Going Digital: New Technology, New Relationship

  • JP Devlin


Devlin gives an account of the arrival of digital radio, and particularly DAB digital radio, in the UK. As a history of DAB digital radio, he demonstrates the distinctive roles played by BBC Radio and commercial radio in helping to launch the new radio technology and questions why each party felt the need to do so. He also shows how both parties entered into a period of mutual cooperation in order to promote DAB among radio listeners. As such, this was a unique period in the history of radio in the UK when the BBC and commercial radio came together to promote a new radio technology with the end goal of ensuring the survival of the UK radio industry as a whole.


  1. Ala-Fossi, M., Lax, S., O’Neill, B., Jauert, P. and Shaw H. “The Future of Radio is Still Digital – But Which One?: Expert Perspectives and Future Scenarios for Radio Media in 2015.” Journal of Radio and Audio Media 15, no. 1 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berlemann, L. and Mangold, S. Cognitive Radio and Dynamic Spectrum Access. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2009.Google Scholar
  3. Birt, J. The Harder Path. London: Time Warner, 2002.Google Scholar
  4. Born, G. Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC. London: Secker and Warburg, 2004.Google Scholar
  5. Chignell, H. and Devlin, J. “John Peel’s Home Truths.” The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media 4, no. 1, 2 and 3 (2006).Google Scholar
  6. Cornell, L. (BBC DAB R&D, 1995–2000; Head of BBC Digital Platforms, 2001–2004; Chairman of World DMB Technical Committee, 2001). Interview with author, 7 August 2003.Google Scholar
  7. Crisell, A. Understanding Radio. London: Routledge, 1994.Google Scholar
  8. Dyke, G. Inside Story. London: Harper Perennial, 2005.Google Scholar
  9. Given, J. and Norris, P. “Would the Real Freeview Please Stand Up?” International Journal of Digital Television, 1, no.1 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hendy, D. Radio in the Global Age. London: Polity Press, 2000a.Google Scholar
  11. Hendy, D. “A Political Economy of Radio in the Digital Age.” Journal of Radio and Audio Media 7, no. 1 (2000b).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Howard, Q. (Director of Engineering, GWR, 1982–1987; Chief Executive, Digital One, 1998–2008). Interview with author, 1 May 2004.Google Scholar
  13. Irvine, N. “Commercial Radio: Serving UK Communities.” Cultural Trends 40, no.1 (2000).Google Scholar
  14. Lax, S. The Prospects for Digital Radio: Policy and Technology for a New Broadcasting System. Information, Communication and Society 6, no. 3 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lax, S. “Digital Radio and the Diminution of the Public Sphere.” In Butsch, R. (ed) Media and Public Spheres. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lax, S., Ala-Fossi, M., Jauert, P. and Shaw, H. “DAB: the Future of Radio? The Development of Digital Radio in Four European Countries.” Media Culture and Society 30, no. 2. (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lax, S. Media and Communication Technologies: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.Google Scholar
  18. Lax, S. “The Failure of a ‘Success Story’: Digital Radio Policy in the UK.” Australian Journalism Review 36, no. 2 (2014).Google Scholar
  19. Levy, D. Europe’s Digital Revolution: Broadcasting Regulation, The EU and the Nation State. London: Routledge, 1999.Google Scholar
  20. Nelson, S. (Controller BBC Radio and Music Interactive, 2000–2006). Interview with author, 27 April 2003.Google Scholar
  21. O’Neill, B. and Shaw, H. “Radio Broadcasting in Europe: The Search for a Common Digital Future.” In O’Neill, B., Ala-Fossi, M., Jauert, P., Lax, S., Nyre, L. and Shaw, H. (eds) Digital Radio in Europe: Technologies, Industries and Cultures. Bristol: Intellect, 2010.Google Scholar
  22. Poole, I. Basic Radio Principles and Technology. Oxford: Newnes, 1998.Google Scholar
  23. Rudin, R. “The Development of DAB Digital Radio in the UK: The Battle for Control of a New Technology in an Old Medium.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 12, no. 2 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Scannell, P. “The Ontology of Radio.” In O’Neill, B., Ala-Fossi, M., Jauert, P., Lax, S., Nyre, L. and Shaw, H. (eds) Digital Radio in Europe: Technologies, Industries and Cultures. Bristol: Intellect, 2010.Google Scholar
  25. Starkey, G., 2008. “The Quiet Revolution: DAB and the Switchover to Digital Radio in the United Kingdom.” Zer 13, no. 25 (2008).Google Scholar
  26. Starks, M. Switching to Digital Television: UK Public Policy and the Market. Bristol: Intellect, 2007.Google Scholar
  27. Stoller, T. Sounds of Your Life: The History of Independent Radio in the UK. New Barnet: John Libbey. 2010.Google Scholar
  28. Street, S. A Concise History of British Radio 1922–2002. Tiverton: Kelly Publications, 2002.Google Scholar
  29. Tacchi, J. “The Need for Radio Theory in the Digital Age.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 3, no. 2 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thomas, M. “Commercial and Local Radio DAB.” Audio Engineering Society, Conference Paper. DAB-14, The Future of Radio, 1 May 1995. London: Audio Engineering Society, 1995.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • JP Devlin
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

Personalised recommendations