Today is the 5th anniversary of the Portsmouth DAB multiplex. We’ve put a series of posts on this website today where we and our supporters reflect on the last five years. Here we reflect on our own progress.
Ash Elford, Digital Development Manager, Angel Radio “I just wanted to write a short note to say thank you. Thank you to everyone that has supported Angel Radio and our Solent Wireless Portsmouth DAB multiplex over the last five years, and a thank you to everyone that has supported our stations along the way.
Without the hard work of the CRC and the ODR community, I probably wouldn’t be writing to you today to celebrate such a momentous location. So thank you to the CRC and ODR community as well as Rash Mustapha (Ofcom) and Peter Davis (formerly Ofcom) for pushing through the regulatory steps to make our trial licences possible.
I don’t want this to sound like an award acceptance speech, so I will wrap up by saying thank you to Tony Smith and Alan Beech for supporting me with this project, along with our service providers, Ofcom and Factum Radioscape.
If you want to learn more about our journey, please join me on Facebook this evening at 20:00 for our live stream.”
Tony Smith, Station Manager, Angel Radio “I’m immensely proud of what Ash Elford and Angel Radio have achieved over the past 5 years of our Portsmouth small scale DAB multiplex.
Leading the UK radio industry by introducing DAB+ and slideshow, and proving its commercial value, has been an exhilarating experience. Seeing well established companies like Radio Caroline, Starpoint and The Breeze using our service alongside community stations, Express FM and BFBS Portsmouth, and new broadcasters, Little Radio, Cosoro Radio and Atmosphere Radio is proof that Portsmouth’s small scale DAB service has been able to bring large and small, old and new radio stations to a whole new audience.
We have been able to help radio stations like The Flash to fulfil their potential by providing them with the ability to make the transition from internet only, to DAB, to full-time FM Community Radio.
As with most innovative projects there have been both technical and financial problems, but each of these have been successfully and quickly solved along along the way and they’ve helped our Portsmouth small scale DAB multiplex to become stronger and more resilient.
Bringing 28 radio stations onto digital radios through a multiplex for Portsmouth and the surrounding areas is something that could only have been dreamed of a few years ago. To have been at the forefront of, not only making that dream come true, but also making it affordable to even the newest, smallest radio stations is something we are immensely proud of.”
Alan Beech, Managing Director, Commtronix (our engineering contractor) “It hardly seems like over 5 years ago when I took that phone call from Ash, asking if I knew about DAB, and could I install a transmitter for him? It was to be a baptism of fire.
Everything I thought I knew about DAB and the conventional way of producing and transmitting was turned on its head when I saw the open source low cost implementation and I knew right away this was a game changer. Much midnight oil was burned getting to grips with the technology, and it is hard to believe the initial 9 months trial has now been 5 years!
Working until the early hours on many occasions, loading new configurations onto the multiplex or adding (and debugging!) new features in conjunction with the software developers became the norm. But when those features were added there was a sense of satisfaction knowing that we were among the first in the world to do so.
Behind Brighton we were the second small scale DAB service to launch in the UK, and it has been my pleasure to be part of it, to push the technology (quite literally) beyond breaking point, and see the service flourish. I look forward to the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years and what may be achieved.“
We asked the services on our multiplex and radio industry figureheads for their thoughts about the Portsmouth DAB multiplex celebrating it’s 5th anniversary. This is what radio industry figureheads had to say…
Graham Dixon, Head of Radio, European Broadcasting Union “When DAB was introduced, it massively enlivened the European radio scene with the launch of imaginative services in the newly available spectrum. With the extension into small-scale DAB radio, this went a step further, as different interest groups and communities were able to find a voice in broadcast radio, one which would have never been open to them before.
Celebrating your fifth birthday, you are rightly recognized among the pioneers, but it is really encouraging to report, that our latest EBU research shows 624 small-scale services in six European countries, including the impressive 221 in the UK. We have Denmark, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland all active in this area, with creative people – such as yourselves – finding new ways of engaging and delighting audiences in ways which this technology has uniquely facilitated. Happy birthday!”
Bernie O’Neill, Project Director, WorldDAB “Congratulations to everyone at Angel Radio for 5 years of DAB! Angel Radio has been an early pioneer of small scale DAB, with an inspirational story that has been a joy to witness.
