Free Radio 80s
|First air date||4 September 2012|
|Format||Non-stop music from 1980-1989|
Free Radio 80s is an Independent Local Radio station serving the Birmingham, Coventry, Shropshire and Black Country Herefordshire and Worcestershire areas, broadcasting on medium wave and DAB. The station, owned and operated by Bauer Radio, was launched on Monday 4 September 2012, and plays a selection of chart hits from the 1980s alongside local news and sports coverage.
Orion Media was formed in 2009, following the purchase of five Midlands-based radio stations - namely BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern, Beacon and Heart 106 from Global Radio for a sale price worth £37.5 million. In early 2012, Orion announced plans to rebrand BRMB, Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern into one station as a means of generating greater revenue. They were renamed as Free Radio on 26 March 2012. Many of these stations had previously operated an AM-based Gold service, all of which had been subsumed over time into Global's Gold network - Orion continued to run the AM stations as part of the Gold network on a franchise agreement, albeit with additional local opt-outs for extra sports coverage, including live football commentaries.
On 24 May 2012, Orion Media announced it would relaunch its Gold West Midlands stations on AM frequencies and DAB as Free Radio 80s. Gold was replaced by test transmissions for Free Radio 80s in the final week of August, and was officially launched on 4 September 2012.
On 6 May 2016, the station's owners, Orion, announced they had been bought by Bauer for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £40 and £50 million.
Up until the rebrand of the FM stations, BRMB, Beacon and Mercia broadcast live football commentaries on Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Coventry City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers matches, under the Goalzone strand. The commentaries were subsequently moved to Gold, six months before the launch of Free Radio 80s, and continued until the end of the 2014-15 season.
The following season, Free Radio 80s continued to air sports programming under The Goalzone strand, an hour-long chat show on Monday and Friday evenings. On 17 May 2016, the network's head of sport, Tom Ross, presented his final programme after 35 years working for BRMB, Xtra AM, Capital Gold and Free Radio.
Free Radio 80s transmission areas
- Birmingham - 1152 AM and DAB (Digital Radio)
- Wolverhampton & Black Country - 990 AM and DAB (Digital Radio)
- Shropshire - 1017 AM and DAB (Digital Radio)
- Coventry & Warwickshire - 1369 AM and DAB
- Herefordshire and Worcestershire - DAB (Digital Radio)
- "Midlands radio sale cleared". Radio Today. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- "Orion stations morph into Free Radio". Radio Today. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Gold to be Free Radio 80s in West Mids". Radio Today. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- "Free Radio 80s replaces Gold on AM & DAB". Radio Today. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- Bauer buys radio group Orion Media, The Guardian, 6 May 2016
- Orion Media sold to Bauer for £50m, The Telegraph, 6 May 2016
- The new season on Free Radio 80s, Free Radio, 4 August 2015
- Tom Ross hosts his last radio show in Birmingham, Radio Today, 17 May 2016