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Jon8,622 posts since 11 Apr 2005
Central (West) Midlands Today
I haven’t listened to Scala yet, but I think there are a multitude of reasons why it will be hard to get people to tune in to it in the first place, that’s despite all the publicity the station has received.

I would expect 300,000 would be seen as a sold start for them and with most of those listeners coming from Radio 2 and Classic FM but mysteriously with neither of those stations losing listeners.
Last edited by Jon on 4 June 2019 11:52pm
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Critique3,228 posts since 9 Aug 2009
Anglia (East) Look East
I"m not sold on Scala at all really - think it looks poor branding wise and doesn't seem anywhere near as slick as the equivalent Global offering. I wasn't sold on the classical proposition when they first announced it (although when actually giving it a try and listening I did find that it wasn't an issue), and think there'll have been plenty of others who were put-off.

And, I'm sure people will disagree with me on this, but IMO they've wasted some of the opportunities they got from signing Simon Mayo. Based on Chris Evans' Virgin show doing relatively well, it feels like Scala would have done well to just carry the pre-Jo Whiley Mayo show over. Instead, it's almost like they've done a halfhearted job of it and they're nowhere near as good with off-air stuff as Radio 2 were.

One of Mayo's biggest features on Radio 2 was the Confessions, which also spawned a very successful podcast and in certain places gained a very strong following when it aired at 5:40pm every day (there was plenty of backlash when they moved it to after 6pm once Whiley joined, to the extent they relented and moved it back). With Confessions probably having posted the final Radio 2 podcast less than two months before Mayo went on-air at Scala, had they hit the ground running and launched a new podcast etc then they could have probably got a load of people subscribed and otherwise kept the old Confessions format but with some ads slung in. Indeed, I'm sure when Mayo joined he said the podcast would continue.

Instead, there's still no podcast to be seen (back in February they tweeted that there would be but looking on Twitter a week or so ago the line has now changed to 'we're looking at having podcasts in the future), and instead they seem to fairly infrequent upload videos with Mayo in the studio reading the Confessions out. Now, I had wondered previously whether Radio 2 could have got some mileage in filming Mayo & Co during the podcasts and pushing them out on Facebook etc, but in this case the execution isn't great - again unlike Global the camera switching is sometimes erratic and the framing of shots isn't great either.

Crucially, the ensemble that comments on the confessions and passes judgement now seems to be anyone who happens to be passing the studio. Therefore there's a lack (although not a total absence) of chemistry between the team in the studio which again makes it all a bit less appealing. This brings me back to the comparison with Chris Evans' show, where they've gone on-air sounding really good straight away as they've just carried everything over to Virgin. They've tried to an extent with getting Nigel from the old Radio 2 show to do some foodie stuff on the Saturday show, but it feels like a token effort.


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London Lite11,468 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London
I'm pleased to see some sensible constructive criticism on here about Scala rather than the polar opposites you get on DS where it's either really good or really poor.

I'm in the middle, I like how they introduce classical music to a broader potential audience who may not otherwise enjoy classical music. For example, would 19 year old Jack Pepper get a gig on Classic FM? His enthusiasm for the genre is electric.

On the other hand, I've found Mayo a bit meh to be honest. I'd prefer to hear pieces of music over radio features meant for pop/AC formats, but it is another way of attracting an audience to the genre.

Classic FM IMHO is still the daddy of accessible classical music. The presentation isn't too challenging and can be left on in the background like Global's pop brands, plus they have FM coverage and a nearly 30 year heritage, whereas Scala is on a DAB multiplex with less coverage.

If they can generate an audience on a par with sister station Jazz FM, full of ABC1 listeners, then it's not the size of the audience, but a credible one that can generate ad revenue of high brow advertisers, this may work well for Bauer even if they're not hitting the 1m+ they get for Kisstory and Absolute 80s.
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Steve in Pudsey10,875 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)

Not only that but the target audience for Gold is drifting out of the group that advertisers want to promote their products on. Sadly the advertising industry is ageist, but the fact it's harder to find advertisers on stations that target 65+ adults.

