The National Radio Centre in Milton Keynes was the centre of local radio attention this morning as a new Mux was turned on.
Pete Winkelman, Chairman of MK Dons and David Pleat football broadcaster and ex-Luton Town manager, switched on the new local DAB digital radio transmitters for Herts, Beds and Bucks, meaning 1.8 million listeners in the area can receive local DAB stations for the first time.
The multiplex enables local listeners to listen to Heart, Capital FM, Gold, MKFM, Connect FM and BBC Three Counties Radio, and comes just two days before the historic FA Cup 6th round matches which will be broadcast on DAB digital radio.
Capital FM and MKFM are available for the first time in the area, and the reception of Gold will be much improved, as previously it has only been available on medium wave.
The switch-on was also marked by BBC Three Counties Radio, Heart, MKFM and Connect FM all broadcasting live from the National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park.
Broadcast Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Boosting local coverage for Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire means the excellent range of local DAB digital radio stations can be received by even more listeners, at home and in their car.”
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, who hosted the event, said: “This is a great Valentine’s Day present for 1.8 million people and is the largest local DAB switch-on in the UK. Half of the homes in Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire already have a digital radio, but until now they have not been able receive their favourite local stations on DAB.”
The four new transmitters at Sandy Heath, Epping Green, Zouches Farm and Bow Brickhill take local digital radio coverage from zero to 67.7% of households, and bring local DAB digital radio to the three counties including Luton, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury for the first time.
The transmitters at Sandy Heath, Zouches Farm and Bow Brickhill were switched on today, and Epping Green will follow in one week’s time.
Paul Eaton, Director of Digital Radio at Arqiva said: “We’re delighted to be able to bring these services to digital radio in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Research has shown how much people value their local radio stations, so we hope this will make a big difference to the digital radio listening experience in the county”.
Laura Moss, Managing Editor of BBC Three Counties Radio, says: “We are delighted that BBC Three Counties Radio will be available to listeners on DAB for the first time, bringing local news and stories to our listener with the digital benefits of easy tuning and scrolling information.”
In the photo are Iain Stewart MP, MK Dons Chair Pete Winkelman, Laura Moss – BBC Three Counties Radio, Ian Stewart – Heart, John Darin, Chris Gregg – MKFM and Paul Eaton – Arqiva.