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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 13:45 GMT
Sport relaunch for Talk

MacKenzie has the backing of England coach Kevin Keegan

Commercial radio station Talk Radio has been relaunched as the UK's first station dedicated entirely to sports coverage.

The national station is changing its name to talkSPORT (1089/1053) and will begin its revamped schedule on 17 January.

Announcing the move, Talk Radio chief executive Kelvin Mackenzie said the output would give a broad spectrum of sports enthusiasts just what they had always wanted.

"The British public loves sport. Our research proves that we are already winning a new, younger more attractive audience.

"TalkSPORT will not just appeal to fans but players, managers - everyone involved in the business of sport."

TalkSPORT fixture list
England football internationals at Wembley
Manchester United's matches in Europe
All FA Cup round games
British Lions rugby tours in 2001 and 2005 to New Zealand and Australia
Rugby Trinations tournaments between Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
England's winter cricket tours
Major international boxing matches
Former Sun editor Mackenzie - who led a consortium to buy the five-year-old Talk last year - added that talkSPORT would be a tough rival for its competitors.

"There is a significant gap for this station - we will fill it with an intelligent, compelling and unique product. Listeners who want the best sports coverage will now know where to come. If you miss it, you'll miss out."

The new station also has the backing of England coach Kevin Keegan. He reinforced Mackenzie's message saying: "talkSPORT is the radio station we have all been waiting for."

Star attractions

The main selling points of the new station include a four-hour sports breakfast show and a mid-morning sports talk show. It will also broadcast a show called The Car Guys, specifically for lovers of motoring.

Geoff Boycott is one of the station's personalities
Among the station's presenters will be a number of high-profile sports personalities and commentators including ex-footballer Alan Brazil, cricketing legend Geoff Boycott and racing expert Brough Scott.

In future, Talk's only non-sport output will be the late night phone-ins, which will continue to be hosted by James Whale and Ian Collins.

Since Talk was taken over by Kelvin Mackenzie, the station has been involved in an aggressive battle with the BBC for rights to sports commentaries.

BBC Radio 5 Live - the corporation's 24-hour news and sports station - has naturally borne the brunt of Mackenzie's decision to include sports coverage into the Talk schedule.

No serious threat

Commenting on Talk's relaunch as an all-sport station, Radio 5 Live's deputy controller Mike Lewis said he was neither surprised, nor worried.

"Kelvin MacKenzie has been threatening for some time to relaunch as a sports channel and moving the schedule further and further that way.

"But a sports station is only as good as its live commentary. Five Live's mix of live sport and news has proved highly successful and popular with listeners and we are confident that we can remain Britain's most listened to radio station."

In the last set of Rajar listening figures - released in October - both stations suffered a loss of listeners over the summer. But 5 Live increased its share of the overall radio audience.

Talk however logged the largest quarter-on-quarter loss of any national radio station as MacKenzie began reinventing it as a sports and tabloid station.

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See also:
27 Jul 99 |  Business
Talk Radio swallows local stations
02 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Radio boss calls for BBC sell-off
03 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
Radio plans digital future

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