DMG Radio rebrand sees launch of smoothfm in Sydney and Melbourne

smooth fm logoDMG Radio Australia has today confirmed another rebrand of its second stations in Sydney and Melbourne as smoothfm, which will follow an easy listening “more music and less talk” format. The radio company believes it has identified a significant gap in the market for the format.

The move is another radical change of direction for the stations, which were branded as Vega Radio until March 2010.

The final set of radio ratings for the two Vega stations saw an audience share of 3.4% in Sydney and 3.7% in Melbourne.

classic rockThe two stations then unsuccessfully relaunched as Classic Rock in an attempt to take on Austereo’s Triple M. However, audience share failed to improve significantly, hovering around 3.6% in both markets.

A year ago, DMG quietly dropped the Classic Rock brand and moved to the more neutral Sydney’s 95.3 FM and Melbourne’s 91.5FM, along with the positioning “Classic songs. Classic rock.”

In the most recent set of ratings, the two stations still had a share below 4% in both markets.

DMG describes the new network as having a “distinctive, unique, contemporary, soft easy listening format”.   

The announcement states “Radio stations in similar global markets where this format exists, Magic in London, Coast FM in Auckland and Lite FM in New York, are number 1 or 2 in their respective markets.”

Paul Jackson, Cathy O'Connor, Tony Thomas

The rebrand is one of the most significant moves by group program director Paul Jackson since he joined DMG 18 months ago. Jackson was previously boss of programming at the group that included the UK’s biggest commercial station Capital Radio.

Jackson said in the announcement: “When you live in world class cities like Sydney and Melbourne, life can be pretty hectic. smoothfm, with a playlist including the greatest hits and contemporary easy listening music, will be a place for listeners to tune in and forget the hassles of the day, a great place to relax and unwind.”

On weekdays the More Music Breakfast Show will be hosted by Ed Phillips in Sydney and Mike Perso in Melbourne.

Drivetime features Byron Webb in Sydney and and Cathy Dinn in Melbourne for the More Music Drive Home.

David Reyne, who co-hosted Ten’s Mornings with David and Kim and featured on Nine’s Getaway will host the station’s 8pm weekday show The Wind Down.

Also joining the network for weekend shows are Richard Wilkins, David Campbell and Jason Donovan.

DMG’s CEO Cathy O’Connor said: “A major launch of a new radio brand is incredibly exciting not just for DMG Radio Australia, but for the whole industry. We’ve identified a gap in the market for a music position that is unique in the Sydney and Melbourne radio landscape and we’re confident that listeners will embrace smoothfm.”

DMG’s primary network is Nova which is in all five metro markets. it also owns digital stations Koffee and novanation along with Fiveaa in Adelaide and Star FM on the Central Coast.

O’Connor said: “DMG Radio Australia now has a comprehensive portfolio to go into market. smoothfm, when combined with the Nova Network, will provide an incredible offering to both the under and over 40s with enormous revenue opportunities for the company.”

The relaunch, which takes place on May 21, will be backed by “a comprehensive marketing campaign”.


  1. Anon
    3 May 12
    2:50 pm

  2. When you try and polish a turd so many times it eventually breaks up in your hands and all you’re left with is a bad smell.

  3. Hank
    3 May 12
    3:01 pm

  4. I suppose FabFM was taken.

  5. Daniel G
    3 May 12
    3:08 pm

  6. FiveAA is in Adelaide, not Brisbane!

  7. Robin Hicks
    3 May 12
    3:18 pm

  8. Hi Daniel G,

    Thanks for spotting, now corrected.

    Robin – Mumbrella

  9. John
    3 May 12
    3:27 pm

  10. Surprise! Mumbrella comments are negative. I wonder if Anon the turd fan is a former programmer?

    I think this is a good move..the format makes sense…. more sense than the crap ideas behind vega & classic rock

  11. Logic
    3 May 12
    3:31 pm

  12. smooth move exlax

  13. Chris
    3 May 12
    3:47 pm

  14. “The radio company believes it has identified a significant gap in the market for the format.”


    Seriously, DMG. You can keep arranging those deck chairs, but little will change. Without activate engagement of the audience and sticking it out with a particular format, then you’ll be re-branding again in 2 years time. Irish Dubstep-Metal next time please – It’s a _significant_ gap in the market!