The UK leads the way when it comes to community radio stations powered by small scale DAB and Angel Radio’s story on how small-scale DAB offers smaller local and community radio stations an affordable and achievable route to go on air is of great interest to broadcasters far beyond the UK. For this reason four years ago WorldDAB invited Ash Elford to share the Angel Radio story with the international broadcast radio community at our annual conference in Vienna, Austria. Small scale DAB services are also on air in Switzerland, France, and with several other countries actively planning to follow.
Angel Radio has won several awards over the years, testimony to the value you bring to your community of listeners. Congratulations, and best wishes to you and your volunteers for a long and successful future at Angel Radio!”
William Rogers, former Chairman, UKRD Group “As consolidation within the commercial radio sector proceeds apace, and, the consequences for local communities, local news, local engagement and proper local radio become ever more clear, the focus on alternative methods and platforms to bring back proper local radio to local communities suffering its removal, or loss, becomes ever more important.
Whilst there’s no question that the launch of DAB more generally has been a costly and appallingly badly handled initiative for the best part of two decades, ironically, it’s now small scale DAB that may yet present the opportunity to local communities and operators to deliver those broadcasting component parts of what has been taken from them.
Assuming it’s given the underlying infrastructural strength and resource so readily denied to smaller scale FM stations, when they were launched all those years ago, there’s no reason why it can’t ultimately compete for a share of local “ears” in many parts of the UK. We must all keep our fingers crossed that this opportunity is not as equally as badly served and squandered as all too many other commercial radio initiatives have been by both those in power and those who regulate.
Get it right and get on with it!”
James Cridland, Radio Futurologist “The small scale DAB trial in the UK has been something that has been a real success, and has meant a lot of new stations on the air that otherwise would never have been heard.
Great to hear about the Portsmouth DAB multiplex celebrating its fifth birthday; and for your success in being possibly the most innovative DAB multiplex out there. Here’s to many more!”
John Bibby, Managing Director, Bitstream Broadcast “For many years we were convinced that DAB could be done much more efficiently for smaller groups who were prepared to take some risk and not requiring a 24/7 gold standard high cost service, they could maintain the systems themselves (with a little expert help of course).
Sensing it was time for the little guys to have their day we threw ourselves into development of a DAB compatible RF amplifier and an on channel repeater (OCR). In a very short period of time we had what became the standard offering by OFCOM, still in use today and having proved very reliable it became the basis for a more refined, updated and robust version that we hope will form the RF backbone for future small scale DAB licensees.
With the excellent steerage and support by Rash, David and other OFCOM engineers the future for small scale DAB seems bright, even despite recent events. In particular the recent loss of so much “proper local radio” to us seems a real opportunity to provide a new, genuinely local radio service to the good people of the UK, something which we know there is a real demand for.
To Portsmouth DAB and indeed to all small scale DAB players “Happy 5th Birthday” and we hope to partner and support you all in the future.”
Daniel Nathan, Director, Brighton & Hove Broadcasting (operators of the Brighton small scale DAB multiplex) and Director, Opendab.org “Since launching the first recognised UK trial multiplex in Brighton in July 2015 we’ve seen clear demand across the country for DAB as an incremental platform for new entry level broadcasters but also as an add on for FM broadcasters at a proportionate price point.
The trial multiplexes have blazed a trail with distinctive programming, new formats, DAB+, slideshow as well as improved stereo sound quality and reception when compared with the legacy multiplexes and the technology is on the whole reliable considering the modest cost.
Contrary to the expectations of legacy providers, the trial has not caused any issue with adjacent channel interference to their services – it seems perverse that established interests wield so much influence over our development. All roads lead to Arqiva and we have no access to the tools they use to pass judgement. The trial has been liberating and allows us to throw off the monopolist’s yoke. It would be a shame if the market abused turned market abuser.”
Bill Best,Operations Director, Community Media Association “Well done to Ash and the Solent Wireless team on five years of small-scale DAB. The Portsmouth multiplex has shown the way with pushing the boundaries of the technology and introducing a fantastic range of new programme formats. All of us at the Community Media Association wish Ash and his colleagues every success for the future as we shortly enter a new phase of radio broadcasting in the UK”.
