Fresh Radio, the commercial radio station for Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales will finally make the move to FM in the coming months after serving the Dales for 10 years on medium wave. Five new FM transmitters will broadcast on three FM frequencies, along side the current 936KHz service.
At present, Fresh Radio broadcasts to an area of over 2000 square miles using a network of AM transmitters on three frequencies. The largest AM transmitter, based at Hawes in the central Dales will continue to operate to ensure that coverage for listeners in the sparsely populated rural areas remains.
All other transmitters — in Skipton, Richmond, Ilkley, Pateley Bridge and Settle — will move to FM, starting with Richmond in early February. An additional relay transmitter for the Grassington area has also been approved.
Industry regulator, Ofcom, has cleared three FM frequencies for the changes. There will be separate, individual, frequencies for Skipton and Richmond. The relay transmitters at Ilkley, Pateley Bridge, Settle and Grassington will all utilise the third frequency.
The switchover is expected to be completed by April — and will be linked to on-air activity and a significant marketing campaign as each transmitter is commissioned.
The station was recently named Radio Station Of The Year for Yorkshire and the North East by industry body The Radio Academy.
Managing Director of Fresh Radio, Dave Parker, is delighted with the move. He told RadioToday.co.uk: “Coming on the back of our Radio Academy award, this is another great boost for the station. For almost ten years, Fresh Radio has been one of just a very small number of primary ILR services broadcasting on medium wave. Whilst the topography of the central Dales makes FM virtually impossible, our main centres of population certainly deserve the quality of reception that almost every other town has had for more than 20 years.”
He added: “We have been working closely with Ofcom over the last year to plan the best combination of FM and AM coverage to bring the better quality reception to as many as possible, without losing anyone who can listen at the moment.”
Test transmissions for the new FM sites will commence shortly. As the new FM transmitters are commissioned, the AM transmitters they replace will be phased out.
Fresh Radio has studios in both Skipton and Richmond and is part owned by Laser Broadcasting.
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