Magazine article Marketing

Southern: The Urge to Merge

Magazine article Marketing

Southern: The Urge to Merge

Article excerpt

A typical example of the way radio has changed since the advent of the 1990s is the Southern Radio Group. The company's restructuring has gone right to the core of operations. It has raised the issue of how big or small you make your sales regions, how you cater for discreet audiences' tastes and how you market the package to boost revenue.

There are six stations in the group following the December 1991 merger of the Kent-based Invicta and the Hampshire/Sussex-based Southern. No part of the country, it appears, is safe from merger mania.

In the aftermath of that merger there was a management shake-up which saw Invicta managing director Nigel Reeve leave for Classic FM, Rory Macleod take over Southern's top slot and The Observer ad director Nicki Hill make a novel sideways step to co-ordinate the group's sales and marketing.

Southern stretches across three counties. In Hampshire there is classic hits station Ocean FM and chart-oriented Power FM. In Sussex there is Southern FM (an Ocean FM double) and South Coast Radio which stretches across the majority of both counties. In Kent there are two Invicta stations -- the standard charts and Gold formats.

Selling them all has taxed Hill, who only arrived in May. However, she has inherited one of the UK's most affluent areas and a flexible package which allows the group to sell either very locally (there are 17 transmitters) or right across the South.

Southern has attempted to do the latter through its Radio South package which provides 78% of the TVS (soon to be Meridian) region.

An outsider to the radio world, Hill soon saw certain connections with her past life. …

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