Fifth owner in two years for troubled 3TR
Radio station 3TR FM has a new owner – its fifth in less than two years.
Live broadcasting at the troubled station, based in Warminster, and its four sister outlets ended last Wednesday and an emergency back-up system has been playing music and identity jingles on a loop ever since.
The station, which covers Frome, Warminster and Trowbridge, has now been bought by Cheltenham-based TotalStar, which said it wants all the stations, including Bath FM, Brunel FM in Swindon, and the QuayWest FM stations in Bridgwater and Watchet back on air this week.
The firm which runs an independent station covering the Gloucestershire town has already begun rehiring sales staff from the closed-down outlets.
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The former owners, Your Media Communications Group, went into administration and the firm's administrators – Plymouth insolvency practice Neville and Co – sent a representative to each station to pull the plug.
All the staff were made redundant and equipment was removed.
TotalStar managing director Brett Orchard said he wanted to get the stations back on air "early next week".
His station employs former Radio 1 presenter Mike Read as its mid-morning presenter and Mr Orchard said that to begin with, the five stations would be broadcasting networked programmes.
He said his firm was in touch with regulator Ofcom over the transfer of the licences and he said the future of the stations was "incredibly secure and incredibly positive. The reason we've taken them on is we're confident we can make them work."
The stations have had a chequered history in recent years, with the collapse of one owner, Laser Broadcasting, in October 2008, followed by that of South West Radio last August.
YMCG bought all the stations in August, but had been consistently refused permission by regulator Ofcom to take control of the all-important licences.
These continue to be held by Exeter accountancy firm Kirk Hills, the administrator of South West Radio.
YMCG director Nigel Reeve – who was chief executive of Laser and a consultant to South West Radio – had consistently promised that a new investor was on the horizon, whose cash would overcome Ofcom's concerns over the financial stability of the stations.
The radio station was broadcast from Boreham Mills, in Warminster, but it is believed that it will now be aired from new offices, though at the time of going to press it had not been announced where these are likely to be.