Nothing on the Radio

Jun 28, 2010

Soon (well, actually most likely circa 2015) there will be nothing on my 19 radios (I’ve just counted them) and nothing on your radios either. Ok, perhaps other countries might not be as quick to embrace digital as the UK. I’m sure Radio Tirana will still be there on MW/SW and the French will be plain awkward and continue using LW.

Actually I’m not that bothered. I haven’t listened to any radio for a few years now. Those 19 sets are either ornaments or novelties and range from 1950s Bakelite to a Sinclair Micromatic “World’s smallest radio” which it probably was in 1971 but certainly isn’t now.

But there are plenty of people who are bothered about the switching off of MW/FM by the BBC and others and the approaching big brother world of DAB digital radio and its fixed bouquet of channels. You don’t come across an unexpected landbased pirate Reggae station on digital. DAB radio uses the already obsolete mp2 compression format which audio experts consider far inferior to FM. It is actually getting worse as they reduce the bit rate to squeeze more channels in. Heck, some DAB radio stations actually broadcast in mono !!

“Portable” DAB radios aren’t even portable because as soon as you swing them round the signal disappears. Patchy coverage makes DAB of little use in the car. The only reason I can think of to listen to DAB radio is BBC 6 Music…oh wait…they’re closing them down !!
Even on environmental grounds alone it seems ludicrous to throw away millions of radios that can pick up literally thousands of stations around the world to “upgrade” to digital radios with a choice of only 50 stations. When I first put up a TV Satellite dish I felt part of Europe with numerous foreign TV stations available from Scandinavia, France, Holland and especially Germany. Once digital TV was in place most channels were encrypted and I was once again reduced to only viewing UK channels unless I spent £££s. It looks like radio will go the same way.

PS: I’m sure there will be many people who say 50 digital radio stations is plenty and who listens to Radio Tirana anyway. One positive aspect to the little DAB radio I own is that it has a slot for an SD card which makes recording a doddle. If I could fathom how to work the fiddly little buttons. Perhaps I should record some BBC 6 Music whilst it’s still there. I can throw the SD card in the box along with my old Radio Caroline cassettes.