Now the most popular commercial radio station in the UK, Heart FM is the station many turn to for its “feel good” music. The station which began broadcasting in 1994, and is now well known for its soft, relaxing music. Not forgetting the witty banter from the hosts and celebrity guests!
Owned by the British media company, Global, The Heart Radio Network consists of 13 local stations in the UK. They also broadcast a mix of local and national programming. Ten of these stations are owned by Global, and three are controlled by franchise agreements. The core audience of Heart radio is aged between 25-44 and come from a variety of different backgrounds.
There are also five spin offs of Heart’s national show; Heart Dance, Heart UK (formerly Heart extra), Heart 70s, Heart 80s, Heart 90s. All of these stations broadcast from Heart’s Headquarters in Leicester Square.
Formed in the West Midlands and transmitting on the 100.7 FM frequency, Heart FM became the third independent radio station to provide a regional service. Millions of daily listeners joined Heart for the soft adult contemporary music, and in 1995 Heart FM started test transmissions in London, using frequency 106.2.
After Heart launched in London in August 1995, their radio shows took on a slightly different format. The soft adult contemporary music replaced a generally more neutral rock “n” roll playlist. A few contemporary “feel good” tracks including songs from artists such as Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, and Whitney Houston, were also included.
Over a 15-year span, the Heart network had acquired and developed 41 different stations. However, new guidelines set out by OFCOM meant that Heart FM had to condense the number of stations they controlled. Heart converted many of their smaller stations in line with these changes and the new guidelines on local output. The regional Heart stations in Gloucestershire, Kent, London, the West Midlands, the East Midlands, and Wiltshire were left unchanged.
Through a series of further acquisitions between 2012-2014, the Heart network expanded into more geographic regions. This gave local artists and local music scenes greater exposure on the radio. During this time Global also rebranded all of their Real radio stations to Heart radio stations.
Global has spent a considerable amount of money and time on providing local regions with locally tailored Heart Radio stations. However, Heart had to follow OFCOM’s decision to relax local content requirements from commercial radio. They decided to replace many local shows with national ones. This decision was met with a lot of backlash from listeners, artists, musicians and Heart employees. The total weekly hours of local programming on each station decreased from 43 to 15, and many jobs were lost. The consolidation strategy now left only a handful of Heart stations.
Millions of people wake up to Heart Radio’s breakfast show hosted by Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden. Filled with A-list guests and a playlist which includes most of the latest hits and timely-classics, it’s hardly any surprise this show attracts 4.6 million listeners weekly. According to a report carried out last year by Campaign, Heart’s Breakfast show is now the biggest commercial breakfast show, staving off stiff competition from Capital and BBC Radio 2. The Breakfast show is only one small part of Heart Radio. The local Drivetime shows and Heart Club Classics are other popular shows on the station.
Most of Heart’s network programming is produced from the headquarters of Global at Leicester Square in Central London. Heart also partners with their sister network, Capital, for shows such as The Official Big Top 40 on Sunday afternoons.
As mentioned earlier, Heart FM’s Breakfast Show is the most listened to show throughout the entire network. Shows such as the drivetime show hosted by JK and Kelly Brook, Heart’s Club Classics with Pandora Christie (Saturday 7 pm-10 pm), and Heart’s Feel Good Weekend with Mark Wright also have a large following.
Throughout the year Heart FM hosts and sponsors many music events. These events are great for aspiring artists as it gives them a chance to showcase their music. Heart also sponsors many concerts featuring leading, chart-topping artists.
In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Heart FM produced a series of exclusive events called Heart Live at Home, where mini-concerts by artists can be streamed via Heart online.
Heart also sponsors a few events outside of the music realm. These include Race for Life and other local social initiatives and fundraisers.
Although radio may seem like a dying breed to many, it’s important that artists listen to a variety of music outlets. Listening to Heart radio can help you keep up-to-date with the latest releases and music trends as well as discovering or re-discovering music from artists who inevitably shaped the music industry. You can really gain a lot from listening to the radio – and from listening to Heart FM you can also be in with a chance to win 30K!