Monthly Archives: July 2013

What happened to my beloved Xfm and LBC on regional DAB?

LBC logo
Why can I no longer find LBC on my DAB radio in South Wales and the North-East?

Why can’t I get LBC or Xfm on DAB radio any more in my area?

Two regional multiplexes have closed, which means there’s no room on their equivalent local multiplexes for either LBC or Xfm to fit on. The same problem applies to Real Radio XS, UCB and Gold in the North-East of England and Real Radio XS, UCB and local community station Mountain FM in South Wales and The West.

If you’re on the South Wales coast, it’s worth seeing if you can pick up Xfm from the North-Devon DAB transmitter. Chances are, the station won’t be broadcast in Devon forever, but if you’re missing your wake-up call, it’s worth a try.

The issue is also one of finances: it’s a large investment and a long contract duration for even the biggest station operators to place each of their brands on DAB, therefore they need to consider whether they’ll make enough revenue from advertising to justify the outlay. It’s easier to sell advertising when there’s an equivalent local FM station covering the same broadcast area as DAB, as listeners numbers will inevitably be higher. Unfortunately “niche” stations on DAB tend to have fewer listeners, particularly when they originate “out of the area”.

Background

Consolidation, consolidation, consolidation – it’s what the radio industry is going through at the moment. Following today’s news that Bauer Media (of Key 103, Clyde 1 and Heat Radio fame) is acquiring Absolute Radio with a cornucopia of “decades” brands, let’s hope there’s room for a decent nationwide modern rock brand (with witty, real, live talking presenters, not voicetracked garbage and shallow links) to take the place of Xfm whose availability on digital radio is being cut back, due to a squeeze on the space now available on DAB thanks to the closure of two huge multiplexes with extensive coverage of the North-East of England and South Wales and the West of England.

Similarly, since the historical rebrand of Talk Radio to talkSPORT (and its more recent repositioning as a 24-hour nonstop football-and-other-sports talk station), LBC has stolen the baton from disenfranchised listeners and has been busily entertaining expats and hooked talk radio fans in Scotland, South Wales and the North-East for many years since the rolling news service DNN (remember that?) was dropped, as an alternative speech station needed to meet regional license requirements.

These two stations became quasi-national brands thanks to the rollout of regional DAB multiplexes and attracted a relatively small but extremely loyal following.

Way back in 2007 a second national commercial multiplex was advertised and 4DigitalGroup were awarded the license to operate stations such as the new talkRADIO, to sit alongside talkSPORT, and Original, an album-track-driven station from an overseas operator. Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn, plans for new radio stations were binned.

Had the regional multiplexes been extended to cover as wide an area as this proposed second multiplex, the stations on it might have attracted more listeners as a result of better and dependable coverage, and certainty for listeners that they’ll receive the same stations whether they live in South Wales or South Shields.

Fast forward to today – in this period of closures, consolidation and lack of clarity – and we have yet more uncertainty and confusion for loyal listeners than ever before. They don’t really care for the mechanics as to why they can no longer access their station on DAB, they just know it’s going to be a pain to switch to internet radio or a less-reliable app and will either turn off or look elsewhere for their audio entertainment.

When will Digital One stations expand into Northern Ireland?

The good news is that from Friday, 26 June 2013 you’ll be able to pick up:

Absolute 80s, Absolute Radio 90s, Absolute Radio, BFBS, Classic FM, Jazz FM, Kiss, Planet Rock, Premier Christian Radio, Smooth Radio, Smooth Radio 70s, talkSPORT, TeamRock and UCB UK on your DAB radio in Northern Ireland.

Kiss, talkSPORT, Classic FM and UCB are already broadcasting to this part of the United Kingdom, but it’s good news if you like eighties, nineties, jazz, rock or laid-back music.

To get the new stations, do a re-tune of your DAB receiver.

Listeners left in limbo as LBC, Choice FM & Xfm leave regional DAB

Xfm logo
Xfm – part of a series of stations leaving DAB in the upcoming days

Well, De-regional day is nearly upon us in the North East of England and South Wales, Bristol and Bath. Xfm and LBC will be leaving digital radio in the south, while Tyne & Wear and Teesside will be bidding farewell to Choice FM and LBC on 29th July 2013 in the North, as the two regional multiplexes will be closing to free up more channels to roll out local DAB.

