Bauer Radio

Bauer Radio is a UK-based radio division of the Bauer Media Group.

The Bauer network is divisible into two main groups, the Bauer City and Bauer National portfolios, with City consisting of locally focused services primarily broadcast on FM/AM and local digital platforms to a given coverage area, and National consisting of national and quasi-national music-genre services delivered mainly through digital platforms, with some services also offered on FM/AM.


Bauer's network of local FM stations was originally known as the Big City Network. In 2006, many of the former Scottish Radio Holdings stations were added to the network and branded as Big City Network Scotland and Northern Ireland, although all stations kept their original logos, with the exception of CFM, which took a version of the 'cog' logo used by other BCN stations in England. West Sound was the only AM station in the network although it did not carry any of the networked programming carried by the FM stations.

In April 2011 Bauer Radio announced it would be restructuring its radio portfolio into two divisions: locally focused and heritage stations, including many of the Big City stations, South Coast station Wave 105 and London station Magic 105.4 FM would also become part of the "Bauer Place" division, with branded music-category stations such as Kiss and Kerrang Radio forming a second sub-brand, "Bauer Passion" – the Big City Network identity was dropped as part of the restructuring.[1]

In April 2013, Bauer announced it would merge its two North East England stations, Metro Radio and TFM. Both stations broadcast shared programming from Newcastle and Manchester while carrying separate branding, news bulletins and advertising.[2]

In September 2014, Bauer announced it would be restructuring its radio portfolio as from January 2015. Magic AM in England was dropped in favour of the stations reverting to their heritage station names.[3][4] The stations now form part of the new 'City 2' network serving both Scotland and Northern England. A 'City 3' network on DAB replacing The Hits Radio (in most areas) launched on Monday 19 January 2015. As part of this restructuring, the Place and Passion network banners introduced in 2011 were replaced by the current Bauer City and Bauer National divisions. (The 'City 3' network was withdrawn in favour of reverting to the networked The Hits service from September 2017.)

At the beginning of March, 2016, Bauer moved two of its stations, Planet Rock and Absolute 80s, from Digital One onto the Sound Digital multiplex, reducing the availability of these stations (areas including East Anglia, the South West, parts of Kent, Cumbria, and large areas of Wales and Scotland had no Sound Digital network transmitters at all.) The issue was reported in local press in some areas[5] Planet Rock and Absolute 80s on D1 began broadcasting just a retune message loop from 18 April and the switch-off occurred on 30 April.

On 6 May 2016, Bauer announced it had bought Midlands radio group Orion Media for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £40 and £50 million.[6][7] It was subsequently confirmed that Orion's stations Free Radio (West Midlands) and Gem (East Midlands) would become part of the Bauer City portfolio, with Gem introducing a version of the City sonic logo device to its presentation from August 2016.

On 16 August 2018, Bauer announced that it had bought Jazz FM for an undisclosed sum.[8][9]

In February 2019, Bauer purchased Lincs FM Group, Celador and local Wireless Group stations.



Bauer purchased the Absolute Radio group of stations from TIML in 2013. The core Absolute Radio station had been established as one of the three Independent National Radio franchises in 1993, broadcasting on AM radio and from 1999, national DAB; since 1995, a relay of the station (with split local advertising, and at some times split programming) has been available in London on 105.8 FM. Initially branded Virgin Radio, the station took the name Absolute Radio in 2008. The station has since launched a number of sister stations, currently comprising five decade-themed services and a dedicated classic-rock station.

Greatest Hits Radio

  • Greatest Hits Radio – a classic hits pop music service aimed primarily at the over-40s. Eighteen stations, mostly on AM and DAB, in the West Midlands, Northern England and Scotland.


  • Heat Radio – contemporary pop, linked to Bauer's Heat magazine. Online and on Freeview; formerly on DAB.

Hits Radio

Hits Radio is a national CHR radio station, with 20 local radio stations, which provide local opt outs from the national station and are available on FM and DAB in Northern England, the West Midlands (Free Radio) and Scotland.

