About the Classic FM Team, Values and History

Classic FM radio studio

Classic FM is the UK’s favourite classical music radio station.

Classic FM’s values and purpose

Classic FM is a 100 per cent classical music radio station. Since we began broadcasting in September 1992, the station has brought classical music to millions of people across the UK. Classic FM has around 4.5 million listeners tuning in each week, making it the biggest classical music radio station in the world.

Classic FM is part of Global, the media and entertainment group. The company owns the three largest brands in commercial radio: Heart, Capital and Classic FM, as well as Capital XTRA, Smooth, LBC, Radio X and Gold. 

The company is led by Founder and Executive President, Ashley Tabor-King, Global Group CEO, Stephen Miron and Chief Broadcasting and Content Officer, James Rea. The company chair is Lord Charles Allen.

Classic FM’s history

A chorus of birdsong heralded the launch of the UK's first national commercial radio station in the summer of 1992. Two months later, on September 7 1992, Classic FM hit the airwaves for the first time.

At 6am on Monday 7 September, the strains of Handel's Zadok the Priest announced the station's arrival, with Nick Bailey the first voice listeners heard on air. Reaction to the station was mixed, with many critics and advertisers not giving it a chance. Classic FM launched with the expectation of attracting 2.8 million listeners. Four and a half months after launch date, official figures showed that 4.3 million people were tuning into the station every week, making it the fourth largest in the country.

Since then, the station has continued to grow. Further evidence of the station's success came the following year when Classic FM was named Station of the Year at the Sony Awards, the first of three such awards it has won since 1992. Since those early years, Classic FM has become a firm part of the UK’s classical music life. In 2011, Classic FM was named Station of the Year at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards and in 2012 Classic FM received a special gold award from the Sony Radio Academy for the station’s outstanding contribution to British radio over the past two decades. In 2013, Classic FM was named UK Radio Brand Of The Year at the Sony Awards.

We believe that classical music is the greatest genre of music ever written. Our aim is to share it with the widest possible audience, no matter who they are or where they are. We always want to make sure that the performances we broadcast are of the utmost integrity and the highest quality. But, at the same time, we always try to break down some of the barriers which have grown up around classical music.

Classical music is at the heart of everything we do at Classic FM we believe classical music can and should be a part of everyone's lives - regardless of age, which is why the station starts young, with music education in schools an important part of its work.

Classic FM makes classical music a relevant part of the modern lifestyle. To achieve this, the station plays familiar music alongside less known pieces, all chosen to uplift, soothe and stir the emotions.