Listeners outraged by changes to Knebworth radio station

Listeners to Hertbeat FM are angry after the station underwent changes, resulting in a lack of local content, and relaunched as 106 Jack FM last week.

LOYAL listeners have voiced their outrage after a radio station underwent changes to its format last week.

Old Knebworth-based Hertbeat FM relaunched last Monday as 106 Jack FM but has suffered heavy criticism from its fan base for a lack of local content.

The station has dropped many of its DJ slots since the rebranding and now only has a live breakfast show in the week from 6am to 9am, hourly news bulletins each day, and weekend shows.

The rest of the airtime on frequency 106.7 or 106.9 FM is filled with what some angry listeners have termed an automated playlist.

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More than 100 people have joined a ‘Bring back Hertbeat FM’ Facebook group.

Codicote resident Sue Rathbone said: “It was a real community station.

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“Hertfordshire has lost something quite unique.”

Another listener, Jayne Mitchell, said: “Hertbeat stood for local issues – ‘Made in Hertfordshire, not in London’.

“Metamorphosing into Jack FM is about as sensible as naming a TV station Dave and showing constant repeats of Top Gear – good for those who like Top Gear, limiting for those who don’t.”

Brett Harley, the station’s managing director, said: “We are still very much a local radio station. Many of our shows were pre-recorded anyway and some people don’t seem to realise that.

“It is a different format and a different style of radio – we have concentrated more on the news and the breakfast show and a wider variety of music.

“That is part of the Jack format but we are still visible throughout the county. We are still promoting local events and are an independent station run locally; it’s just a new style of radio.”

Ofcom regulations state a minimum of four hours of local programming content a day must be met, which 106 Jack FM currently fulfils.

The ‘Jack’ brand and its motto of ‘playing what we want’ began in Canada in 2000 and is also used by radio stations in the USA, Russia and the UK.

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