LNR to revamp services following ITN/GWR deal

London News Radio’s two London stations, News 97.3 FM and News Talk 1152 AM, will relaunch after a long-awaited deal was struck last week with ITN and GWR.

GWR is taking over responsibility for revamping the AM service, ITN for FM, GWR chief executive Ralph Bernard confirms.

“Exact changes will be decided after comprehensive research,” he says. The results of this and strategy details will be confirmed by the new LNR board “in three to six months”.

The two stations will have to remain speech-based to meet Reuter’s original promise of performance to the Radio Authority.

Under the deal, LNR’s former owner, Reuters, has cut its stake to 20 per cent. GWR and ITN have taken 31 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively. The other 20 per cent will be held by Daily Mail & General Trust.

Former LNR managing director Rory McLeod has resigned to be replaced by Reuters’ Mervyn Hall. Interviews with remaining staff start this week, but “redundancies are inevitable”, Bernard says.

GWR group sales and marketing director Simon Ward will review both stations’ airtime sales strategies on his return next week from a radio conference in the US.

LNR will now move into ITN’s Gray’s Inn Road headquarters.

London News Radio Ltd was set up to acquire the LNR business with Bernard as chairman and Charlie Cox – one-time programming head of LBC – as deputy chairman.

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