The UK is going radio gaga. 89% of us tune in to radio every week, listening to an average of 21 live radio hours a week.
Whether it's through FM, on your phone on through or DAB, radio has truly withstood the test of time.
What is digital radio?
The term digital radio refers to DAB/DAB+ and TV and internet radio. In 2016 over half of the UK (57%) listen to digital radio every week, according to RAJAR.
In the UK we can also listen to FM which broadcasts using an analogue signal. Just like when analogue TV was switched off a couple of years ago, FM broadcasts will soon be no more. A switchover date hasn’t been confirmed, as the coverage of national digital radio has to match that of FM first. Local digital has to reach 90% of the UK population, and 50% of listening must be done on digital radio platforms before the switch can be made.
Back in 2013, the then-communications minister Ed Vaizey suggested that he was looking to 'the end of the decade' to switchover to digital radio but we haven't heard anymore since.
Norway became the first country this week to begin switching off FM radio, a controversial move considering that only a quarter of the country's cars are equipped for it.
Types of digital radio
Internet stations: In order to listen to internet radio you need a radio that supports wi-fi, allowing you to choose from thousands of stations from all over the world. As long as you’ve got a wi-fi or data connection, you can also listen to internet radio on-the-go via a smartphone or tablet app like iPlayer Radio or TuneIn radio.
TV listening: You can listen to many digital radio stations though your Freeview television or via a set-top box such as a BT TV.
DAB: Listen to digital audio broadcasts using a radio with a DAB receiver. DAB radios come in a range of sizes and offer multiple channel options.
DAB+: Introduced in 2006, DAB+ promises improved audio quality and better reception than DAB. Not all DAB radios will be able to receive a DAB+ signal, others will need to get a firmware upgrade.
There’s a handy way to check if your radio is future proof. “A Digital Radio Certification Mark (‘tick mark’) has recently been introduced which identifies that the digital radio you are buying is future-ready and will enable you to receive the available DAB, DAB+ and FM radio stations, so look out for the tick!” advises Nick Hucker, senior sales and marketing director of radio company Pure.
Where will you listen to the radio? Features and location
What kind of radio you buy depends on where you’ll use it.
“When choosing a digital radio, it’s important to consider where you want to listen and what kind of content you want to listen to,” says Hucker.
“Features like kitchen timers, snooze timers and alarms are great for kitchens and bedrooms, while portability and good battery life are essential if you want to take your radio out and about.
“Audio quality is of course paramount, so listen before you buy if you can – a good quality stereo radio is a must for larger rooms while more compact options are ideal for smaller spaces.”
Some radios support wi-fi and DAB as well, which expands your listening options significantly, allowing you to swap between DAB and internet radio.
If you don’t want to listen to live radio stations, many digital radios support Bluetooth which allows you to stream from a smartphone or tablet so you can download an app to listen to internet radio stations and on-demand content.
A dock for your phone is also very handy.
Shower: If you want to sing along in the shower, meanwhile, pick a waterproof model like the Roberts Splash! (£81.57) shower radio. Perfect for Wet Wet Wet.
On the move: Finally, you don’t actually need a radio to enjoy all the audio broadcasts the radio network has to offer. There are plenty of smartphone apps that do the job just as well, such as TuneIn, BBC iPlayer Radio, Radio FM, Pandora and Last.fm.
Which radio will you choose? Let us know in the Comments section.