It was launched on 4 June 2018 as a combination of the Greater Manchester FM station Key 103, which had launched in 1974 as Piccadilly Radio, and digital service The Hits Radio, which had launched in 2003 and which broadcast over Freeview and DAB (from January 2015 to September 2017, The Hits' programming content had been broadcast on DAB as a network of localised Bauer City 3 stations). Hits Radio programme content is the same on the Manchester FM and national digital versions of the station, although there are local news , travel bulletins and local advertising for the Manchester service run. The station's programming is broadcast on Hits Radio network stations outside of local hours.

  • MFR – Scottish Highlands, Moray and Orkney
  • Northsound 1 – Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
  • Radio Aire – Leeds and West Yorkshire
  • Radio Borders – Scottish Borders and North Northumberland
  • Radio City – Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales
  • Rock FM – Lancashire
  • Tay FM – Tayside
  • TFM – Tees Valley, County Durham and North Yorkshire
  • Viking FM – East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire
  • West FM – Ayrshire
  • Gem 106 – East Midlands

Jazz FM

  • Jazz FM[8] – national DAB service of jazz, blues and soul, based in London, acquired by Bauer in 2018.


  • Kerrang Radio – a service of modern rock music, broadcast on Freeview nationally and online; the station's DAB slots outside London were turned over to Absolute Radio 90s in December 2014, and its London DAB transmission ended in May 2018 to make way for Hits Radio. Kerrang! launched as a digital station on Freeview in 2002, expanding to DAB in London from 2003 and other areas from 2004. From 2005 to 2013, the station, as Kerrang! 105.2, broadcast to the West Midlands on FM from studios in Lionel Street, Birmingham. It was removed from FM to be replaced by Planet Rock (then by Absolute Radio from 2015), with the Birmingham studio closed and the Kerrang! Radio brand retained as a digital-only station run from London.


Kiss plays predominantly rhythmic (dance/urban) music. The East and West versions of Kiss were previously SRH-owned Vibe stations. The three services now simulcast most programming content (from London), though retain the ability to split where needed, including for local advertising and news bulletins.


  • Magic – aimed at 25 to 54 year olds.[10]
  • Magic Chilled
  • Magic Mellow (also known as Mellow Magic)
  • Magic Soul

Magic 105.4 FM is a melodic adult-contemporary music service, available on FM in London and, since January 2015, on DAB nationally. It can also be heard on Freeview, Sky and online.

Two new sister services to Magic launched in March 2016 as part of the Sound Digital national DAB multiplex:

  • Mellow Magic plays predominantly melodic classic hits and love songs, building on the existing evening programming block of the same name within Magic; this station is in the standard DAB format.
  • Magic Chilled plays laid-back modern hits (principally mellow chart pop of the 1990s and 2000s). It was Bauer's first station to broadcast in the DAB+ format, transmitting nationally in this form on SDL until February 2019 when, to release space on Sound Digital for Scala Radio, Magic Chilled migrated to local DAB, in many areas a mono service replacing Absolute Radio 90s (a DAB+ service, at the same bitrate as the station had used on SDL, was maintained in London).

A third service in the Magic portfolio was added in summer 2016:

  • Magic Soul plays soul, funk, Motown and R&B music. The station launched to local-level DAB in a number of areas in summer 2016 as pop-up service Magic Soul Summer, before being retained – under a shortened permanent title – from the autumn. Presented shows – voicetracked by existing Magic DJs – have been introduced to the station, which is now promoted as part of the Magic family alongside the Chilled and Mellow stations.

Planet Rock

Planet Rock is a DAB radio station, which plays primarily classic rock music. The station was established in 1999 and was initially run by the GWR Group; it was sold to Malcolm Bluemel's 'Rock Show' consortium in 2008 and from there to Bauer in 2013. Planet Rock is a digital-only service, transmitting on the DAB network (and through digital TV and online platforms). On 1 March 2016, Planet Rock ceased being a fully national station due to the station transferring to the Sound Digital multiplex, which is not available across all of the UK. Devon, Cornwall, parts of Scotland, Wales, East Anglia and other areas of the UK will no longer be able to receive Planet Rock on DAB.

