Darren Henley

UK's Classic FM director leverages Internet for brand's global reach

Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 12:05pm

Darren Henley is managing director of (and "the mastermind behind") Classic FM, "the most successful commercial classical music station in the world," writes The Independent in its profile. He's "the radio boss with a plan to drag classical music into the digital era." Classic FM, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, has a weekly audience of 5.5 million listeners. Henly has "reinvented classical music's reputation with the British public," writes the paper.

Henley has clearly set his goals on a global scale, explaining he wants Classic FM's website and stream to be the world's go-to destination for classical music, "responding to a surge in interest in classical downloads." He told The Independent, "We are at a tipping point now in digital consumption versus physical product. In the next 12 months, we will see digital really ramp up." He later admitted, "It's been years since I bought anything on CD. I've been 100 per cent digital downloads for quite a long time now."

He's brought on a team of journalists who upload classical music news, album reviews and video footage to the Classic FM website. And they've recently launched a free iPad app.

His efforts at bringing a new generation of listeners to the genre aren't limited to Internet and mobile content, however. The station shares studios with rock Xfm and urban Choice FM (and Capital Radio and Heart FM are upstairs). The proximity can lead to inspiration. "It's really good because we hear what they are doing in the lift and the canteen and you think, 'There are ways we can do that' ... I want to make sure we understand all the techniques people are using in pop music radio." And there's no sleepy octagenarian on-air personalities either. He's hired well-known TV personalities Alan Titchmarsh and John Suchet, whom he describes as "both people with big personal brand values from outside the classical music world but people our audiences very much relate to."

Read more in The Independent here.  

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