Pop impresario Pete Waterman is to launch a bid for two new FM radio stations in the North of England – one in the North-west and one in the North-east.
Waterman, who has master-minded a string of hits since the Eighties with producing partners Mike Stock and Matt Aitkin, will be chairman of Virus Radio, the company put together for the bid.
The Virus consortium includes EMAP Radio, which owns stations across the country – including Kiss FM and Piccadilly – and will have a maximum 20 per cent stake. The other partner is Apollo Leisure, which operates 80 venues in the UK and employs more than 6,000 staff.
Waterman says he plans to offer “the cutting edge of new music” if his proposals are accepted.
“My play-list will never consist of more than 20 per cent of top 40 material. We will have a unique play-list format,” he says.
“I have been approached to back different stations but I have always said no, because I didn’t want to become a narrow-caster. But there’s a new optimism at the Radio Authority and it seems to have changed its views on who it licenses.”
Waterman says he will draw on the experience of EMAP Radio to avoid pitfalls in the company’s plans.
As well as producing records, Waterman also owns the London & North West Railway Company, which carries out stock maintenance for privatised rail companies.
The deadline for applications for the North-west licence is August 1997, while for the North-east it is January 1998.