More than 300 stations broadcast on DAB radio in the UK in 2018. These include local and national stations broadcasting all kinds of music, sport, news and speech programmes. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular and respected DAB radio stations broadcasting in the UK. We’ve focused on digital-only stations, and excluded stations available nationally on AM or FM.
BBC Radio 1Xtra
BBC Radio 1Xtra plays a range of contemporary hip hop, grime, R&B and other urban music. The station was launched in 2002 as the country’s first digital black music station with a target audience of 15-24 year olds.
If you enjoy listening to rap, hip hop and similar music on BBC Radio 1, you will enjoy BBC Radio 1Xtra, which broadcasts 24/7 with a focus on urban music. As well as playing music, 1Xtra also broadcasts Newsbeat news bulletins as well as interviews with music artists.
BBC Radio 1Xtra had about 1 million listeners in the first quarter of 2018 (source). The station uses the DAB frequency 12B (225.648 MHz) and can also be listened to online using an app or via the station’s website here.
BBC Radio 4 Extra
If you enjoy BBC Radio 4 drama and comedy programmes, you will like BBC Radio 4 Extra. The station plays repeats of popular Radio 4 programmes such as The News Quiz and Desert Island Discs as well as some original programming.
BBC Radio 4 Extra was launched in 2002 as BB7 before changing its name to Radio 4 Extra in 2011. The station had about 2 million listeners in the first quarter of 2018 (source).
BBC Radio 6 Music
When it first aired in March 2002, BBC Radio 6 Music was the first music station the BBC had launched in 32 years. The station broadcasts alternative music including indie, rock and electronic music. The station focuses on new music with a less mainstream playlist than that of Radio 1.
BBC Radio 6 Music is one of the most popular digital-only radio stations in the UK, and the BBC’s most popular digital-only station, with roughly 2.5 million listeners in the first quarter of 2018 (source).
BBC Radio 6 Music uses the DAB frequency 12B (225.648 MHz) and can be listened to via the 6 Music website here or by using a radio app or streaming service.
Kisstory is a digital-only sister station to Kiss that broadcasts popular hip-hop and dance music from the last few decades. Kisstory is a commercial station owned by Bauer Radio, who also operate several other popular stations including Absolute Radio, Magic and Planet Rock.
Kisstory was launched in 2013 alongside KissFresh. The idea was that Kisstory would play music from the 90s and 00s while KissFresh would focus on new releases. The station had about 1.85 million listeners in the first quarter of 2018 (source).
Kisstory uses the DAB frequency 11A (216.928 MHz) and can also be listened to online via the Kisstory website or using a radio app.
LBC is a commercial talk radio station focusing on news and current affairs. Most of the station’s programmes follow a phone-in format, though LBC also features interviews with politicians.
LBC started life as the London Broadcasting Company in 1973, when it was a London-based FM station. The station has been available nationally on DAB radio since February 2014 and had about 2.1 million listeners across the UK in the first quarter of 2018 (source).
LBC still broadcasts on 97.3 FM in London, so it isn’t strictly a digital-only station. It broadcasts on DAB using the frequency 12C (220.352 MHz) in London and 12D (222.064 MHz) nationwide. You can also listen online via LBC’s website or a streaming service or app.
Planet Rock is a digital-only classic rock station owned by Bauer Radio. The station was launched in 1999 and mainly plays classic rock music from the 1960s-1980s as well as popular rock songs from the 1990s onwards. The station has some high-profile presenters from the world of classic rock including Alice Cooper and Joe Elliot.
Planet Rock is one of the country’s most popular rock music stations, with about 1 million listeners in the first quarter of 2018 (source).
Planet Rock broadcasts on DAB using the frequency 11A (216.928 MHz). It isn’t available everywhere in the UK, only having about 73% coverage. In addition to DAB, you can listen online via the station’s website or with a streaming service or app.
Radio X is an alternative music station with a focus on indie rock, going after a similar audience to BBC Radio 6 Music. Radio X is a commercial station owned by Global that was known as XFM before it changed its name in 2015.
Radio X broadcasts has been on DAB since 2000 and has featured several notable presenters including Ricky Gervais, Zane Lowe and Christian O’Connell. Radio X is one of the UK’s most popular rock stations, with about 1.6 million listeners in the first quarter of 2018 (source).
Radio X isn’t strictly a digital-only station, as you can receive it on 104.9 FM in London and 97.7 FM in Manchester. On DAB, it broadcasts to England, Wales and Northern Island using the frequency 11D (222.064 MHz) and Scotland using the frequency 12A (223.936 MHz). You can also listen online using a streaming service, a radio app or Radio X’s website.