GMG Radio has decided to re-brand its London station 102.2 JAZZFM as Smooth FM in order to appeal to a wider audience of listeners and enable it to achieve its full potential.
Following the huge success of Smooth FM in the north west of England (rebranded from JAZZFM in March 04) Guardian Media Group Radio will now introduce the brand in London from Q3 2005.
102.2 Smooth FM will launch within six months and will target a wide audience of listeners interested in a broader church of music. The launch will be supported by a multi million pound tv and outdoor marketing campaign across the capital.
The decision to finally say goodbye to JAZZFM was taken after considerable efforts to communicate the station?s programme schedule whilst retaining the name JAZZFM failed to significantly increase audience and revenue.
But extensive research reveals there is an enormous appetite for the style of music that 102.2 Smooth FM will play. Artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, George Benson, Michael Buble and Diana Krall will fill the new daytime schedule. GMG Radio received permission from OFCOM for a change of format last year in order to widen its music and listener appeal.
GMG Radio Chief Executive John Myers said: ?We believe this station has enormous potential and will soon be among London?s top five commercial stations. As sorry as we are to say goodbye to JAZZFM it?s a sad fact of life that it has never made a profit in its 15 years of existence.
?We are caught between not playing enough jazz to please the purist and having the name JAZZFM which inhibits trial from other listeners. There are not enough people who like jazz music to make it a viable proposition and this has been a fact for 15 years now. This new brand and direction will allow us to really grab the opportunities that lie ahead ? there is a wider gap in the market for what we will do. The success of and appetite for Smooth FM has already been proven in the north west and we?re looking forward to replicating its achievements in London.?
JAZZFM in the North West was renamed Smooth FM in March 2004 and has already seen a four fold increase in revenue and audience levels are growing at a phenomenal rate. Audience figures for Q4 2004 released last month by industry body RAJAR revealed that Smooth FM in the northwest achieved a record audience reach of 437,000 adult listeners a week*, a 43% increase year on year, and a market share of 2.9% – up from 1.7% a year ago.
Extensive research has shown that a large percentage of Londoners like the music that is played on the station but two thirds are put off tuning in because of the name.
John Myers added: ?We believe the choice of music to be played on 102.2 Smooth FM will significantly increase the stations appeal and our extensive marketing campaign will communicate the music to them and encourage trial. We know when people find it, they?ll love it!?
The station will continue its commitment to broadcast 45 hours of specialist jazz programming each week, and presenters such as Sarah Ward, Ramsey Lewis and Campbell Burnap will remain with the station.
Full marketing and programme details for 102.2 Smooth FM will be announced in the coming weeks.
In a further move, GMG Radio has also announced that the stations website www.Jazzfm.com will see additional investment with the site upgraded to include its own 24 hours a day output of pure jazz. Again, CEO of GMG Radio John Myers said: Whilst its not on FM, this move will ensure that those listeners who enjoy real jazz can go to a site and hear their music 24 hours a day. Smoothfm.com will be launched alongside the new station.