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Real Radio launches big bold challenge to rivals

PROMISING an eclectic playlist, round-the-clock live news, and a nightly football phone-in, Scotland's newest broadcaster threw down the gauntlet to its rivals yesterday as the latest round of radio wars got under way.

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Backed by an aggressive £ 2m advertising and marketing campaign, Guardian Media Group's Real Radio Scotland took to the airwaves with a pledge to be big, bold, and entertaining. The reincarnation of Edinburgh-based Scot FM, which ceased broadcasting three weeks ago, took place at a champagne breakfast reception at its £ 1m state-of-the-art premises in Ballieston, in the east end of Glasgow, yesterday morning. John Myers, the managing director of GMG, which owns the Guardian and Observer newspapers as well as 14 other radio stations in the UK, including Real Radio Wales, and Jay Crawford, the station's programme controller and radio stalwart of 30 years' experience, revealed the schedules which they hope will enable them to entice listeners from Radio Clyde and Radio 2. Mr Myers, said the new station - ''a spicy Radio 2'' - would give listeners in Scotland the combination of music and speech that they had previously been denied. With 50 staff - only 15 are from Scot FM's old 35-strong team - raring to go, the station's aim is to increase rapidly the old station's audience from 400,000 to 500,000. Jay Crawford, who previously worked for Clyde and Radio Forth, said: ''We have state-of-the-art studios, twice as many studios, half as many staff, the biggest newsroom in Scotland, and the only station in Scotland that is going to be providing live news round the clock.'' He acknowledges that the station faces a significant challenge in trying to attract listeners. However, he insists that a combination of a £ 2m marketing campaign involving television, press and bus adverts as well as a huge cash prize promotion - offering listeners the chance to win £ 1000 every day for 30 days - will let audiences know of the station's existence. But Ken Garner, a senior lecturer in media studies at Glasgow Caledonian University and radio critic with the Sunday Express, said the new station faced a completely different type of competition in Scotland than it did in Wales, where it had proved hugely successful. Radio Clyde accounts for 38% of West Central Scotland's 1.9m audience, while Real Radio's real target, Radio 2, attracts 11%. Mr Garner said: ''The main competition in Scotland, unlike that in England or Wales, comes from the commercial stations rather that the BBC's so-called national/regional stations.''

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