aA NEW station will today spark the latest round of radio wars in central Scotland.
Real Radio will broadcast for the first time this morning, and claims it will take listeners from Radio 2, Radio Scotland, and the Scottish Radio Holdings group, which includes Radio Clyde and Radio Forth.
The new station, owned by Guardian Media Group, bought its licence from loss-making Scot FM last year for (pounds) 25.5m.
It has moved operations from Leith to a new (pounds) 1m studio in Glasgow's east end, and is promoting the station with a (pounds) 1m campaign which includes TV ads featuring Robbie Coltrane.
John Myers, managing director of GMG's radio division, said yesterday his mission was to keep listeners tuned in for longer with a mix of music and speech that includes fewer adverts than other commercial stations.
Its target audience is the 25-54 age group.
''Scot FM had a very chequered life and we have now closed it down,'' he said. ''We are not relaunching that station, we are just using its frequencies to launch Real Radio.''
Breakfast DJ Robin Galloway has survived the transfer, but missing from the schedules are controversial presenters such as Wee Fat Bob and Scottie McClue, who brought Scot FM notoriety in its early days.
Mr Myers, 42, who came to GMG after building up the Century Radio brand in England and selling it off for (pounds) 151m, has described the new station as a regional version of Radio Two, with added spice.
He said the mix of hits from the past 40 years and ''presenters with personality, rather than personality presenters'' will win listeners from Radio Scotland, Radio 2, and Radio Clyde.
''Our biggest threat is the BBC. They have a huge budget which we give them through the licence fee, they don't have to play adverts, and they can promote their radio channels on TV, yet somehow commercial radio seems to win,'' he said.
A spokesman for Radio Scotland said it was confident it could weather any challenge from its new rival. He said: ''The fact that a new radio station is being set up in Scotland we see as evidence of the vibrancy of the radio sector here. We are confident that the unique status of BBC Radio Scotland will mean that we retain our popularity with listeners.''
At Radio Clyde, Paul Cooney, managing director, was equally convinced that the new station would not damage existing radio loyalties. ''Radio Clyde is the Sony UK station of the year. We have 38% of the audience in the west of Scotland and we achieved that by being in tune with our listeners. Our model of football coverage has been copied by all the other commercial stations and by the BBC and we have the rights to the Scottish Premier League games,'' he said.
''Listening to radio is now more popular than watching TV, so there is plenty of room in the market for lots of stations.''
Real Radio is also in operation in South Wales and it has plans for expansion across the UK.