Media Lifeline: Magic

Emap's de facto national radio network comes a step closer to dominance of UK radio.

1996: The prime properties in Emap's expanding radio empire were the FM stations it had acquired in the North of England - but it also had AM heritage brands, including Magic 828 in Leeds, that it didn't really know what to do with. In 1996, Emap decided to rebadge these stations as Magic, creating a new brand family.

1998: The industrialist Lord Hanson sells his London radio station, Melody Radio, to Emap. It's not the sexiest property in the world - 75 per cent of its downmarket audience is older than 65 and it has a playlist heavy on the likes of Frank Sinatra. But Emap gets permission from the regulators to update its easy listening remit.

2001: Having rebranded its new London property by stealthy increments (at one stage it is called The Magic of London's Melody), Emap brings the station into line with the other Magic properties and a de facto national network is the result - individual stations (eight of them in total) retain their own playlists, but conform to broad guidelines. The brand takes on a new dimension in 2001, when a Magic TV station is launched on digital satellite and cable.

2005: Under the programme director Richard Park, the focus is increasingly on the London station. As Andria Vidler takes over as Magic's managing director, Neil Fox (pictured) is signed up to host the breakfast show and Eamonn Holmes joins to front a Sunday afternoon slot.

2006: Magic 105.4 completes an incredible turnaround when it vaults Capital and Heart to become London's number-one commercial radio station with a weekly audience reach of 1.86 million. The announcement completes a perfect week for Park, who had earlier picked up a Sony Radio Academy Award.

Fast forward ...

2009: Magic completes its rise to dominance of UK radio when it is given stewardship of Radio 2, following a break-up of the BBC radio portfolio after a government review. Meanwhile, Park (pictured) is saved for the nation by English Heritage.

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