What a week in radio! Virgin Radio’s been sold to TMIL/Absolute and is up for a name change, XFM South Wales has been sold to Town and Country and instantly reborn as Nation Radio and now Planet Rock has been flogged to an individual – entrepreneur Malcolm Bluemel. Wow.
In my mind, it’s all good news. The changes mean the birth of two new operators and the strengthening of an existing smaller local radio group. They’re also all stations that have previously been owned by big groups who, some could argue, had lost interest in these stations. The new owners are going to be much more engaged in driving these businesses forward and I think the knock on will be positive for listeners. In addition all the stations broadcast on DAB Digital Radio and it’s great to see some more diverse ownership of digital radio services and commitment to the medium.
It also shows the continuing move of radio stations to operators who are privately rather than publicly held. Global Radio, Bauer Radio, GMG, Lincs, KM, TMIL/Absolute, Tindle and Town and Country are all private enterprises, leaving pretty much UTV and TLRC the only publicly held radio companies left. Primarily this means that the only people that need to be troubled by quarterly performance are the companies themselves and not the stock market. The hamster wheel of financial reporting has probably done more to damage radio than anything else in recent time. This is now gone.
It’s also good to see the final disappearance of the ‘old guard’ – people like Ralph Bernard, Fru Hazlitt, Tim Schoonmaker and Phil Riley. In their time they all saw through massive changes to the industry, but now we face a new challenge that of true multi-platform competition and the digital future, it’s good to have some new people on the top table.