Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire
|Broadcast area||Herefordshire and Worcestershire|
|Slogan||"Let The Music Set You Free"|
|First air date||4 October 1982|
|Audience share||8.5% (September 2012, )|
Free Radio Herefordshire & Worcestershire (formerly Radio Wyvern) is an Independent Local Radio station serving Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The station, owned and operated by Bauer Radio, broadcasts from studios in Worcester on 96.7, 97.6, and 102.8 FM, and is part of the Free Radio network.
Radio Wyvern originally went on-air on 4 October 1982. The original Wyvern name derived from the River Wye and River Severn, the rivers running through Hereford and Worcester respectively (the name was proposed in the 1970s for what would become the county of Hereford and Worcester). The initial Presentation team consisted of Sammy Southall at Breakfast, Roy Leonard in the morning, Graham Hughes in the afternoon and rock shows, and Mike George at drivetime. Weekend presenters included Jeff Roberts, Rob Yarnold and Bob Lee. Managing Director from 1984 until 1996 was Norman Bilton who joined Wyvern from Two Counties Radio in Bournemouth and Metro Radio in Newcastle.
In its early days, the station opened at 6am (7am on Sundays) and closed at 8pm, before it extended broadcasting hours to 24 hours a day by joining up with Beacon Radio from 10pm and then a wider network of Midlands stations from 1am. Radio Wyvern took the SuperStation overnight service in the late 1980s, and when that closed abruptly, a local Late Show was introduced, with the overnight output from 1am shared with BRMB and Mercia FM.
The station has played host to many well-known broadcasters over the years. Neil Fox began his professional broadcasting career here in 1984, and the line Wyvern News, this is Howard Hughes became very familiar to listeners. Rich Edwards, who joined in the very early days, presented on Classic Hits until its abrupt closure in 2007. David Holdsworth, now with the BBC was the station's News Editor, and Eleanor Oldroyd, now with Five Live, was a member of the Sport team. Several of the original presenters including Mike George, Graham Hughes, and Roy Leonard went on to long careers with BBC radio and television.
After its licence was renewed in 1994, the station split into Wyvern FM, playing newer music, and Wyvern AM (Quality and Variety), which was essentially a gold service, with both services initially simulcasting from 7pm-6am. The AM station was rebranded as Classic Gold soon afterwards, and was sold to Murfin Music International because of ownership regulations and the large overlap with neighbouring Classic Gold 774 in Gloucestershire. Some time later, it was rebranded as Classic Hits, and by this time a fully-fledged local service, with no links to Wyvern FM or the Classic Gold network. In 2007, Laser Broadcasting abruptly relaunched the AM station as SunshineRadio.
Wyvern was latterly acquired by GWR and later, Global Radio, who moved the station to new studios at Kirkham House in the Perdiswell Park area of Worcester. On 8 August 2008, it was confirmed that due to competition 'conflict of interests' in the West Midlands (and in other areas), Wyvern FM would be sold by Global Radio, along with other West Midlands owned GCap/Global stations BRMB, Mercia FM, Heart 106, and Beacon Radio. In July 2009, the station was sold officially to a company backed by Lloyds Development Capital and Phil Riley called Orion Media. Following the take over In January 2010, Wyvern FM rebranded as Wyvern and launched a new station slogan, "Made for Herefordshire & Worcestershire".
On 9 January 2012, Orion Media announced that Wyvern would be rebranded as Free Radio Herefordshire and Worcestershire from April 2012, along with its sister West Midlands stations BRMB, Beacon, and Mercia. Local programming is retained at breakfast and weekday drivetime.
The Wyvern brand was phased out on 21 March 2012 in preparation for the rebrand, which took place at 7pm on Monday 26 March 2012.
On 6 May 2016, the station's owners, Orion, announced they had been brought by Bauer for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £40 and £50 million.
Local programming is currently produced and broadcast from Free Radio's Worcester studios from 6-9am and 3-7pm on weekdays and from 7-11am at weekends, with the majority of networked programming broadcast from Free Radio's Birmingham studios. The Vodafone Big Top 40 is produced by Global Radio at its Capital studios in London for broadcast on 145 commercial radio stations in the UK.
The station's main presenters include Richard Hurst and Helen Wheels (Hursty and Helen) and David Francis (weekday drivetime).
- Sammy Southall
- Elliott Webb (now at Heart Gloucestershire)
- Robin Banks (now runs Robin Banks Consultancy and Coaching)
- Dean Roberts (now at BBC WM)
- Davinia Palmer
- Neil Fox
- Mike George (now at BBC Hereford & Worcester)
- Richard Clarke (now at Heart Solent)
- Sam and Mark
- Radio Today
- BRMB, Mercia, Beacon, Wyvern to be Free, Radio Today, 9 January 2012
- Feature: Orion's Phil Riley on Free Radio, RadioToday, 11 January 2012
- Bauer buys radio group Orion Media, The Guardian, 6 May 2016
- Orion Media sold to Bauer for £50m, The Telegraph, 6 May 2016
- "The Media briefing". Briefing Media Ltd. Retrieved 27 July 2012.