The trend for Classic Hits formats currently is to have an 80s skew with some 70s and 90s which attract middle-aged working adults rather than than the pensioners who remember the 60s. Alas Bauer's Greatest Hits Radio and numerous mainstream classic hits stations in the US have shifted to the 80s at the core of the programming.

I wonder if the split programming technology Absolute use, coupled with smart speakers like Alexa could be the answer here?

The former making it cheap enough to produce versions of the same station with music appealing to multiple niche audiences, the latter making distribution cheap yet accessible to audiences like my parents who are technologically challenged?

That way running extra stations is fairly cheap and the additional revenue from the few advertisers who are interested in the demographic is seen as a bonus rather than it having to support a full station.
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Markymark8,231 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today

If they can generate an audience on a par with sister station Jazz FM, full of ABC1 listeners, then it's not the size of the audience, but a credible one that can generate ad revenue of high brow advertisers, this may work well for Bauer even if they're not hitting the 1m+ they get for Kisstory and Absolute 80s.

Bauer thankfully haven’t tampered significantly with Jazz FM’s programming, but they have with the ads. There are far more now on there either for products that ABC1s are unlikely to consume and/or in a style that is a turn off for them. The audience for Jazz and Scala will always hit a glass ceiling because of the ads, but they obviously have to be carried. I can see what Bauer are doing, selling a package across all their stations, but it’s crass to assume you can run the same ads on Kiss, as you can on Jazz and Scala. It’s all a bit one size to fit all. I’m sure revenue will increase, but the audience won’t
Spencer (previously Spencer For Hire) 6,154 posts since 13 Jan 2003
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
I'm really waiting for the first RAJARs for Scala Radio, I suspect many Global services will lose listeners to Scala. The impact of Scala or not will be pivotal for the Commercial Radio sector for several years to come. Further niche services will surely follow impacting on usual patter stations if Scala works.

I’m sure a bigger worry for Global will be the amount of people who say “Alexa play Classical music” than are tuning into Scala.

And I think streaming services is going to be a real battle for music radio over the next decade.

I actually find RAJARs hard to believe considering how people listen to music has clearly changed in the last 10 years but there mysteriously hasn’t been a drop in radio listening figures.

I think radio still very much has a place in people's lives. People still want to hear news, travel, weather, and to be entertained - something which Spotify, etc. don't offer. In terms of reach, yes, radio listening figures have held up pretty well over the past decade, although hours are generally down in the face of competition from so many sources. So the likelihood is people are listening to streaming services, YouTube, etc. in addition to radio, rather than instead of.

Smart speakers are interesting though, and have been seen by the radio industry as giving it a shot in the arm, rather than being a threat. Listening to radio stations is one of the most common things people use them for, and for many they've essentially put radio back in people's kitchens and living rooms.
Last edited by Spencer on 5 June 2019 11:46am
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Brekkie34,852 posts since 4 Jan 2003 Recently warned
HTV Wales Wales Today
I think the trouble with many music stations is there is an assumption you'd like to listen to the same music all day. With Scala for example it's a nice idea and the concept would work well as a weekly or perhaps at a push daily show on Radio 2, but all day? Not so sure.

Now obviously people can switch stations but one thing I've never heard is any cross promotion. Global might say an event or awards show is on behalf of Capital and Heart, but you'll never hear a Capital show being promoted on Heart or vice versa. Indeed with Smooth having the breakfast show you'd think that might be worth a plug in the Heart drivetime show for those who value local radio.
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Inspector Sands14,815 posts since 25 Aug 2004
It appears rumours of Gold’s death were unfounded:


It, Heart Extra and Smooth Extra are going to be on D1 in DAB+, the first stations on that MUX to do so. So nationwide and in stereo, but not for those with old DAB sets.

Surprising it's basically staying as is just with a different presenter, wonder what the deal was with the outgoing one?
London Lite11,468 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London
Speculating here, but I believe Tony Dibbin was also Programme Controller or similar? So it may have been changes in management rather than just his presenter role that led to him leaving.

He was also the music programmer too. I'd speculate that James Bassam, also known as Bassman on Capital Radio will be doing the same job as Tony, but also tweaking the playlist.