UK gets an extra classical station

UK gets an extra classical station


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2019

In competition with desperately please-please-you BBC Radio 3 and snooze-mode Classic FM, Bauer Media are to launch Scala Radio next month, staffed mostly by rock jocks.

Worth a listen, for sure.

Here’s the PR blurb:

Offering classical music for modern life, Scala Radio is set to be the biggest launch in UK classical music radio in nearly thirty years, Scala Radio anticipates explosive growth in the genre and an ever growing cross-over into the mainstream – the new station will break the mould of classical music in the UK.

Bringing together familiar masters along with fresh and exciting new classical pieces, Scala Radio will be presented with an informal ‘come as you are’ attitude. The new station will surprise and delight listeners with its accessible tone and unique format inspiring musical discovery, along with interesting conversation and features.

Leading the presenting line-up is much-loved and award-winning broadcaster Simon Mayo who will host a brand-new mid-morning entertainment show, with celebrity interviews, listener interaction and a new re-imagined ‘Classical Confessions’ feature.

Ensuring the conversation is as absorbing as the music, the new station will feature Angellica Bell leading the weekend, Mark Kermode who will bring alive his love of film scores and Chris Rogers hosting a live Sunday brunch show with guests.

Music innovators Goldie and William Orbit will also launch their own series. ‘Goldie’s Classic Life’ will feature classical music mixes, alongside a narration of his own journey into classical music, explaining how it inspires him to write, perform and paint – as well as introducing listeners to exciting new classical artists. ‘William Orbit in The Space’ will be a curation of well-known artists, unusual pieces and new composers, mixed with classical versions of songs from other genres as well as William’s insight and exploration into classical music. In addition, one of Britain’s youngest commissioned composers – 19-year-old Jack Pepper will bring a new fresh point of view to classical music on the radio. Also on the line-up are presenters, Charles Nove, Mark Forrest, Sam Hughes and Jamie Crick.


  • Garry Humphreys says:

    I understood that Charles Nove and Mark Forrest had recently gone to work for BBC Radio Four continuity – what’s going on? (I suppose if they’ve gone as freelancers they could also work for Scala.)

  • Steve says:

    Apart from introducing the pieces and giving essential information (as concisely as possible), then the best way in ‘Ensuring the conversation is as absorbing as the music’ is to have practically no conversation at all…

  • Mark Strachan says:

    Very welcome. Very welcome indeed.

  • David Murphy says:

    Mark Kermode of BBC fame – I’m surprised he is still at the old Girls School (as Orwell described it, plus half lunatic asylum) – tends to undermine your optimism.

  • Gordon Davies says:

    In the very early days of Classic FM, the presenter said something like:

    “That was Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony played by [etc.]. Sarah and I were listening to it downstairs whilst we had coffee and thought it sounded like Rachmaninov, so we must be getting better at this, don’t you think?”.

    So a learning curve shared with their target audience, perhaps?

    It would be nice if the new programme could recapture that charm.

  • MacroV says:

    I stream BBC 3 periodically and I find it to be pretty good. I’m really not sure what the complaints about it are. Lots of live concerts, interesting discussions, the ever-intelligent sounding British commentators, and even a little Norman now and then. It’s not WHRB (which once presented “A Weekend with the Viola” –, but it’s pretty good.

  • Spenser says:

    I wish them (it?) well….
    It certainly can’t hurt to have another classical station, particularly if it (they?) appeals (appeal?) to younger listeners.
    Here’s hoping they (it?) can really and truly break away from the tiresome “top 40” classical playlist of so many stations.
    Question: is Scala Radio to be an over-the-air station, or internet only? I’ve got an internet radio that’s lovely, but I’m an old OTA radio guy and I’m still interested in what’s new on the 88 to 108 MHz FM band.

  • Les Whittaker says:

    The more the merrier. I’ll try it out and I might decide that it’s not for me, but that doesn’t matter.

    Crossover artists come in for a lot of stick on these pages. Sometimes it is justified but, the fact remains, there is an audience out there which is looking for something outside the common diet of most pop/rock. The popularity of classically inspired film and, more recently, computer game music suggests that there’s a lot of life left in the sound of the symphony orchestra. The issue is how to tap into it. Perhaps that is what the LSO is trying to achieve, although I have big reservations about the design of the new hall. Any departure from the traditional shoe-box shape, with its early side reflections, is playing with fire IMO. Please – copy Lucerne.

    Decades ago, if my memory serves, the pop/rock world provided a reasonable supply of instrumental music for those who didn’t want to listen to endless lyrics about “me me me”, “my life” and “lurve”. It seems harder to find these days. Perhaps classical, in its broadest definition, is filling that gap.

  • Ron Davis says:

    A third classical channel can only be good for the greater propagation of classical music. I’m especially glad to see 19 year-old Jack Pepper is on the team. He is a gifted broadcaster with a knowledge of and enthusiasm for classical music that belie his youth. A welcome, fresh voice.

  • David Samuels says:

    The closer it can get to the Third Programme, the better. We need intelligent broadcasting for intelligent listeners.