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New station Ipswich FM will put the local back into commercial local radio

PUBLISHED: 17:53 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:58 12 June 2018

Ben Coomber  (in yellow) with former Town 102 presenter Nick Pandolfi Picture: NICK PANDOLFI

Ben Coomber (in yellow) with former Town 102 presenter Nick Pandolfi Picture: NICK PANDOLFI

Archant

The radio station Town 102 has lost its licence to broadcast, with the regulator handing it over to a new service, Ipswich FM.

The newly formed company which will operate Ipswich FM, MuxCo Suffolk Radio, is a joint venture between Lincs FM Group, Nation Broadcasting and MuxCo. Although they already have broadcasting interests across much of England and Wales, Ipswich FM will broadcast from the town itself, whereas its predecessor, Town 102, has been broadcasting from Norwich.

Freelance radio presenter Nick Pandolfi, who presented the breakfast programme at Town 102 from 2011 to February 2017, says the changes were good news for local radio-lovers.

“Being based in the vicinity of your audience makes commercial sense - it’s really good for advertisers and its great for listeners who want radio to sound local,” he said. “If you’re stuck in traffic on the Copdock interchange, you probably don’t give a monkeys what’s happening on the Norwich ringroad. And if you don’t want the local element, then you can turn over to Kiss FM or BBC Radio 2.”

Town 102 started broadcasting in 2006, but last year the company’s owners Celador closed the station’s studios at Great Blakenham.

Town 102 currently shares the same schedule as four other sister stations ‒ Dream 100 in north Essex, The Beach in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, Radio Norwich and North Norfolk Radio, with most programming produced from studios in Norwich.

Celador acquired all five stations last January as part of Anglian Broadcasting Company (Holdings).

Ipswich FM’s chairman is Michael Betton, the chief executive of Lincs FM. His new role is a return to his roots as Mr Betton began his radio career in the 1980s in Ipswich at Radio Orwell.

Ipswich became one of the first towns in the UK outside London to open a local radio station when Radio Orwell first went on air in 1975.

Ipswich FM will target listeners over 35, which, according to a statement released by Ofcom, “[reflecting] the fact that the Ipswich area has an older population than the national average.” The statement added: “The service will be distinctive by being less contemporary than Kiss and, to a lesser extent, Heart, and by offering a more local editorial focus specifically on Ipswich.”

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