I must admit that I’ve just watched Matthew Paris destroying a DAB radio with a sledgehammer with a wry smile – he complains that as a platform it’s restrictive, poor quality and desperately under-supported: and I must say I agree. DAB has for many years been ‘the next big thing‘ and it’s just not… our ‘standard’ is UK specific, it’s already out of date and the DAB set they want you to buy will cease to function the second you take it out of the UK – and even when you’re in the UK you’re lucky even in the largest conurbations if you can find a strong signal.
Of course that’s not even the half of it: the biggest problem with DAB in the UK is the people that run it, DAB is to quote a good friend of mine, the same shit in a different bucket. Other than the ludicrously over-priced-per-listener BBC6 what’s new on DAB? A couple of awful automated stations, and ummm.
Yeah. Nothing else – no strong return to localism and specialism, just the continuation of creeping blandness. What we need is a new approach to radio; radio is in a world now where it’s competing with people who can stream personalised playlists direct to their work computers, where they can carry 50 or 60 thousand songs with little no worries in their iPod will thousands of playlists and genius suggestions ready to fulfil their every entertainment need. OFCOM seem to think that a bland bowl of crap will fight this change in listening habits – they couldn’t be more wrong. There needs to be a complete, radical overhaul of digital radio, it needs to be upgraded and then given hundreds of strands of new content delivered not by mega-conglomerates interested only in ad-revenue, but my real radio people able to balance the financial realities of running a radio station with the passion of local and specialist programming if radio in the UK is going to survive the full transition to digital.