Whilst for some DAB detractors and doubters this news will be met with glee, it does little to placate the tens of thousands of listeners who will now have to find other (perhaps, less convenient) ways to tune in to their favourite stations. LBC, Gold and Xfm invariably have loyal followings outside of the capital and it’s a shame these stations/brands can’t be found a convenient outlet so that people can still listen in.

There’s no problem if you want to listen online or on your internet radio receiver, but none of these stations is on Freeview digital tv; Let’s face it – it is always easier to stick on your DAB radio when you’re busy doing other things, than power up your smartphone or download an app.

Nonetheless, it’s worth searching for the Xfm Android App, hunting down the RadioPlayer app for your Android or iPhone to stream LBC, or firing up the Sky box for Choice FM.

If you’ve a Bluetooth speaker, reliable broadband access and a decent ‘phone you can at least keep tuned to your talk or tunes, even if the DAB platform has ultimately let you down.

Why are LBC, Choice FM and Xfm leaving DAB in the North-East and South Wales & West?

The station’s owners have decided that it is no longer commercially viable to broadcast the stations on DAB, where there is no equivalent service on FM. Stations need to sell local advertising and, where the station doesn’t use an equivalent FM frequency to increase listenership, this makes it more difficult.

When will Eklipse Sports Radio launch in Scotland?

Eklipse Radio logo
Eklipsing the competition? New DAB station launches on 22nd July 2013

Eklipse Sports Radio will be available on DAB digital radio to a potential 2.7 million sports fans living in Central Scotland – but the best bit is that there’s not long to wait, as from 22nd July 2013 Scotland will be treated to their very own sports talk station, with classic rock music broadcast during quieter moments.

What happened to Gold on DAB in Scotland?

Gold UK logo
Sometimes it can feel as if someone has chopped your right arm off… Gold goes from Central Scotland

If you were quite happily listening to Gold on your DAB radio in Scotland, you’ll doubtless be more than a little disappointed to find that it has disappeared from your dial in the last few weeks.

Although it was – up until recently – carried on the Central Scotland multiplex, meaning listeners in Edinburgh, Glasgow and countless places in between could hear classic hits and oldies, it has stopped being carried on the multiplex.

There’s no room for it on the local multiplexes for Edinburgh and Glasgow and more popular stations from the same owner – Heart and Capital FM – have been found space on the local multiplexes instead.

The changes are due to space constraints on DAB and financial reasons (usually a long-term contract is required by a station owner for its station to appear on DAB, and such a financial commitment is often too much for a station with a modest following, without the benefit of an FM outlet/frequency, too).

Highway H240Di drives alongside iPod/iPhone Connection

Highway 240dbi front panel
Highway 240dbi – get it to get DAB in your car

Pure has launched their Highway H240Di – an in-car receiver incorporating DAB digital, FM and AM reception, iPod/iPhone charging and playback, USB playback and CD player.

Highway 240Di’s USB socket allows you to connect your iPod/iPhone for playback and charging, or connect a USB stick for MP3 playback. There’s also an aux-in socket for hooking up other audio devices. The CD player handles CD/CD-R /RW discs with MP3 playback and bookmarking.

There’s a single touch DAB button – handy, as you’re only one press away from hearing your commute station without flicking through all the bands.

Highway H240Di is available for purchase and fitting now from Halfords.

Highway H260DBi car stereo zooms in with iPod/iPhone Connection and Bluetooth

Highway 260dbi
Highway 260dbi – available now for your car

Pure has announced the Highway H260DBi – an “advanced car stereo” with Bluetooth connectivity and DAB digital, FM and AM tuners, iPod/iPhone connectivity, USB playback and CD player.

The Bluetooth connectivity lets you make and receive phonecalls using Highway’s controls and an external microphone is included to ensure the best call clarity. There’s also support for wireless Bluetooth audio playback with A2DP controls.

