‘Tragedy’ as Wales’ oldest commercial radio station folded into UK-wide network
Wales’ oldest commercial radio station Swansea Sound is to lose its regional identity and become part of a UK-wide brand.
It is one of 50 regional stations that will be folded into a UK-wide radio network broadcast from Manchester by commercial group Bauer.
Swansea Sound was the UK’s seventh independent local radio station when it launched on 30 September, 1974. BBC TV news presenter Huw Edwards is among those who started their career at the station.
But from September it will be rebranded alongside stations such as York’s Minster FM and the West Midlands’ Signal 107 under the name Greatest Hits Radio.
The stations will continue to offer some Welsh-language opt-outs from the main network.
Bethan Sayed MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, said the rebrand was a “tragedy”.
“Swansea Sound is an institution in its own right in the area,” she said.
BBC Wales journalist Huw Thomas said: “Sad but unsurprising. Swansea Sound gave me a start in broadcasting and was one of the few commercial stations I worked at in the 2000s which hadn’t yet been given a bland re-brand.”
Dee Ford CBE, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Radio said the changes would provide “significant scale” for advertisers.
“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,” she said.
“This ensures the provision of local news and information, traffic and travel as well as access for advertisers to highly valued audiences.”