  15. paul the freelance writer
    3 May 12
    3:56 pm

  16. Do the Vega take a chance and do the Vega
    If you dance it you’ll have fun
    The fever gets you and then I bet you
    You’ll rate like a son of a gun

    First you make the right connection
    Demographic? your selection
    Though you risk your reputation
    You’ll increase your circulation

    Roll and keep your shoulders busy
    Change your call sign till you’re dizzy
    Kick your playlist when you’ve a notion
    Shake it up now, that’s the notion

    Do the Vega take a chance and do the Vega
    You’ll shake like a son of a gun
    You’ll shake like a son of a gun

  17. Greg
    3 May 12
    4:01 pm

  18. Ive always said a soft AC contemporary station was needed in Australia. Don’t I think I’m smart now? I think it will fly

  19. Kris
    3 May 12
    4:14 pm

  20. Wow. That brand looks like the work of a TAFE student.

    However, I might be interested enough to tune in to see what DMG’s idea of “greatest hits and contemporary easy listening music” includes, but only If they can keep the moronic presenter chat to a minimum.

  21. Guess What
    3 May 12
    4:44 pm

  22. Cue the peanut gallery! Good luck

  23. Hoin
    3 May 12
    5:04 pm

  24. Sounds like a rehash of the Lite and Easy format of the 1980s. Perhaps they should do what 2SM did in 1992. When there were problems getting the change of ownership through the broadcasting authorities, the station was forced to air continuous tapes of easy listening music with no ads, back announcing or news. This went on for almost five months. Surveys taken during that period showed that the station’s ratings almost doubled.

  25. Matty
    3 May 12
    5:39 pm

  26. Bugger. I actually liked listening to classic rock. Cue the elevator music…

  27. Davo
    3 May 12
    6:33 pm

  28. Damn – I listen to 95.3 Vega in Sydney all the time since they switched to classic rock and pop.

    They have a much bigger playlist than WS-FM or 2WS as i still think of it) and its great hearing a wider selection.

    And they play much more music I think and very little talk..

    I hope the smooth re-tune will be OK.. otherwise I might have to go back to WS-FM

  29. DMG employee
    3 May 12
    7:49 pm

  30. Today was a really proud day across the country at dmg. You can’t take away the excitement staff felt after the announcement.

  31. Ray
    3 May 12
    8:20 pm

  32. they might as well join forces with 10… no hope.

  33. Paxton
    3 May 12
    9:49 pm

  34. I see Anthony Maroon in Sydney has finally been given the arse. Their Breakfast show isn’t terrible – we listen to it, mainly because you get music in the morning, not talk. At the moment, however, their playlist is straight from the original Vega playlist. If they had kept the name the same, they wouldn’t have had the problem they’re having now – what does the station actually play?

    MixFM did play similar music at one stage to what SmoothFM is proposing, but they invested in some ‘talent’ to carry the station. It still remains to be seen if DMG will be doing the same with Vega/Classic Rock/Sydney’s 95.3/Whatever.

  35. Martin
    4 May 12
    12:47 am

    I gave up on 95.3 last year. When it was first introduced as Classic Rock I quickly tuned it as the first station in my presets. It has been replaced.

    I was very excited, this was the station that I had been waiting for after being force fed mediocre Sydney radio for my entire life. Tired of stations playing the same select songs from legendary artists every single day, the days only differing in the order in which they were played-I really thought that this was the revolution this city had been begging for.

    95.3 bolted out of the blocks in rare form. For the first time in years I left my CDs at home and trusted in the programmer that rarely missed. I was hearing songs that I’d never heard on Sydney airwaves previously. It was a serious breath of fresh air.

    It didn’t last long. Soon 95.3 caved to the middle aged housewives of the city and reverted to the Bon Jovi’s of the world, all the fluff I’ve been bashed by since childhood.

    Kiss,Billy Joel,Led Zeppelin,Genesis,Aerosmith,Midnight Oil,Yes,Jethro Tull,Elton John, Rolling Stones,The Beatles,ELO,Van Halen,ZZ Top,The Who,Alice Cooper ……They all have more than 3 songs. All have extensive back catalogues that are never played in this town.WHY IS THIS?

    I was born in the 70’s and I know for a fact that the greatest rock n roll music was created in the 60’s and 70’s and has been fading ever since.

    One day someone will recognise this fact and will program a radio stations content accordingly and they will absolutely revolutionise Sydney radio.

    I’m not Robinson Crusoe on this theory. We are sick of the crap we get dished up. Someone will take note,take advantage and reap the benefits.

    In the meantime, I’ve discovered streaming international radio from the net. Check out CLASSIC ROCK 97.9 FM BALTIMORE. It’s awesome, no ads, no DJ’s, just a massive ecclectic mix of songs never heard in Sydney, by the greatest artists in rock history.

  37. Beck and Call
    4 May 12
    5:21 am

  38. OK I’ll admit it, if a Carpenters song came on the radio in my car….I’d crank the volume…so would my mum…is this the radio version of a chick flick?

