Cumbria DAB Applications Received

Ofcom has received two DAB applications for Cumbria local multiplexes.

Bauer have applied for a license to cover North and West Cumbria. This will consist of BBC Radio Cumbria, and CFM. The rest of capacity will be used to plug coverage gaps for Bauer’s national brands, including Scala Radio, and Absolute Radio 80s. Some capacity will be reserved for future station launches.

Nation Broadcasting has teamed with Muxco for a multiplex covering south Cumbria, and North Lancashire. BBC Radio Cumbria will feature, along with national stations Heart, Smooth, and Capital, which broadcast on FM in the area. Community stations Bay Trust Radio and Cando FM will also be on the multiplex using DAB+, as will digital stations Fun Kids Junior (DAB+) and Chris Country (DAB+).

Nation are also planning to launch a new station Bay Radio, which may appeal to listeners of the original The Bay station which was replaced by Heart following the sale of the station to Global.

No bidders have put forward a proposal for Southwest Scotland, although the North and West Cumbria multiplex may offer some over-spill coverage. Both Nation/Muxco and Bauer have suggested that if successful they can have the multiplexes up and running within 12 months.

Connect FM Binned as Station is to Merge with Smooth East Midlands

National station Smooth Radio will take over Connect FMs frequencies, as Ofcom has given permission for Communicorp to merge the station with the East Midlands version of Smooth Radio.

Although bordering the Smooth Radio coverage area, Connect FM broadcasts via two licenses to Peterborough, Kettering, Corby, and Wellingborough in the East region. An Ofcom consultation received no responses.

The move means that Connect FM will not only rebrand, but will network with Smooth Radio 24/7. There will be no locally produced shows, with the breakfast show being shared with the existing Smooth Radio East Midlands station, and all other output from London.

Smooth Radio East Midlands is owned by Communicorp and operates under franchise from Global Radio, who produce and control most of the output on the station.

Smooth Radio fails the criteria for inclusion on the Station Guide of Scott’s Radio Site, due to the lack of local content on the local licenses the service occupies. Scott’s Radio Site regards Global Radio to be an acquired dominant monopoly, and excludes all of Global’s brands from inclusion on this website.

Love Sport to Broadcast Nationally

London based sports radio station Love Sport is to broadcast nationally on DAB, having recently reduced its AM/MW coverage area to North London in a frequency swap.

The station has announced that it will broadcast on the SDL national DAB multiplex by the end of the year. This will require an existing service to switch to DAB+, or a replacement of an existing service, as this multiplex is currently full.

The station will compete with Talk Sport, which was originally founded by Kelvin MacKenzie, who is the current chairman and chief executive of Love Sport.

BBC to Celebrate Beatles Anniversary with Pop-Up Station

BBC Radio 2 have revealed plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Abbey Road Album, with a pop up radio stations.

BBC Radio 2 Beatles, revealed on last nights OJ Borg late night show, is to run from 26th to 29th September. The station will feature live shows from the Abbey Road studios in London. The launch of the station will be simulcast on BBC Radio 2.

The station will be broadcast on the BBC National DAB multiplex, and will also be available on the BBC Sounds online platform.

Global Monopoly Expands Again

The dominant monopoly that is Global Radio has expanded its presence on DAB. National duplicates of Capital, Heart and Smooth have been added to the Lincolnshire DAB multiplex and the Hereford and Worcester DAB multiplex.

These services are already available on the D1 national multiplex. Capital UK has a national 80 kbps mono slot, as does Smooth (labelled as Smooth Extra), and Heart has a 32kbps low quality stereo DAB+ slot (labelled as Heart Extra).

The new versions are all in stereo ‘original version’ DAB, with a bit rate of 112kbps, offering slightly better sound quality. These services are exactly the same as the national versions, and do not widen the choice of services available.

Meanwhile, there are rumours circulating on social media that Global are acquiring the Quidem group of radio stations, which broadcast to the Midlands, and include the Touch FM and Banbury Sound brands.

Gold to Return to AM In Peterborough and Northampton

Gold will take over the 1332AM Peterborough and 1557AM Northampton frequencies from Smooth Radio. The change will take place when Connect FM is merged into Smooth Radio’s FM network.

Connect FM was acquired by Communicorp earlier this year, who decided to merge the station into their Smooth East Midlands franchise. As yet, a date for the merge has yet to be announced. Connect FM currently covers Corby, Kettering, and Peterborough.

Meanwhile, Wohnort DAB reports that Connect FM has been relabeled Radio UP on the Herts Beds Bucks local DAB multiplex.

Note: Smooth Radio is almost entirely networked across multiple local and regional licenses, and as such fails the criteria for inclusion on the station guide of this website. Connect FM has not been included due to the plan to merge the station into Smooth Radio. Additionally, Gold fails the criteria, due it being owned by the domineering monopoly corporation of Global.

Minor but Significant Change for Gold London

Gold on the London 1 DAB multiplex has been relabeled to Gold London. The station has also had a bit rate increase to 40 kbps from 32 kbps (still DAB+) to match the new national service.

The changes, although small, are a sign that Gold will remain on the local multiplexes that already carry the station. The bit rate increase suggests that 32 kbps delivers unacceptably poor audio quality for listeners.

Gold to Launch on D1 National

Global Radio’s Gold is to launch on the D1 National DAB multiplex on Monday (10th June). The service is expected to use DAB+, and occupy some of the space vacated when Heart Extra and Smooth Extra switched to DAB+ earlier this week.

Despite some reports suggesting that the service has already gone live, Gold is yet to appear on the D1 National multiplex. Nor is the service returning there, as to my knowledge Gold has never been broadcast on the D1 National multiplex before.

Gold is currently available in some areas on MW (AM) and DAB (normal format, 128 kbps stereo). It is unclear whether the service will stay on these platforms.

It is anticipated that Global will also launch another DAB+ service on the D1 National DAB multiplex. Details of this service have not been revealed.

Note: Gold fails the criteria for inclusion in the station guide, as the service is owned and operated by Global Radio, who are a domineering monopoly. Additionally, the service quality is deemed to be poor, as the majority of the service is automated without an obvious reason or benefit.

Heart Extra and Smooth Extra Switch to DAB+

Global Radio has switched Heart Extra and Smooth Extra to DAB+. Both services operate on the D1 National multiplex.

Whilst both stations are now in stereo, a number of listeners will loose access, as many older DAB radios are not compatible with the newer DAB+ format. Heart Extra is using a bit rate of 32 kbps, giving relatively poor audio quality. Smooth Extra is using the slightly higher bit rate of 40 kbps.

This move frees up space on the D1 National multiplex, and will likely fuel rumours of the launch of a new station called Heart Dance.

Cyber Gold Rebrands as Atlantis

Cyber Gold has re-branded as Atlantis. The station has launched on the Suffolk local multiplex (DAB+ at 32 kbps). Atlantis continues on the Surrey and North Sussex local multiplex.

Meanwhile, Cyber Radio has left the Brighton trial small scale multiplex, and Cyber Rock has left the Surrey and North Sussex local multiplex.