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January 28, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:52am

Times and Sunday Times to launch ad-free digital talk radio station Times Radio

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Times titles are launching their own talk radio station, which promises “provocative and well-informed” news and current affairs analysis in a bid to boost subscriber numbers.

Times Radio is the result of a partnership between the Times and Sunday Times and radio group Wireless, all of which are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK.

The multi-million pound investment marks a further push into radio by the media mogul, who already owns Talkradio, Talksport and Virgin Radio, as commercial radio looks to challenge the BBC’s dominance of the airwaves.

The new station will feature news and commentary from as-yet unnamed “high-profile” presenters from the world of broadcasting when it launches later this year, a spokesperson said.

Times and Sunday Times commentators will also contribute to the station’s programming. A number of star columnists, such as Giles Coren and Red Box editor Matt Chorley, already have their own podcasts.

Times editor John Witherow said the new station will provide “provocative, well-informed, entertaining and useful discussion covering the key stories of the day, and informing the national conversation”.

“Times Radio, infused with our world-class journalism, will be the perfect complement to our print and online offer,” he said.

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Times Radio will be free of advert breaks, instead bringing in money through sponsorship deals across the schedule.

Murdoch struck a similar deal with Chris Evans’ breakfast show on Virgin Radio, which stayed free of adverts after his move from BBC Radio 2 thanks to sponsorship from Sky.

Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell (pictured) will act as Times Radio launch director.

Abell said Times Radio would have a “warm, expert” tone, adding: “I want to be able to listen to this station and learn something, and get the world presented to me. I don’t want pomposity, I don’t want stuffiness.”

Former BBC journalist Tim Levell, who edited 5 Live’s Emma Barnett Show, has been appointed programme director and tweeted today it was a “real privilege to be part of something that should shake up the broadcasting landscape”.

The pair will put together the Times Radio schedule and manage the presenters and production staff alongside a team from the Times, Sunday Times and Wireless, including Wireless national speech radio controller Liam Fisher.

News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks said: “We acquired Wireless in 2016 with a clear ambition to bring their audio expertise to our newsbrands.

“The Times and The Sunday Times deliver world-class journalism to a substantial and highly engaged audience and Times Radio will create a new speech radio outlet to reach an even broader audience who want quality reporting and trusted, expert commentary in real time.”

The new station will air on DAB, online and via app and smart speakers.

The company said it will share more information about Times Radio in the “coming weeks”.

It comes after the Times titles announced a new daily podcast to be hosted by BBC journalist Manveen Rana.

Picture: TLS

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