Smooth Radio has commenced transmissions on the Digital 1 national DAB multiplex, two months before its scheduled launch.
Currently, the service is being offered as a sneak preview prior to the official start date of October 4th, and is relaying the output of Smooth Radio London.
Eventually, most of the output of the station will come from its Salford Quays base in Manchester and aimed at a national audience. But for now, new listeners around the UK trying the station for the first time will just hear content aimed at London.
The changes have been made possible due to the Digital Economy Act which has also made possible the closure of 20 local stations owned by Global Radio.
Ofcom has also changed the Format of all six Smooth Radio stations to allow all local programming to be dropped with immediate effect (with the exception of Glasgow) now that the station is broadcasting nationally. Jazz commitments for Smooth Radio London and North West have also been dropped.
In approving the change, which has lead to the loss of over 50 jobs, Ofcom said: We do not believe this modification request to be a substantial change, departure or significant alteration to existing programming in the light of potential localness relaxations and opportunities for enhanced national coverage for radio services on digital within Ofcom’s published statement in relation to the new Digital Economy Act.
Stuart Taylor, Chief Executive of GMG Radio which owns Smooth Radio, said: “By putting our London service onto the national digital radio platform now, it will give listeners in new areas a taste of things to come and a feel for the fantastic soulful sound that is unique to Smooth Radio. We will be announcing the line-up for the national service very soon”.
Glyn Jones, the Operations Director of the national commercial multiplex Digital One added, "I’m delighted that we’ve been able to find a way to get Smooth Radio on air quickly. The two stage launch brings forward the date that digital radio owners in areas like Suffolk, Fife and West Yorkshire will be able to listen to the music that’s made Smooth Radio one of the country’s biggest music radio networks. For a few months, there’ll be a bit more information about London than people expect, but that will change in the autumn with stage two of the launch”.
The station will also be available on regional mutliplexes in areas such as the midlands and the north east, as well as Sky, Freesat, Freeview and online.