The launch of two new DAB radio multiplexes for north and south Cumbria is set to take place before the end of 2021.

In December 2019, permission was granted for new DAB local radio multiplexes - one which will broadcast across north and west Cumbria, and another to cover south Cumbria and Morecambe Bay.

The historic decision by Ofcom will enable Carlisle-based stations BBC Radio Cumbria and CFM to transmit on higher quality digital audio for the first time ever, as well as broadening the range of commercial stations for listeners across the county.

Both digital radio multiplexes were set to go live by December 2020, however due to the coronavirus crisis, the operators of the two multiplexes - Bauer Media and MuxCo, have delayed the launch until December 2021 at the latest.

However, both operators have since revealed that they hope to launch their DAB multiplexes across north and south Cumbria respectively on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Who has the north and west Cumbria DAB multiplex?

Bauer Media, who own CFM, have been awarded the licence for the north and west Cumbria DAB multiplex.

A total of five digital transmitters based in Carlisle, Keswick, Penrith, Workington and Whitehaven will be used for the new service.

What stations will be broadcast on the north and west DAB multiplex?

The stations that will be broadcast on the north and west multiplex are:

  • BBC Radio Cumbria
  • CFM
  • Greatest Hits Radio
  • Planet Rock
  • Scala Radio
  • Absolute Radio 80s
  • Absolute Radio 90s
  • Absolute Radio Country
  • Absolute Classic Rock
  • Magic Chilled
  • Magic Soul
  • Mellow Magic
  • Jazz FM

Despite broadcasting on FM in Keswick and parts of north Cumbria, it has not been confirmed if Smooth Radio Lake District, owned by media company Global, will launch on the north and west DAB multiplex.

Who has the south Cumbria and Morecambe Bay DAB multiplex?

MuxCo will run the multiplex for south Cumbria and Morecambe Bay, with digital transmitters located in Kendal, Lancaster, Morecambe, Ulverston and Windermere.

What stations will be broadcast on the south Cumbria and Morecambe Bay DAB multiplex?

The stations that will be broadcast on the south Cumbria and Morecambe Bay multiplex are:

  • BBC Radio Cumbria
  • Heart North Lancashire and Cumbria (Heart Radio)
  • Smooth Radio Lake District (Smooth Radio)
  • Capital FM
  • Fun Kids Junior
  • Bay Radio
  • Chris Country Radio
  • CandoFM
  • Bay Trust Radio

When were plans first announced to launch DAB multiplexes in Cumbria?

Ofcom issued a call for providers to express their interest in running the two multiplexes in Cumbria and south west Scotland back in May 2019.

However, no applications were made to provide a local radio multiplex service for south west Scotland.

Is DAB radio available across Cumbria?

Currently, only a national DAB multiplex named Digital One (D1) broadcasts across Cumbria.

On that national multiplex, the following stations can be accessed by those who own a DAB+ radio. Those who can't get some of the stations mentioned below will need to upgrade to a DAB+ radio.

  • Absolute Radio - Adult alternative music
  • Capital - Contemporary hit music
  • Capital Dance - Dance music
  • Capital XTRA - Hip-hop and dance music
  • Capital XTRA Reloaded - Old skool hip-hop
  • Classic FM - Classical music
  • Gold - Classic hits
  • Heart 70s - 70s music
  • Heart 80s - 80s music
  • Heart 90s - 90s music
  • Heart Dance - Dance classics
  • Heart UK - Adult contemporary music
  • Kiss UK - Hip-hop, R&B and dance music
  • Kisstory - Classic hip-hop, R&B and dance music
  • LBC - Speech
  • LBC News - Speech
  • Magic - Soft adult contemporary music
  • Radio X - Rock music
  • Smooth UK - Melodic hits from the past five decades
  • Smooth Chill - Relaxing music
  • TalkSPORT - Sport and talk
  • UCB 1 - Christian music

Will another national DAB multiplex launch across Cumbria?

Another national DAB multiplex, named Sound Digital (SDL National), broadcasts to other areas across the UK. However there are currently no plans to expand the service to Cumbria.

The following stations broadcast on that service, and all can be accessed across the county by a smart speaker, or online:

  • Absolute 80s - 80s music (To launch on north & west Cumbria DAB)
  • Absolute 90s - 90s music (To launch on north & west Cumbria DAB)
  • BFBS – the Forces station
  • Fun Kids - National children’s radio station
  • Jack Radio – All female music
  • Jazz FM - Jazz, blues and soul (To launch on north & west Cumbria DAB)
  • Mellow Magic - Relaxing and melodic music (To launch on north & west Cumbria DAB)
  • Planet Rock - Classic rock music (To launch on north & west Cumbria DAB)
  • Premier Christian Radio - Christian music and speech
  • Premier Praise - Popular Christian music and spiritual content
  • Scala Radio - Classical music (To launch on north & west Cumbria DAB)
  • Sunrise Radio - Asian music and speech programmes
  • UCB 2 - Christian music
  • Union Jack – British music
  • Virgin Anthems
  • Virgin Chilled
  • Virgin Radio - Rock and pop music
  • talkRADIO - News and current affairs
  • talkSPORT 2 - Live sports and sports talk
  • Times Radio - News and current affairs