GMG Radio

GMG Radio
Industry Media
Key people
John Myers (1999-2009),
Stuart Taylor
Products Broadcasting
Parent Guardian Media Group
Global Radio

GMG Radio, and for a short while Real and Smooth Limited, was a company which owned the Real Radio and Smooth Radio networks. As GMG Radio, the company was the radio division of the Guardian Media Group until it was bought in 2012 by Global Radio, however pending regulatory review of the merger the company was renamed to Real and Smooth Limited and operated as a separate entity, until May 2014.


GMG Radio

GMG Radio was Guardian Media Group’s radio division, which started in early 1999 when former GMG Chief Executive Sir Robert Phillis enlisted the services of John Myers to establish GMG's radio division after seeing Myers on the documentary programme Trouble at the Top.[1] Myers had featured in an episode which followed Myers as he prepared to launch Century 105 in the North West for Border Radio Holdings. John had left the Century stations and, after a brief spell in charge of Radio Investments Ltd, created GMG Radio Holdings Ltd and became its Managing Director.

The Stations first FM licence, was won in April 2000 for the South Wales regional FM licence, which went on air on 3 October 2000,[2] but was unsuccessful in its second application, for the West Midlands regional licence application, won by Saga.

In June 2001, Scot FM was brought from The Wireless Group for £25.5m[3][4] John Myers, said: The problem with Scot FM is that it has changed owners faster than I've changed coats. It was badly launched. They gave an impression that they were going to do Radio 4 type speech and then they went and hired Scottie McClue. For the first time, Scot FM will have an owner that might actually give Scottish Radio Holdings a run for their money.[5] Real Radio Scotland began broadcasting at 8am on Tuesday 8 January 2002 with breakfast presenter Robin Galloway introducing the first song to be played, A Star is Born.[6]

On 6 July 2001, the company won its second licences West/South Yorkshire regional FM licence,[7][8] which launched on 25 March 2002.

In May 2002, GMG radio made a bid of £41 million to Jazz FM plc at 180p a share.[9][10] The bid came on the day when the draft Communication Bill was published[11] Jazz FM plc's largest shareholder, Clear Channel had been waiting for a 220p a share bid, but agreed to the 180p a share bid in late May. Herald Investment Management who had a 7.7% stake in the company and Aberforth Partners were not happy with the 180p a share bid.[12][13] On 6 June, GMG raised its bid to 195p a share to secure the institutional shareholders who were holding out for a better bid.[14][15] Richard Wheatly announced that he would leave Jazz FM once the takeover was complete.[16] The offer was declared wholly unconditional on 5 July.[17] In December 2002, GMG moved its sales operation from Clear Channel Radio Sales to the Chrysalis Group, inline with the sales operation for other GMG Radio stations.[18]

On 12 July 2004 GMG Radio relaunched, a dedicated jazz website. In January 2005 it launched a service, named Hear It, Buy It, Burn It, to permit users to legally download music from its station's websites. In February 2005, Myers announced that they have scrapped plans to launch Channel M Radio, a 24-hour news and talk station for Manchester due to commercial viability issues.

In March 2005, the Guardian Media Group rejected a £115 million bid from the Chrysalis Group for the GMG Radio division.[19] [20] In June 2005 London station 102.2 Jazz FM was rebranded to 102.2 Smooth FM after disappointing RAJAR figures. At the same time, was renamed to and initially appeared on DAB in Yorkshire, South Wales and the Severn Estuary and on Sky Digital.

In August 2006 GMG sold its share in Rolling News channel DNN. The five regional stations on DAB were then closed down by Chrysalis to be replaced by LBC. On 18 December 2006, it was announced that GMG Radio had bought the four Saga Radio branded stations.[21] GMG rebranded the Saga stations along with its existing Smooth FM stations in March 2007 to Smooth Radio.[22]

On 6 October 2008 was relaunched as Jazz FM across a number of DAB multiplexes in the UK, using space on local and regional multiplexes from existing GMG Radio stations as well as launching on digital television platforms. In November 2008 GMG was awarded with the last analogue licence in the UK (covering north and mid Wales). They intend to operate the licence using the Real Radio (Wales) format basing its studios in Wrexham.

On 18 October 2006, it was announced that GMG Radio had bought the two Century branded stations from Gcap Media.[23] The Century brand was originally launched by Myers and Simons in North East England in 1994, whilst they were at Border Television. On 18 December 2008, it was announced that Century Radio was to be re-branded as Real Radio on 30 March 2009.[24]

In April 2009, the Jazz FM name and branding owned by GMG since 2002 were bought by the chief executive of the since formed Jazz FM Investments Ltd, Richard Wheatly.[25] Jazz FM transitioned from GMG's local and regional DAB slots to a single slot on the Digital One national DAB ensemble bought by Jazz FM Investments Ltd in 2011.[26]

GMG radio announced that out of peak time hours news would be shared by news hubs. As a result, there is one in Glasgow, one in London and the largest which is Century Radio headquarters in Manchester, headed by James Rea. Manchester broadcast a "Sky News" type bulletin, in which all GMG Radio stations in northern England Opt in on the hour.

