Heart Ipswich is to close

IPSWICH: Heart Ipswich, the station that began its life as Radio Orwell, in 1975, is being closed by owners Global Radio.

Local radio programming will come from a merged super station, Heart East Anglia in Norwich, with some additional national content.

Global Radio is slashing its Heart local radio network from 33 to 15 stations and others to get the chop include Cambridge, Colchester, Northampton, Oxford, Plymouth and Torquay.

In each case local content will come from a merged neighbouring station, Heart Cambridgeshire from Peterborough and Colchester moving to Heart Essex at Chelmsford.

Radio Orwell arrived with a fanfare on October 28, 1975, as one of a first wave of 15 individual local stations in the country and it swiftly became an integral part of the community.

At one time it was even the Ipswich Town first team shirt sponsor.

Over the decades more local radio stations were approved by the government and started up, inevitably followed by acquisitions and mergers and so gradually fewer truly independent stations remained.

Most Read

By 2009 Global Radio had become the largest commercial radio station operator in the country.

Heart Ipswich was formerly SGR FM (Suffolk Group Radio) and both as SGR and Radio Orwell before it, the local station gave dozens of presenters the opportunity to begin and develop their careers on air.

Among the well-known broadcasters at Radio Orwell and SGR were Andy Archer, Rachel Sloane, Stephen Foster, Rob Chandler, Nigel Rennie, Nick Risby, Mark Pryke, Pete Barraclough and Peter Slater.

The move to the 15 super stations, described as “centres of broadcasting excellence” by Global, will take place over the coming months with the new centres up and running by the New Year.

A spokesman for Global Radio refused to say how many jobs would be lost in the mergers, though many of those affected would be part-timers or on freelance contracts.

She said: “The 15 local centres will allow us to compete better with the BBC and other commercial radio.

“These changes are in line with OFCOM regulation changes which allow us to merge some stations that have been at times loss making and make them more competitive.

“There will be some job losses, but I couldn’t say how many.”

n What do you think about the closure of Heart Radio, Ipswich, and do you have any memories of Radio Orwell and SGR? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN