BREEZING on to the airways of Basingstoke and north Hampshire, the town’s commercial radio station has entered a new era with a new name.

From its base in Paddington House, in Festival Place, The Breeze will serve Basingstoke and North Hampshire on 107.6 FM – the same frequency as its former Kestrel FM incarnation.

The Basingstoke station’s owner is Celador Radio, which broadcasts other stations under The Breeze and Jack FM brands across the south.

Celador – well known for its films like Slumdog Millionaire and TV programmes like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – purchased the licence to broadcast in Basingstoke from Tindle Radio Group in September.

Speaking at the official launch of the new brand in Basingstoke on Monday, The Breeze promotions director Andy Turner said: “In two years, we have expanded from one licence to 13, across the south of England, and we won’t stop here.

“There will also be future acquisitions, should the right opportunities come along.”

Andy admitted it is a tough business that has been hit by the recession, but he remains very upbeat.

“The competition now is much greater than it was five or 10 years ago. But if we can make The Breeze Basingstoke and The Breeze brand work now, then that stands us in good stead for the future.”

Andy is keen to emphasise the local nature of the station.

“Being local is one of our unique selling points at The Breeze,” said Andy.

“We feel the very fact that we have all these small licences gives us an advantage against our competitors, who are regional.

“Whereas we can carry local news, traffic and weather, all aimed for Basingstoke, our competitors may be covering an entire region, like the whole of Hampshire.

“This means that their traffic reports and news reports have to cover a much wider area.

“We’d like people to think that when they listen to a Breeze station, it is their local radio station.”

Andy’s sentiments are echoed by station manager Sue Reynolds, who is over the moon with the new investment and changes.

These include a new studio, with plans for a second studio to be upgraded, and a line-up of largely new presenters.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Sue, who estimates that the station has got a 25 per cent reach of the local audience.

“We are still keen to help local businesses, and we are keeping all the local Kestrel initiatives too.”