HUDDERSFIELD’S only commercial radio station is believed to have gone bust.
Pennine FM – formerly Home FM – was playing continuous music in a loop yesterday, mainly from the 70s and 80s, without messages from DJs or advertising.
Telephone numbers for the station, frequency 107.9, were either dead or went unanswered.
No-one was at the station’s studio at Lockwood Park.
A station insider said staff had been told the station was going off air only the day before.
It is understood company bosses are heavily in debt to Huddersfield RUFC rugby club which leased the premises to Pennine FM.
Staff at the rugby club, who were in the dark about the closure, were left in shock at the news.
Former journalist Jason McCartney, now the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Colne Valley, started his broadcasting career at Huddersfield FM, which started in 1995 and went on to become Home FM.
“It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth for the town,’’ he said.
“Pennine FM was never Radio One, but fair play to them. They had a lot of people who worked very hard at what they did.
“It’s important that the town has strong local media like the Examiner covering local events, so it’s sad to see this outlet go because it means Huddersfield won’t have its own radio station.”
Home FM relaunched as The New Pennine FM after a management buyout in March last year.
It broadcast across Kirklees and Calderdale.
According to its website, the station was listened to by 38,000 people during a four week period.
But its most recent official survey revealed the station had 20,000 listeners and a total market share of 3%.
The station had to cut a phone-in show because of a lack of listeners in 2007.
Its website was unchanged yesterday and there were no messages about the company’s plight.
According to Radio Today, which covers industry news, Pennine FM is the fifth commercial station this year to go out of business.
A spokeswoman for RadioCentre, the industry body for commercial radio, said: “It is sad news that Pennine FM is no longer broadcasting – unfortunately, this is a reflection of the difficulties radio stations are facing in the current economic climate and underlines the importance of the reviews that Ofcom and the Government are conducting into the industry’s framework.”
The closure comes as it was reported nationally that as many as 50 local radio stations could be forced to close.
An official paper, ordered by the Government as part of the Digital Britain review of the media and communications sectors, said major changes were needed if local commercial stations were not to suffer “death by a thousand cuts.”
In the report, John Myers, the former head of GMG Radio, recommended changing existing rules on local programming, music policy and the location of a station’s premises in favour of a “local impact test.”
Local commercial stations were facing huge difficulties, he said, overwhelmed by the explosion of online radio services, hemmed in by an outdated regulatory framework and hamstrung by poor decision-making within the industry.
Half make a loss every year, the report said.
Mr Myers wrote: “Instead, the radio industry as a whole must be bold, as I believe this might be one of the last opportunities it will be offered to carve out a long-term, profitable and successful future.”