Hits Radio
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom (digital)
FrequencyFM: various
DAB: various
BrandingTSA's Hits Radio
The Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks
Programming
Language(s)English
FormatCHR/Pop
Ownership
OwnerBauer Media Audio UK
Greatest Hits Radio
Hits Radio Pride
History
First air date
31 December 1973 (local stations)
December 1999 (as Big City Network)
April 2011 (as Bauer Place)
January 2015 (as Bauer City 1)
4 June 2018 (as Hits Radio Network)
Former names
Big City Network (2000 - 2011)
Bauer Place (2011 - 2015)
Bauer City 1 (2015 - 2018)
Links
Webcastplanetradio.co.uk/hits-radio/play
Websiteplanetradio.co.uk/hits-radio/

Hits Radio is a network of 26 contemporary hit radio stations in the United Kingdom, owned and operated by Bauer Media Audio UK.

As of December 2023, the network has a combined reach of 6.3 million weekly listeners according to RAJAR.[1]

Overview

Hits Radio UK broadcasts on DAB in many parts of the UK and online. 25 localised variants air on FM and DAB across England and Wales.

As of May 2024, there are a total of 25 local radio stations in the network providing local programming, news, traffic and sport, along with networked output from Hits Radio UK.

The FM network of stations was formerly known as the Big City Network, Bauer Place and Bauer City 1. The national DAB station was formerly known as The Hits.

Until 17 April 2024, most of the stations broadcast under their local identities, such as Clyde 1 in Glasgow and Radio City in Liverpool. After this date, only the Scottish stations retained their heritage branding, with English and Welsh stations becoming localised outputs of Hits Radio.

History

For a chronological guide, see Timeline of Hits Radio.

The Hits Radio

On 19 January 2015, The Hits formed the backbone of a new locally branded Bauer City 3 network of radio stations in Northern England and Scotland.[2] The local City 3 branding was dropped on 31 August 2017, in favour of adding The Hits to all local DAB Multiplexes.[3]

FM stations networking

Initially known as the Big City Network, and latterly Bauer Place and Bauer City 1, networked programming on Bauer's local FM stations in Northern England and Scotland was initially confined to off-peak night time and weekend timeslots.

Hits Radio rebrand

On 18 April 2018, station owners Bauer announced Key 103 in Manchester would be rebranded and relaunched as Hits Radio Manchester a CHR-led music station aimed at 25-44 year olds on Monday 4 June 2018.[4]

The station was merged with national DAB station The Hits, which in turn was rebranded itself as Hits Radio UK to provide a single national service across the UK on DAB, Freeview and online.[5]

In Manchester, Hits Radio continues to provide local news & information, traffic bulletins and advertising on its local platforms - 103 FM, DAB and online.[6] The station's programming is networked across 24 local FM stations - all of which opt out at times for local output.

Former logo for the Bauer City 1 Network

In February 2014, the stations adopted a standardised audio identity package, produced by Wisebuddah, while retaining their local station branding. Two networked shows were also introduced across most stations - Old Skool and Anthems and In: Demand - produced from Key 103 in Manchester.[7]

Separate schedules for Northern England and Scotland were introduced in August 2015,[8] followed in July 2017 by two networked mid-morning shows for most of the FM stations, produced from Manchester and Glasgow respectively.[9]

Local weekend programming for most of the English stations was replaced with additional network output in July 2019,[10] followed in September 2019 by the introduction of a networked Drivetime show.[11] The Scottish network of stations introduced a networked Drivetime show at the end of March 2020, except for MFR and Radio Borders.[12]

Former logo for the Bauer City 3 Network

In February 2017, the Free Radio group of stations in the West Midlands began carrying off-peak programming from the Northern England network, replacing most of its own regional output from Birmingham.

