Greatest Hits Radio Ditches MW Frequencies

Iconic 999kHz and 1152kHz wavelengths to go in North West

“In the North West, you know what’s best…”

“We thank you for sharing your days with us/For The Best Hit Music with a smile/Whatever the time of day or night, your music and your friend…”

If you are older than 30 years old, there’s every chance you’ll remember listening to the latest chart sounds on Medium Wave. Forty years ago, a lot of our radio listening came from medium wave (or AM) radio stations. BBC Radio One used to be on 275m and 285m (now occupied by Talk Radio). BBC Radio Manchester used to be on 206m, a little close for comfort on the dial beside Radio Luxembourg.

Apart from the mighty 199m of Radio Caroline, the 261m on the MW band evokes many memories. In London, the UK’s first Independent Local Radio station [LBC]; also the first ILR station in Scotland (Radio Clyde). Also BRMB in Birmingham and Metro Radio in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

For many readers on this blog, 261 is Piccadilly Radio. The Magic Music station which later became Piccadilly Gold, Magic 1152 and Greatest Hits Radio. Since 1974, our music and our friends came to us from Ashton Moss.

With the acquisition of Revolution 96.2 FM’s frequency and goodwill, Bauer Media has decided to give up the medium wave frequency on 1152kHz. This will take effect at the end of April. Therefore, listeners in Greater Manchester will be getting their Greatest Hits Radio fix from Oldham Edge on FM, as well as online and on DAB radios. Listeners in Wigan, Bolton and Bury are covered by Greatest Hits Radio’s 107.6 FM frequency, inherited from Bauer’s recent acquisition of the WISH FM and Tower FM stations.

The same is happening in Lancashire, where the 999kHz frequency (formerly Red Rose Gold in pre-EMAP/Bauer days) will be given up. The 96.5MHz FM frequency will continue to carry Greatest Hits Radio. This frequency was acquired by Bauer Media upon the purchase of Blackpool’s Radio Wave. No changes are proposed for Rock Radio, presently on 97.4MHz FM as well as online and on DAB.

Though the medium wave frequencies may evoke some memories, the reality is that tuning in on MW (or AM if you prefer) these days isn’t as good as it used to be. Its biggest nemesis is electromagnetic interference, particularly from WiFi signals which interferes with medium wave frequencies. This makes listening to Talk Radio or BBC Radio 5 Live an ordeal if you lack internet access, or a DAB radio. Thanks to the rise of compact disc in the 1980s, listeners yearned for near-CD quality, and switching from MW to FM was a logical step.

Even now, a good FM signal can hold its own against digital media. At least in the short to medium term, Bauer Media recognise this by concentrating on FM as well as DAB and online streaming. The question is, being as a good medium wave signal could go out far and wide, will Greatest Hits Radio’s FM transmitters fully cover their transmission area? Will there be some gaps in FM reception in Stockport, South Manchester and Trafford?

Sounding off…

Will you miss Greatest Hits Radio’s medium wave frequencies? Who should take on their vacant frequencies? Feel free to comment.

S.V., 02 March 2021.

2 thoughts on “Greatest Hits Radio Ditches MW Frequencies

  1. Grew up on the North Wales coast with Piccadilly 261 and Radio City 194 from Liverpool back in the 70s. Got a bit patchy at night but listenable all the same. Having strapped an aerial to the clothes line post, I was even able to get Radio Tees 257 from Stockton-on-Tees during daylight hours but this experiment came to an abrupt end when the additional aerial weight brought my mum’s washing crashing down. Into mud. Internet-savvy kids born from the 90s onwards probably won’t see the big deal in this but it was tremendously exciting stuff to me at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kind of inevitable given the energy associated with powering these transmitters and the ever decreasing audience.

    I grew up in the North East of England, specifically the Tyne Valley, and after the initial diet of Metro 1152 / 261, Luxembourg fading in and out on 1440 / 208, my Dad invested in an aftermarket Sharp car stereo with a red led segment display for our Volvo 244 in 1982 so we listened to Metro on FM “97.00”. We probably didn’t care so much about the quality back then, unless we were taping the Top 40. That was when Radio 1 would switch across to share Radio 2s 88-91 FM frequency on a Sunday evening, also Saturday afternoons Paul Gambaccini (ironically doing the same show on Greatest Hits Radio – at about the same time), and the Saturday Sequence with Roger Scott.

    I also remember an enjoyable couple of years listening to the pirate Radio Nova from Dublin on 738MW in the mid 80s. My Mum used to pick us up from school in her Cavalier L with its Long and Medium wave only radio. Nova was a fantastic chart station at the time. The signal was so powerful into the UK they even set up an office in Liverpool.

    Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 2 people

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