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Virgin Radio, TalkRADIO and TalkSPORT2 expand Welsh coverage


2019 is the year the new version of Virgin Radio becomes a significant player in the radio industry, or so the hopes of its owner. To do this, coverage needs to be boosted.

News UK through its radio subsidiary Wireless Group is hyping up the arrival of Chris Evan's breakfast show later this month, with testing already underway on satellite ahead of Virgin Radio's official launch on Sky on the 7th January 2019. With a constant bitrate of 192kbps, Sky users will have access to a high quality stereo version of the station, compared to the 80kbps mono version on DAB.

But for those reliant on DAB, Virgin Radio and sister stations TalkRADIO and TalkSPORT 2 have launched on the Swansea and SW Wales multiplex, expanding coverage on DAB. a516digital reader Marc Tierney confirmed the addition this morning. 

Following News UK's takeover of Wireless Group (the former UTV radio division), the Murdoch-backed company is trying to do to radio what Murdoch did to television twenty years ago. The current version of Virgin Radio, which launched in 2016, is now at the forefront of expansion.

By aggressively investing in content, it wants to take on the more established operators. But to do so, it needs also needs to reach more listeners. Sound Digital, of which Wireless Group is involved in, obliged late last year with the addition of 19 more transmitters. However, despite the boost in coverage, areas such as SW Wales are still largely outside of the Sound Digital coverage area. The Swansea and SW Wales multiplex is operated by Switchdigital, itself a division of Wireless Group.

Some areas in South Wales can now receive two versions of Virgin Radio, TalkRADIO and TalkSPORT2, where signals from Sound Digital's transmitter network and Swansea and SW Wales multiplex overlap.

It's not the first time Wireless Group has used one of its local DAB multiplexes to expand coverage of these stations: prior to the roll-out of Sound Digital to cover the Aberdeen area, these stations were added to the local multiplex in order to reach listeners in the area.