Jobs are at risk amid plans to 'rebrand' a Dorset radio station which will see its name changed altogether.

Dorchester-based Wessex FM is to become Greatest Hits Radio after a move by its owner to expand its network and embrace digital platforms.

While the decision is being heralded by Bauer Media as a move to 'reimagine local radio for the future', it means a number of jobs are on the line.

And although Bauer said the station would retain local content and services, it could not confirm whether it would keep its base in Dorchester.

Wessex FM has been on the air producing local programmes for Weymouth and west Dorset since 1993.

Bauer purchased Wessex FM and Bournemouth and Poole station Fire FM last year.

Both stations will now join their Hits Radio Brand Network, creating the UK’s largest commercial radio network. Fire FM will retain its local branding but the name Wessex FM will be dropped. The changes come into effect in early September.

Greatest Hits Radio plays classic hits from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s alongside regional drive time and networked breakfast shows.

Listeners will still be able to tune in on FM but will also be able to access it via DAB.

This is said to be a 'crucial move' in a radio market which is seeing a significant shift towards consumption on digital platforms, and allows extended coverage, according to Bauer.

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director Radio, Bauer Radio said: “Expanding the Hits Radio Brand Network will ensure listeners to these acquired stations benefit from multi-platform digital distribution meaning they can continue to broadcast in an increasingly competitive, digital and voice-activated world. This ensures the provision of local news and information, traffic and travel as well as access for advertisers to highly valued audiences.”

The changes mean that some roles will be put into consultation and freelance contracts reviewed.

Bauer says it is committed to supporting all affected employees throughout this period and will be working closely with them over the months ahead. A period of consultation with employees potentially affected has commenced.

The number of jobs at risk is not being disclosed.

Graham Bryce, Group Managing Director – Hits Radio Network Brand, said, “We are committed to ensuring the future of radio in local markets and serving the needs of our listeners and advertisers. However, our top priority right now will be to support those affected through this period.”

Asked whether the radio station would remain in Dorchester, a company spokesman said: "It is too early to share specific details about buildings, however the station will retain local content and services and a presence in the majority of locations in which these stations currently operate."

The spokesman said the station would continue to provide local news, traffic and travel and local information.

Some changes are proposed to local programming.

Asked whether dropping the name Wessex would take away the station's local connection, the spokesman said: "Our research shows that listeners seek a mix of local and national content and our advertising customers are demanding nationally scaled networks. For these reasons we are evolving to meet changing listening habits and customer demands."

West Dorset MP Chris Loder said: "I’m pleased that the long term future of an independent radio station has been safeguarded.

"I have always enjoyed my visits to the studio in Dorchester and would like to thank Wessex FM and its wonderful team for their support, and great memories, over the years."