It’s been nearly a month since we started broadcasting our new DAB digital radio services to the City of Portsmouth as part of an Ofcom trial. One of the objectives of this trial is to see how small scale broadcasters manage with technical side of DAB transmission.
Listeners may have noticed that Express FM on DAB has been a little quieter than other DAB services. We are pleased to report that today improvements have been made to the link from Express FM to our DAB transmitter which has resulted in the audio of Express FM being a similar level to our other services.
Listeners of The Flash may have noticed that over the last week there have been several outages to their DAB service over the last few days. We have replaced their encoder (a box which sends their audio from their studio to us) with a new encoder, which should improve reliability.
Finally, we hope that JAMM Radio will be able to finally commence DAB broadcasting within the next week.
New DAB digital radio services for the City of Portsmouth launched this morning as part of ground breaking trial, licensed by broadcast and telecoms regulator Ofcom. The purpose of the trial is to test the feasibility of small scale DAB digital radio broadcasting to individual towns and cities, and Portsmouth is one of just ten locations in the country to be chosen.
Six stations are taking part in the trial, led by Havant based Angel Radio. If the nine month trial proves successful it will lead to the licensing of long term broadcasts.
The new services available on DAB digital radio to Portsmouth are:
ANGELxtra – A spin off service from Angel Radio broadcasting dance band music from the 1920s to 1950s by day with vintage easy listening music by night.
Express FM – Passionately Portsmouth, the popular local community radio service is now available on DAB digital radio, featuring great music, talk, and live Portsmouth FC commentary.
The Flash – An alternative to pop music, with a diet of classic rock, blues and tracks from local bands with studios based in Havant.
Mango Vibe – A dance music service aimed at young adults playing upfront music and specialist dance programming.
100% Hits Triple Radio – A service aimed at those too old for Radio 1, but too young for Radio 2 playing a mixture of familiar current and classic hits.
JAMM Radio – The student station of Highbury College, JAMM Radio plays chart hits and guilty pleasures with programmes made for students by students.
To find these new services, listeners will first need to perform a one-off ‘autotune’ on their DAB digital radio. Once an autotune has been performed, the new stations can then be found by searching for the name of the station in the station list.*
A website about the project has been established at www.solentwireless.com and an Information Channel will also provide periodic updates for listeners. It will be possible to receive the new DAB signal for the six new services within the City of Portsmouth and parts of Portchester, Havant, Hayling Island and Gosport. Transmission services are being provided by Hampshire based Commtronix, who have installed the transmitter at Highbury College’s iconic Tower building in Portsmouth.
Station Director of Express FM, Cheryl Buggy said:
“Like Angel radio, we are one of the longest running community stations in the country, with our third licence term recently approved by Ofcom, and Express is proudly ‘Passionately Portsmouth’, based as we are in the heart of the city. Our listenership is strong both on FM and online, and is growing steadily, especially with regards to our Portsmouth FC coverage, so to be able to add a digital choice to our repertoire is bound to be a bonus. It’s also great to be part of a pioneering venture, as our partnership in this trial is one of a select few in the country.”
Media Programme Manager at Highbury College, Kara Hall said:
“We are so excited to be part of this ground breaking venture. JAMM radio is a station run by young people, for young people. More and more people are choosing to listen to radio online and through DAB so this will give us the chance to reach even more young people in Portsmouth. Our aim is to entertain and inform 14 to 19 year olds with fantastic music and young presenters who understand the issues that teenagers face. This is an amazing opportunity not just for us but for the whole community of Portsmouth. We are excited to have the only Further Education College student radio station participating in the trial.”
Founder of The Flash, Martin Kirby said:
“We have been operating as an internet station for over three years now, with the occasional temporary FM broadcast, but to have the chance to take part in this trial is by far the most exciting opportunity we have had so far and will enable us to offer our unique service to a wider audience. The Ofcom trial is a great idea and will make local DAB digital radio broadcasting viable for smaller ‘not for profit’ services like ours to serve our communities and create more choice for the listener.”
