English radio station prepares for Brussels launch

English radio station prepares for Brussels launch
Joy Wellboy at Radio X

Residents in the Brussels region and Flemish Brabant will hear English voices when they switch their radios on from this summer. Radio X, the only English-speaking station in Belgium, has announced it will start broadcasting on digital radio from August – eventually reaching around 8 million homes across Brussels and Flanders.

The station has been available online and via mobile apps since 2012, but this is the first time that it will be freely available in homes, cars and workplaces without the need for an internet connection.

Radio X provides local and international news, traffic updates, What’s On guides and longer features and interviews about Belgian arts, culture, politics and lifestyle.

DAB+ digital radio is becoming the Europe-wide standard for radio. Some countries such as Norway have already announced that it will replace FM, and others such as the UK already have high levels of digital radio listening, but in Belgium it is a new platform. Receivers start at about €30 and about 20 stations are currently available in Brussels.

Chief operating officer Lee Middleton said: “These are exciting times for radio in Belgium, and also Radio X. The switch to broadcasting on DAB+ provides the country with a radio station it rightfully deserves and can benefit from, right from its heart, Brussels.”

Founder Paul Heath said: “The Radio X team are looking forward to taking what we’ve learnt and achieved in the last three years on to a freely available platform, DAB+, giving our customers and future customers the ultimate platform to listen to us on, in addition to our online stream, app and on-demand listen-again content.

“We are also very aware of the major step-up in the cost to operate and the newness itself for Belgium in having commercially available digital radio stations to enjoy. 

“Therefore, educating advertisers and demonstrating the fuller picture, the real opportunities available, and the actual affordability and benefit of advertising and working with us via this platform, is one of our primary goals from now on.”

The station has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to seek support from its listeners, lovers of radio and potential investors, for the move to digital radio.

Radio X’s announcement says: “Becoming the first radio station to broadcast across Belgium in English is a big deal – whilst free for you to listen to, it’s not free for us… We need to raise money to pay for ongoing transmission costs, copyright fees for music, and some essential equipment. We will also be providing training and internship opportunities for promising radio journalists, presenters and producers here”. 

Radio X will be available across the Brussels and Antwerp region, plus a large part of surrounding Belgium, getting picked up as far away as the north Belgian border and Mons in the south, the 2015 European Capital of Culture.

A full expansion throughout Flanders with 18 further transmitters is due by early 2017.

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