If you run a radio station and would like to go national on DAB, Sound Digital wants to hear from you.
Today the company, owned by Arqiva, Bauer Media and UTV, is advertising for new services to get in touch. The ad reads: “There is still capacity to add your brand to the list of new national radio stations. Alongside a strong business plan, you need to be adding something extra for listeners.”
There are currently 15 radio stations lined up to launch on the new multiplex, including talkRADIO, Virgin, talkSPORT 2, Jazz FM and Kisstory.
Glyn Jones, General Manager, Arqiva Digital Radio Platforms told RadioToday: “In addition to the brands named in the Sound Digital bid we’ve already been talking to other stations, and some of those conversations started long before the bids went in. But brands only went into the Sound Digital bid if they’d actually signed a contract on the dotted line. We’re advertising to make sure no one with a good idea is left out. The aim is to make a strong line up of channels even stronger.”
D2, as it has become know, to complement the current Digital One network, will launch sometime during the next 12 months.
Glyn added: “The launch of Sound Digital is going to be one of the big radio events of 2016 – for the industry and consumers. The advert is saying to everyone in the radio industry and the media sector more broadly, “do you want your brand and business to be part of that?”
Downtown Country, a spin-off to Downtown Radio in Belfast, will be on DAB and online, 24 hours a day with American and Irish country singers.
Regional Managing Director of Bauer in NI, Mark Mahaffy said: “If you like your country music you’ll love Downtown Country. The genre has never been more popular with a host of American and local artists introducing it to an entire new generation.
“Contemporary artists such as Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Ward Thomas and Nathan Carter will be typical in an hour of Downtown Country output, mixed with legends like Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks. It is fitting that Downtown which was the first commercial station in the province in 1976 will now launch NI’s first ‘digital only’ station, ‘Downtown Country’ reflecting the demand for one of the fastest growing music genres in the UK.
Downtown Radio already broadcasts three hours of country music each evening, from 1900 – 2200. In a DAB multiplex variation request earlier this month, Bauer indicates the new station will start on or after April 13th. [UPDATE: The station launched at 15:15 on April 15th, 2015)
Bauer’s predecessor Emap previously operated a country music station from Glasgow called 3C. It closed in March 2007.
Mark added: “Downtown Country will initially launch on the digital multiplex which will be accessible to a potential population of over 1.5million adults across Northern Ireland over the next two years. Listeners who love country music further afield can also tune in via their smartphone or tablet and also online.”
Programme Controller, Stuart Robinson: “The beauty of creating something totally unique and new is that we are working off a blank canvas. Our established country programmes on Downtown in the evening are market leading but the creation of an entire station dedicated to this genre will give us much more programming scope.
“Our programmes will take on a fresh, modern approach and provide a platform to introduce new country presenting talent and music to Northern Ireland’s airwaves,” he said.