Trouble picking up BBC Radio Merseyside in Warrington on DAB

By James Cridland
Posted 29 July 2017, 6.04am edt

A man called Pete mails me, and asks:

I am trying to find radio merseyside I have got. "Bug" digital radio but it doesnt pick up Merseyside on autotune. I live in Warrington some 14 miles from their transmitter

Unfortunately, even the final coverage for the Liverpool local DAB multiplex, above (from Ofcom), shows a hole in coverage in Warrington due to local topography. They probably feel that a listener in Warrington might be more suited to Manchester's stations. The original coverage was significantly worse for Warrington, it should be said.

Your difficulty might be simply a lack of signal: however, the Bug came out in 2004. A 13 year-old DAB radio will almost certainly be fairly deaf: they've become significantly more sensitive in the decade or more since this one was released.

You might get better results if you try scanning for new stations while the receiver is on a windowsill, upstairs in your home. Make sure the antenna is fully extended and vertical (DAB uses vertical polarity, for reasons best known to engineers).

The Bug also won't receive a growing number of new radio stations, including Union Jack and Fun Kids, which are broadcast using the new DAB+ format that wasn't even invented in 2004. DAB+ will, eventually, replace the original DAB broadcasts - though not for many years. The good news is that decent cheap DAB+ radios, like the Pure Elan E3, are now available at a low price and would make an excellent replacement. And who knows, they might do a better job of finding Radio Merseyside.

In short, I think the Bug's time has come (and arguably, it came in 2004). I'd buy a new one from Amazon - and make sure it has a "Digital tickmark" in the description.


2 years, 10 months ago

Considering we now live in a multi-platform environment, he'll certainly be able to listen to BBC Radio Merseyside on old fashioned FM, on Freeview 722 from the Winter Hill transmitter or online.

2 years, 9 months ago

Try a manual tune to 10C. It's likely an auto-scan only tunes blocks 11A upwards on a BUG.

2 years, 5 months ago

(DAB uses vertical polarity, for reasons best known to engineers).
The reason is very simple - vertical antennas are a lot cheaper and simpler than horizontal/mixed arrays.
There is no reason at all why mixed polarity should not be used for digtal transmissions on Band III - indeed it would generally offer an improvement.
Also - just because the energy is propagated in a vertical plane only doesn't mean that is what you'll receive. There are many effects that change signal configuration en route to the consumer.

2 years, 5 months ago

James Hamilton has already nailed the answer, Bug radios don't scan frequencies below 11B without being told to do a "Full Autotune" (just hold the autotune button down for 3-4 seconds will do the trick).

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