Leicester's independent radio is set for the future with new DAB multiplex

Leicester’s independent radio scene has launched a new DAB “multiplex” that will offer a range of local radio stations.

A PocketDAB radio in front of the Richard III statue outside Leicester Cathedral
Photograph: Leicester Digital Partnership CIC

The Leicester Digital Partnership CIC, consisting of EAVA FM, Kohinoor Radio, LCR2, Radio2Funky, and Takeover Radio, operates on behalf of its members.

In November 2022, Ofcom awarded the consortium a licence to operate the new digital radio multiplex service in Leicester. With this new platform, people living in and travelling through Leicester will have more options for local radio stations than ever before.

One of the stations, EAVA FM, is proud of the work it does to support people from various language communities, including new arrivals to the city, to find a place where they can share information and talk about their experiences.

According to Vijay Umaro, EAVA FM’s station manager, “Radio plays an essential role in helping people who come to live in Leicester feel that they are welcome.” If you own a DAB radio, you can easily access stations like EAVA FM by rescanning your device.

Another station, LCR2, will use the DAB platform to draw more volunteers to help make health and wellbeing-focused programmes. Ian Green, LCR2's station manager, said, “The great thing about radio is that it can be made by almost anyone, and we take pride in helping people who don’t have a strong voice to be heard, such as those with physical and mental health challenges.”

DAB is an important development for local radio in Leicester because broadcasters can package together several radio stations, which means that the public has more choices than they would with AM/FM. Furthermore, the UK government may switch off FM, another radio standard, in the near future.

If you buy an analogue radio now, it could become obsolete. This has already happened in some other European countries.

Another benefit with DAB is that radios tune automatically. You’ll no longer need to fiddle with the frequency to find your favourite station.

There are some drawbacks with DAB: reception can be poor, radio batteries drain quicker than AM/FM radios, and there may be some interference.

Vijay Mistry, managing director of Radio2Funky said: “Leicester is increasingly diverse and fast changing city, and radio stations that are based in the city, and relevant to the city, will find the DAB platform a great way of reaching out to their audiences.”

Charanpreet Johal, station manager at Kohinoor Radio, said: “we have a strong track record of serving the Punjabi-speaking community in Leicester. Community radio was an essential lifeline for many people during the pandemic, providing much needed information in ways that our listeners could understand and trust. Anything that supports and improves how people can listen to our radio programmes is welcome.”

Richard Perry, senior volunteer at Takeover Radio said: “DAB has the potential to bring new and innovative radio services to Leicester. Our track record helping children find their voice through radio is a great benefit, not only to them, but to their families, friends, schools and people across the city who hear them. We are looking forward to working with our partners to help put our station on a strong and sustainable footing.”

The first batch of stations to be available are: Kohinoor Radio, Leicester Community Radio 1, Nishan Radio, Panj Pani, Radio2Funky, Radio Seerah and Ramadan Radio Live.

Rob Watson, managing director of the Leicester Digital Partnership, said: “Working with our technical partner Maxxwave, we have been able to commission this service quickly and cost effectively. We’re looking forward to bringing more choice to radio listeners in Leicester.”

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