Format changes at Birmingham's Kerrang! radio are part of a drive to 'grow up' and win listeners from the BBC, the station's brand manager has said.

Andy Price said the rock-based music station had invested #30,000 in research to find ways to boost audience figures and steal share from Radio 1. As a result of findings the station has revamped its format with new shows and a change of presenters.

It has also applied to Ofcom to reduce the number of new music it plays from 50 per cent of tracks to a third. Mr Price said: "We've found that at the moment, without question, the number one choice for rock music in the West Midlands is Radio One. But one of the criticisms of the station is that it plays too much new and unfamiliar music.

"By applying for a reduction of the amount of new music, it means we can play more familiar tunes and cover that market gap." Mr Price said research showed Jewellery Quarter-based Kerrang! was targeting a niche market and it needed to widen its appeal to compete with other commercial stations in the region.

He said: "The research was enlightening for us. We realised we'd gone a bit too 'Emo' and a bit too niche and this was reflected in our Rajar audience figures, which had gone down slightly.

"We realised we needed a bigger audience to compete with likes of Heart, Smooth and Galaxy from a commercial point of view."

But Mr Price insisted the station had no intention of becoming a "middle-of-the-road" heritage rock station.

He said: "This isn't a diluting of the product at all, we've positioned ourselves as groundbreaking and innovative. We don't want to be middle of the road, there are enough of those stations in the West Midlands. But, during the daytime, we want to broaden our appeal and the sound might grow up slightly."

Mr Price said that, although there would still be humour, it would be less bawdy as research had suggested the station had sometimes alienated listeners by being "too edgy".

This has involved a shake-up of the station's line up, with late show DJ Tim Shaw teaming up with ex-Big Brother contestant Kate Lawler for the breakfast show. Stand up comic Nick Margerrison will present the new late show.

Mr Price said: "This is a point in Tim's career where he feels he is maturing and, obviously, there will not be the opportunity for him to be as controversial in the breakfast slot.

"Whilst the Asylum late show won't continue without Tim, Nick is not afraid to speak his mind.

"His show will be more of a review of the day - topical, but still edgy."

Mr Price added that the station was still committed to supporting new acts and that there would be an extension to its Unsigned" show on Sunday evenings.

He added: "There is a huge demand for new music and what we have to do is deliver to that demand in the right way.

"The evening show will champion new music and we are doubling the length of Unsigned to two hours."

Mr Price admitted that much of the new music and specialist programmes would be broadcast in the evenings, but he said that changes to the way people listened meant shows were available 24 hours a day via the Kerrang! website.

He said: "Yes, some of it will be post 10pm and post 12pm, but people are consuming these shows in different ways and this is reflected in our online listening figures."

He also stressed the changes were not part of a cost-cutting exercise. He said: "The talent that we have recruited does not come cheap. Kate Lawler, for example, is the highest profile talent the station has appointed since it's launch and there's more to come.

"If we had chosen to buy in to network shows, as other stations in the region are doing, perhaps we could have been accused of cost-saving.

"But we are committed to keeping the talent and the programming in the West Midlands."