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Real Radio was a network of five regional radio stations broadcasting to Northern England, Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire. Each station broadcast a mix of local and networked programming. On Tuesday 6 May 2014, the stations were merged with the Heart network.
|Broadcast area||Northern England (exc. Cumbria), Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire|
|Slogan||Real Good Feel Good Radio (2012 - 2014)|
|Last air date||May 2014 (Merged with Heart)|
Sir Robert Phillis, the former GMG chief executive, enlisted John Myers to establish GMG Radio. Myers became the company's managing director in 1999, and won GMG its first licence in South Wales in April 2000. Real Radio (Wales) launched on Tuesday 3 October 2000. Initially serving south and west Wales, the station expanded to north and mid Wales in January 2011, over two years after winning a second licence. 
In June 2001, Scot FM was acquired from the Wireless Group for £25.5 million. Scot FM would become Real Radio's second station at 8 am on Tuesday 8 January 2002. A bid to expand the service to Aberdeenshire in 2006 proved unsuccessful, losing out to Original 106.
In 2008, John Myers convinced the GMG board to invest £1 million in documentaries, a first for modern-day UK commercial radio which would lead to several industry awards. Myers left GMG shortly afterwards.
Real North East and Real North West were introduced from the Century Network on 30 March 2009. Both stations were founded by GMG Radio chief executive John Myers, who acquired the two from GCap Media in October 2006. The Discover the Real You strapline was introduced to all stations.
In July 2008, networked programming was introduced across all stations during evening and overnight timeslots, and in November 2012 this was increased to daytime timeslots. Most networked programming was broadcast from studios in Salford Quays. Notable presenters included Chris Tarrant and Ryan Seacrest who fronted a bespoke version of his syndicated US entertainment show On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
The most recognised strapline Real good, feel good radio, was introduced in March 2012.
In August 2012, the two former Century Network stations, in the North East and the North West, were gaining just half the listeners they once had. Both saw a decline in Listening Share In TSA % when comparing Q2 period in 2011 and 2012, from 6.30% to 4.8%, and 3.9% to 3.0% respectively. Figures for Scotland also lowered whilst Wales and Yorkshire steadied.
Closure and merger with HeartEdit
On 25 June 2012, Global Radio (the owner of stations such as Capital and Heart) announced it had bought GMG Radio, however the GMG radio stations would continue to operate separately until a regulatory review into the sale took place.
Secretary of State Maria Miller announced in October 2012 that the sale would not be investigated on the grounds of plurality. The Competition Commission was due to publish its final report on 27 March 2013, but delays over the decision left the former GMG stations in a hold separate situation. A holding company called Real and Smooth Limited was formed.
On 21 May 2013, the Competition Commission ruled Global would have to sell radio stations in seven areas of the UK - including all areas served by a Real Radio station. A subsequent appeal by Global was rejected at a tribunal.
On 6 February 2014, Global Radio announced it would be rebranding all Real Radio stations as Heart and be selling Real Radio Yorkshire and the Northern licence of Real Radio Wales to Communicorp. Heart's network programming and brand name will be used under a franchise agreement.
On 25 March 2014, the stations began a transition period to the Heart branding. The Real Radio branding was phased out on Sunday 20 April 2014 - for the time being, all stations are referred to on air as The Heart of (TSA).
The full launch of the new Heart stations took place at 6 am on Tuesday 6 May 2014. All local programming is retained with networked output on all stations carried from Global's Leicester Square studios in London, replacing the once networked output from Real Radio's Laser House studios in Salford Quays. Real Radio Wales has now been split into two separate stations following the changes, by providing localised programming from Cardiff and Wrexham respectively.
List of former Real Radio stationsEdit
- Andrews, Amanda (28 February 2008). "John Myers tends Guardian Media's radio unit". The Times. London. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
- GMG Radio wins Yorkshire radio licence Georgina Lipscomb, Broadcast, 18 July 2001
- GMG Radio sale: Look back at group’s history Radio Today, 25 June 2012
- Lorna Martin (9 January 2002). "Real Radio launches big bold challenge to rivals". Sport | SPL | Aberdeen. Herald Scotland. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
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- Radio Authority publishes assessment of South and West Yorkshire licence award Ofcom, 23 July 2001
- Andrews, Amanda (28 November 2010). "BBC enlists commercial sector help to shake up radio". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- Guardian buys GCap radio stations Julia Day, The Guardian, 18 October 2006
- GMG Radio purchase Century FM Radio Today, 18 October 2006
- Who are Real Radio? Real Radio North East
- Day, Julia (18 October 2006). "Guardian buys GCap radio stations". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2006.
- Real Radio launches £2m ad push Mark Sweeney, The Guardian, 31 March 2009
- Galloway to replace Davis for Real, Radio Today, 27 June 2008
- Real Radio introduces networked daytimes Radio Today 15 October 2012
- Real Radio has a rebrand Jonathan Jacob, Earshot Creative, 17 March 2012
- Real Radio North East: audience figures media.info
- Real Radio North West: audience figures media.info
- Around the groups and brands in Q2, 2012 Radio Today, 2 August 2012
- Global Radio seals £50m purchase of GMG Radio Maisie McCabe, Media Week, 25 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- GMG Radio sold to Global for £50m Mark Sweeney, The Guardian, 25 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- No plurality issues for Global GMG merger Radio Today, 11 October 2012
- Date set for Global Radio’s CC results Radio Today, 11 October 2012
- CC delays Global GMG takeover decision Radio Today, 21 February 2013
- Global/GMG final report Archived 2 April 2014 at the UK Government Web Archive Competition Commission, 21 May 2013
- Global Radio appeals against order to sell off GMG Radio stations Mark Sweney, The Guardian, 14 June 2013
- Martin, Roy (6 February 2014). "Communicorp buys 8 Global stations". RadioToday. Retrieved 6 February 2014.