It does now feel that with extra DAB radio capacity from the second national mux launching earlier this year, to the various minimux that Ofcom is continuing to allow to trial, there is now a bit more experimentation going on in DAB.
We’ve seen Magic launch Abba and Soul pop-up services, building on the various Christmas services we’ve seen in the past.
And today sees the launch of Union Jack, a new national offering from the team that brought the Jack FM brand to the UK.[Full disclose: The team includes Donnach O’Driscoll and Clive Dickens, who of course I worked with at Absolute Radio. Ian Walker is also on the team, but I didn’t work with him previously!]
Union Jack is not simply a national version of their successful local franchises, but a slightly older skewing version musically with a playlist of around 1500 tracks solely featuring British artists, including new music. Uniquely, the audience can vote tracks “up” using their app (I say uniquely, but anyone with long memories may remember Dabbl which did a similar kind of thing before it was shuttered in 2010).
The station features Paul (Avon from Blakes’ 7) Darrow as the voice of the station, and there will mostly not be any presenters. It’s broadcasting in DAB+ on the D2 mux, so not everyone will be able to hear it, but of course it’ll be streaming too.
Interestingly, their test stream this morning seemed to include quite a bit of US music. Perhaps they were getting it out of their system? Appropriately enough they launched with Good Morning Britain by Aztec Camera.
I wish them well.
A couple of other interesting things have been happening, both of which look to be experiments that at least bear exploring.
Weather 24/7 Radio is available on the Portsmouth minimux, and comes from Angel Radio’s Ash Elford. Utilising a bit of spare spectrum, the station is simply updated and looped radio weather, localised for the Portsmouth area and based on Met Office data.
In a similar vein, there is also the upcoming News Radio UK which will be ten minute loops of radio news and is a creation of Radio NewsHub, RadioToday and Radio Response. It too will be launching on the ever-inventive Portsmouth minimux at 10am on 10/10…/16. All the tens… geddit!
These are all interesting and slightly different ventures. Although none quite matches the simplicity of the Radio Reloj, a service that has been running in Cuba since 1947, and simply broadcasts news and information against the ticking of a clock. A digital beep alerts you to every minute followed by a note of the time. The station has been broadcasting since 1947! If your Spanish is up to it (and you’ll soon work out the times), the station live-streams!