DMG 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.
The 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”.