Station Manager of Angel Radio, Tony Smith said:
” Our new ANGELxtra service brings a unique choice for Portsmouth’s fans of all things vintage and retro. With this service, Angel Radio builds on its reputation as the home of pure nostalgia. We are proud to be working with our broadcasting partners to bring this exciting venture to the Portsmouth area.”
Managing Director of Mango Vibe, Robbie Harrison said:
“We’re really excited about this opportunity to bring a fresh new sound to Portsmouth. We also want to hear from local DJs who want to get involved, please get in touch with us at Mango Vibe.”
Chief Executive of Digital Radio UK, Ford Ennals said:
“Listeners in the Portsmouth area love digital radio with over 41% of radio listening being on a digital platform and with almost 52% of homes having a DAB radio.** These small scale DAB trials are very exciting as they encourage innovation and competition delivering six great new stations broadcast on DAB digital radio and encompassing stations from all sectors of the radio industry, including community, student and small local stations.
“Angel Radio have assembled a first-rate content line up for this nine month trial, incorporating the great range of services that small stations offer including music services, community services featuring talk and sport, and student radio. We would encourage listeners to re-tune their DAB radios to make sure that they can receive these new stations available to listeners in the City of Portsmouth.”
Notes to editors:
* Some radios that were manufactured before the year 2007 may require a Full autotune or Rest of World scan to find the services. On many radios this is done by simply holding down the autotune button for five or six seconds. Please refer to the radio instruction manual if this does not work.
** Data from RAJAR Q2 2015 Capital South Coast TSA (all services).
A placeholder for JAMM Radio is currently on-air, regular programming will commence in September.
We are now broadcasting placeholders for our services ANGELxtra, Express FM, JAMM Radio, Mango Vibe, The Flash and 100% Triple Hits Radio. We are also broadcasting an Information Channel which will provide information about our broadcasts.
To tune in and listen to our test transmissions you’ll need to perform what is often called an ‘autotune’ on your radio. On many DAB digital radio sets, to do this simply press the Autotune button on your set. On other radios this option may be found in the menu. Please refer to your manual if you are not sure how to do this.
Some older DAB digital radio sets, particularly those manufacturered before 2007 may not automatically find our stations during an autotune (or fast autotune). On older DAB digital radio sets you may need to perform a Full Autotune or what is called a Rest of World scan. To perform this, try holding down your autotune button for five or six seconds. If this does not work, consult your manual. Finally, if you are still unable to find our services, if you radio allows it, try a manual search for frequency 7D.
Our coverage area is the City of Portsmouth. It is highly unlikely there will be reliable coverage north of Portsdown Hill, however coverage may spill over to parts of Hayling Island and Gosport. We’d be interested to know where you can receive our services, please get in touch with us!
Because we are conducting test transmissions, broadcasts are liable to interruptions from time to time, please bear with us.
A quick update from us. Last Thursday we commenced our first test transmissions of our new DAB digital radio services to the Portsmouth area. We powered down our transmitter at the end of Thursday evening and hope to resume tests later in the week. We’ll let you know when this happens and hope to reveal our official launch date soon.
Today we have been busy installation our transmission equipment. This morning, whilst the weather was good, we started off by assembling our transmission antenna. After this we then installed the transmitter and multiplexer. In simple terms, the transmitter generates our signal and the multiplexer takes the studio feeds from our services and presents them to the transmitter.
Whilst we have had a successful day, you won’t be able to listen to our transmissions just yet. We still have some behind the scenes work to do with the IT network we will use and Ofcom have to inspect our transmission equipment to ensure they are satisfied it is set up correctly.
Once we are happy everything works correctly and we have the go ahead from Ofcom we will announce a launch date, please bear with us, we hope not to take too long.
Angel Radio leads the way in Portsmouth receiving new digital radio stations
Ofcom, the Broadcast and Telecoms regulator, has today announced that Portsmouth has been selected as a location for a ground breaking trial to broadcast small scale DAB digital radio stations.
