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NANTES, France — Hit West is celebrating its 20th birthday. In 2001, the new regional network was born from the merger of Radio Nantes and Fréquence Ille (in Rennes). “It had been in the making since 1996,” said Yann Oger, the radio station’s co-founder and director. “We had thought of creating a network based on the territory of the newspaper Ouest France, to have a single strong brand. We started with 11 frequencies. Today we have 17 and soon two in DAB+.”
On May 14, 2001, host Petrone went on the air to launch Hit West, which in a year, gathered some 140,000 listeners. Today, more than a million people listen to Hit West every week. To celebrate this anniversary, the station put together a special program, celebrating 20 years of hits and great stories with a series of never-before-heard stories.
At the beginning of June, Hit West aired daily “Time Capsules” — short testimonials from the voices of the station, recounting their best moments of the past 20 years. These stories are now available as podcasts, and other events are being prepared for the beginning of the new season in September.
Remembering the Past
Memories come flooding back to hosts and journalists. Katell Lagré, a journalist of the first hour, remembers holdingback her tears, live, at the Stade de France during the final of the 2009 French Football Cup between Rennes and Guingamp.
Erwann has been a presenter on Hit West since 2002. “I came from a local radio station in Saint-Malo. When I opened the microphone for the first time on Hit West, knowing that my voice was going on the satellite to broadcast throughout the West — it gave me an incredible memory!”
Oger remembers “the pleasure of seeing Hit West grow: gaining new frequencies, accompanying new digital listening modes (Hit West was the first regional radio to arrive on smartphones!) and entering the court of the great festivals…our studio at the Francofolies de La Rochelle, among others.”
Looking to the Future
While the radio world celebrates the centenary of the medium and 40 years of FM, Hit West is resolutely looking to the future. Having successfully anchored itself in its territory, the station can boast of being listened to every week by one in five inhabitants in Brittany and Pays de la Loire (1,072,300 listeners, source: Médiamétrie, September 2020/June 2021).
Its new challenges are focused on digital transformation with the development of podcasts, the launch of DAB+ and the development of all the new channels that will allow it to invent and share its audio stories. Because beyond its musical format, Hit West continues to produce numerous contents, columns and magazines, extending its microphone to the actors of change in its territory.
Q&A With Yann Oger
Q: What have been the big challenges for Hit West?
Oger: The first one was the Internet. FM didn’t suffer from the Internet, but had to adapt. Starting in 2006, we also saw the arrival of music platforms. They are a competitor on music, but they have not taken away our audience. We saw this during the crisis: Proximity and warmth are two of radio’s assets, and the hosts and journalists contributed enormously in terms of support and networking.
Q: Today, who is radio’s competitor?
Oger: The real competitor is Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime. In the past, there were slots where radio was very strong, because there was nothing happening on TV. And those have become TV slots again because of these platforms.
Q: What was the impact of the health crisis on the audience?
Oger: The pandemic was an audience gas pedal, but it reshuffled the cards, and radio must find its place in this new media world. The introduction of teleworking, which will continue, means that a whole section of the population no longer uses the car. In addition, people are increasingly using scooters and bicycles and not listening to the radio. Radio, with its many qualities, must reinvent itself.