  39. John Sharples
    4 May 12
    8:45 am

  40. @Martin – nice link.
    Currently listening to George Thorogood…. makes a goodly change from the shite out there on commercial radio.
    Now, if we can just get a UK Classic FM stylee station we’ll be toptastic.

  41. Jimbo
    4 May 12
    9:39 am

  42. Bloody hell. I can’t believe how many back seat programmers there are who sound like they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
    Martin, why don’t you move to Baltimore so you can listen to your favorite station and save us from reading any more of your bollocks

  43. paul
    4 May 12
    9:53 am

    plus you can choose from the following; 60’s only, 70’s only, 80’s only. 90’s only, classic rock or their generic absolute radio

  45. nickatnights
    4 May 12
    10:19 am

  46. Hey Jimbo – I just had a quick look at the ratings for 95.3 since it was launched in 2005. The only programmers who don’t know what they are talking about and cannot find a gap in the market have been those employed by DMG to program vega / Classic Rock / 95.3 – the bottom ranking commercial FM in every single survey (except one). That’s quite an achievement.

    Good luck to Smooth though. Hopefully after seven years they have finally found that gap in the market.

  47. Wil
    4 May 12
    11:47 am

  48. I’d like to congratulate the folks at SIGNWAVE who have been to the Pyrmont building on an almost monthly retainer to change the big perspex sign in reception.

  49. Dan German
    5 May 12
    11:28 pm

  50. The facts that “FM” is in the name shows how out of touch they are. More music (and ads) isn’t the way to engage an audience when they can select their own music in so many ways.
    Fail mark 3.

  51. J-Dawg
    7 May 12
    3:05 pm

  52. HAHAHA Spot on Kris!

  53. glen lilley
    13 May 12
    2:34 pm

  54. Paul Jackson is a top programmer & say he will give it a good kick in the guts as these guys/gals do there homework in all matters radio.Plus if sydney/melbourne radio is anything like Perth radio,it will really be a breath of fresh air,with there more music less chat policy.I dont want to here all day some plonker talking after every couple of tunes,bout themselves or telling some stupid joke,just play the music and shut up.How many jocks today talk right up to the post in very slick fashion?noneI live in Perth and the radio here is just dreadful.So hope Mr Jackson comes over this side & sorts this side out..!!

  55. Steve
    17 May 12
    3:12 pm

  56. If dmg’s new station sounds way too familiar then its because it is….

    I would like to know how many more “gaps” dmg can find in the market?? I cant wait until mid 2013 when they become Reggae 95.3fm as there is a real definitive “gap” in the market for it.

    Every statement regarding the re launch of the re launch of the re launch of the original vega has sounded eerily similar. I doubt that the ‘DMG employee’ who commented above has been there for too long. There wouldnt actually be many who have been there since the vega days so they have no personal attachment to previous brands. But guess what dmg……there are listeners who do have personal attachments to previous brands. vega was a great brand if it was left to develop instead of getting scared of the first 6 months of survey way back when and changing format.

    The problem is there has been a format/programming change every 12 months or so! Nothing has been given the opportunity to develop or progress. ‘vega difference’….’vega variety’….’70’s, 80’s and the best new songs’….’Rock Legends’…..then the name change and ‘Classic Rock’….then another name change and ‘Sydney’s 95.3’….and yet another name change – the fourth brand in 3 years…’Smooth FM’.

    It’s no wonder the 95.3 frequency has not performed. We are told every 12 – 18 months they stand for something different and the same comments are wheeled out verbatim “we recognised a significant gap in the market”….How many gaps are there in this market??????

    Sorry….lost me. dmg, you’ve given us a number of format changes (around 7 or 8) as well as 4 brand names to get used to, all within a short 7 years….WS has not changed in 7 years and they continue to be successful, Triple found their niche and have been developing it for 3 years, 2Day FM have not changed in 5 years. They developed their brand and never wavered, Mix 106.5 know who they are and who their audience is. They dont waver from this format. All the other stations develop and progress but they all never waver or change direction totally.

    And there lies the problem….

  57. iggyc
    20 May 12
    6:44 pm

  58. When Vega was first launched, I loved it. It was intelligent and the music was great. It was like a grown-ups Triple Jay – the way that station used to be. Of course, intelligence couldn’t last long in the cold, hard world of Sydney commercial radio. They panicked and turned it into Classic Rock. I was disappointed, but didn’t abandon it. The music was still fairly decent, if a bit more standard. Alice Cooper’s radio show whilst I was in the gym was good stuff, too! I couldn’t understand why they replaced it with ‘the wind-down’. Now I know. Welcome to elevator music land! Adios Vega/Classic Rock/95.3/SmoothFM….Hello iPod!