We asked the services on our multiplex and radio industry figureheads for their thoughts about the Portsmouth DAB multiplex celebrating it’s 5th anniversary. This is what our service providers had to say…
Steve Simms, Programme Director, Atmosphere Radio (launched on our multiplex on day one as Mango Vibe)
“Happy 5th Birthday to Solent Wireless from Atmosphere Radio! We’ve loved broadcasting to Portsmouth for the last 5 years.
In that time, we’ve gone through a full rebrand (from Mango Vibe to Atmosphere) and from non-stop music, to a full schedule of some of the best and most experienced presenters in radio together with BIG name DJs every Friday and Saturday night.
We’ve also co-promoted club nights at Gunwharf Quays and featured local DJs such as Young Rebel.
We look forward to the Portsmouth club scene re-opening as we plan to do even more! Here’s to the next 5 years from Team Atmosphere!”
Tony Prince, Director, United DJs (launched on our multiplex on 7th July 2018)
“Congratulations on Portsmouth’s fifth birthday from one of your younger participants.
So happy to connect with our many fans in the area.”
Kevin Scott from Hot Radio (launched on our multiplex on 16th July 2020)
I would like to say happy 5th birthday to Angel Radio’s Solent Wireless Portsmouth DAB multiplex from all at Hot Radio.
Although we have only recently joined the multiplex, we found the whole joining process flawless. Small scale DAB is an affordable way to keep different local radio services local and relevant in today’s crazy world.
Small scale DAB and local broadcasting has never been so important for our country. The public are looking at local services for local information and wellbeing through music and local programming.
Its just a shame that small scale DAB has not yet been rolled out across the whole of the UK as it is desperately needed as a vital service, especially during the current pandemic.
Well done again for a great operation. We hope to keep our positive music based service with you as one of the many choices of programming well into the future.”
Ryan Davis from Like Radio (launched on our multiplex 16th July 2020)
“It’s always been a pleasure dealing with Solent Wireless for the Portsmouth DAB multiplex. They are professional, upfront and have been very reliable in terms of transmission, despite being a trial. We hope they obtain the licence full time and are able to continue what they have started – Providing the diverse choice of stations that is not available on other DAB multiplexes within the area”.
Ian Wallace from Gaydio (launched on our multiplex 24th September 2015) “It’s been great for Gaydio to be on DAB in cities where LGBT+ communities are underrepresented. Small scale DAB has allowed us to do this and reach many more people. Thanks to the team in Portsmouth for a great 5 years!!”
Chris Jarvis from Little Radio (launched on our multiplex 28th September 2019) “Little Radio is delighted to be on DAB in Portsmouth. We have a growing community of young listeners and it has been great being able to share our children’s radio station with them in this way. Thank you to Ash and everyone on the team for being so helpful and supportive since our launch last year. We wish them every success in the future and look forward to more young families from Portsmouth joining in with Little Radio.”
Martin Kirby from The Flash (launched on our multiplex on day one)
“I am extremely proud of Tony Smith and his team for working so hard to keep this innovative radio service on the air. I am even more proud of the fact that Angel Radio has led the way in using digital technology to open up the airwaves in the Portsmouth area, thus allowing so many different tastes to be catered for on DAB.
Back in my pirate days of the Eighties, I dreamed that one day each area would have dozens of 24 hour radio stations, each specializing in a specific music or speach format, from Classical, Easy listening, Oldies, Jazz, Soul, Dance, Pop, Rock, Rolling News, and more besides. The launch of the Portsmouth DAB multiplex five years ago this week made that dream come true, and I must thank Angel Radio, Alan Beech, and especially Ash Elford for making it a reality.
Back in 2012 I launched The Flash as an internet radio station with the intention of eventually gaining a full time FM Community licence. We achieved that in July of last year, and this development would not have been possible without first having the affordable opportunity to operate locally on DAB full time. It allowed us to gain a regular and concentrated local audience, plus many of the presenters you hear on The Flash today joined after discovering us on Portsmouth DAB.
The whole Flash team would like to wish Portsmouth DAB a very Happy 5th Birthday.”