Gem in the East Midlands joined the network in July 2019 to carry late night and overnight programming from Manchester.[13]

Five stations were acquired to join the network, of which four retain heritage branding: Pulse 1 (Bradford), Signal 1 (Stoke-on-Trent), The Wave (Swansea) and Fire Radio (Bournemouth). Pulse, Signal, and The Wave began carrying off-peak programming from the Hits Radio network on 15 June 2020.[14] The fifth, The Breeze (Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester) rebranded as Hits Radio under a licensing agreement with Nation Broadcasting.[15]

On 20 July 2020, Pulse 1, Signal 1 and The Wave officially joined the Hits Radio network.[16]

On 31 August 2020, Radio Aire ceased broadcasting and moved to the sister Greatest Hits Radio network - it merged with twelve other stations to form Greatest Hits Radio Yorkshire.[17]

The same day saw Hits Radio South Coast launch, thereby becoming the second FM station to be known on air as Hits Radio. The station had previously broadcast as The Breeze South Coast and the change is made following the purchase in 2019 of The Breeze network from Celador Radio. Nation Broadcasting replaced Hits Radio South Coast with their own Easy Radio South Coast programming from 19 September 2022, with Bauer providing Hits Radio content thereafter on the South Hampshire DAB multiplex.

In October 2020, it was announced that Hits Radio would launch in Suffolk, taking over the DAB capacity which had been used for Greatest Hits Radio since September (previously Town 102), in tandem with the relaunch of Ipswich 102 as Greatest Hits Radio.[18] The change took place on 3 November, at the point Ipswich 102 (and Radio Plymouth) took the GHR affiliation. As in North Yorkshire, a localised feed of Hits Radio is provided, with the ability to split from the network programming content for localised branding, news material and advertising. Hits Radio Suffolk was withdrawn after 1 October 2022, with the capacity reverting to GHR, as a consequence of the FM frequency (the prior Ipswich 102) transitioning to Nation Radio Suffolk.

In November 2021, Bauer announced the two Free Radio breakfast shows - known as Hits at Breakfast - would be merged into one regional show across all four Free Radio licences.[19] The merger was permitted under OFCOM's local content guidelines, although all four Free Radio licences retain opt-outs for local news, traffic updates and advertising.

In November 2022 it was announced that CFM in Cumbria would follow Radio Aire in transitioning from the Hits Radio network to Greatest Hits Radio, with the change slated to take place as of April 2023; CFM's local weekday show would remain, moved from breakfast to broadcast in an afternoon slot on GHR, with Hits Radio content continuing to be available in the area over DAB - replacing the localised digital-only version of GHR broadcast to Cumbria since the local DAB multiplex began broadcasting in late 2021. Around the same time as announcing the CFM change, Bauer confirmed that two of the relay transmitters of Signal 1 would transfer to carrying GHR from January 2023, with the station's main transmitter area - where GHR broadcasts on AM (formerly Signal 2) - retaining the Hits Network positioning.

In January 2023, Bauer announced that Radio Borders would follow CFM in transitioning from the Hits Radio network to Greatest Hits Radio, in April 2023.[20]

In November 2023, Bauer announced that from January 2024, the two individual breakfast shows on both Radio City and Rock FM would come to an end and would be merged to form a simulcast show on both stations. The new show is presented by Joel Ross and Leanne Campbell and broadcast from Bauer's Liverpool studios at the Hits Radio Tower. The stations continue their separate branding and news bulletins.[21]

Heritage station rebrand

In January 2024, it was announced that fifteen of Bauer's local radio stations in England and Wales - which form part of the Hits Radio network - would be rebranded as Hits Radio from 17 April 2024.[22] No changes are expected to the network's local, regional and national programming, including local news and traffic bulletins, as a result of the rebrand.[23]

All fifteen stations were relaunched as local variants of Hits Radio on 17 April 2024.

