Shock as Minster FM to close – to be replaced by a national Greatest Hits station

Photograph: Minster FM
27 May 2020 @ 11.48 am
| Business

York radio station Minster FM is to close, it was revealed today (Wednesday).

The station will be absorbed into the Hits Radio Brand Network, its owners Bauer Media announced.

Many of the staff at the Dunnington-based company have been put on redundancy notice today – including most of the presenters.

Global conglomerate Bauer bought the UKRD Group, which owned ten local commercial radio stations, including Minster FM, Stray FM and Yorkshire Coast Radio, last March.

It comes after Minster FM posted a series of record listenership figures.

Presenters to go

Minster FM’s Ben Fry talks to Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central at a roadshow

According to Bauer it is creating the largest commercial radio network in the UK via the Hits Radio brand.

It means Minster FM will be among 48 local radio stations to become part of Greatest Hits Radio.

Bauer Radio MD Dee Ford said today: “Expanding the Hits Radio Brand Network will ensure listeners to these acquired stations benefit from multi-platform digital distribution meaning they can continue to broadcast in an increasingly competitive, digital and voice-activated world.

“This ensures the provision of local news and information, traffic and travel as well as access for advertisers to highly valued audiences.”

YorkMix understands that means no more local Breakfast Show with Ben Fry and Laura Castle, and almost all the other presenters going – with a Yorkshire/Lincolnshire-wide drive time show.

It would also bring to an end the community commitment to York by the radio station which has championed many local causes.

Ben, who is also York Town Crier, was named Tourism Champion at the last Visit York awards – hosted by Minster FM.

Staff uncertainty

Ben Fry and Laura Castle from Minster FM host the Visit York awards 2020. Photograph: David Dunning

Bauer said in a statement: “These changes do unfortunately mean that some roles will be put into consultation and freelance contracts reviewed.

“Bauer Media is fully committed to supporting all affected employees throughout this period and will be working closely with them over the months ahead. A period of consultation with employees potentially affected will commence today.”

The change looks set to happen in September.

Minster FM has been broadcasting to York and North Yorkshire for 28 years. It launched on 4 July 1992.

As the news emerged, it was met with dismay. One of the first to respond was Phil Pinder, shop owner and chair of York Retail Forum.

He said: “It’s such a shame that the media giant Bauer were ever allowed to swallow up Minster FM, a radio station that has been at the heart of the York community for so long.

“It is clear now that my worse fears look set to happen, with centralised broadcasts and Bauer just seeing York & North Yorkshire business as a source of money to keep the giant growing, at the expense of locally created content and news.”