Most of those stations will rebrand as Greatest Hits Radio in September.

In a statement released this week Bauer explained:

“These changes do unfortunately mean that some roles will be put into consultation and freelance contracts reviewed. Bauer Media is 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 commence today.”