Free DAB radios for over 70s as BBC local radio aims to Make a Difference
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Free DAB radios for over 70s as BBC local radio aims to Make a Difference
Free DAB radios for over 70s as BBC local radio aims to Make a Difference

BBC local radio is teaming up with manufacturers, retailers, and a loneliness charity to offer free DAB radios to the most vulnerable people aged over 70. It comes as millions of people are forced to stay in their homes, and isolate from their friends and families, because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Radio is a vital source of news, information and companionship in these unprecedented times, and BBC local radio wants to ensure as many people as possible can access it by giving away DAB digital radios to people nominated by local radio listeners. The initiative is part of the BBC’s Make A Difference campaign, aimed at connecting communities in the wake of the health crisis, and is running across all 39 BBC local radio stations in England.

Thousands of DAB radios, donated by Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis & Partners, Pure and Roberts Radio, will be given away for free to vulnerable people aged over 70, and distributed by loneliness charity Wavelength, while Duracell UK will provide batteries.

From Monday 30 March, anyone can nominate a recipient of a free radio by completing an online application form at

Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, said:

“Local radio is a lifeline at this time and has never been more important as a source of trusted local news and information, and also as a companion for people who are isolating. We want everyone who needs access to the radio to have it, that’s why we’re giving away DAB radios. I’m proud we’ve been able to coordinate this initiative with our partners who have been so generous in offering their resources.”

Tim Leech, Chief Executive, WaveLength, said:

“WaveLength has been fighting loneliness for the last 80 years. We are delighted to come together with all partners to help provide radios to those over 70s most in need. This is what Wavelength was born to do.” 

Diane Fuller, Sales & Marketing Director Roberts Radio, said: 

“Roberts has been supplying radios to the UK for nearly 90 years and will continue to do so in supporting our elderly and vulnerable during these challenging times. We believe radio connects communities and provides much-needed companionship and information, and we are proud to be supporting this initiative.”

Kesah Trowell, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Currys PC World, said:

“We’re pleased to be a part of this partnership. Older members of our communities are already particularly vulnerable to feelings of loneliness and isolation, but with the added fear of the Coronavirus and no visits from friends or family, we hope these radios will not only keep them up to date with local and national news, but also help to keep them entertained and provide a source of comfort during this difficult time.”

Hubert Eiter, Head of Marketing at Pure Ltd, said:

“Make a Difference is a great initiative by the BBC and we are honoured to be part of this.”

Rebecca Atkinson, John Lewis & Partners, said:

“John Lewis is really excited to be working on the Make a Difference initiative. In a period of such uncertainty and apprehension, it is important that we support the community and make a difference.”

Make a Difference is a coordinated campaign run across all of 39 BBC Local Radio stations in England. It aims to work as a virtual community notice board, linking together those who want to give help with those in need. Since it started, the BBC’s local radio stations have been receiving more than 8,000 calls a day from members of the public.

Further details of the free DAB radio scheme can be found at

Dedicated COVID-19 info station helps listeners stay up to date
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Dedicated COVID-19 info station helps listeners stay up to date
Dedicated COVID-19 info station helps listeners stay up to date

A dedicated digital radio station is giving the public around the clock information about how to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Health Information Radio is broadcast on a number of small-scale DAB multiplexes and available in the following locations: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth, Brighton and Hove, Glasgow, Cambridge, Norwich, Woking, Aldershot and Worthing, plus nationally online at and also via the Radioplayer radio app. 

The content is also broadcast nationally through the night from 11pm on Love Sport Radio, and also features on Podcast Radio at 10am, 1pm, 5pm and 9pm. 

Programming features explanations of what a coronavirus is, how to stop it spreading, the importance of self-isolation, and social distancing and updates on the current situation in the UK.  There are also regular spots with psychotherapist Lucy Beresford who offers advice on coping with self-isolation.

Simon Hardwick of Health Information Radio, said: "It is clear that the public need as much clear and uncluttered information as possible to understand the part they can play in stopping this virus spreading. As an existing small-scale DAB station operator I already knew the benefits of small-scale DAB, but wondered if a simple information station would be possible?

