BBC Local Radio starts Medium Wave closedown... on a trial basis

A trial closure of BBC Local Radio stations on Medium Wave (MW or AM), ahead of an almost complete axe of BBC Local Radio on AM - part of the BBC's Delivery Quality First (DQF) cost cutting initiative - has begun.

According to Radio Today, the stations in the MW switch-off trial are BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Lincolnshire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Nottingham. They have all stopped transmitting services on their MW frequencies and are referring listeners to FM or DAB. The BBC is monitoring listener feedback to see if the service is missed and if there are any problems migrating listeners across to FM or DAB ahead of the planned complete switch-off.

The trial started on Friday, and is seen as controversial, as some radio stations rely on the MW version to broadcast alternative sports coverage. For example, BBC Radio Nottingham has historically used its MW and DAB digital radio service to transmit alternative sports coverage, in a broadcast area that includes Notts Forest, Notts County and Mansfield football clubs and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. However, the BBC notes that the MW service of most local radio stations "duplicates" FM and DAB coverage and has made alternative arrangements for stations where there has been a FM/MW split service in the past.

In Nottinghamshire, the following alternative arrangements have been made to cater for sports broadcasts, previously on MW:
  • Nottingham Forest games will be available on 103.8MHz and 95.1 MHz
  • Notts County games will be available on 95.5MHz and on Local DAB

Lincolnshire's inclusion in the trial is not surprising, as the flat terrain allows its transmission on FM from Belmont to reach most parts. There is currently no local DAB multiplex on air in Lincolnshire. Merseyside has also got good coverage on FM and DAB. Kent is likely to provide the biggest challenges, given issues with interference from continental stations and the hilly terrain in parts of the county. However, three FM transmitter sites cover Kent, and DAB provides coverage for at least part of the county.

According to the BBC, the switch-off trial will last until the 24th September.
Only a few local stations such as BBC Radio Derby are exempt from the final switch-off of MW services due to the topography of the area served. BBC Radio Derby, for instance is not clearly audible on FM across the Peak District, despite relays at Stanton Moor and Buxton, and as the future DAB digital radio transmitters for Derbyshire are going to be based at the same sites with coverage similar to FM, there will be similar FM/DAB reception blackspots. In this exception to the rule, Radio Derby on 1116 kHz will remain transmitting from its site near the Toyota factory in Burnaston, with the Asian Network taking over during the evening.
Share on Google Plus


  1. There's a typo on the BBC Nottingham page.

    Nottingham Forest is normally on 103.8 (Nottingham) and 95.1 (Newark) - not 95.5.1MHz!

    Notts County is on 95.5 (Mansfield) and DAB.

  2. It's updated here, hopefully someone at the BBC will update the relavant page ( soon.


IMPORTANT: This post is open for comments for a limited period (usually 14 days) following its upload date. You can comment with a Google Account (e.g. for G+, Gmail, YouTube, Google Play)
Comment not appearing? Comments may be subject to moderation and as such may not immediately appear on the site - comments will wait in the moderation queue until they are processed. Check back later. (Comments submitted anonymously may fail the spam filters.)

Please note: Some types of comments may be removed at the discretion of a516digital. With freedom of speech comes responsibility: Keep it clean, civil and on-topic! See the "About this website" section (link at the foot of the page) for full terms and conditions about what is and what isn't acceptable on this site.