The start of the analog switch-off in Norway was accompanied by the claim that FM is eight times more expensive to broadcast than DAB; and AM transmissions are more costly still, thanks to high electricity costs. Digital radio is, in many countries, cheaper to operate than traditional analog transmitter networks, and access to digital also means more opportunities by new entrants.
These lower costs have encouraged some new formats that wouldn�t typically be heard on-air � some backed by large broadcasters, and some owned by new companies to the broadcasting market. Many operate with low staffing levels, to further reduce costs. Here are some of the more unusual:
Coles Radio: An in-store radio station for a supermarket chain in Australia is also broadcast via DAB+. Programming consists of a varied music policy to reflect the demographics of shoppers (which changes throughout the day), and advertising is mainly focused on in-store offers. In recent surveys, the station has been the #1 digital-exclusive station in many areas. It�s operated by Australian radio company NOVA Entertainment. (Also available in Australia on DAB is an in-store radio station for a drug store).
Fun Kids (UK), Kinderling (Australia): Radio stations aimed at kids. Kinderling is aimed at pre-schoolers, while Fun Kids is aimed at 6-12 year-olds. Limited advertising is aimed at parents, and Fun Kids also includes paid-for educational features. Fun Kids is independently produced by Folder Media; Kinderling, which also contains some programming for parents, is a joint venture with Australian broadcasters Southern Cross Austereo.
Weather 24/7: An entirely automated radio station, this service uses weather forecasting data and a set of pre-recorded phrases to give listeners a quick fix for weather information. Naturally, this runs in the UK, a country where the weather is always a topic of conversation. It�s aired in Portsmouth on DAB+.
News Radio UK: A ten-minute rolling news service, also available in the UK, which offers news, travel and other services, and run in a mostly-automated fashion. It�s a joint venture between Radio Response, a local advertising company; Radio NewsHub, a news provider, and RadioToday, a radio industry news website. It�s on Radioplayer in the UK, and also on DAB+.
Chill (UK), Koffee (Australia), Buddha Radio (Australia): Stations simply playing relaxing, ambient and chilled music tracks. Chill is operated by Global, the UK�s largest commercial broadcaster; Buddha is run by Southern Cross Austereo, and Koffee by NOVA Entertainment. In most cases, advertising is very limited on these services, since it rather destroys the chilled-out mood.
News Talk Sport:�Operated nationally by Macquarie Media in Australia, this is a �best-of� stations comprising of re-run interviews and features from the company�s local newstalk stations, combined with news bulletins. The output is built specifically as a �preference two� station, and is available as a syndicated product for apps, as well as broadcast on DAB+.
Union JACK: �Playing the best of British,� a national service in the UK which plays music from the UK (with a rock feel, in the main). This uses Futuri Media�s LDR technology to allow listeners to choose songs that they want to hear. It�s available on DAB+ and online, and backed by OXIS Media who own JACK FM in the UK.
Share Radio: A talk radio station that promises to �share ideas about money�� programs about investment, finance, savings and technology. It started life in London on DAB, and is now available across the UK. A truly independent radio station, owned by a stockbroker.
ABC Extra: An entirely free-format radio station from the Australian state broadcaster, which carries special programming. Recent output has included the Sydney New Year Fireworks being audio-described; a podcasting conference; and specific programming for Indian, indigenous and Chinese listeners, as well as a station �by women and about women�. Services are short-lived and help promote digital radio.
Monocle24: A high-quality intelligent speech station, available online-only as a live stream (and broken into podcasting for later on-demand availability). Produced by the company who publish Monocle magazine, and very high quality.
New digital platforms � whether they�re HD Radio, DAB+ or online � offer many new format opportunities. If you know of more unusual formats, please do add them to the comments.