“Thanks to the incredible generosity of radio industry colleagues and suppliers we’ve proved it is, and that the small scale DAB platform is flexible enough to launch a radio station on a number of multiplexes within two days of the original idea."

Health Information Radio is a not-for-profit service established by Simon Hardwick, Ash Elford, Dr Dean Kavanagh and Duncan Barkes. They have also enlisted help from across the UK radio industry. Full details of other contributors are available on the website. All involved are donating their time, expertise and broadcast space free of charge.

To find out more contact the team via the website:

Radio stations unite to recognise NHS workers
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Radio stations unite to recognise NHS workers
Radio stations unite to recognise NHS workers

Radio stations across the UK, including Heart, Magic, Classic FM and KISS, will pause, at 8pm on Thursday 26 March, to applause NHS workers’ efforts, and encourage people up and down the country to stand and join the applause at their windows, front doors and balconies.

The call-to-action, which amplifes the sentiment of the online ‘Clap for our Carers’ campaign, was launched on air across Global stations, to recognise the immense efforts of NHS workers tirelessly working on the front-line of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis.

James Rea, Global’s Director of Broadcasting said:

“Across every Global station, the outpouring of support for the NHS during this challenging time has been incredible and it therefore seems fitting that we use our 25 million listeners to amplify awareness of applauding our NHS heroes, thereby delivering the most enormous and deserved tribute, this Thursday night.”

Global’s LBC, Heart, Capital, Capital XTRA, Smooth, Classic FM, Radio X and Gold will pause for the mass applause, and Bauer stations have also announced they will take part including KISS, Absolute, Magic, Hits Radio Network, Greatest Hits Network, Country Hits, Scala, heat, Jazz FM, Kerrang! Radio and Planet Rock.

Other stations pausing for the mass applause include The Breeze network, Sam Bristol, Fire Radio, Dream 100, Town 102, Radio Norwich, North Norfolk Radio, The Beach, Marlow FM and Sunrise Radio.

All radio stations are encouraged to get involved and use the hashtag #clapforourcarers.

Success for digital stations at ARIAS
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Success for digital stations at ARIAS
Success for digital stations at ARIAS

Pioneering digital stations Jazz FM, BBC Radio 1Xtra, and talkRADIO were among the Gold winners recognised at last night’s prestigious ARIAS, the Audio and Radio Industry Awards 2020, held at the London Palladium.

Jazz FM won a Special Award for 30 years of broadcasting and its contribution to the genre of jazz music.

BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Dotty won the Gold Award for Best Music Breakfast Show, and MistaJam won the Gold ARIA for Best Music Presenter, while the Network also scooped Bronze for National Station or Network of the Year.

The Radio Times moment of the year, voted upon by readers, went to Iain Lee’s show for talkRADIO when an over-dosing man called the show and Iain and the team located him and enabled emergency serves to save his life.

The Chris Evans Breakfast Show won the Silver Award for Best Community Programming for Chris Evans with Reverend Ruth Scott, and Gilles Peterson’s BBC Radio 6 Music Show won Bronze for Best Specialist Music Show.

Podcasts and on demand content were recognised throughout the awards including Goldhawk Productions/Radiotopia’s Passenger List winning Gold for Best Independent Podcast, and Raj & Pilar winning the Gold Award for Best New Presenter for BBC Radio 1’s The Reality Tea podcast by Fresh Air Productions.

In total 26 Gold awards were given out including to BBC Radio 2 for National Station or Network; BBC Radio 3 for Best Specialist Music Show for This Classical Life; Emma Barnett for Best Speech Presenter on BBC Radio 5 Live; and Radio 1 Breakfast with Greg James for Best New Show.

Bauer Media’s Absolute Radio won the Gold award for Best Coverage of an Event for Health Awareness Week and Forth 1’s Boogie in the Morning won Gold for Best Local Radio Show.

talkSPORT won Gold for Best Commercial Promotion for the Samaritans and a Special Award for its commitment to diversity and representation in sport in the last year.

BBC regional station winners included BBC Radio Wales for Best Sports Show, BBC Radio Sheffield for Best Speech Breakfast Show, and BBC WM for Best Factual Single Programme, while BBC Hereford & Worcester won The John Myers Award for Local Station of the Year.

See the full list of winners here.

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