We’ll keep listeners despite loss of FM slot, radio presenter says

Town 102 breakfast presenter Rob Chandler in the studio. Picture: CELADOR RADIO

Town 102 breakfast presenter Rob Chandler in the studio. Picture: CELADOR RADIO - Credit: Archant

A radio station which lost its licence to broadcast on FM has said it believes the decision will not affect its number of listeners.

Town 102, run by Celador, has broadcast in Ipswich on the FM radio frequency since 2006.

But earlier this year government regulator Ofcom handed the licence over to the newly-formed Ipswich FM, which will take over on 102FM from Friday, October 19.

That means that Town 102 will only be able to broadcast on digital radio from that date.

However its breakfast presenter Rob Chandler said the station is confident of retaining its audience despite the switch.

Mr Chandler, who is often described as the “voice of Ipswich” due to his numerous broadcasting roles in the town over the years, said the loss of the FM licence was “disappointing”.

But he said: “I believe DAB is the way forward.

“I think there are very few cars now that don’t have a DAB radio. More and more people are going digital.”

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With DAB stations having a further geographical reach than FM, Mr Chandler - who is also the announcer at Ipswich Town Football Club - added: “Hopefully we’ll pick up listeners we haven’t had before.

“Personally I’d very much like to continue the strong link between the station and Ipswich.”

Like many industries, Mr Chandler said local radio had faced challenges.

“It’s been tough in recent years,” he said.

“There are so many choices that people have in terms of radio stations or listening to their own music in the car.

“It’s tough, but I still think people want local information and they want a familiar voice to wake up to in the morning.

“They still want to hear a local element, they still want to hear local news and local travel.

“People love that local connection.”

The newly-formed Ipswich FM is a joint venture between Lincs FM Group, Nation Broadcasting and MuxCo.

Ipswich FM will target listeners over 35, which, according to a statement released by Ofcom, is “[reflecting] the fact that the Ipswich area has an older population than the national average.”

The statement added: “The service will be distinctive by being less contemporary than Kiss and, to a lesser extent, Heart, and by offering a more local editorial focus specifically on Ipswich.”

Ipswich became one of the first towns in the UK outside London to open a local radio station when Radio Orwell, where Mr Chandler started his career, first went on air in 1975.

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