Liverpool talk radio bids could mean more jobs for journalists

The Guardian Media Group and Emap are among several bidders with newsbased projects hoping to win Liverpool's new FM radio licence.

GMG, which owns Smooth FM and Real Radio, is one of the 10 bidders. Its proposed format, called RockTalk, would employ nine journalists.

Chrysalis, Emap and GCap have also submitted bids to Ofcom for the licence, which will cover a population of between 1.4 and 1.5 million adults.

GMG Radio development director Jeff Stephenson, who is in charge of the RockTalk bid, said: "Liverpudlians told us they didn't want blocks and blocks of speech, like national stations or the BBC. So we devised a new format and came up with the RockTalk hybrid service, which is a combination of popular speech, news and information.

"In our business plan, we have the provision for nine journalists. We need that number in order to be able to keep up-to-date with what is happening.

We're also looking to appoint a Westminster correspondent who will hopefully have contact with Liverpoolbased MPs, so we can get information and news from them on a daily basis."

The proposed station will broadcast 24-hour live news coverage with updates, sport every 20 minutes, business news every hour as well as entertainment updates and reviews of the day's newspapers.

GMG submitted a similar bid for the hotly contested Northeast licence earlier this year, but was beaten by Saga Radio.

Emap Radio's proposal is CityTalk — an all-speech format which would combine talk, news, sports, current affairs, comedy and discussions on local issues.

The group already owns two stations in Liverpool — Radio City and Magic.

The company was keen to stress that, if successful, CityTalk would not be dominated by "cheap phone-ins", but would instead give listeners "the insider view" on local issues and international events.

Terry Smith, chairman and nonexecutive director of CityTalk said: "This will be an entirely new type of station for Liverpool and is significantly different from any existing format provided by either commercial or BBC stations in the area."

The channel's flagship programmes would include Home from the House, in which a local MP answers listener's questions; Rag Mag, a programme produced by students and Worldwide Radio, an hour of news from English-speaking stations across the globe.

Chrysalis has applied for the Liverpool licence with The Arrow, a classic and contemporary rock music station for listeners over 35.

Three other applicants — the CN Group's Merseylife, allTalk FM and Liver FM — also plan to lead with news. Ofcom is expected to announce the winner of the licence in October.

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