This means more choice on the digital airwaves for radio listeners in the city.
The trial, led by Havant based Angel Radio, will see six new digital radio stations broadcast to the City of Portsmouth from the end of Summer for up to nine months. If successful it is hoped that Ofcom will form a policy to enable long term broadcasts to be licenced.
The new services available will be:
ANGELxtra – a spin off service from Angel Radio broadcasting dance band music from the 1920s to 1950s by day and easy listening music from by night. The station will provide greater choice to the city’s senior & discerning population.
Express FM – the popular local community radio service Portsmouth featuring music, talk and live Portsmouth FC commentary will be simulcast on digital radio.
JAMM Radio – a service from Highbury college playing chart hits with programmes made by students for students.
Mango Vibe – a dance music service for young adults playing upfront music with specialist dance programming.
The Flash – a classic rock service based in Havant, featuring blues and music from local bands.
Triple 100% Hits – a service aimed at 20 to 44 year olds playing current and classic hits.
Nicola Phipps, Editor of Creative Learning Programmes at Highbury College, said:
“Highbury College prides itself on being a cutting edge educational establishment, and we are excited to showcase our student led radio service JAMM Radio to digital radio listeners in Portsmouth. We look forward to working with local broadcasters to broaden choice available to radio listeners.”
David Harber, Commercial Manager of Express FM, said:
“With nearly half of adults nationally having access to a DAB digital radio, being on DAB digital radio in addition to FM, will enable our unique local programming to be heard in Portsmouth on as many radios as possible.”
Tony Smith, Station Manager of Angel Radio, said:
“Angel Radio has worked hard with its partners to provide a range of stations that complement those already available in Portsmouth. We are pleased that Ofcom has acknowledged we have a sensible proposal by granting us just one of ten available trial licences for small scale DAB digital radio services in the country.”
Hampshire based company Commtronix will provide transmission support for the stations.
Notes to editors:
49% of UK adults (aged 15+) have access to at least one DAB digital radio set according to audience measurement body RAJAR (Q1 2015).
We propose to broadcast six DAB digital radio services to the Portsmouth area, if we are successful in our application to Ofcom. This page explains a little bit more about our proposed services.
A new spin off service from Angel Radio, ANGELxtra will broadcast dance band music from the 1920s to 1950s by day and easy listening music from the 1940s to 1950s by night. Angel Radio has been broadcasting to Havant since 2002 on 101.1FM and on DAB Digital Radio to South Hampshire since 2010. Angel Xtra allows Angel Radio to offer even more programming from bygone times.
Broadcasting useful information, supporting local music and sounding different to other services, Express FM is a popular local community radio service for Portsmouth. Featuring music, talk and live Portsmouth FC commentary, Express FM has been broadcasting to Portsmouth, from Portsmouth, on 93.7FM since 2006.
An exciting service from Highbury college playing chart hits of the moment, and guilty pleasures of the past. JAMM Radio is the only local service with programmes made by students for students. Currently an internet broadcaster, being on DAB digital radio will allow the service to be heard on terrestrial radio for the first time.
The Flash is an alternative to pop music services with a diet of classic rock singles and albums from 1960 to 1990, featuring blues and music from local bands. Based in Havant and broadcasting on the internet, The Flash has also had occasional licensed temporary FM transmissions to the Havant area.
A service aimed at 20 to 44 year olds playing current and classic hits. Triple Hits currently broadcasts on DAB digital radio in Somerset and Bristol. The service aims to cater for the generation that are too old for Radio 1, but too young for Radio 2 playing a mixture of familiar current and classic hits.
Unfortunately we can’t reveal the provider of our dance music service right now. However, what we can say is that our dance music service will play upfront dance music, and specialist dance music, aimed at 15-30 year olds.
A week has now passed since the application deadline to Ofcom and the dust is beginning to settle. So now things are calm, we’re taking this opportunity to explain what it is we are hoping to do.
