Bauer Media is promising to bring classical music to a new generation with the launch of Scala Radio. The Hamburg-headquartered firm already owns the second-largest private radio group in Britain with nearly 90 stations.
Germany's fifth-largest media group, Bauer Media, on Monday launched a London-based classical music station for millennials, amid concerns that the smartphone generation is turning off radio altogether.
Scala Radio, which broadcasts on DAB digital radio in the UK and online elsewhere, aims to disrupt classical music's often staid image; and at the same time, arrest a drop in radio listening among under 30-year-olds.
The new station has poached one of the BBC's top radio names, Simon Mayo, to host one of its primetime shows.
Renowned film critic Mark Kermode, and two names synonymous with the world of electronic dance music — Goldie and William Orbit — will also make regular appearances.
Casual approach needed
Bauer Radio's management say they researched the classical music segment and found that while younger audiences are still discovering classical music, they increasingly do it through digital channels like YouTube and other influencers.
With a more informal, personality-led approach, Scala Radio also hopes it can make classical music more accessible while disrupting listening to existing classical music stations, namely BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM.
"We believe that Scala is the most exciting new personality-led radio station launch in years," Steve Parkinson, Bauer Group Managing Director, National Radio said in a media release ahead of Monday's launch.
Parkinson said the station would be both "intriguing" and "completely unique" to appeal to a modern audience.
The move into classical, along with the purchase of Jazz FM last year, was also prompted by an increasingly crowded UK commercial radio market, which targets mostly fans of wall-to-wall contemporary music.
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Gunning for affluent listeners
Advertisers often struggle to target high-income listeners, many of whom are loyal to the BBC's network of radio stations, which run commercial free.
Industry observers think fresh advertising growth for Bauer can only come from tempting more listeners away from the UK public broadcaster.
The Hamburg-headquartered Bauer has made an aggressive move into UK radio over the past decade, where it operates some of the biggest brands including Kiss, Magic, Hits, Kerrang, and Absolute Radio.
Last month, its UK radio division bought dozens of local radio stations, taking its portfolio to over 85 stations, which industry insiders think may help the firm to expand those most famous brands.
Bauer Media operates 17 countries and as well as its UK radio interests, it owns a portfolio of more than 600 magazines and over 400 digital products. In 2017, its global turnover was €1.8 billion ($2.04 billion).