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Tuesday, 14th September 2010
Larger than Life: Capital FM expands to take in Galaxy & local stations

London-based Capital FM is set for expansion in the new year as it swallows up Galaxy and several local radio stations.

In a move by owners Global Radio that may confuse listeners, its London-centric brand will be used for relaunched radio stations in cities such as Manchester and Yorkshire - where the Galaxy name has been established for more than 12 years. It is thought listeners may not make the connection to a brand unheard of outside London.

Existing local and regional Galaxy radio stations will see their name changed to Capital FM, while local programming on the relaunched stations will be restricted to breakfast, drivetime and news bulletins, in a shake-up designed to provide competition to the BBC's flagship youth station BBC Radio 1.

Cardiff's Red Dragon FM and Central Scotland's Galaxy 106 will see a more logical switch to the new name Capital FM, while Trent FM, Ram FM and Leicester Sound will merge to form one station under the title Capital FM for the East Midlands.

Birmingham's Galaxy 102.2 will take the new name, up against heritage music station BRMB, which ironically up until May last year was under the umbrella of Global Radio - owners of Capital FM.

Southampton's Galaxy 103.2 - itself rebranded from Power FM in 2008 - will be replaced by Capital FM, while Manchester's Galaxy 102 and Yorkshire's Galaxy 105 will also take the London station's name.

The North-East's Galaxy 105 and 106 will also switch to the new Capital name in 2011.

The move to expand the Capital name will also release DAB digital radio multiplex carriage capacity in South Wales and the East Midlands.

The idea of a UK-wide hit music station to compete with Radio 1 has been around since 1999; previous owners Capital Radio PLC planned a top 40 chart music station with the working title "Capital UK", launching Life on DAB digital radio in that year. The station closed in 2008.

The expanded Capital FM hit music network will launch in the first week of 2011. The move sees the end of the Galaxy name, which originated from the sale of FTP Radio in Bristol to Chiltern Radio Group in 1991 and expanded into Yorkshire and Manchester following the sale of Kiss 102 and Kiss 105 in 1997. It saw further expansion under the present ownership of Global Radio.


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