Scala Radio to launch on full DAB in stereo

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Bauer Media has confirmed it will launch its new classical radio service, Scala Radio, on the Sound Digital multiplex in stereo.

All of Bauer’s national full-DAB services (Absolute Radio, Absolute Radio 90s, KISS, Magic, Absolute 80s, heat, KISSTORY, Mellow Magic and Planet Rock) are currently in mono, but it does provide two stations in DAB+ in stereo, Jazz FM and Magic chilled.

The SDL multiplex is currently full, but Bauer is removing heat Radio, making 80 kbit/s available.

In a separate move, Absolute Radio 90s on D1 is swapping with KISSTORY on SDL (D2).

RadioToday’s take

Launching a radio station in stereo should not be a news headline in 2019, but the industry has long decided it would rather provide more services in mono than fewer services in stereo.

A radio station playing classical music needs to be in stereo to fully appreciate the content, and if Scala Radio has any chance of competing with Classic FM, it needs to at least match its bit rate of 128 kbit/s stereo.

But as there is only 80 kbit/s available, we suspect Bauer has not finished moving bit rates around just yet. We’ve asked if any other services are being removed and downgraded to accommodate Scala Radio but a spokesperson said Bauer does not comment on speculation.

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22 Comments
  1. Gareth Hart says

    Bauer recently standardised their stereo services on their local multiplexes to 112kbps and mono services remain at 80kbps. 80kbps is free for Bauer to use on Sound Digital. The only logical conclusion there can be if Bauer is to use “full DAB” – or just DAB – is for one of the two Bauer owned DAB+ services to close which would allow Scala Radio to launch at 112kbps Stereo in line with all other Bauer services. Magic Chilled or Jazz FM?

    (Speculation – treat this as such)

  2. delakota555 says

    It won’t last long as inevitably Bauer will get bored when the listening figures don’t meet their expectations and they will have a new idea and target some other musical genre and age demographic.

    I think I can see who they are targetting with Scala…movie soundtrack buffs. Apparently, very popular on Classic FM. I remember reading an interview with Andrew Collins who presents on the station and he recounted a story about a cabbie who liked to listen to Classic FM for the music from movie soundtracks. Hence the employment of Mayo and Kermode. Not sure what the others bring to the table? Goldie made jungle/drum and bass music and was in a James Bond film? Angelica Bell writes about cycling in the Waitrose supplement, sorry I mean Waitrose and Partners. Is one of the others Gareth Malone? I’m afraid I don’t watch much BBC TV since Netflix came along but his face seems familiar and I’m too lazy to read.

    1. Morr Al says

      Several years ago at the last night of Proms in the Park, Goldie was a guest ‘conductor’ on one of the orchestral arrangements played, Gareth Malone specialises on conducting amateur choirs. Happy to hear that Scala Radio will be in stereo on DAB,

      1. Mb23 says

        Where has it been announced that Gareth Malone is involved? The man third from the left is Mark Forrest.

  3. Willie Bone says

    First of all, good luck to Scala Radio and its presenters! If Scala is going to be a DAB+ channel, it will require a minimum of 64kbps to reproduce classical music, honouring the respect for the genre! I don’t know the listening stats between delivery platforms for Classic FM, but every broadcasting platform bar DAB, reproduces acceptable sound quality for Classic FM! Even when Classic FM streamed at 160mbps on DAB, the decoder ran out of bit, unable to capture highly virtuosic pieces like Bach’s Bradenburg Concerto(s).

  4. Dave says

    All pointless really when you can listen to ultra high bit rate streams online. Yes it won’t last give it a year or so like all the others which have come and gone over the years

    1. Micky Bob says

      What are you banging on about? You seem to have completely forgotten that people listen in their cars.

    2. Mb23 says

      You can listen to high bit rate streams online, but that isn’t much good on the move if it eats up the data on your phone. DAB is more convenient and free to use, which is why it has a 73% share of digital radio listening.

  5. Radio Geordie says

    If it [Scala] is going to be broadcasting at 128kbps stereo then it only means one of two things. Another service is switching to DAB+ or another service is leaving the platform. It more likely to be the former as most of Bauer’s DAB only services operate at 80kbps. Scala will acquire Heat’s 80 but needs another 48 which would come from one of their others switching from 80kbps DAB to 32kbps DAB+ leaving the other 48 to be added to Scala’s.
    However, there was nothing in the advertisement to suggest that the Absolute 90s service was switching to DAB+ which begs the question, if its not them switching to DAB+ to make the room, then who is?
    #headscratcher

  6. Aidan Drury says

    This seems like a good change. When is it gonna happen?

    1. Morr Al says

      4th March

  7. Michael Josiah says

    Good luck with Scala Radio Bauer. How about re-launching the ‘real ‘ easy listening music station Primetime Radio which closed due to the greed of Rupert Murdoch back in 2006. Perhaps you could get in touch with those who ran the station back then. I’m sure the format will work and the advertisers will advertise on the station. Forget about these ‘ lounge music ‘ format stations which do not play original easy listening music like the old Radio 2. A typical hour could comprise:

    * a Burt Bachcarat song performed by Dionne Warwick Cilla Black Dusty Springfield
    * Andy Williams ( home lovin’ man preferably )
    * Petula Clark
    * The Carpenters
    * The Fifth Dimension
    * Gordon Lightfoot
    * Barbra Streisand
    * Sammy Davis Jnr
    * Frank Sinatra
    * Anita Baker
    * Shirley Bassey
    * Newish comers such as Lauren Wood ‘ Falling ‘ from the film The Lady in Red.
    * Judy Collins
    * Glen Campbell
    * Sergio Mendes
    * The Association
    * An instrumental piece

    just an idea. Sod computer selected music.

    1. mb23 says

      It’s a nice idea but advertisers are generally not interested in the over-60s, so it’s unlikely to make any profit.

      1. Nick Moulsdale says

        Extremely short sighted as people with Time and Money are over 60. Younger than that they are working,not spending and have little free income.

    2. Mike Rose says

      You can now get this stuff on The Wireless (Age UK station)

      1. Michael says

        The Wireless is merely a jukebox these days, not a real radio station!.

  8. John Copping says

    A great idea to bring back Primetime Radio. I believe it was the most listened to station on DAB back then so I am sure it would be a success.
    We can only hope.

  9. Andrew says

    When they say “full DAB launch” will that be nationally (like BBC 6 Music) or in certain areas (like talkSPORT 2)?

  10. Tim Nice says

    Personally I think this is more about proving to advertisers that Bauer is a serious player across the demographic spectrum. If they deliver even modest audience figures with Classic FM-alike Scala then you can expect an LBC-alike station to appear too in due course.

  11. Gareth says

    Good luck to Scala. A real alternative to the tacky Classic FM cannot come soon enough

  12. john bodman says

    I agree with Michael Josiah (great playlist, Sir) and John Copping. Primetime Radio was excellent. Gavin McCoy was programme director and with the likes of David Hamilton and Tony Myatt, the station was immensely popular.
    Bring back Gavin and the Team! Quality music and quality presentation – music for grown ups of all ages, not just the over 60’s!

  13. Matthew B. Tepper says

    “A radio station playing classical music needs to be in stereo to fully appreciate the content….”
    That will be a huge surprise to the ghosts of Sir Thomas Beecham, Kathleen Ferrier, George Frederick Handel, and countless others.

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