Pirate 2/Pirate FM on DAB?

By Ian Beaumont
Posted 19 January 2016, 1.50pm gmt

Okay, so I initially thought, as I posted back in the Radio Predictions 2016 thread, that Pirate FM was likely to return to DAB, primarily by replacing Escape to Cornwall.

However, it looks like Pirate 2 is on the way out.

The DAB identifier on my radios has changed from Pirate 2 to Pirate FM, and the dents and jingles which had been used to identify Pirate 2, have disappeared from the DAB output, they're now using Pirate FM sweepers and jingles.

However, the Pirate 2 website is still online, and last night at 7pm, they did play "The Business Hub". So it looks like Pirate 2 has literally become an opt-out of Pirate FM on DAB rather than a full time station that sounds almost exactly the same as Pirate FM.


6 years, 8 months ago

Here on the Yorkshire Coast the UKRD station - Yorkshire Coast Radio (YCR) - did away with their separate DAB feed before Christmas.

Now they promote each area with a different jingle - 96.2 FM & DAB from Scarborough, 102.4 FM in Bridlington and 103.1 FM in Whitby. They now broadcast the style of programme that was only on DAB across all frequencies at 6pm/1800 on weekdays. The show is called "Coast Life" and includes a mix of speech features and music.

As YCR is on the North Yorkshire DAB multiplex their DAB signal is not receivable either in Bridlington or Whitby as those areas are covered by the Humberside and Teesside multiplexes respectively. However if I travel from Bridlington (102.4) to say Harrogate or York I can listen to YCR by switching to their DAB transmission. They therefore cover a much wider patch than just the coastal towns.

6 years, 8 months ago

It would make sense to just run Pirate as is, and like you say do opt-outs on DAB only.

6 years, 8 months ago

I was never a particular fan of these stations, which appeared to confuse the branding for the benefit of a few off-peak do-good programmes that clearly weren't good enough to bother the FM listeners with.

Putting the main service onto DAB makes much more sense than punishing DAB listeners: UKRD's apathy for DAB notwithstanding.

The 'correct' way of doing what Pirate are attempting to do is:

  1. Run a 160kbps stereo service on DAB called 'Pirate FM'
  2. Dynamically split this to a 112kbps stereo service called 'Pirate FM', and a 48kbps mono service called 'Pirate Extra' or 'Pirate 2', to offer better choice as and when you want to.

(And, yes, you could also run a 128kbps stereo service and split it to two 64kbps mono services, but I don't want to have the boring quality conversation).

(As an aside: one of the strangest decisions that ACMA, the Australian Ofcom, have apparently made is to gift DAB spectrum to community radio stations as long as they don't simulcast their existing station. So, 4ZZZ in Brisbane might well be a good community radio station, but I get an iPod on shuffle on 4Digi.)

6 years, 8 months ago

I agree, James, especially as what would work great for listeners would be to offer a music & sport split in the evenings and at weekends, because there is an audience out there for that, as well as a non-sport music show, and Pirate could provide both, quite easily.

The current Pirate 2 programmes I think are just too long form and they vary in length way too much. Sometimes they are as short as 30 minutes, sometimes they fill up the full hour. The Youth Show is never more than 20 minutes, and the kind of content that they do on that show, would normally get spread out over an hour long show between music on community radio, not condensed into a 20 minute segment.

Pirate 2 was a failed experiment I think. An attempt to undercut or negate some of the impact that community radio in Cornwall has had on both BBC and Commercial radio. It plainly hasn't done that. Often, what undoes community radio is quite simple. Not being distinct from the other stations on the dial.

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