Stations

Hits Radio branded: England & Wales Studios Formerly
Hits Radio UK Manchester & London The Hits
Hits Radio Manchester Manchester Key 103
Hits Radio Liverpool Liverpool Radio City
Hits Radio Lancashire Liverpool Rock FM
Hits Radio Staffordshire & Cheshire Birmingham Signal 1
Hits Radio North East Newcastle Metro Radio
Hits Radio Teesside Newcastle TFM
Hits Radio West Yorkshire Leeds Pulse 1
Hits Radio East Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire Leeds Viking FM
Hits Radio South Yorkshire Sheffield Hallam FM
Hits Radio Birmingham Birmingham Free Radio Birmingham
Hits Radio Coventry & Warwickshire Birmingham Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire
Hits Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire Birmingham Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire
Hits Radio Black Country & Shropshire Birmingham Free Radio Black Country & Shropshire
Hits Radio East Midlands Nottingham Gem
Hits Radio Lincolnshire Lincoln Lincs FM
Hits Radio South Wales Swansea The Wave
Hits Radio Dorset Fareham Fire Radio
Hits Radio Cornwall - DAB only Redruth Pirate FM
Hits Radio Bristol & The South West Bristol Sam FM
Hits Radio London - DAB only Manchester & London
Hits Radio North Yorkshire - DAB only Manchester
Hits Radio Northern Ireland - DAB only Manchester
Hits Radio South Coast - DAB only Fareham
Hits Radio Cumbria & South West Scotland - DAB only Manchester
Hits Radio Oxfordshire Fareham Jack 3 & Chill
Heritage branded: Scotland Studios
Clyde 1 Clydebank
Forth 1 Edinburgh
Northsound 1 Aberdeen
MFR Inverness
Tay FM Edinburgh
West FM Clydebank

Programming

Most of the stations broadcast their own local breakfast shows from 6 to 10 am each weekday - in most cases, these are produced and broadcast from the originating station's studios.

Network programming for England and Wales originates from Bauer's London headquarters or studios in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

In Scotland, it originates from Bauer's Clydebank studios near Glasgow, and on occasion, from Bauer's Edinburgh studios.

Overnight programming and The Hits UK Chart airs across all Hits Radio stations in England, Wales and Scotland originates from Bauer's London Headquarters and its Castle Quay studios at Castlefield in Manchester.

Until May 2022, CFM, Gem, MFR, Radio Borders and The Wave opted out of networked scheduling, during weekdays, and weekends respectively. This was replaced by networked programming.[24]

News

Bauer's newsrooms across the UK air local news bulletins hourly from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays and from 7 am to 1 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Headlines are broadcast on the half-hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows, alongside traffic bulletins. National bulletins air on Hits Radio UK.

At weekends, bespoke networked bulletins air from 2 pm (until 6 pm on Saturdays and 4 pm on Sundays) - separate bulletins are produced for England & Wales and for Scotland.

At all other times, mainly evening & overnight, hourly national bulletins originate from Sky News Radio in London.

Notable presenters

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Name of presenter and their timeslot or show
Presenter Timeslot Ref.
Gemma Atkinson Weekday drivetime (with Mike Toolan) [citation needed]
Wes Butters Sunday morning (with Sheree Murphy)
Sarah-Jane Crawford Weekday late show [citation needed]
Fleur East UK, Manchester & London weekday breakfast; Saturday morning
James Barr UK, Manchester & London weekday breakfast; Saturday morning
Sheree Murphy Sunday morning (with Wes Butters) [citation needed]
Sam Thompson Weekday evening show & The Hits UK Chart [citation needed]
Joel Ross Liverpool and Lancashire Weekday breakfast [citation needed]
Jo Russell East Midlands Weekday breakfast [citation needed]
Stephanie Hirst Saturday 10pm-1am - Sunday 7-10pm [citation needed]
Mike Toolan Weekday drivetime (with Gemma Atkinson) [citation needed]
Tom Green Weekday mid-mornings [citation needed]

Hits Radio Pride

Main article: Hits Radio Pride

On 29 July 2020, Bauer announced a spinoff pop-up station to Hits Radio, Hits Radio Pride, which launched at 8am on 28 August 2020. The new station would be the first time a major radio broadcaster in the United Kingdom has launched a station that was targeted to the LGBTQ+ community. The service is taking capacity on a select number of Bauer owned ensembles including Northern Ireland, Liverpool, Swansea, Bradford, Stoke and London. Bauer acquired additional DAB capacity as part of the deal to buy Wireless Group's local radio portfolio in 2019.[28]

In Liverpool, Hits Radio Pride took capacity previously used by Radio City Talk. In Northern Ireland the service replaced Magic Chilled.

