Heart Cheshire and North East Wales
|City of license||Wrexham|
|Broadcast area||Cheshire and North East Wales|
|Slogan||More Music Variety|
|First air date||5 September 1983|
Heart Cheshire and North East Wales (formerly Marcher Sound and previously MFM 103.4) was an independent radio station broadcasting to north east Wales and north west England from its Mold Road studios in Gwersyllt, Wrexham, also shared with Gold and Heart Wirral.
The station was owned by Global Radio who purchased the previous owner, GCap Media, the group formed by the merger of GWR Group and Capital Radio Group. GWR purchased Marcher Radio Group in October 2000. However, Marcher Radio Group Ltd remains as the official licensee of the station, which now forms part of Heart North West and Wales.
The stations broadcast from the Wrexham-Rhos Relay, situated just above The Moss near Wrexham, and although it officially broadcast to Cheshire and north east Wales, it could also be heard in parts of Merseyside and Shropshire.
Originally the mothership for what became Marcher Radio Group, Marcher Sound, or, in Welsh Sain-Y-Gororau, licenced by the Radio Authority's predecessor, the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority), launched Monday 5 September 1983 at 6:30am for north east Wales, Cheshire & parts of Shropshire, broadcasting on 95.4FM and 238metres 1260 kHz MW. It was launched by Lord Evans, the Chairman of Marcher Sound. The launch was transmitted using both English and Welsh to 660,000 people - with the strapline '..your station, your sound' - the first track was Cliff Richard's 'Wired For Sound' and a £50 shopping voucher was put up for grabs in the early moments.
Marcher Sound was initially set up by a group made redundant by the steel industry. Investments were made with their redundancy money, from local businessmen, grants from The Welsh Development Agency and a shareholding by Radio City. By 1985, Radio City pulled out, the original management had gone and the station was in severe financial difficulties. Further investment was sought and the station was nearly sold to Chiltern Radio. However, an Australian media consortium called 'Darling Downs', later known as 'Crown Communications' eventually bought a shareholding.
Initially they broadcast 0600-1800 and relayed Radio City from Liverpool during off-air hours. They increased their local hours to 2200, then midnight before a full 24hr service was launched in 1987. Frequency changes came about as part of a spectrum audit, when it moved from 95.4 to 103.4 FM on the Wrexham-Rhos transmitter (for Wrexham and Chester) and a relay on 97.1 to the Moel-y-Parc transmitter for transmission to the NE Wales coastal area.
It remained as Marcher Sound until 1989 when the FM and AM frequencies were split into two separate services, MFM 103.4 and initially, Marcher Sound (later Marcher Gold) which remained the name of their AM service, broadcasting on 238m/1260 kHz.
When it became apparent that the 97.1 relay was listenable on The Wirral, they further utilised this presence to provide a separate breakfast show for the area, and the relay became MFM 97.1, but broadcast from Wrexham. In 1993 MFM 97.1 introduced more separate programming, broadcast from a studio in Claughton Road, Birkenhead, until 1999 when the 97.1 transmitter was relocated to the Storeton site in Wirral, just prior to the re-branding of MFM 97.1 to The Buzz 97.1, its output tailored to provide a Wirral focus, which launched on 14 February 1999. The station was rebadged slightly again in 2001 after GWR bought The Marcher Group, to Wirral's Buzz 97.1, in line with GWR's policy of prefixing their FM services with a localisation, while the medium wave, 1260 (AM) frequency became Classic Gold Marcher and more recently Gold due to the merger of GWR's Gold services and Capital Gold's services.
In November 2005 it was announced that the Marcher Group's radio stations, including Marcher, were to be sold, but only as part of a package which included some of GWR's South West stations. However, in March 2006, despite a number of offers GCap called off the sale.
On Monday 25 September 2006, the station rebranded as 103.4 Marcher Sound, reverting to their original name, in keeping with Gcap's decision to gradually erode the FM term from all its FM services. The station was rebranded as Heart Cheshire and North East Wales on 22 June 2009.
On 21 June 2010, Global Radio announced plans to merge Heart Cheshire and North East Wales with Heart North Wales Coast and Heart Wirral as part of plans to reduce the Heart network of stations from 33 to 15. Heart North West and Wales began broadcasting from Wrexham on Friday 2 July 2010. The regional station is due to be rebranded as part of the Capital FM network on Tuesday 6 May 2014.
- Names and addresses of GCap's Welsh, Northern and Scottish radio stations[dead link]
- GCap & Global Radio[dead link]
- Global Radio to halve number of local Heart stations, mediaguardian.co.uk, 21 June 2010
- Heart slims but strengthens[dead link], RadioToday, 21 June 2010