The number of restricted service licences awarded increased from 80 in 2019/2020 to over 430 in 2020/2021 according to the latest Ofcom report.
The regulator says the number of drive-in movies, church services and even drive-in weddings increased leading to the rise in popularity.
Ofcom also received 21 applications for digital community radio service licences (C-DSP), which will ultimately be carried on small-scale DAB multiplexes once the first ones launch later this year.
“We issued 12 such licences, and we have also received 62 applications for digital radio licences (DSP), with 54 of these being issued with a licence to broadcast,” Ofcom reports.
308 analogue community radio services are currently broadcasting, with a further 29 due to launch over the next year.
There were eight community or commercial radio stations which had either temporarily ceased or not started broadcasting and therefore not providing the service required by the licence.
Ofcom handed out financial penalties to Ujima Radio (£300), New Style Radio (£2,000) and Panjab Radio (£30,000) during the period.
And Ofcom assessed a record 142,660 complaints about TV and radio programmes, a 300% increase compared to last year (2019/20: 34,545), issued 28 breaches of the Broadcasting Code, and imposed 14 sanctions on broadcasters, including six financial penalties.