Rock FM’s last local show axed in Joel Ross breakfast shake-up

Rock FM is to lose the only remaining show produced specifically for the Preston and Blackpool area it serves.
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The station’s breakfast show will be merged with that of Liverpool’s Radio City from January.

Rock FM’s Joel Ross will remain in the 6-10am timeslot, but he will be joined by Radio City’s current breakfast co-presenter Leanne Campbell - and the new show will be broadcast across both stations' coverage areas.

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While local news will remain, the move will bring an end to 41 years of local programmes on Rock FM - and its forerunner, Red Rose Radio - which have steadily been cut over the past decade. Parent company Bauer Media axed a dedicated weekday drivetime show on the station in 2019, having previously removed mid-morning and early afternoon programming and local weekend shows.

After more than four decades, local programmes on Preston and Blackpool's first commercial radio station are coming to an end  (image: Pixabay)After more than four decades, local programmes on Preston and Blackpool's first commercial radio station are coming to an end  (image: Pixabay)
After more than four decades, local programmes on Preston and Blackpool's first commercial radio station are coming to an end (image: Pixabay)

All of Rock FM’s output apart from breakfast has since been broadcast on stations right across the North and Midlands. The breakfast show itself has been produced from Bauer’s base in Manchester since 2020, after Rock FM’s studios at the former St. Paul’s Church on Ringway were shut down.

The new merged programme for Rock FM and Radio City will come from the long-time home of the latter station at St. John’s Beacon in Liverpool city centre.

Speaking about the shake-up to the breakfast show he has hosted since the start of 2020, Joel said: ‘It’s been a brilliant four years hosting the Rock FM breakfast show and I’m hugely excited that, from January, I’ll be getting to do that with a new co-host in Leanne.

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“It’s a privilege to be sharing those early mornings with such a fun audience and setting the mood for their day so I’m really looking forward to that continuing in 2024.”

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Gary Stein, Group Programme Director for Bauer’s Hits Radio network described Leanne and Joel as “much-loved broadcasters", adding: "We know they’ll be putting together a can’t-miss breakfast show for Radio City and Rock FM listeners.”

Broadcasting rule changes have enabled radio groups to roll out national and, to a lesser extent, regional programming on stations that were originally established for local areas.

Red Rose Radio launched to cover Preston, Blackpool and surrounding areas in 1982 as one of the so-called “heritage stations” that formed the part of the original independent local radio network set up during the 1970s and 1980s.

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Separate services began being broadcast on the FM and AM frequencies of the station in 1990 - in the form of Rock FM for younger audiences and Red Rose Gold for an older demographic. The medium wave station, which was later rebranded as Magic 999 and, in 2015, Rock FM 2, first introduced nationally networked programmes more than 20 years ago and finally waved goodbye to its last remaining local show - again, at breakfast - in 2013.

That service is now part of the Greatest Hits Radio network, into which Blackpool station Radio Wave was also subsumed three years ago - bringing to an end all of its local programming except for news and information.

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Cuts to BBC local radio mean that the amount of dedicated local programming on Radio Lancashire is also being reduced, with regional and national programming installed across much of the schedule, outside of the 6am-2pm period on weekdays.

Several new local radio stations for Lancashire have recently been established on digital radio and online - including one that has resurrected the Red Rose Radio name, along with the now county-wide Central Radio North West and Coastal Radio for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.

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