Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe and Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has pressed the big button to officially switch on another DAB transmitter in Kent.
He and many others from the local area and the world of radio gathered at a special event at Sandgate Primary School in Folkestone Friday morning, as the last of nine new transmitters was switched on, completing a major programme of work bringing local stations to over 800,000 more listeners on DAB digital radio in the county.
Pressing the big green digital radio switch at 9.30am, Mr Collins officially turned on the final of the nine new transmitters for Kent listeners in front of pupils and staff from Sandgate Primary School and representatives and presenters from the seven stations available on local DAB digital radio in the county – BBC Radio Kent, kmfm, Heart Kent, Smooth Kent, Capital, Gold, and Encore Radio.
The launch of the final transmitter, located at Turnpike Hill, completes a programme of work to expand local DAB coverage to 95% of households and roads in Kent, doubling the number of listeners able to access Kent’s local radio stations to over 1.6 million listeners from 800,000.
Damian Collins said: “Today we are celebrating an important landmark by launching here in Folkestone the final transmitter of nine which have collectively transformed the coverage of local stations on DAB digital radio across the county. I am delighted that a further 800,000 listeners across Kent will now be able to hear these much-loved stations, which play such an important role in serving the local community, on digital radio.”
Matt Green, Head teacher, Sandgate Primary, said: “We’re so proud to have hosted such an exciting occasion for the county at our school and to have welcomed our local MP and Kent’s local stations. The pupils have loved the big green switch and finding out more about digital radio.”
In addition to today’s transmitter, over the past six months eight further new transmitters have launched across Kent at Wrotham, Swingate, Etchinghill, Benfleet, Creteway Down, St Marks and Dunkirk. Collectively the transmitters have expanded and boosted local DAB coverage across the county, and brought local DAB digital radio to listeners in the South East of the county for the first time along the coast from Dungeness to Deal, including Hythe, Folkestone and Dover, and across the South Downs.
Geraldine Allinson, Chairman, KM Group, said: “With our integrated multimedia portfolio, the KM Group is the premier media group in Kent, and we have evolved by supporting and developing in all areas of digital media. Digital distribution is integral to kmfm and I’m delighted that 800,000 more listeners in the county can now hear our great shows and presenters, including kmfm breakfast line up Garry and Laura, on DAB digital radio.”
Stuart Davies, Managing Editor, Heart Kent, said: “At Global we’re excited to be introducing even more of our stations into the homes of Kent listeners on DAB digital radio. New additions include the UK’s three biggest commercial radio stations, Heart, Capital and Smooth as well as Gold. Heart Kent has already proved to be popular in the county so we look forward to welcoming new listeners.”
Gordon Davidson, Managing Editor, BBC Radio Kent, said: “BBC Radio Kent has been central to life in Kent over 30 years with local, news, sport and conversation from Kent’s biggest personalities and the best music. Today’s switch on will allow us to bring that in to many more homes and cars on local DAB and that’s great news.”
Gregory Watson, Chairman, Encore Radio, said: “Having launched as recently as October, bringing music from the stage and films to theatre lovers and people who enjoy music from the stage and films, I’m delighted that even more people can now tune into Encore Radio in Kent.”
Richard Johnston, Head of Commercial Radio, Arqiva, said: “I am delighted that the local DAB coverage expansion programme is nearing its successful completion with Kent being the latest area to receive a digital boost. By helping to build Britain’s digital infrastructure in this way we’re bringing local stations to millions more listeners on DAB digital radio.”
Ford Ennals, CEO Digital Radio UK, said: “Digital radio is already very popular in Kent with 60% of homes having a digital radio and 47.5% of listening to digital so it’s great news that 800,000 more listeners will now be able to enjoy all their favourite local stations on DAB digital radio for the first time.”
The new digital transmitters have been built by communications infrastructure company Arqiva and are part of an industry and Government programme of work to build a further 182 local DAB transmitters that will complete at the end of this year. This will extend local DAB coverage to more than 91% of the population, bringing eight million listeners across the UK into coverage and adding over 4,160 miles of roads.
Photo: Stuart Davies, Heart; Ford Ennals, Digital Radio UK; Garry Wilson, KMFM; Damian Collins MP; Geraldine Allinson, KMFM; Laura Nevitt, KMFM; Gordon Davidson, BBC Radio Kent; Pupils from Sandgate Primary School