The station is sponsored by Cooperative Bank for an initial run of 6 months. Additional content is produced by Reform Radio, as part of a grant awarded by the Audio Content Fund. Tough Talks’; is an 'intimate conversations between contributors from the LGBTQ+ community reflecting on the struggles that they face within society.' [29]

Hits Radio Pride also works with LGBT+ helpline Switchboard (UK) to promote support services.[29]

The station started online and smart speaker test transmissions on 21 August 2020. It consisted of a looped promo featuring tracks from MNEK, Kylie Minogue, Calvin Harris, Kim Petras, Years & Years and Lady Gaga, along with promo trailers. The multiplex variation request submitted to Ofcom suggested the station would arrive on DAB multiplexes from 26 August 2020.[30]

References

  1. ^ "Quarterly Listening". RAJAR.
  2. ^ Bauer City Network 3 launches on local DAB Radio Today, 19 January 2015
  3. ^ "The Hits to replace Bauer's City 3 Network". Radiotoday.co.uk. 29 August 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  4. ^ Bauer to launch new national radio station Archived 19 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Bauer Media, 18 April 2018
  5. ^ Key 103 to become Hits Radio as part of major rebrand, Prolific North, 18 April 2018
  6. ^ Key 103 to rebrand as Hits Radio and go national, Radio Today, 19 April 2018
  7. ^ Daytime sharing arrives at Bauer stations, Radio Today, 31 January 2014
  8. ^ Bauer brings local radio back to Scotland, Radio Today, 28 July 2015
  9. ^ Networked mid-morning show for Bauer stations, Radio Today, 12 June 2017
  10. ^ Hits Radio Network stations to drop local weekend programmes, Radio Today, 30 May 2019
  11. ^ Bauer to network drivetime across 11 licences in North and Midlands, Radio Today, 5 August 2019
  12. ^ Bauer networks more shows across Scotland, RadioToday, 29 January 2020
  13. ^ Gem to take Hits Radio strapline and night programmes, Radio Today, 8 July 2019
  14. ^ "Hits Radio networking starts on new Bauer stations". Radiotoday.co.uk. 15 June 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  15. ^ Most of acquired Bauer stations to become Greatest Hits Radio Stuart Clarkson, Radio Today, 27 May 2020
  16. ^ Bauer starts to roll out Hits and Greatest Hits to new radio stations Stuart Clarkson, Radio Today, 9 July 2020
  17. ^ Radio Aire to become Greatest Hits Radio, Radio Today, 16 July 2020
  18. ^ "Ipswich 102 to rebrand as Greatest Hits Radio". Radiotoday.co.uk. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  19. ^ Bauer ends separate Hits at Breakfast shows on Free Radio, Radio Today, 23 November 2021
  20. ^ "Radio Borders to rebrand as Greatest Hits Radio from April". 31 January 2023.
  21. ^ "Rock FM to lose last local show as new shared breakfast show launches". RadioToday. 16 November 2023. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  22. ^ "Fifteen local stations get set for Hits Radio rebrand". Bauer. 10 January 2024. Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  23. ^ "Bauer to rebrand heritage FM stations in England and Wales to Hits Radio". RadioToday. 10 January 2024. Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  24. ^ "More Hits Radio network programming for five Bauer stations". Radiotoday.co.uk. 17 May 2022.
  25. ^ "Bauer networks more shows across Scotland". RadioToday.co.uk. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  26. ^ "Bauer stations to air new Scottish sports show". Radiotoday.co.uk. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Hits Radio weekend show for Fleur East, Greg Burns and James Barr". Radio Today. September 2019. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  28. ^ "Hits Radio Pride pop-up station to launch on DAB". Radiotoday.co.uk. 29 July 2020.
  29. ^ a b "Bauer Media partners with the Co-operative Bank to launch new LGBTQ+ radio station, Hits Radio Pride". Bauermedia.co.uk. 28 July 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2022. Retrieved 25 September 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)