Absolute Radio has ended its medium wave broadcasts almost 30 years after they commenced as Virgin 1215.
The rock radio station is now only available on digital platforms, such as DAB digital radio and digital television (including on Freeview, satellite and cable). Absolute Radio can also be heard online through the station’s website and apps and with smart speakers.
Listeners to the station’s analogue frequencies have been advised to retune to digital platforms over the last few days. Regular announcements on AM frequencies by presenters have been followed radio-themed songs, such as Atmospherics (Listen To The Radio) by Tom Robinson and Absolute by Scritti Politti.
Before the end of transmissions at midnight the station broadcast a ten-minute tribute to the frequencies. Starting with clips from the BBC, through the launch of Virgin 1215 and the re-launch as Absolute Radio. The final song played on the AM frequencies was Absolute Beginners by David Bowie – the song with which Absolute Radio started in 2008.
The station explains on its website that “Broadcasting on AM requires running an additional transmitter which is environmentally unfriendly and not cost-efficient given the small numbers of those listening here.” In 2018 a proposal was made by the station to reduce its coverage on AM.
The 1215 kHz frequency was used by BBC Radio 3 from the 1970’s until the 1990’s. When 1215 kHz was vacated by BBC Radio 3 in the 1990’s the frequency was assigned to one of three new national radio station licences. Virgin 1215 launched on 30th April 1993 at 12:15pm with Richard Branson and presenter Richard Skinner the first to be heard on air. In 2008 the station re-branded as Absolute Radio and has continued to launch digital-only spin-off stations.
In 1995 the station became available on 105.8 MHz in London. In 2021 the frequency was switched to Greatest Hits Radio. Absolute Radio is now a digital-only station having left both FM and AM.
Over the last 30 years the station has broadcast on other platforms in addition to AM. During the 90’s the station was available as an audio channel on Sky News on Sky’s analogue service. Virgin Radio was also available on Sky Digital, WorldSpace and DAB digital radio. The station also offered several high quality online streams using formats like Ogg Vorbis.
Greatest Hits Radio also ends some AM transmissions
Some AM transmissions of Greatest Hits Radio are also closing. Listeners to Greatest Hits Radio Teesside who tune into 1170 kHz will hear a message advising that broadcasts have ended on the frequency and to switch to digital platforms. Other Greatest Hits Radio transmissions on AM, such as those from 1152 kHz in the North East, are still available.
Absolute Radio and Greatest Hits Radio are both operated by Bauer Media Group.
In 2020 the BBC closed some of its local AM transmitters. Stations like talkSPORT continue to broadcast on medium wave alongside BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 4, Radio Caroline and other local stations.