Highway’s USB socket lets you connect your iPod/iPhone for playback and charging or connect a USB stick for MP3 playback. There’s also an aux-in socket for connecting other audio devices. The CD player handles CD/CD-R /RW discs with MP3 playback and bookmarking – ideal for spoken word discs on the way to and from work.

There’s a one-touch DAB button and favourite station presets for easy access on the move. Customisable button lighting lets you match the colour of your dashboard illumination.

Highway H260DBi is available for purchase and fitting now from Halfords.

How do I retune my DAB radio?

Why do I sometimes need to update the list of stations on my DAB radio by re-tuning?

A multiplex is a group (or “bundle”) of stations, broadcast digitally. During 2013, some stations carried on regional DAB multiplexes moved to local multiplexes. Several regional multiplexes then closed, freeing up more channels which will be reallocated to improving local DAB coverage and extending digital radio to areas not currently served.

In 2014, new stations are launching. It is sometimes useful to periodically re-scan or re-tune your DAB radio to check for new stations on new multiplexes. Some stations leave DAB without much notice, which can be confusing for listeners, as they don’t know whether such stations have moved multiplex or been removed altogether from DAB.

When is it a good time to re-tune?

You may need to re-tune your receiver if you find stations in your presets have fallen silent or you see a “?” question mark in front of the station’s name. This will ensure if stations have moved multiplex, you can still access them.

How do I re-tune?

Press the button labelled Autotune or Scan on your digital radio; the receiver will take a few seconds (sometimes up to a minute on older sets) to find and store the bundles of stations on each multiplex again.

What if my radio doesn’t have a specific button to re-tune?

If yours doesn’t have a button labelled Autotune, Scan or AutoScan, the re-tune option can often be found in the menu (i.e. press the menu button), but you may have to scroll forwards or backwards to find it (using the tuning dial, then pressing enter or select). If you are given a choice of Local scan or Full scan (sometimes referred to as Rest of the world), choose the latter, just to be sure you are searching for all stations.

On some receiver makes, you may need to hold down the info button for a few seconds until the screen display shows Station sort, then hold down the info button again until AutoScan displays. Finally, press enter or select to start the scan.

To save any moved stations in memory, hold down the corresponding number key for at least three seconds, which will overwrite any station at that location.

If your receiver doesn’t have number buttons to access presets directly, press in the station selection dial when you’ve scrolled to the memory location you wish to overwrite.

Where can I find instructions for my DAB radio?

Here are some useful links to instruction manuals for the most popular digital radio brands:

Pure [updated Feb 2014]
Roberts [updated Feb 2014]
Sony [updated Feb 2014]
Magicbox
Revo [updated Feb 2014]
Intempo [updated Feb 2014]
Goodmans [updated Feb 2014]

How to delete stations with a “?” at the front

If you want to get rid of the “?” question mark labels (denoting a station that cannot currently be received due to loss of signal strength or one that has left DAB or switched to another bundle of stations/multiplex), you need to look for the option “trim station list” under the station sort menu. It usually follows the “alphabetical” or “favourite station” sort options.

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Kerrang carries on in Scotland – it has just moved multiplex

Kerrang Radio logo
Kerrang!… making a move from regional to local DAB

Digital station Kerrang can be heard in and around Glasgow and Edinburgh, having transferred away from the Central Scotland regional DAB multiplex to two separate ones serving the cities.

This makes sense for owner Bauer Media, as they already operate the two local multiplexes. You can also listen online to the station.

Why can’t I hear LBC on DAB radio in Edinburgh?

LBC logo
Why can I no longer find LBC on my DAB radio? Here’s why…

Unfortunately, LBC is being removed on the local bundle of DAB stations broadcasting to Edinburgh. Although the Central Scotland regional multiplex is still up and running, several stations are being transferred from regional to local multiplexes. Two of these stations moving are Capital FM and Heart. For there to be enough room to fit, Capital FM and Heart on the Edinburgh multiplex, something had to give – and that station was LBC. Although you can still listen online to London’s Biggest Conversation, it’s not going to be as convenient as turning a dial on your digital receiver.