Spirit FM - how self-serving corporate vanity crushed the only voices that matter

COMMENT: Never could a radio station be more proud of its listeners than Spirit FM.

Nearly 10,000 of them signed a petition defending the name and unique content mix of their favourite local broadcaster.

On Facebook they have written with passion and intelligence of the contribution that Spirit makes to the community - not least in its support of local good causes.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

And in the Ofcom report published this week they were singled out from all the many and varied radio audiences across the UK for special mention because of the scale and quality of their protest.

The Spirit FM team

This newspaper - arguably a competitor for the advertising pound - has actively supported those voices demanding that Spirit FM is both protected and preserved as a real champion of all that is good and true about this region.

Sadly Ofcom has now given Bauer media - who bought the station a year ago - the green light to press ahead with their hated plans.

A new name - Greatest Hits Radio - and more shared content appear to be on the cards.

Bauer claims that they will retain all that is best about the local station but we remain to be convinced as do the many listeners and presenters who have made their voices heard.

The proof of the pudding is, of course, in the eating. So we will judge them fairly but fearlessly over the next 12 months to see just how relevant their output remains.

In the meantime, we congratulate everyone who has taken the time to stand up for the independent voice of Spirit FM - not least its magnificent staff whose contribution to this part of Sussex has always gone way beyond their paid-for hours.

At a time of reducing local journalism across the region - there are redundancies at the BBC and many free newspapers have been forced by the Covid crisis to suspend their print activities - trusted journalism has never been in shorter supply or needed more.

The Chichester, Bognor Regis, and Midhurst & Petworth Observer will continue to perform that role serving our communities with independence and honesty.

At the same time, we deeply regret Bauer's short-sighted decision to throw away a brand built up over nearly a quarter of a century and loved by local people in the pursuit of some self-serving corporate vanity.