|Phil Riley, Group Chief Executive, Orion Media Group|
'I have launched, re-launched or run most of the radio stations in this patch at some point!'
Under Chief Executive Ashley Tabor and Chairman Charles Allen, Global in 2008 went on to buy the FTSE 250 listed GCap Radio to add to its Chrysalis purchase. Being allowed to merge both Chrysalis’s and GCap’s Midlands assets seemed unlikely, so when the competition authorities deemed that Global Radio had an unfair advantage, they were forced to sell down in this patch. Phil thought it just might provide an opportunity to return once more to Birmingham.
It wasn’t too much later, in May 2009, when Phil purchased BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern and Beacon in the West Midlands and Heart 106 in the East Midlands from Global Radio for an undisclosed amount in a deal backed by Lloyds TSB Development Capital.
Orion Media Group was formed with its stations reaching over 1 million listeners, with a footprint covering 6 million people, employing 150 people and generating approximately £20m income annually.
Proud Heritage - Made in Birmingham
|BRMB - Made in Birmingham|
"We’re proud of the heritage of the city and surrounding region in making things. That’s what Birmingham should be doing, making things well”.
So when both Phil and David Lloyd, his Programme Director, were looking for a theme for BRMB they were both struck by the publicity for the Matthew Boulton Exhibition, which showcased how he had designed and made his extraordinary collections in Birmingham. In turn they came up with the idea of ‘BRMB – Made in Birmingham’ as the station’s new strapline to emphasise the station’s roots in Birmingham and their pride in the region’s design heritage.
“We have a tremendous heritage round here in manufacturing – building things – in which good design obviously plays such a critical part.
"However, there’s a danger in speaking of design that we start to confuse it with creative industries generally, such as music, TV, film and advertising which in Britain are London-centric where the really big UK cluster is based."
“It might be unpopular for me to say this, but I’m afraid that, for me, Birmingham starts from a weaker creative position than one might expect for a city this size in terms of popular arts and media."
|BRMB Street Stars|
“You couldn’t talk about Birmingham having a distinct musical identity today. If you went back 20 years or more with the rise of multi-culturalism there was something about the wider place that was happening with the formation of racially-diverse bands such as The Selecter in Coventry and UB40 – and of course we had a clear position in the heavier rock music explosion of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
"Today there are talented Birmingham bands and artists around, but I don’t think they together form a cluster of talent with its own sound or identity.
“In TV we’ve never had a major long-running prime-time TV series such as Eastenders or Coronation Street (I’m going to ignore Crossroads!) And when Midlanders do appear in drama they are often used as a comic foil to make people laugh.
"I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the top TV performers/media names who come from round here are Lenny Henry, Jasper Carrott and Frank Skinner – all slightly lugubrious comedians, along with Adrian Chiles, who brings new meaning to the word “glum.”
"ITV is not local anymore except for news, and Central isn’t the force to be reckoned with that it once was. The BBC still has a presence of course, but I bet even they get slightly miffed at all of the BBC’s
resources now being focussed on building a 2nd base in Manchester.
|Foxy and Guiliano|
"Despite Orion pulling in the local direction, much of the other local radio round here is moving to national networks.
"Local newspapers have seen their readership decimated over the past 20 years.
Running a business covering the West Midlands he worries about government’s plans for economic development involving the possible fragmentation of the region into 6 Local Economic Partnerships.
“It’s crazy to split the region into 6 pieces. However I do feel strongly that Birmingham should be the ‘badge’ because, I believe, it’s the place most people have heard of.
“When we bought BRMB, Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern covering the WM there was no joint rate card so if a large corporate wanted to buy the whole region each station had to quote separately, there wasn’t one unified offer. This was one of the first things we fixed when we walked in the door.
In terms of their plans for the future Phil says they are very happy running the businesses they bought and that he has “no ambitions to recreate Chrysalis Radio. "We bought businesses which need a bit of attention but which are essentially sound and we are keen to keep building on their strengths.”
Beacon Radio http://www.beaconradio.co.uk/home.asp
Wyvern Radio http://www.wyvernfm.co.uk/
Mercia Radio http://www.mercia.co.uk/home.asp
Heart 106 http://www.heart.co.uk/eastmids/
4th September 2010