Nicky Ness, Director of Broadcasting & Entertainment, BFBS (BFBS Portsmouth launched on our multiplex on 22nd March 2016 and BFBS Beats launched on 3rd August 2020)
“Working with the Angel Radio team has been a game changer for BFBS – the Forces station, in Portsmouth. Their work has allowed us to tailor content for our specific Royal Navy audience in the area and gives us a platform to demonstrate the value of bespoke audio services to our community.
We’ve recently added a second station – BFBS Beats – allowing more music choice and broadening the scope of our service in the area. Without the small scale DAB initiatives and the hard work of the Angel Radio team in the professional operation of the platform, this just would not have been possible from an economic or technical perspective and we’re just delighted to be continuing this relationship. Congratulations on the 5-year anniversary and best of luck for the future of the multiplex.”
Jason Bryant, Chairman, Nation Broadcasting (The Breeze and Sam FM launched on our multiplex on 15th May 2016)
“We’ve loved being on the South Coast with Solent Wireless over the years. They’ve shown how to innovate and have made DAB accessible to so many different operators. We look forwards to continuing our relationship with Solent Wireless in a number of areas across the south as we start the exciting journey to full time small scale DAB licences.”
Simon Hardwick, Managing Director, Southdown Media (80s Rhythm launched on our multiplex on 27th March 2019 and Passion Radio launched on 20th June 2019)
“Congratulations to Angel Radio and Solent Wireless on the 5th Anniversary of the Portsmouth DAB multiplex. The Portsmouth SSDAB trial has provided an unique opportunity for new entrants like Southdown Media to enter the radio market with experimental formats to research audience interest.
We launched our first service on the Portsmouth DAB multiplex and the Solent Wireless team were supportive and flexible, exactly the approach needed to foster and develop the future of radio broadcasting. This agility gave us the opportunity to react quickly to the Covid-19 outbreak to launch our pop-up station Health Info Radio within four days of the initial idea.
I’m excited for the future – if other multiplexes follow the Solent Wireless ethos and operational model the future of DAB in the UK will be bright”
Chris Stevens, Station Manager, Chris Country (launched on our multiplex on 25th September 2015)
“Chris Country has been on the Portsmouth multiplex since the early days, and it’s always been a pleasure hearing from listeners in the area. Ash and the team have done such a great job, bringing community broadcasters and specialist formats together, to give genuine choice to listeners. Long may it continue!”
Mason Jordan, Station Producer, Express FM (launched on our multiplex on day one)
“We are very proud to have been one of the first stations on the multiplex which is now bursting with a huge variety of stations. As the radio world is constantly adapting it’s a no brainer to be on DAB across our amazing city. Ash from the multiplex has been amazing helping us stay on air throughout a station relocation, tech changes our end, the pandemic, and has always been there to help.”
Paul Teague, Station Director, Skylab Radio (launched on our multiplex 10th August 2018)
“Ash and the guys at Angel Radio have been very supportive of us, since Skylab popped up on the multiplex two years ago. They have been there if we’ve needed a bit of support and have offered loads of advice. Plus they’ve always kept us abreast with developments, technical issues and changes. Which has been more than useful. So Happy 5th Birthday to Solent Wireless and all the best for the future!”
Today, Wednesday 19th August 2020, marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of the Portsmouth DAB multiplex. Operated by Angel Radio under the Solent Wireless brand, the multiplex launched as part of a nine month Ofcom trial to examine the practical aspects of DAB multiplexes being operated by smaller broadcasters at a lower cost than traditional DAB multiplexes, using open source software. The trial has subsequently been extended numerous times resulting in the Portsmouth licence being extended to the end of 2021, while other small scale multiplexes will have the opportunity to apply for long term licences later this year.
Launching initially with 6 local services, the line-up has evolved. Today there are 26 services broadcasting on the Portsmouth DAB multiplex, comprising a mixture of community, small and established commercial broadcasters.
2 more services have been announced as joining the Portsmouth DAB multiplex line-up today.
Aspen Waite Radio will be a service launching soon from accountancy firm Aspen Waite featuring a daring mix of indie, rock and business related speech. Launching on 1st October, Christmas Radio will play festive Christmas hits all day every day until the end of the year.
To celebrate the occasion, Angel Radio’s Digital Development Manager, Ash Elford, will lead a live stream on Facebook at 20:00 taking a look at the progress of the Portsmouth DAB multiplex from the original licence application up to the current day, plus a look ahead to the future.
