Classic FM’s 25th Birthday

I have huge affection for Classic FM. I spent four years working alongside them in Classic FM House and then three years in Leicester Square. I also used to produce and tech-op, often very badly, for the station and even helped to get their licence renewed. The latter was a very, er, interesting process and definitely one for the autobiography.

Anyway, I think much of the station’s success over the years has come from a happy desire to do what they think is right for their audience, rather than following what is expected of a station with a classical music format.

It’s also been a station that’s often underestimated. I remember flicking through the pre-launch coverage and no-one believed that it would be able to get more than 2m listeners (the audience for Radio 3 at the time). It launched with 4m and now has over 5m. Radio 3 remains at 2m.

This year it celebrates its 25th Birthday, which is as good a time as any to announce a raft of new initiatives. These include:

  • Classic FM and the Royal Philharmonic Society commission 6 brand new pieces of music by young composers
  • April is ‘Live Music Month’ with 18 exclusive concerts broadcast on air
  • Live stream of a celebration concert with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Classic FM’s Music Teacher of the Year Awards
  • Re-launch of a nice, mobile responsive ClassicFM.com

But the thing I think is the most interesting is the introduction of a new (6 part) radio show about videogame music presented by Jessica Curry.

If you’re not really exposed to video games then I imagine you could be saying “really?”. But video games are a bigger industry than movies, a medium that Classic FM created the first soundtrack show for in the late 90s.

It’s also an area that fans feel very strongly about legitimising. Tracks have started appearing in Classic FM’s Hall of Fame and the station’s run a number of well received specials over the past few years. Indeed, just look at the response to the new presenter’s tweet about it:

It’ll be interesting to see the response to the show and whether it becomes a more permanent feature.

Congratulations to Classic FM on hitting the 25 to 34 demo, and probably attracting a few more of them too.