Listen to Smooth Radio radio online from The United Kingdom
From 2010 to 2014, Smooth Radio was an independent, commercial, national radio station in the United Kingdom. Owned by Real and Smooth—a company is formerly known as GMG Radio—the station was aimed at the over-40 demographic and competed for its audience with BBC Radio 2.
It was broadcast on the DAB Digital Radio Digital 1 national multiplex, Sky, Freesat, Freeview, Virgin Media, online and on regional FM and DAB frequencies in the North West, London, North East, West Midlands, Scotland and East Midlands. Nationally the station attracted a weekly average audience of 3 million.
The station opened in 1990 as 102.2 Jazz FM in London, and a second Jazz FM branded station was launched four years later in Manchester. The Manchester station became Smooth FM 100.4 in 2004 and was the first in the network of independent local radio stations to use the Smooth brand. The London station followed suit a year later. The network's parent company, GMG Radio – a subsidiary of the Guardian Media Group – acquired the Saga Radio Group in the mid-2000s, and all Saga stations were given the Smooth name.
After the publication of John Myers' recommendations of a regulatory overhaul in commercial radio, and the passing of the Digital Economy Act 2010 allowing stations to co-locate or discontinue local shows and broadcasts, Smooth Radio merged its five English stations into a single, quasi-national station in October 2010; local news feeds were produced at GMG Radio's headquarters in Salford Quays. 105.2 Smooth Radio in Scotland produced its own breakfast and drivetime shows but carried networked programming at other times.
As part of their license agreement, the London and Manchester stations were required to continue their commitment to jazz music after dropping the Jazz FM name, and the UK's broadcasting industry regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) stipulated they must broadcast 45 hours of jazz programming per week, but this requirement was ended shortly before the merger took place.
Smooth recruited many well-known British radio personalities to its line-up. Presenters on the network included Emma B, Simon Bates, Tony Blackburn, Mark Goodier, David Jensen, and Chris Tarrant. The station's flagship breakfast show was presented by Simon Bates, who left Classic FM after more than a decade. It broadcast occasional documentaries on subjects relating to music, news, and media events; some of these won the station radio industry awards.
In November 2011 Smooth launched a second station on the Digital One platform dedicated to Christmas music and later replaced this with "Smooth 70s", which played music from the 1970s. The Christmas station returned in 2012, and Smooth 70s closed in September 2013. Along with its sister station, Real Radio, Smooth was an official host of the Blackpool Illuminations switch-on ceremony from 2010 and staged regular, free live music events. The station signed a number of sponsorship deals with companies such as Tetley Tea and ATS Euromaster and held annual fundraising events in aid of the charities Help for Heroes and Macmillan Cancer Support.
GMG Radio was taken over by rival Global Radio in June 2012. Global's purchase of the company was referred to Ofcom, the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission amid concerns that Global's market share may be disproportionately large as a result of the deal, and consequently not in the public interest. GMG Radio subsequently changed its name to Real and Smooth Radio Ltd.
A report issued by the Competition Commission in May 2013 highlighted competitiveness issues and recommended a full or partial sale of Real and Smooth. Real and Smooth Radio Ltd and Global continued to operate as separate companies while the takeover was investigated. Smooth moved its operations from Manchester to Global's London headquarters in October 2013. In February 2014, Global was given permission to remove Smooth from the Digital One platform and replace it with another station.
Global also sold eight of its regional stations, including three operated under the Smooth brand, and announced that Smooth would replace much of its Gold network on the medium wave frequency. The Smooth brand was relaunched as a network of regional stations in March 2014.