|Broadcast area||East Midlands|
|Slogan||The Biggest Hits, The Biggest Throwbacks|
Gem is an English regional radio station broadcasting to the East Midlands, owned and operated by Bauer Radio and forms part of the Hits Radio network. The station is transmitted from the Copt Oak transmitter close to the M1 north of Leicester in the National Forest.
Radio 106 launched at 6 am on Tuesday 23 September 1997. Billed as Radio for Grown Ups, with an advertising campaign on Central TV for the launch, the new regional station was led by ex-Radio Trent managing director Ron Coles with former Centre Radio MD Ken Warburton as programming controller. The first presenter on air was Dickie Dodd.
Radio 106's launch schedule included a heavy emphasis on speech content, including daily guests on mid-morning shows and a nightly 3-hour phone-in. Specialist music output featured country, soul and motown at weekends. The station's launch team included Kevin Fernihough, Mark Keen, Willie Morgan, Kenny Hague, Jake Yapp, Peter King and Sarah Graham.
Against competition from established BBC Local Radio and GWR-owned commercial stations, Radio 106 recorded poor listening figures for its first set of RAJAR audience figures, so within seven months of launch, the station's owners Border Radio Holdings opted for a complete relaunch.
Former Radio Trent presenter David Lloyd became the station's Managing Director and Programme Controller with ex-Trent colleagues including Tony Lyman, Craig Strong, Gary Burton and Andy Marriott joining the presenting line-up. Other additions to the team included Steve Jordan (breakfast) and Bernie Keith (afternoons).
In May 2000, Century 106, along with the other Century stations in the North East and North West, were sold to Capital Radio. David Lloyd left the station to join Galaxy 105 in Leeds while presenter Adrian Allen walked out mid-show in protest. The sale to Capital brought an increase in the station's sports coverage - as emphasised in the slogan music, fun and football. More new presenters joined Century, including Ian Skye, Jason King, Stuart Ellis, Sam Pinkham and Paula White.
When Capital later merged with GWR, the Office of Fair Trading ordered Century to be sold off. Chrysalis bought Century 106 for £29.5m and planned to rebrand the station as Heart 106, to go with 100.7 Heart FM in the West Midlands as the area matched that of the ITV Central region and would make it more attractive to advertisers.
Heart 106 was launched on 29 August 2005. A further, more subtle rebrand was applied in September 2006 which saw the dropping of the frequencies from station names across the Heart Network.
Following Global's takeover of GCap Media, the Office of Fair Trading again ordered Global to sell off Heart and four other Midlands stations - BRMB, Mercia FM, Wyvern FM and Beacon Radio. In May 2009, the stations were sold to Orion Media, a company backed by Lloyds Development Capital and Phil Riley.
On 9 November 2010, Orion Media announced that Heart 106 would be relaunched and renamed as 'Gem 106' on 1 January 2011. Under the rebrand, the station ended its franchise agreement with Global Radio which allowed it to use the Heart identity and carry networked programming from London.
Gem 106 was launched at midnight on Saturday 1 January 2011 with a special programme presented by Orion's director of programming and marketing David Lloyd. The GEM name stands for 'Great East Midlands', the name created and used from 1988 onwards for GEM-AM (later Classic Gold GEM) an AM (medium wave), 'solid gold' secondary service of Radio Trent. The majority of the station's programming is locally produced and broadcast from Nottingham.
As of March 2016, Gem refreshed their imaging and jingle package using a custom package from Wise Buddah.
On 6 May 2016, the station's owners, Orion, announced they had been bought by Bauer for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £40 and £50 million. As of August 2016, Gem 106 is aligned with the Hits Radio network, using its generic on-air imaging package. The station retains its own regional programming throughout the day.
According to RAJAR figures up to June 2016, the station was listened to by 503,000 people (out of a possible 2,384,000 listeners) per week, with each listener tuning in for an average of 7.1 hours over the course of 7 days.
The majority of Gem's programming is produced and broadcast at City Link in Nottingham. Late night and overnight programming on Sunday - Thursday, along with The UK Chart Show on Sunday afternoons and The Throwback on Sunday evenings, originates from the Hits Radio network, based in Manchester.
The station's current presenters include Jo Russell and Mark 'Sparky' Colerangle (weekday breakfast from 16 October 2016), Dan Wood (weekday mid-mornings), Cat James (weekday drivetime), Andy Goulding (evenings), Jennie Longdon (Hits Chilled / Saturday mornings) and Iain Chambers (Saturday mornings).
Gem broadcasts regional news bulletins hourly from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays, from 7 am to 1 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Headlines are broadcast on the half hour during weekday breakfast with updates every 20 minutes during weekday drivetime.
Regional bulletins originate from Gem's Nottingham studios and the Free Radio Midlands newsroom in Birmingham. National bulletins from Sky News Radio are carried hourly at all other times, apart from Sunday afternoons.
Since August 2015, Gem 106's weekday breakfast show has been simulcast live on Notts TV with a live video feed from the studio. As of February 2017, Gem Anthems on Saturday evenings is also simulcast on the channel.