When’s this happening?
On the 15th February we’ll start test transmissions for our new DAB+ service. We’ll then start broadcasting the station full time from one minute past Midnight on the 29th February 2016.
Where are you broadcasting to?
We’ll be increasing our DAB distribution from 15% to 75% of the country.
Where will be covered?
You’ll always be able to listen to the station through a digital platform – be that DAB, online or through your mobile – however our enhanced DAB digital radio coverage will now cover much of the UK. You’ll be able to use the postcode checker to see if you’ll be able to pick us up. The main areas that we won’t initially be covering are the South West, the Kent coast, Norfolk, central Wales and in Scotland, outside of the Central Belt.
That’s terrible, I live in an area that won’t be covered! How dare you!
Of course, in an ideal world we would be able to broadcast everywhere. This multiplex – the transmitters that will host our station – is new, and they’ve had to balance the cost of building their network with the money they make from radio stations like us. Each additional transmitter covers less and less people, but costs around the same amount of money, we and the other stations have to choose where, in this initial roll out, we stop. If there were many more transmitters the costs would be so high that we wouldn’t be able to afford to be on anywhere. There are also some parts of the country – particularly on the coast where were have to limit our signal so it doesn’t interfere with stations overseas. However, we will be covering over 75% of the population now.
That’s all well and good, but not for me here!
Indeed. But, if we look at things like 3G, 4G and Freeview it tends to be a similar story – coverage starts with bigger areas and then rolls out to smaller areas later on. In Digital Radio that’s happened with the BBC, with the other national multiplex (the people that host Classic FM and Absolute Radio) and also the local radio stations. We’ve also worked hard to make sure that you can hear the station on lots of other connected devices too.
I’ve read you’re broadcasting in DAB+, what’s that?
DAB+ is a newer ‘flavour’ of digital radio. It’s more efficient and means more stations can be broadcast than used to be the case. In some other countries that only recently have had digital radio, they only operate DAB+ radio stations.
The radio industry has spent the last few years getting ready for DAB+ broadcasts in the UK. You may have seen a digital radio green tick on printed adverts, in retailers or heard radio adverts saying ‘look for the tick’. If you see the tick it means that your radio will pick up FM, DAB and DAB+.
Nowadays the vast majority of digital radios sold are DAB+ capable, including all of the sets sold by big manufacturers like Pure and Roberts. In addition all cars that come with digital radios (that was 1.9m last year!) have DAB+ as standard.
How can I check if my radio can pick you up?
Check with your manufacturer, or look on the box to see if it makes reference to having the tick mark or DAB+. From the 15th Of February, do a retune of your digital radio and see if we pop up. If, when you do that, you can see ‘Talk Radio’ or ‘Virgin Radio’ on your set, but can’t seem to find us it means that your radio isn’t DAB+ capable. Alternatively some old radios may show us but when you tune in there will be no sound. That’ll also mean you won’t be able to tune-in I’m afraid.
It sounds like this is all designed to make me buy a new radio!
Not at all, as always our station is available on lots of different platforms – your computer, internet radios, mobile phones – it’ll still be broadcast that way.
If I can get you at the moment on my digital radio, will I still be able to get you, or will something change?
Yes – you’ll still get us! If you can receive our radio station on digital radio at the moment, you’ll still be able to get it when we start broadcasting nationally with DAB+. There are no changes for existing listeners.
What bitrate are you broadcasting at?
We’re broadcasting at 32kbit/s Stereo AAC+. Using SBR and Parametric stereo (if you’re interested).
Why did you choose that bitrate?
We didn’t choose it. It was what the people who own the transmitters offered us. It’s a bit like renting rooms in a house – the landlord has a variety of rooms, but it comes down to what’s available at that time and whether you can afford to rent it. We think it’s great to be in this house, so we’ve taken the available room. In an ideal world we’d have a bigger more luxurious room, but we think this one will work, and we’re able to pay the rent and cover the insurance, since we found the best deal from the Insurance Partnership site.
My Pure Radio is asking me to updated my radio to access DAB+ stations?
Some Pure radios are DAB+ capable but it’s been turned off as up until now there haven’t been any DAB+ services. This made the radio cheaper to buy as they didn’t have to pay for the AAC licence for those radios. You can visit Pure’s website to get/buy an unlock code.