Northants listeners mourn the end of Connect FM as Smooth Radio launches

Smooth Radio East Midlands has taken over broadcasting from Connect FM in Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough but not all listeners are happy about it.

By Phoebe Radford
Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 11:30 am
Connect FM has been replaced by Smooth Radio
Connect FM has been replaced by Smooth Radio

Smooth Radio's takeover launched yesterday (Tuesday, October 1) after the regulator Ofcom gave permission for Communicorp, who own Smooth, to merge their programming after they bought Connect FM from Adventure Radio in Febraury.

It means Connect FM has been replaced by Smooth Radio which will share programming across the East Midlands, ending the localised radio that some listeners loved.

Smooth Radio launched yesterday and many previous Connect FM listeners were not impressed.

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Liz Rhodes with Mark Jeeves pictured for Connect FM's toy appeal at Christmas in 2013

Writing on Facebook, one listener said: "Tried listening this morning but I switched stations then eventually turned the radio off.. mornings won’t be the same without Liz. RIP Connect FM"

Another said: "I've already switched. I woke up to connect every morning for 15+ years and now I have to get used to Heart."

Lisa Stevenson, station director, said: "Listeners already enjoy their relaxing music mix in the East Midlands so it's brilliant that we can extend this coverage further to Kettering and Peterborough.

"We are passionate about our area and pride ourselves on making a difference with our listeners and customers.

"We are super excited to bring Smooth to Kettering and Peterborough."

However, many comments focused on the loss of local breakfast show host Liz Rhodes.

One listener said: "Thinking of everyone at Connect FM. What a great radio station. Will miss everyone especially Liz she always made me smile of an early morning, sending best wishes to everyone hope to hear your lovely voices sometime soon."

Another said: "Well listening to connect for the last time, if this music being played is the way forward then I’m moving stations. Really feel sad for Liz, so going to miss you Liz, hope I can find out where you will be moving to."

Similarly, another listener said: "Oh no plz don't go connect radio will never be the same with out Liz in the morning's [sic]."

Other listeners also expressed regret that the new channel would not be directly covering their local areas.

The new breakfast show on Smooth will be hosted by Gareth Evans and will cover a larger area, with listeners able to tune in from Kettering, Peterborough, Corby, Wellingborough and Stamford.

Ofcom approved the move in September and said: “We have approved Format change requests for the Connect FM services in Peterborough and Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough which will allow them to provide their locally-made programming from anywhere within this new approved area, and to share this programming with each other and also with the East Midlands service.

"The two Connect FM services will be rebranded as ‘Smooth Radio’ as a result.”

The change follows the decisions to axe local radio shows on Capital, Heart and Smooth radio.

Capital London's breakfast show has replaced 14 breakfast programmes across England, Scotland and Wales.

Heart used to have 22 breakfast shows but now just has one breakfast show hosted by Amanda Holden and Jamie Theakston.

One listener of Connect FM said: "Another one bites the dust. Good luck Liz and team all the best for future. Shame another global station has taken over again."

Smooth Radio is available across the East Midlands on 106.6 FM, DAB digital radio, online and on Global Player.