Greatest Hits West Midlands
|Broadcast area||West Midlands (region)|
|Slogan||The Good Times Sound Like This ‘’Across the West Midlands’’|
|Frequency||West Midlands – 105.2 FM,|
Coventry & Warwickshire – 1359 AM,
Herefordshire & Worcestershire – DAB only,
|First air date||4 September 2012|
|Sister stations||Free Birmingham|
Free Coventry & Warwickshire
Free Herefordshire & Worcestershire
Free Shropshire & Black Country
|Website||Greatest Hits West Midlands|
Greatest Hits West Midlands is a group of three radio stations, serving the West Midlands (region). It is owned and operated by Bauer as part of the Greatest Hits Radio network. The station launched on 4 September 2012 as Free 80s.
Orion Media was formed in 2009, following the purchase of five Midlands-based radio stations – namely BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern, Beacon and Heart 106 from Global for a sale price worth £37.5 million. In early 2012, Orion announced plans to rebrand BRMB, Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern into one station as a means of generating greater revenue. They were renamed as Free on 26 March 2012. Many of these stations had previously operated an AM-based Gold service, all of which had been subsumed over time into Global's Gold network – Orion continued to run the AM stations as part of the Gold network on a franchise agreement, albeit with additional local opt-outs for extra sports coverage, including live football commentaries.
Up until the rebrand of the FM stations, BRMB, Beacon and Mercia broadcast live football commentaries on Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Coventry City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers matches, under the Goalzone strand. The commentaries were subsequently moved to Gold, six months before the launch of Free 80s, and continued until the end of the 2014–15 season.
The following season, Free 80s continued to air sports programming under The Goalzone strand, an hour-long chat show on Monday and Friday evenings. On 17 May 2016, the network's head of sport, Tom Ross, presented his final programme after 35 years working for BRMB, Xtra AM, Capital Gold and Free.
On 24 May 2012, Orion Media announced it would relaunch its Gold West Midlands stations on AM frequencies and DAB as Free 80s. Gold was replaced by test transmissions for Free 80s in the final week of August, and was officially launched on 4 September 2012.
Greatest Hits Radio
On 7 January 2019, Free 80s was replaced by Absolute Classic Rock on 990, 1017 and 1152 kHz and on DAB in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shropshire.
Free 80s rebranded as Greatest Hits West Midlands, replacing Absolute Radio on 105.2 FM. In Coventry, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, the station broadcasts on 1359 kHz and DAB, forming part of Greatest Hits Radio network.
Greatest Hits West Midlands produces a mix of local and networked programming from its Birmingham studios.
On weekdays, the West Midlands network of stations carries a regional three-hour drivetime show each weekday afternoon, presented by Rachel New. Weekend breakfast and Saturday afternoon shows are also networked from the Birmingham studios to Greatest Hits Radio stations in northern England.
Greatest Hits West Midlands broadcasts local news bulletins hourly from 6am to 7pm on weekdays and from 7am to 1pm at weekends. Headlines are broadcast on the half-hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime shows, alongside traffic bulletins. National bulletins from Sky News Radio are carried at other times.
- Coventry & Warwickshire – 1359 AM
- Herefordshire & Worcestershire – DAB only
- West Midlands (county) – 105.2 FM
- "Midlands radio sale cleared". Radio Today. 2 July 2009. Archived from the original on 16 August 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- "Orion stations morph into Free". Radio Today. 27 March 2012. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- The new season on Free 80s Archived 17 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Free Radio, 4 August 2015
- Tom Ross hosts his last radio show in Birmingham Archived 18 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Today, 17 May 2016
- "Gold to be Free Radio 80s in West Mids". Radio Today. 24 May 2012. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- "Free Radio 80s replaces Gold on AM & DAB". Radio Today. 31 August 2012. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- Bauer buys radio group Orion Media Archived 5 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 6 May 2016
- Orion Media sold to Bauer for £50m Archived 5 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine, The Telegraph, 6 May 2016
- BAUER MEDIA TO LAUNCH THE GREATEST HITS RADIO NETWORK Bauer Media, 15 November 2018
- Bauer Media to launch Greatest Hits Radio network Radio Today, 15 November 2018
- Simon Ross moves to Radio City 2 Breakfast, RadioToday, 30 November 2015