Orion Media

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Orion Media
Industry Media
Fate Acquired by Bauer Media Group
Founded 2009
Defunct 2016
Headquarters Birmingham, England, UK
Key people
Adrian Serle, Chief Executive
David Lloyd, Director of Programming & Marketing
Mark Evans, Finance Director
Website www.orionmedia.com

Orion Media was a UK commercial radio group, founded in 2009 after a management buy-in, with backing from Lloyds Development Capital. It was created from the enforced sale of several radio stations in the English Midlands previously owned by Global Radio.

In May 2016, the company was sold to Bauer Media Group.


Following Global Radio's acquisition of GCap Media in 2007, it was deemed that Global had an unfair advantage in the West Midlands market as they owned the vast majority of stations.

The OFT wanted to re-install competition in the Midlands area, causing Global to sell some of their stations. In May 2009, LDC and the buy-in team purchased BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern, Beacon in the West Midlands and Heart 106 in the East Midlands from Global Radio for a total price of £37.5 million, beating off competition from several other interested parties [1] These stations accounted for around three per cent of the total commercial radio audience at the time.

In June 2009, the new group was named Orion Media.[2]

In January 2011, Orion's East Midlands station Heart 106 was rebranded and relaunched as Gem 106, following the end of a franchise agreement with Global Radio allowing the station to use the Heart branding and carry networked programming from London.

In January 2012, Orion Media announced that its four FM stations in the West Midlands region were to be renamed 'Free Radio' - replacing the individual names BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern and Beacon.[3][4] The rebranding took place at 7pm on Monday 26 March 2012.[5]

On 24 May 2012, Orion Media announced it would relaunch its Gold West Midlands stations on AM frequencies and DAB as Free Radio 80s later in the year.[6] The station, which aired networked programming from London with opt-outs for sports programming, switched to locally produced output playing 1980s music alongside news and information and live football commentaries on Monday 4 September 2012, ending a franchise agreement with Global Radio which allowed the station to carry Gold branding and output.

On 6 May 2016, Orion announced they had been bought by Bauer for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £40 and £50 million.[7][8]

Orion Media headquarters on Broad Street, Birmingham

Stations owned[edit]

Station name Former name Based in Broadcast area Frequency and multiplex Format Transmission date
Free Radio Birmingham BRMB Birmingham Birmingham 96.4FM, CE Birmingham Hot AC 19 September 1974
Free Radio Coventry & Warwickshire Mercia Birmingham Coventry and Warwickshire 97.0, 102.9FM, NOW Coventry Hot AC 23 May 1980
Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire Wyvern Worcester Herefordshire and Worcestershire 97.6, 96.7, 102.8FM, MuxCo Herefordshire and Worcestershire Hot AC 4 October 1982
Free Radio Shropshire & Black Country Beacon Wolverhampton Shropshire and Black Country 103.1, 97.2FM, NOW Wolverhampton Hot AC 12 April 1976
gem106 Heart 106 Nottingham East Midlands 106.0FM, NOW Nottingham, NOW Leicester Adult Contemporary 23 September 1997
Free Radio 80s Gold Birmingham West Midlands 990, 1017, 1152, 1359AM, CE Birmingham, NOW Wolverhampton, NOW Coventry 1980s music 4 April 1989, 15 January 1989


  1. ^ Bauer beaten to the punch in radio deal Timesonline News - Accessed 26 May 2009 (subscription required)
  2. ^ Midlands radio sale cleared Archived 4 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Radio Today - Accessed 5 July 2009
  3. ^ Birmingham's BRMB rebrands to Free Radio Guardian Online - Accessed 9 January 2012
  4. ^ Free Radio Will Launch in Spring 2012 Free Radio web page - Accessed 9 January 2012
  5. ^ BRMB, Mercia, Beacon, Wyvern to be Free, Radio Today, 9 January 2012
  6. ^ Gold to be Free Radio 80s in West Mids, Radio Today, 24 May 2012
  7. ^ Bauer buys radio group Orion Media, The Guardian, 6 May 2016
  8. ^ Orion Media sold to Bauer for £50m, The Telegraph, 6 May 2016