Two North Wales broadcasters have today elaborated on plans for the Llandudno and Betws-y-Coed small scale DAB multiplex if their bid to Ofcom is successful.
Sound Radio, which broadcasts to East Conwy and the coastal belt between Conwy and Denbighshire on FM and Bayside, which serves communities in the Bay of Colwyn on the North West Wales DAB multiplex, are working together as Sound Bay Community Digital CIC (Digidol Cymunedol Sain Bae).
In partnership with a number of third sector organisations, the not-for-profit company has been set up to provide an affordable way for small and large broadcasters to keep important local issues, the Welsh language and the areas vibrant culture very much front of mind.
Small scale DAB is technology which enables new radio services to be broadcast at very low cost to digital radio sets at home or in the car, complementing listening on smart speakers such as Alexa or online.
“We aim to provide coverage to a high percentage of the Conwy county population from launch and although it is a relatively small broadcast area, where the coast meets the country, it’s a place with so much going on across the year and over the tourist season, that we are confident small scale DAB has a role to play in helping make sense of it all for visitors and locals alike,” said Director Simon Wynne.
“Conwy County is Wales’ top tourist destination with 9 million people coming to visit every year and with unbeatable attractions and a wonderful welcoming culture, it’s not hard to see why the area is so incredibly popular. However, with a high reliance on tourism and agriculture which gives seasonality to the jobs market, we do have communities that can sometimes struggle with social issues, money and longer-term employment. This is where the wonderful work of community stations such as Sound Radio and Bayside, come into their own and these will broadcast on the multiplex along with a number of new services.”
Bayside is also gearing up to broadcast a second service with a high percentage of content in the Welsh language and a place to capture the flavour of cultural events that pop-up across the county each year, Simon explained.
“We have so many incredible events from Urdd Eisteddfoda to the North Wales Choir Festival that we hope to capture a flavour of what’s on offer and provide a platform to local people and businesses wishing to benefit from the many thousands of people who will be spending money visiting and enjoying themselves in our beautiful area.”
In addition to a number of neighbouring radio services which intend to extend their broadcasts into the county, Crest Radio proposes to launch on the multiplex. The high-
profile local charity which already runs a radio station at its Llandudno Junction HQ, helps adults with learning difficulties and unemployed people increase their skills and gain employment as well as creating volunteering and wellbeing initiatives in the community. The charity is also a leading player in encouraging sustainability, re-use and recycling – a massive priority for all businesses and individuals in Wales.
Sound Bay will also welcome a mental health self-help and support service for Conwy Mind, a charity leading the way with new and innovative ways of engaging audiences and involving users and volunteers in the creation of therapeutic content and relaxing, ‘chilled out’ radio.
The company is led by a team of highly experienced radio professionals including former BBC executive and Independent Radio Group Director Simon Wynne and Gary Carr, who has many years of experience leading local and community radio broadcasting.
Gary said: “These are really exciting times for digital radio in North Wales, as it will bring an affordable way to provide opportunities to broadcast to our area, something which has not been available before.”
The Sound Bay team will continue to work closely with transmission experts Viamux on the roll-out of the service should their licence bid be successful. Broadcasting regulator Ofcom is expected to announce the outcome of the bid later this year.
To find out more about Sound Bay in North Wales please visit www.soundbaydigital.co.uk.