The launch of four new digital transmitters that have transformed the availability of local radio services on DAB digital radio for 250,000 listeners throughout Leicestershire was celebrated at a special ‘switch on’ event at Brownlow Primary School in Melton Mowbray this morning.
Cat James, presenter of drivetime on Gem 106, Tom Watts and Claire Chambers of Capital East Midlands’ drivetime with Tom & Claire, and Helen McCarthy of BBC Radio Leicester, pressed the big green digital radio switch at 9am to signify the launch of the fourth and final digital transmitter, which has boosted local DAB coverage in Melton Mowbray, in front of pupils and staff from Brownlow Primary School. The expansion of coverage means that many listeners can now receive ten further radio stations - BBC Radio Leicester, Capital East Midlands, Gem 106, Heart East Midlands, Smooth East Midlands, Gold, Chill, LRB Digital, Sabras and Sanskar Radio - on DAB digital radio for the first time.
The new transmitters have transformed DAB digital radio coverage throughout Leicestershire. Over the last 18 months local DAB coverage has increased from 63% of households to 82% across the county and an additional 250,000 people have been brought in to coverage. There have been four new transmitters in total, with the final one launching in Waltham, near Melton Mowbray.
Although DAB digital radios are in over 61% of homes in Leicestershire and almost 90% of new cars, many listeners in the area were unable to receive their favourite local stations on DAB digital radio before the new transmitters were launched by communications infrastructure company, Arqiva.
Damien Turrell, Headteacher, Brownlow Primary, said: “The pupils have loved meeting our local radio presenters and finding out more about digital radio. We’re delighted to have hosted such an exciting occasion on behalf of the county at our school and to have welcomed Leicestershire’s local stations.”
Sophie Shardlow, Editor, BBC Radio Leicester, said: “BBC Radio Leicester has been a part of life in the county for 50 years and its great news that now even more listeners can tune in to our hugely popular presenters, delivering the local news, sport, music and conversation that they love on DAB digital radio.”
Dick Stone, Managing Editor, Capital East Midlands, said: “We’re delighted that the increase in DAB digital radio coverage allows us to bring the UK’s biggest commercial radio brands Capital, Heart and Smooth as well as Gold to more people in Leicestershire. It’s great news for listeners and for Global.”
Ali Forshaw, Regional Managing Director, Smooth Radio East Midlands, said: “It’s fantastic to see that the people of Leicestershire can now enjoy Smooth Radio East Midlands on DAB digital radio. We know that our listeners love our mix of relaxing music combined with local programming at the times they want it most. They can now tune in to DAB digital radio for our popular presenters, Gareth Evans at Breakfast and Emma Caldwell at Drive.”
James Brownlow, Content Director, Gem 106, said: “It is brilliant that 250,000 listeners in Leicestershire will be able to hear Gem’s original entertainment and variety of music on DAB. Gem is the only commercial radio station in the East Midlands that both produces and broadcasts its shows and music 24/7 from right here in the region, so it feels right the listeners in the area get to enjoy Gem in fantastic clear digital quality.”
Cat James, Presenter, Gem 106, added: “Gem is very much a part of the Leicestershire community and I get to enjoy that when on-air playing them music they love and getting them home with a smile each weekday. To allow the people of Leicestershire to be able to hear a variety of music they won’t get anywhere else in lovely, clear brilliant, digital audio is the very least this great audience deserve.”
Ford Ennals, CEO Digital Radio UK, said: “Today we are celebrating the transformation of the coverage of local stations on DAB digital radio across the county. It’s great news that a further 250,000 listeners across Leicestershire will now be able to hear these much-loved stations, which play such an important role in serving the local community, on digital radio.”
Leicestershire’s four new digital transmitters are part of a programme of work co-funded by Government, BBC and commercial multiplex operators to expand coverage of local DAB stations from 75% to 90% of UK households, in line with FM coverage for commercial radio. Over 200 local DAB transmitters have been built nationwide and the local DAB expansion programme is largely complete with the last remaining few transmitters to launch by the summer. In total, an additional 10 million adults and over 4,000 miles of the UK road network have been brought into coverage for local DAB stations.
Richard Johnston, Head of Commercial Radio, Arqiva, said: “Arqiva has been extremely busy over the last year building hundreds of additional national and local DAB transmitters across the UK to bring DAB digital radio into millions more homes and thousands of miles of the road network. We are proud of our role in delivering the infrastructure needed for a vibrant digital radio market and are delighted to complete the expansion of local DAB coverage in Leicestershire, enabling over 250,000 more people to receive their local stations on DAB.”
Listeners in Leicestershire are encouraged to retune their digital radios to ensure they receive all their available stations, including the county’s local stations, on DAB.