Chiltern Radio Network
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (April 2012)
Chiltern Radio plc (known as The Chiltern Radio Network) was the parent group of several radio stations which operated two radio brands in the UK in the 1990s. The founding Managing Director was Colin Mason who had previously been Programme Controller at Swansea Sound and enjoyed a career as a broadcaster for the BBC and for commercial stations in the USA.
The two main brands were:
- The Hot FM - Transmitted on the FM services of 97.6 Chiltern FM, 96.9 Chiltern FM, Northants 96, Horizon Radio, Oasis Radio, Severn Sound, and Galaxy 97.2. For a while Galaxy 97.2 and Horizon Radio operated a slightly more edgy "Hotter Mix" format, although switched back to Hot FM for networked programming
- SuperGold - Transmitted on the AM services of Chiltern Radio, Northants Radio, Severn Sound and Invicta Radio and used as an overnight sustaining service on a number of other stations, including Radio Maldwyn.
The Chiltern Radio Network also set up a satellite news service as a direct competitor to IRN called Network News. The service ran from 5 July 1991 until 1 April 1996 and supplied hourly national news bulletins and audio cuts to stations within the Chiltern Radio Network. Other clients included Virgin Radio, Radio Luxembourg, Choice FM in London and Birmingham, Spectrum Radio, Radio XL, Sunshine 855, Radio Maldwyn, Wear FM and Belfast City Radio.
Joint Managing Directors of Network News were Paul Chantler (then Group Programme Director of the Chiltern Radio Network) and Jon Davies, a career journalist who had been a key part of ITN Radio News which closed shortly before Network News was launched. Angus Moorat was the editor of the service for much of its life.
Network News was staffed with a mix of Chiltern-employed staff, including Bill Overton, Tim Page, Ron Sayadian and Robert Nisbet and freelancers. The use of freelancers meant that Network News would frequently “punch above its weight” with voices such as Howard Hughes (then news anchor on Chris Tarrant’s Capital breakfast show) and John Terrett (ex Radio 2, now a US-based TV reporter) making occasional appearances.
Network News closed down when the GWR Group, a shareholder in rival IRN, withdrew support for the service following its takeover of the Chiltern Radio Group.
The Chiltern Radio Group underwent a number of changes as radio ownership rules were liberalised, first becoming part of the GWR Group in September 1995, making the FM stations part of their "Mix Network" and the AM stations part of the Classic Gold Digital Network. Ultimately, this meant more shared programming after 7pm from the headquarters in Bristol for what was the Hot FM network and only one live local show per day for the former Supergold stations.
When GWR merged with Capital Radio in May 2005 to form GCap Media, the combined group's local FM network, including Chiltern, was renamed the "One Network" for advertising clients. GCap was itself bought out by Global Radio in 2008, with the new owners planning to operate many of their new acquisitions under Global's existing Heart and Galaxy brands. As a result, in January 2009, Chiltern Radio was re-branded by its owners Global Radio as Heart, marking the end of the Chiltern Radio station name.