Northsound 2 to switch off AM radio service

Northsound 2 is to become the first radio station in Scotland to voluntarily turn off its analogue transmitter in favour of DAB.

The Scottish station is asking listeners to go digital with them, saying DAB and online has hugely improved sound quality over AM.

Graham Bryce, Group Managing Director for Bauer City Network (England and Scotland), told RadioToday the switch to digital, for Northsound 2, marks an exciting development in how we listen to radio in the North-east.

“Northsound 2 will be the first Scottish commercial radio station to complete the switchover to digital, which will allow us to provide fantastic broadcast quality and convenient listening on the move,” he said.

“Digital listening makes up nearly 50% of all radio consumption and is growing rapidly. Our transmitter site is being re-developed by the landlord, so we took the opportunity to take the station fully digital rather than invest significantly in a replacement transmitter that could be obsolete in a few years.

“We see this as an exciting opportunity for Northsound 2 to be a real trailblazer.”

Northsound 2 breakfast show presenter Alan Edwards and Home Run presenter Gina McKie are today kicking off a series of events planned for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, to promote the change to listeners and what they need to do ahead of the switch.

Alan and Gina will be at Aberdeen’s St Nicholas Street from 11am this morning, outside Marks and Spencer, accompanied by a giant GoGo Vision digital screen and members of the Northsound street team, who will be handing out information flyers and answering any questions.

Northsound 2 transmits from the Nigg transmitter site in Aberdeen – very near the Redmoss site which is home to the Absolute Radio AM transmitter which will also close if Bauer’s request to turn it off is successful.

Northsound Radio commenced broadcasting at 6am on 27 July 1981 from studios in Aberdeen. The station first broadcast from 6am-8pm each day. In 1995, the station split its services to become Northsound 1 and Northsound 2.

A number of AM radio services have handed their licences back in England over the years, including Smooth Radio in Reading (the original service of Radio 210) and Gold in Crawley (by Global Radio in 2011) and Exeter and Torbay (by GCap in 2008). The BBC has also been switching off AM transmitters on some of its Local Radio stations.

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  1. Radio Geordie says

    We’re so committed to digital that we’re not handing back any FM licences any time soon.

    1. AlMorr says

      I’d prefer to see all the AM transmitters in Scotland switched off before any FM are switched off. What about Tay 2, Forth and Clyde 2 as well as West Sound on AM all switching off soon after Northsound 2 goes.

      1. Willie Bone says

        Alan, I agree! The plan for local DAB ‘step 1’ extensions of transmitter rollout was completed last December. So, the AM channels for the six Independent Local Radio areas in Scotland could now be switched off, due to improved local DAB signal coverage in their respective areas!
        Actual switch off for FM and the BBC Radio Scotland AM service on 810 kHz will require transmitter rollout of the ‘step 2’ relay expansion plan for local DAB. This will include signal coverage into areas in Scotland that has yet to receive a local DAB service and in turn carrying the BBC regional service and its local opt outs!
        Heaven knows whether the ‘step 2’ local DAB plan will ever be realised?Considering the growing popularity of online programme delivery and the BBC’s vision of an exclusive online service, during the currency of the next BBC Royal Charter from 2027 onwards!

  2. Ray Woodward says

    They are obviously using one of their smaller licence areas to “test the water” in this regard …

  3. Radio Producer says

    Keep it up…..More room for large scale community stations like Caroline

  4. David says

    FM can remain.

    But classic hit music sounds pretty damned awful on AM. Shut the whole platform down. AM is starting to really looking threadbare now and not before time

    And while they are at shutting down AM, they can shut down the LW platform too. Radio 4 long wave has long since served its purpose, and it is only on air because of the shipping forecast 3 or 4 times a day which hardly gets any listeners for them and even they don’t actually need to hear it. Shipping forecasts for those out at sea they all pick them up from other sources now not 4 long wave, there’s no need for 3 or 4 times per day forecasts to still be broadcast on such an archaic platform now.

    1. Peter Grant says

      My Off-Peak Electricity meter uses BBC’s LW TX to keep in sync – and has done for the last 30 years. There are thousands of RadioTeleswitches in service ‘listening’ to the frequency. Far more stable than these ‘dmart’ Meters that need a cellular signal

  5. David says

    The rugby in the borders gets far more listeners on Radio Borders on FM than the mainly central belt football on eight one oh medium wave also broadcasted in the Borders. Football is a minority interest there in the Borders so Radio Scotland 810 kHZ AM can close down even before DAB arrives there.

    The Borders listeners would still have the same choice of sports matches as everywhere else in Scotland if Radio Scotland Medium wave closed down even without the availability of DAB there yet. Just a Scottish premiership rugby match on Radio Borders on FM instead of an alternative Scottish premiership football match on DAB.

  6. Radio Geordie says

    Its funny how the station owner puts the above spin on the story isn’t it? Another source ( says the closure is because they had to relocate the transmitter as the land is to be redeveloped – the same that happened to BBC Bristol.

    1. UK - Reporter says

      Interesting – thanks for posting the link.

    2. David says

      AM and LW are radio wavebands of a byegone era.

      They are totally inferior to every other radio platform worldwide. Radio station owners smelt the coffee long ago and were just waiting for the opportune moment to shut down their AM or LW transmitters, and now is the time. 2018 is clearly a watershed year. By the end of the year AM and LW really will provide a skeleton service to the last few who are still listening on those wavebands.

  7. Martin says

    The trouble is DAB sounds terrible, I would much rather listen to an AM Signal that doesn’t burble and break up than DAB. Again we have gone for quantity not quality. DAB has been around from the end of the 80s and still isn’t the preferred way of listening. AM has stood the test of time well. DAB – dead and buried!

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