Firstly, a basic explanation of how DAB digital radio works. With analogue (FM/AM) radio each service requires its own individual frequency from its own individual transmitter. With DAB digital radio, many services can be accommodated on the same frequency, and this is known as a multiplex. You don’t need to know what services are on each multiplex is, because most DAB digital radio sets simply display each service in an alphabetical list.
Generally speaking, in the UK there is a national multiplex broadcasting BBC national radio services. There is a national multiplex broadcasting commercial national radio services, and in 2016 a second national commercial multiplex will launch. Finally, each area usually has one local multiplex. In the case of the Portsmouth area, coverage is provided by the South Hampshire multiplex.
There is a finite amount of capacity on a multiplex, which means it isn’t possible to accommodate every small scale service on each local multiplex. The larger the area, the more transmitters are required and the cost to each service also becomes more substantial.
Ofcom, the communications regulator, are to pilot small-scale DAB multiplexes. These multiplexes will have small coverage areas, typically broadcasting to just a town or city. We’re proposing to broadcast our six services from a transmitter at Highbury College to cover the Portsmouth area. Ofcom have said they will award a total of 10 pilot licences for a nine month period. A total of 51 organisations (including ourselves) have applied.
If we are successful, we are proposing to broadcast Angel Xtra, Express FM, JAAM Radio, The Flash, Triple Hits and a dance music service to the Portsmouth area on DAB digital radio for the duration of the pilot.
We now patiently await Ofcom’s decision. Fingers crossed.
Local radio operators are hoping that the City of Portsmouth is one of ten pilot areas licensed by radio regulator Ofcom to trial small scale DAB digital radio services. If successful in their application, transmissions could start as soon as July.
The application is a collaboration led by Angel Radio involving local community broadcasters Express FM, JAMM Radio and The Flash that plan to bring more choice to DAB digital radio in Portsmouth.
The broadcasters involved and their proposed services are:
Angel Xtra – a spin off service from Angel Radio broadcasting dance band music from the 1920s to 1950s by day and easy listening music from the 1940s to 1950s by night.
Express FM – a simulcast of the popular local community radio service for Portsmouth featuring music, talk and live Portsmouth FC commentary.
JAMM Radio – a service from Highbury college playing chart hits with programmes made by students for students.
The Flash – a classic rock service featuring blues and music from local bands.
Triple Hits – a service aimed at 20 to 44 year olds playing current and classic hits.
A dance music service will also feature.
The Ofcom pilot will allow many very small broadcasters the opportunity to be heard on DAB digital radio for the first time. One of the stations taking part is The Flash, a community radio station based in Havant. The station founder Martin Kirby said:
“We have been operating as an internet station for almost three years now with the occasional seven day FM broadcast to the local area. To have the chance to take part in this Ofcom trial is by far the most exciting opportunity we have had so far. It will give us the chance to offer our unique service to a wider audience and for a more substantial period of time.”
Tony Smith, Station Manager of Angel Radio, said:
“We will be able to offer extra choice to listeners in Portsmouth through our proposed spin-off service, Angel Xtra. This is a very exciting opportunity available to us and we have worked hard collaborating with our broadcast partners to come up with a proposition that showcases the best in Portsmouth broadcasting.”
David Harber, Commercial Manager of Express FM said:
“Many people are aware that much of the offering from commercial radio stations is homogenised and lacks real variety. We are proud to be working in partnership to not only geographically extend own range of ‘Passionately Portsmouth’ programmes but also to support this opportunity to fully extend listener choice in and around Portsmouth”.
The Ofcom trial will last for up to nine months. Once the trial concludes Ofcom will form a policy on how to formally licence small scale digital radio services for longer periods.
Notes to editors:
Celador Radio’s The Breeze was offered the opportunity to join the application but declined.
The identity of the dance music service has been disclosed to Ofcom, but is confidential for the time being.
The trial licence, if granted by Ofcom, would commence in July and last for up to nine months.