Anyone interested in watching the live stream can view it at https://www.facebook.com/solentwireless/live The Solent Wireless website features contributions from those involved in Portsmouth DAB multiplex as well as other notable figures within the industry celebrating the progress made over the last five years.
Kelli-Leigh. Never heard of her? With three UK top 10 singles, two number 1’s, a Billboard dance chart 1 and 2 and a Grammy nomination under her belt you should have. But she is rarely credited for her work, as she used to be hired for a nominal fee as a session musician. She is not alone. For decades session musicians have been making a gigantic contribution to worldwide hit records but they haven’t been given the recognition they deserve. Now a Portsmouth radio station has set out to change that. Atmosphere Radio has pledged to start re-writing music history by launching Be Vocal and becoming the first radio station in the world to give featured singers the credit that they deserve.
Programme Director Steve Simms said “As part of our Be Vocal campaign, all of our presenters will now mention all featured singers when they introduce a song. “We’ve also adapted the artist names on our website and mobile app so that the names of the guest singers will appear on the Now Playing information. “As a radio business, we provide financial support to the artists we play in the form of royalties via PRS and PPL, but we’ve decided to lead the way in the radio industry and support the artists morally too.”
Speaking to the station’s breakfast presenter Suzi Martin, Kelli-Leigh said “You don’t really think about it when you’ve got nobody looking out for your best interests, but suddenly from 2014, my voice was everywhere and you go ‘oh, that’s not cool, I should probably have my name on this’.
“And if my name was on the record then, maybe I’d have a different path now. I didn’t get given the choice, or the opportunity and just got paid my session fee”
Not only that, but breakfast presenter Suzi Martin plans on literally rewriting the records: “I’ve persuaded the bosses to let our listeners show their support for Kelli-Leigh and send in their singles to Atmosphere Radio. We’ll then send them all onto Kelli-Leigh for her to sign her name on – and then send them back to our listeners with the correctly worded sleeves!”
If you wish to show your support to Kelli-Leigh and send your CD or vinyl single into Atmosphere Radio for Kelli-Leigh to autograph, post them with your full name and address to: Atmosphere Radio, 65 Brighton Road, Worthing BN11 3EE
Singles that feature Kelli-Leigh, but don’t credit her on the sleeve include: Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones – I Got U Ferreck Dawn & Redondo – Love Too Deep Second City – I Wanna Feel
We’re now broadcasting a very special station on our Portsmouth DAB+ digital radio multiplex, Health Info Radio. No hype, no opinions, no fuss – just important information about COVID-19. Learn more on their website at www.healthinforadio.co.uk
At approximately 04:20 this morning our Portsmouth DAB+ multiplex went off the air. The reason for it going off air is frustratingly the same as most of our other outages we’ve had over the past year – the internet connection at our transmission site. I’d really like to ditch our ISP (Silverlining Convergence) and invest in a traditional broadband line. However the cost of installation and then the minimum contract period is simply not financially viable considering that our licence is currently rolled-over on a month to month basis by Ofcom.
I urge Ofcom to press ahead with licensing small scale DAB multiplexes as soon as possible. With a long term licence, we can make long term investment. We can give a consistent experience for listeners. Over the last four and a half years, the 10 trial multiplex operators have demonstrated that the technology behind small scale DAB is reliable, they have technically innovated and have provided consumers with a broad spectrum of services and formats.
I know that here in Portsmouth, Ofcom will advertise a licence that anyone can apply for, there is no automatic right for Angel Radio to keep the multiplex licence. I understand that. What small scale DAB needs from Ofcom is certainty. Ofcom still haven’t published a statement response to the small scale DAB consultation that closed in October 2019, even though they said they would in early 2020.
As a charity, it would be reckless for Angel Radio to make any long term financial commitments now without having a long term licence in place. Our service providers want the same clarity too. Therefore, I urge Ofcom to press ahead with the proper licencing of small scale DAB multiplexes as a matter of urgency.
Ash Elford Digital Development Manager, Angel Radio
We’re sorry, but all services on our Portsmouth DAB multiplex are currently off-air due to a suspected power supply fault with our internet connection at our transmission site. Please bear with us, while we investigate this.