Belfast Telegraph

U105 axes Carolyn Stewart and Ivan Martin from weekend schedule

 

By Margaret Canning

Well-loved radio voices - including Carolyn Stewart and Ivan Martin - are being removed from the weekend schedule at radio station U105, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Veteran Ivan, the first voice on U105 when it was launched from UTV's Havelock House 12 years ago, is losing his Sunday Brunch slot.

He told the Belfast Telegraph he was leaving of his own accord and without bitterness after a 40-year career on the airwaves.

"It's not an easy decision to walk away from something but that's what I've done," he said.

"I always said that if I reached the stage that I wasn't enjoying what I was doing, I wouldn't do it, and that's the stage I have reached."

His last show will be broadcast from U105 in the first week of July.

Media giant and U105 owner News Corp UK and Ireland, part of the same group as The Sun newspaper, is also making changes to its playlist and key parts of the station's weekday schedule.

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Ivan Martin

One source close to the station summed up the playlist changes as "out with Fleetwood Mac's Albatross and in with Ed Sheeran's Castle On The Hill".

Another suggested that the playlist changes were part of a bid to save money.

But this was denied by a source close to News Corp UK.

Rick Nugent, who DJs from 10pm to 2am on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, is also going.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that Stewart will maintain her weekday Lunchtime show on U105, but is losing her Saturday Night House Party from 6pm to 10pm.

However, it's expected that Martin and Nugent will be called upon to cover holiday leave.

Johnny Hero's 4-7pm U105 Drive show is also being shaken up.

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Johnny Hero

His 'Golden Years' feature, which plays songs from a bygone year which listeners are invited to identify for a mention on the show, is being re-examined.

It's not clear what will replace the axed shows.

News UK said it had no comment to make. 

U105 was established by UTV Media plc and had close links to local television broadcaster UTV, with both based at UTV's former home in Havelock House, off Belfast's Ormeau Road. But in 2016 the television division of UTV was sold by its owners to ITV.

U105 and 21 other radio stations owned by UTV were rebranded as Wireless Group and sold to News UK.

The jewel in the crown of Wireless Group is talkSPORT, a popular talk-led radio station based in London and regarded as complementing the readership of The Sun. UTV and U105 both now broadcast from City Quays.

One industry analyst, who did not wish to be named, said the local radio landscape was getting more and more "cutthroat".

Listeners can choose from media giant Bauer's Cool FM, Downtown and Downtown Country, Q Radio, which took over Citybeat, as well as U105 and Radio Ulster/Radio Foyle.

The analyst said: "Listeners in Northern Ireland, depending on where they live, now have access to more than 40 national commercial and BBC stations on DAB digital radio and thousands more on the internet.

"The coverage and number of stations on DAB has grown significantly in recent years. Digital listening here lags behind other parts of the UK but has been improving in recent years.

"Local stations have proved resilient in the face of this extra competition and have been holding their own so far."

He added: "It's hard to see how you could shake things up much at U105. It's a shoestring operation at the minute, unless they think that replacing some key personnel might help."

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