Former Lincs FM Group stations

In February 2019, Bauer purchased these stations from Lincs FM Group

The Breeze network

SAM FM stations

Anglian stations

Former Wireless Group stations

On 8 February 2019, it was announced that Bauer are to purchase the local stations from Wireless Group

Former UKRD Stations

On 5 March 2019, it was announced that Bauer are to purchase the UKRD Group.

Other stations

Former stations

  • 3C – country music station, based in Glasgow, acquired as part of SRH takeover, broadcast on DAB in various areas and Freeview nationally; closed 2007; replaced on Freeview by a relay of Clyde 1 for a time.
  • Mojo Radio – classic rock, early pop, blues and soul; broadcast on digital TV and online; ceased broadcasting in 2008.
  • Q Radio – rock, alternative rock; broadcast nationally on Freeview and online; closed on 7 May 2013; replaced by Kisstory.
  • Smash Hits Radio – contemporary pop hits; following its removal from DAB it continued over Freeview, until being withdrawn to release a slot for KissFresh

DAB multiplexes

Bauer is a partner in one of the UK's national commercial multiplexes, operates twelve wholly owned local DAB multiplexes, and jointly owns a further three with Global Radio; the firm was also formerly a minority partner (of Wireless Group) for local services in three further areas. Bauer operates the following DAB multiplexes:

Sound Digital

Bauer has a 30% holding in Sound Digital, operator of the second national commercial DAB multiplex to launch in the UK; this began transmissions in spring 2016 and several Bauer stations broadcast on it, some transferred from other multiplexes. The other partners are Wireless Group (30%) and Arqiva (40%).

Bauer Digital Radio

Bauer's wholly owned digital multiplexes are primarily located in areas where the firm operates local FM stations; the original group of Bauer (formerly Emap) DAB multiplexes are located in the following areas:

Score Digital

As part of Emap's takeover of Scottish Radio Holdings, the firm gained control of Score Digital, the DAB multiplex operator owned by SRH. Competition guidelines required the merged firm to divest of one of the multiplexes obtained in this deal, and so the Ayr multiplex formerly run by Score was sold on to Arqiva. The remaining Score multiplexes have since been relabelled as Bauer multiplexes.[12]

The ex-Score DAB multiplexes are located in:


The Wireless Group and Emap entered into a venture to run the following three DAB multiplexes. These multiplexes were initially branded as TWG-Emap multiplexes; following the sale of TWG to UTV (creating UTV Radio), the multiplexes were relabelled as UTV-Emap, and following the sale of Emap's radio assets to Bauer, the blocks were renamed again as UTV-Bauer. Bauer owned 30 per cent of the UTV-Bauer venture, but sold its stake in November 2013[13]. Now wholly owned by Wireless Group, the business is known as Switchdigital.[14]

CE Digital

Bauer and Global Radio jointly own CE Digital Ltd, each holding 50% of the venture. The CE operation was established by Emap in partnership with the Capital Radio Group, which through mergers subsequently became part of GCap Media and later Global Radio. The 'CE' multiplexes take their name from the initials of Capital and Emap, and have not been renamed despite the identity changes of both operators.

CE Digital operate the following DAB multiplexes:


In 2008 Radio City 2 started annually releasing hundreds of balloons (with messages attached) from the roof of the Radio City 2 "in memory of loved ones that we miss at Christmas time." This practice continued on an annual basis until December 2016. On 22 December Radio City 2 and Pete Price – a radio presenter at Radio City 2 – were contacted by numerous scuba divers and environmentally savvy members of the public begging them to cancel the planned mass balloon release at midnight on 22 December. The balloon release went ahead. Two leading diver journalists contacted Radio City 2's owner – Bauer Media Group – appealing for this practice to be stopped. Bauer Media confirmed that no company within the Group would conduct a balloon release in the future. An exception to this was made by Key 103 on 24 May 2017, 2 days after the Manchester Arena terror attack in memory of the 22 victims that died.[15]


