Digital radio

13th October 2000 at 01:00
Although most people have yet to lay eyes on digital television, they know it exists. And if Chris Tarrant had you under the spotlight and asked you to name a digital TV channel you could probably muster BBC News 24 or, at a stretch, BBC Knowledge. Asked to name a dedicated digital radio station, however, there would probably be a long pause.

To end the suspense, the UK's dedicated digital radio channels are: Planet Rock, which speaks for itself; the dance station, Core; Life, the station for aspirational adults (people who like Celine Dion and the Corrs); Prime Time, the easy listening option; Bloomberg Talk; ITN; and Oneword, the station that celebrates the spoken word. The BBC's national channels, plus Classic FM, TalkSport and Virgin Radio, are also simulcast digitally.

Radio is the poor cousin of the digital world and the new national stations are struggling to attract an audience. The looming analogue switch-off has concentrated minds on digital TV, and the influence of the Internet shows no sign of slowing; but digital radio just doesnt get the dot.com gurus excited.

Most radio listeners won't think this is a great loss as there are plenty of alternatives already available. But anyone looking for regular programmes dedicated to a younger audience could be missing out.

One station that isn't ignoring the young is digital broadcaster Oneword Radio, which is keen to put children's programming back in the schedules. Oneword launched Listen with Whoever in May and has now created Children @ Oneword to provide a daily schedule of storytelling programmes. Listen with Whoever covers the children's classics, Storytime features abridged literary classics and the Adult-Free Zone has readings of contemporary stories for older children.

Oneword can be received on digital radios, but they don't come cheap - a basic set costs pound;500. Until the price of digital sets and tuners starts to drop, try catching Children @ Oneword on channel 942 on Sky Digital or at www.oneword.co.uk.

To find out more about digital radio and the stations available, visit www.ukdigitalradio.com


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