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Absolute Bids AM Adieu

U.K. station announces end to medium-wave broadcasts later this month

We’re saying good-bye to AM.” That’s the short and sweet message from Absolute Radio to listeners.

The U.K. station, owned by Bauer Media, announced that on January 23, 2023, it would turn off its medium-wave frequencies across the United Kingdom in favor of DAB, online streaming and other digital platforms. Several of Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio AM signals will also go dark at the same time.

In its message to listeners, Absolute stated that its signals “sound better on digital, as it offers a much stronger signal and cuts out background noise.” The station also noted that nearly all of its audience currently turns to the station via a digital platform.

[Read more global radio news here.]

The U.K. Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s “Digital Radio and Audio Review” policy paper (updated in April 2022) noted that only about 3% of total British radio listening and 6% of analog radio listening happens via AM radio, but AM broadcasting accounts for more than 35% of electricity consumption in the broadcast radio sector.

“Broadcasting on AM requires running an additional transmitter which is environmentally unfriendly and not cost-efficient given the small numbers of those listening here,” the station’s message also stated.

In 1993, the station launched as Virgin Radio operating on 1215 kHz, and the station was acquired by Bauer in 2013. According to the September 2022 RAJAR figures, the station has a reach of about 2.4 million people and a 1.8% listening share.

Back in 2018, Bauer sought approval to reduce AM broadcasts in areas where its signal could be heard via DAB. In recent years, it has already switched off AM in several markets.