  1. ^ "Bauer drops Big City image", Radio Today, 14 Apr 2011 Archived 4 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ TFM leaves Teesside to share with Metro, RadioToday, 5 April 2013
  3. ^ Greatest Hits Network Change request form Ofcom
  4. ^ Magic Changes Ofcom Request Form Ofcom
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Bauer buys radio group Orion Media", The Guardian, 6 May 2016
  7. ^ "Orion Media sold to Bauer for £50m", The Telegraph, 6 May 2016
  8. ^ a b "Bauer Media Group agrees to acquire Jazz FM". Radio Today. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Bauer takes over at Jazz FM; plans to enhance offering". a516 Digital. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "Brands – Radio". Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  11. ^ "First nationwide country music radio station to launch in UK", BBC, 2019-03-12
  12. ^ "DAB Ensembles WorldWide – UK Local & Minimuxes".
  13. ^ See 'End Notes' on page 28.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Rosemary E Lunn (9 January 2017), "Bauer Media To Stop 'Balloon Releases' Within The Group", X-Ray Mag

External links

Absolute Radio 80s

Absolute 80s is a digital radio station in the United Kingdom catering for "reluctant adults" who want to reconnect with the tunes of their 1980s youth.

CFM (radio station)

CFM is an Independent Local Radio station broadcasting to Cumbria and South West Scotland, with transmitters in Carlisle, Penrith and West Cumbria. Its musical output is mainly current chart hits with occasional 80’s & 90’s hits played. The station is owned & operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of the Hits Radio network of stations.

Clyde 1

Clyde 1 is a Scottish independent local radio station serving Glasgow and West Central Scotland. The station, operated by Radio Clyde (part of Bauer Radio), broadcasts on 102.5 FM with relays covering Rothesay on 102.3 FM, the Firth of Clyde on 103.3 FM and the Vale of Leven on 97 FM, as well as on DAB and online. Clyde 1 forms part of Bauer's Hits Radio Network of stations.

Forth 1

Forth 1 is a British local radio station, broadcasting to Lothian and Fife, and based in Forth Street in Edinburgh's city centre. The station broadcasts on 97.3 FM with relays covering West Lothian on 97.6 FM and Penicuik on 102.2 FM, as well as on DAB and online. The station plays a variety of music, mainly Top 40, but older tunes are also inserted into the playlist. Forth 1 is owned by Bauer Radio and operated by Radio Forth and forms part of Bauer's Hits Radio network of stations.

Forth 2

Forth 2 is a Scottish radio station owned and operated by Bauer Radio.

Forth 2 broadcasts to Edinburgh, The Lothians and Fife on 1548 kHz and DAB 12D, and forms part of Bauer's Greatest Hits Radio network of AM stations in Scotland and Northern England, carrying networked programming 24 hours a day alongside local news and information.

Greatest Hits Manchester

Greatest Hits Manchester is a local radio station owned and operated by Bauer Radio as part of the Greatest Hits Radio network. It broadcasts to Greater Manchester from studios in Castlefield.

It began broadcasting in 1974 as Piccadilly Radio, the first commercial radio station in Manchester.

Hallam FM

Hallam FM is an independent local radio station serving South Yorkshire from studios in Sheffield. The station is owned and operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of the Hits Radio Network.

Heat Radio

heat Radio is a British digital radio station, broadcasting to the UK and forms part of Bauer's National portfolio of radio brands.

Hits Radio

Hits Radio (formerly The Hits) is a contemporary hit radio network of radio stations, owned and operated by Bauer Radio.

Hits Radio's flagship station broadcasts on DAB in many parts of the UK, nationally on Freeview and Sky TV platforms and online - a localised version of the station airs on FM and DAB in Greater Manchester.

There are also 19 local radio stations in Northern England, Scotland and the West Midlands, providing local programming, news, traffic and sport, along with networked Hits Radio output.

