SOUTHAMPTON-based Radio Hampshire could return to the airwaves within weeks – once it finds a home.

The off-air station, which broadcast from St Mary’s Stadium, was abruptly shut down after the owners moved to put it into liquidation. It is understood to have debts of around £70,000.

Now Play Radio, which operates 20 online and instore radio stations, has snapped up the licences for Radio Hampshire from the liquidators.

The station’s five staff were given just hours to leave after they told it would cease broadcasting immediately.

Former station director Claire Hatherall said while advertising revenues had been falling for some time the sudden closure came as a “shock”.

She said she was she was “delighted” at the good news after working to help find a buyer.

“We are desperate to get back on air as quickly as possible,” she said.

Play Radio said it was still seeking premises to broadcast from, although did not rule out a return to St Mary’s.

Radio Hampshire – formerly known as The Saint and SouthCity FM – had a 1.3 per cent share of the local radio audience. It provided Southampton FC with online commentary of matches via the Saints TV website.

A creditors’ meeting will be held on June 24 to put the firm into liquidation. Sponsors are believed to have stumped up around £14,000 towards the station’s Heroes 2009 awards, due to be held later this year.

Play Radio said it was “in the process of ensuring that all advertising contracts are honoured and community promises are fulfilled”.

Play Radio programme controller Lee Moulsdale said: “We will be committed to the area and will reflect this in both our on and off air activities.”