Fans of King's Lynn radio station can expect big changes on airwaves
Award-winning station KL.FM is to be renamed as part of a major shake-up in the commercial radio sector.
The popular West Norfolk station, which has been broadcasting out of its Blackfriars Street base since July 1992, is to be rebranded.
New owners Bauer Media, who recently acquired a number of stations in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, say the long-awaited move could result in some job losses.
Consolidation of the radio industry took place last year with Global, owner of LBC, Smooth and Classic, merging all the Heart stations around the country, including in Norwich, into one national entity.
Its rival, the German-owned Bauer, was quick to make a similar move buying up KL.FM and other stations owned around the country by the UKRD group.
The completion of the deal has been held up as the Competition and Markets Authority considered whether there were any conflicts of interest where Bauer already owned a radio station.
KL.FM has not only been very popular with its listenership in West Norfolk and Fenland but also received national recognition with Sony Awards, the radio equivalent of the Oscars.
A statement from Bauer Media said: "Bauer Media is today announcing that the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex-based radio stations they acquired in 2019 will join their Hits Radio Brand Network, creating the UK’s largest commercial radio network.
"All stations will deliver the optimum mix of local content that listeners highly value alongside content from nationally known presenters.
"For advertisers, the move will provide significant scale whilst also retaining local advertising windows for clients.
"Where possible, stations who previously were only accessible via FM or AM radio will secure a multi-platform digital future, with access to DAB digital radio.
"This is a crucial move in a radio market which is seeing a significant shift towards consumption on digital platforms and allows extended coverage for audiences.
"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."
The Hits Radio Brand Network comprises of Hits Radio, Greatest Hits Radio and Country Hits Radio.
Dee Ford, CBE, group managing director radio of 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.”
Graham Bryce, group managing director of the Hits Radio Network Brand, added: “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.”