The network is based at studios at Castle Quay in the Castlefield area of Manchester, with a line up of young and established presenters from various stations within Bauer Radio. A separate version of the network provides bespoke programming for Bauer's local stations in Scotland.

Kerrang Radio

Kerrang! Radio (previously Kerrang! 105.2) is a specialist digital rock music radio station currently broadcasting to the United Kingdom on Freeview and various online platforms. It is owned and operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of Bauer's National portfolio of radio brands. The station was previously available on DAB radio, though latterly in London only, and was available on FM in the West Midlands from 2004 to 2013.


Kisstory is a UK radio station, a sister station to Kiss that plays "old skool and anthems". Kisstory is also currently a radio programme airing 8 hours per week (11am daily & 7pm Sunday). Then on 7 May 2013 Kisstory was expanded into a full-time station in response to positive feedback from listeners and at the expense of Q Radio. At the same time KissFresh, a then brand-new station playing "non-stop new beats including Hip-Hop, R&B, EDM, House and Garage", was given its own station.

Northsound 2

Northsound 2 is a commercial radio station broadcasting to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on 1035 medium wave, DAB digital and online. Owned and operated by Bauer Radio, Northsound 2 forms part of Bauer's Greatest Hits Radio network of classic hit music stations in Scotland and Northern England, carrying networked programmes originating mainly from Glasgow and Manchester 24 hours a day, featuring local news and traffic bulletins.

Planet Rock (radio station)

Planet Rock is a radio station in the United Kingdom owned by Bauer Radio. The station broadcasts classic rock music from the 1960s onwards. It is available nationally on Sky, Virgin Media, Freesat and Online, and to some locations via DAB. Planet Rock forms part of Bauer Radio's portfolio of radio brands. It has won a Sony Award five times.

Pulse 1

Pulse 1 is a British Independent Local Radio station that serves the Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale areas of West Yorkshire, owned by Bauer Radio. The station was originally known as Pennine Radio and The Pulse.

Q (magazine)

Q is a popular music magazine published monthly in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1986 by the journalists and broadcasters Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, who were presenters of the BBC television music series Whistle Test.

Q was originally published by the EMAP media group and set itself apart from much of the other music press with monthly production and higher standards of photography and printing. In the early years, the magazine was sub-titled "The modern guide to music and more". Originally it was to be called Cue (as in the sense of cueing a record, ready to play), but the name was changed so that it wouldn't be mistaken for a snooker magazine. Another reason, cited in Q's 200th edition, is that a single-letter title would be more prominent on newsstands.

In January 2008, EMAP sold its consumer magazine titles, including Q, to the Bauer Media Group.

Rock FM

Rock FM is an Independent Local Radio station broadcasting to Lancashire, North West England and some parts of North Wales. Its output is mainly contemporary pop and current chart hits. The station is owned & operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of the Hits Radio Network.

TFM (radio station)

TFM is a local radio station owned and operated by Bauer Radio as part of the Hits Radio Network. It broadcasts to County Durham and North Yorkshire from studios in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The station currently broadcasts on 96.6 FM, DAB and online with DAB services provided by Bauer Digital. In April 2013, the station was merged with Metro Radio in Newcastle.

Tay FM

Tay FM is a commercial Independent Local Radio station serving Dundee, Perth and the general Tayside area in Scotland. The station is owned and operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of the Hits Radio Network. Tay FM's playlist consists of current chart music and classic hits from the last 20 years.

West FM

West FM is a local FM radio station for Ayrshire in the UK. The station broadcasts on 96.7, 97.5, 106.7 FM and on DAB Digital Radio, multiplex 11B. The station broadcasts from studios in Clydebank - co-located with sister station Clyde 1 - via transmitters in Darvel, East Ayrshire (96.7 and DAB), Girvan, South Ayrshire (97.5) and Toward Point, Argyll and Bute (106.7).

The station is owned & operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of the Hits Radio Network.

Bauer Radio
Bauer National

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