I live in the North West of England. Why can’t I get LBC on my BMW car radio?
News and talk radio station LBC is available on digital radio in most of the UK. According to the company that operates the transmitters, the ‘Digital One’ network covers more than 90% of UK households.
The new rolling news station LBC News is carried on the same transmitters. However, LBC News is available in DAB+ rather than the original DAB format. This could mean that even if you are within the coverage area, if your radio isn’t compatible with DAB+ you won’t be able to hear it.
The first thing to do would be to see which stations you should receive using a coverage checker. This tool will predict which digital radio stations you should be able to receive based on your location. Stations may be listed as being available with ‘good reception’ or ‘fair reception’.
LBC is also available on 97.3FM in London. The station was originally broadcast only in the capital, where ‘London Broadcasting Company’ launched as the UK’s first commercial radio station.
If the coverage checker predicts that you should receive the station, but it’s still not found by your car radio, there are a few checks you can make.
Finding LBC on a car radio
In the DAB digital radio mode you could check which other stations are being received. You should see a mix of national (Absolute Radio, talkSPORT, KISS) and local (e.g. Radio City and local BBC) stations. If there is an option in the menu to perform a re-scan or auto-tune you can also try this.
Some car radios list stations per ensemble rather than in a complete alphabetical list. If you find that the radio only offers a few stations, such as only BBC or local stations, you may need to navigate to another ensemble. We have some more information in this answer about ensembles and multiplexes. You may be able to see a list of ensembles or hold down the back or forward button to go to the next list of stations.
Another issue can be interference from other devices in the car. Owners forums for various makes and models have posts which describe a loss of DAB stations due to phone chargers, dash cams and sat nav units. It would be worth unplugging and switching off any devices like this and scanning for digital stations.
Finally there could be an issue with the radio or the antenna. If the car is within the warranty period it may be worth speaking to the dealer. Alternatively you could see if the antenna has become damaged. Another issue that affects the aerial is when water leaks into the base and causes corrosion. Some cars have aerial amplifiers and this could also be faulty.
If you suspect there is an issue with the car’s radio or antenna you could seek advice from an independent BMW specialist, car audio installer or the dealer.