Local radio returns to Blackpool with the help of late broadcaster Gary Burgess

Gary helped to devise plans to bring back local radio to Blackpool while undergoing cancer treatment in Jersey. Credit: Alistair Clarke

A new era of local radio has begun in the seaside town of Blackpool, inspired by the late ITV Channel TV reporter and former resident, Gary Burgess.

Before he died earlier this year, Gary put together an application to the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to launch a DAB radio multiplex in Blackpool.

It's where he had his first media job in the 1990s.

Gary working at Radio Wave in Blackpool. Credit: Alistair Clarke

A multiplex is a type of transmitter used to broadcast lots of digital radio stations or TV channels on one frequency.

The one broadcasting DAB+ digital radio in the Channel Islands was switched on last August, bringing more than 20 new radio stations to the islands.

Ofcom is currently offering 'small-scale' licences to interested parties in towns and cities across the UK.

Alistair Clarke - Gary's best man and former Radio Wave colleague - is running the new venture. He said Gary was the driving force behind the project:

"Gary told me I had to apply for the licence. I wrote the original bid, which he then spent the best part of six months re-writing again and again to make sure it was right.

"For Gary, the thought of having lots of radio stations on air all talking about Blackpool was just brilliant to him.

"He remained involved with the project until the very end, and his final words to me before he died were that I had to win the licence and make it a success."

Alistair and Gary switching on the Blackpool Illuminations last year. Credit: Alistair Clarke

Earlier this summer, Ofcom awarded the Blackpool licence to Fun Coast Digital - Alistair and Gary's application, with the first stations beginning transmissions in September from the top of the iconic Blackpool Tower.

It marks the first time the seaside town has had any local radio stations in several years, after Radio Wave was closed by owner Bauer Media in 2020 to make way for the national Greatest Hits Radio network.

As of Wednesday 7 September, five new Blackpool radio stations have gone live, with more due to follow in the coming months.

New DAB antennas being installed at the top of the iconic Blackpool Tower. Credit: Alistair Clarke/Fun Coast Digital

ITV Channel TV's Digital Editor Alex Watson worked in radio at the time and often spoke with Gary about his plans.

He said: "When Gary told me what he and Alistair were hoping to do in Blackpool and was picking my brains about it, you could tell he was really invested in it being a success.

"His love for local broadcasting as a way of connecting to people really shone through.

"It seems a fitting tribute - especially for such an inspirational figure within the Channel Islands media - to add ushering in a new era of local radio in his beloved Blackpool as another brilliant part of his legacy. He definitely 'did good!'"

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