Emap has this afternoon relaunched Heat Radio, the digital radio station linked to its weekly celebrity gossip magazine.
The station, which has broadcast on digital radio in parts of the UK since 2003, has until now been an automated music station without any presenters.
Today’s relaunch sees Emap investing in editorial content on the station for the first time. Heat Radio will also broadcast no adverts, relying instead on sponsorship – a commercial radio first.
The move is a warm-up for the launch of another Emap magazine spin-off, Closer Radio. The radio equivalent of the weekly celebrity and real-life title is due to launch next summer, as part of a consortium of 10 new nationwide digital radio services led by Channel 4.
A team of presenters has been recruited to present celebrity news, gossip, interviews and phone-ins. Heat Radio is also calling for listeners to provide user-generated content by phoning the station with reports of the celebrities they have spotted.
Ben Shephard, the presenter of BBC1 reality show DanceX, has been hired to present a weekly entertainment review show on Heat Radio, discussing new-release music, films and books every Monday evening.
The station has also hired Rachael Hopper – until now a presenter on London commercial radio station Heart – and Capital Gold presenter Paul Coyte to present daily shows on the station.
Emap is no stranger to translating magazine brands into radio. Music titles Q, Mojo and Smash Hits have all been been turned into digital radio stations – although Heat is the first of these digital-only station to benefit from presenter-led editorial content.
The group’s most successful magazine spin-off is Kerrang! Radio. Since 2004, the weekly rock brand has broadcast to the West Midlands on FM and large parts of the UK on digital radio. According to Emap, it is the ninth-biggest commercial radio station in the UK, with a weekly audience of 1.47 million.
The number of people listening to Heat Radio is marginally behind the magazine’s weekly circulation figure, according to recent data.
Between April and June this year, Heat Radio’s average weekly audience was 425,000, according to radio audience measurement body Rajar.
In the latest set of consumer magazine circulation figures from ABC, the title recorded a typical weekly circulation of about 558,000.