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18 March 2016

Frustrated with DAB

No-one is more delighted than I am to see all the new choice for radio listening in the UK with the launch of the new tranche of DAB services this month.

But there's a problem. I'm angry about how difficult it is to listen. I'm furious about the money I've spent on and the commitment I've made to DAB, only now to be unable to enjoy it. This frustration is coming from a dedicated follower of wireless fashion.

I'm a big fan of Jazz FM and have been aggravated by the on-off saga of it being available and then, randomly, not available for me to enjoy in Yorkshire over several years. Don't pretend, by the way, a pay for your data by the minute patchy 3G service, or faffing about with a phone on WiFi is any substitute for free, off-air radio reception.

For now, it's booming out again in my car. I also have the choice of a children's service for the first time with the excellent Fun Kids. I'm looking forward to the launch (relaunch, surely - it was an original INR service?) of Talk Radio. Sorry, gotta get the fonts right, TalkRADIO.

I'm happy for those who enjoy sport who now have an added service from TalkSport 2, even if it's not on my presets. A different bunch of nostalgics from me will welcome back Virgin Radio. Footsie fetishists have all their dividends coming in at once with the launch of Share Radio. There are brand extensions for Magic (though I'm damned if I can tell the differences between them all) and Premier.

The only snag in all this - I can only get my Jazz fix in the car. After a bit of effort. It's a 2015 model, but even that needed a recall visit to the dealer for a software update before I could tune in.

I certainly can't hear it on my venerable Pure Evoke 1 on my desk at work, the one I bought as an expensive luxury to celebrate getting a job in radio again in 2003 after being dumped in 2002, the one that represented the future of wireless. Except it wasn't.

A simple autotune wouldn't do it. I looked up online for instructions to press and hold the button. Still nothing, so I research again how to do a factory reset. Nope. Autotune again (3 seconds held), then, tauntingly, it shows me the station name in the display, but no music comes out of the box.

I can't hear it on my little Pure One bedside wireless - that one gives me a prompt to go to a website for which I will need a lead which may or may not be the same USB connection as the one I use for my phone.

I can't hear it at all on the Sony music system I bought in 2010 to go in the conservatory (yes, I know .. I've been known to browse a cruise brochure as well, it comes to us all). No amount of pressing buttons and resetting will get any sense out of that one.

So I'm a bit pigged off. I've been cheated. I'm a radio anorak who cares about these things. I'm in the core demographic for DAB digital radio. For the average punter, when they hear of lovely new services which they then can't receive, they are going to lose faith and patience with the radio industry. That's the last thing we need.

Now someone more tech savvy than I am will no doubt chip in to tell me what I'm doing wrong. I'd be grateful, in fact, if they would. I'm resentful of having bought into the tech four times - in 2003, in 2010, in 2012 or thereabouts and then again last year, only to find I'm unable to enjoy the lovely new product.

The point is - it shouldn't be this difficult.

Radio should be having a wonderful time right now with all the choice, expansion and new possibilities. The industry needs to be doing more to communicate to its core market of established listeners and early adopters of DAB - people in my age and social demographic - and to make it easy to listen.

Sort it out.


  1. Pretty sure it's cos JAZZ is DAB Plus. Your car radio has that, your older domestic DAB radios don't. Am in same position, including my Tuner.

  2. Richard. DAB is an utter waste of time and has knackered the radio industry and has boiled the industry down to big groups only. Get yourself an internet radio for home and office. They are unbeatable.