Global Radio buyout of GMG Radio

On 25 June 2012 it was announced Global Radio (the owner of stations such as Capital and Heart) had bought GMG Radio,[27] however the GMG radio stations would continue to operate separately until a regulatory review into the sale is carried out.[28]

Real and Smooth

On 11 October 2012, The Secretary of State Maria Miller announced Global Radio's takeover of GMG Radio would not be investigated on the grounds of plurality.[29] The Competition Commission was due to publish its final report on 27 March 2013.[30] On 21 February 2013 it was confirmed the decision whether Global Radio can take over all GMG Radio's assets would be delayed, until 22 May 2013, two months later than planned.[31]

On 21 May 2013 the Competition Commission published their final report into Global Radio's acquisition of GMG Radio. Global must sell radio stations in seven areas of the UK. The stations Global will be required to sell are as follows:[32]

On 14 June 2013 Global Radio appeal against this decision by the Competition Commissions to sell off certain stations.[33]

On 6 February 2014, Global agreed to sell eight stations to the Irish company Communicorp for £35 million.[34] These are


Jazz FM (UK)

Main article: Jazz FM (UK)

Jazz FM is, a contemporary jazz radio network, controlled by GMG radio from 2002 until April 2009 when Richard Wheatly brought over the operation.

Smooth Radio

Main article: Smooth Radio

Smooth was an adult contemporary radio stations which broadcast in five different areas mainly in northern England, central Scotland and Wales,aimed at 45 years old and over.

Real Radio

Main article: Real Radio

Real Radio was an adult contemporary radio stations which broadcast in five different areas mainly in northern England, central Scotland and Wales, aimed at 25– 45 years old.

Rock Radio

Main article: Rock Radio

Rock Radio was a classic rock station in Glasgow and Manchester.


  1. Andrews, Amanda (February 28, 2008). "John Myers tends Guardian Media's radio unit". The Times. London. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
  3. Bennett, Neil (2001-06-10). "Details of sale to GMG". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  4. Dandy, Emma (2001-06-11). "Details of bids for ScotFM". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  5. Garside, Juliette (2001-06-17). "Quote from GMG chief exec". The Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  6. agnes stevenson (2002-01-08). "A new station joins the air wars". Sport | SPL | Aberdeen. Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  9. "Guardian bids for Jazz FM". BBC News. 7 May 2002. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  10. Guardian makes £41m bid for Jazz FMJulia Day, Tuesday 7 May 2002 10.37 BST
  11. White, Dominic (8 May 2008). "GMG ups the tempo with Jazz FM bid". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  12. Shah, Saeed (23 May 2002). "Investor holds out against GMG's Jazz FM bid". The Independent. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  13. Whitehead, Jennifer (23 May 2002). "Jazz FM looks set to go to the Guardian". Brand Republic. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  14. Dix, Sarah (6 June 2002). "GMG ups Jazz FM offer". Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  15. Wray, Richard (6 June 2002). "GMG raises Jazz FM bid". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  16. Cassy, John (19 June 2002). "Jazz FM boss to quit after takeover". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  17. "Guardian Media Group plc Annual Report and Accounts 2002" (PDF). Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  18. Day, Julia (2 December 2002). "Jazz FM sales go to Chrysalis". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  19. Dennis, Guy (2005-03-20). "Chrysalis bid rejected by Guardian". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  21. Kiss, Jemima (2006-12-18). "Guardian Media Group to buy Saga stations". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  22. Plunkett, John (2007-01-30). "Saga stations to be rebranded as Smooth Radio". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  23. Day, Julia (2006-10-18). "Guardian buys GCap radio stations". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  25. Andrews, Amanda (2009-04-09). "Jazz FM sold to team led by Richard Wheatly". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  26. "Jazz FM goes national on DAB". Radio Today. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  27. Global Radio seals £50m purchase of GMG Radio Maisie McCabe, Media Week, 25 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  28. GMG Radio sold to Global for £50m Mark Sweeney, The Guardian, 25 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  29. No plurality issues for Global GMG merger Radio Today, 11 October 2012
  30. Date set for Global Radio’s CC results Radio Today, 11 October 2012
  31. CC delays Global GMG takeover decision Radio Today, 21 February 2013
  32. Global/GMG final report Competition Commission, 21 May 2013
  33. Global Radio appeals against order to sell off GMG Radio stations Mark Sweney, The Guardian, 14 June 2013
  34. Sandle, Paul (6 February 2014). "Denis O'Brien buys eight UK radio stations from Global Radio". Reuters. Retrieved 10 February 2014.

External links

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