Despite being invented in the 1940’s it took FM forty years to gain mainstream popularity.
However it was prone to background hiss and airspace was rapidly running out. So engineers went to find a new way of getting more radio stations onto one transmitter. The answer was Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) where ten stations could broadcast on a single transmitter using an audio compression format called MPEG. Yes, the DAB people are responsible for mp3 files!
Unlike FM, the adoption of DAB is happening relatively quickly.
The UK were one of the first countries to introduce new DAB only radio stations such as BBC Radio 7, Planet Rock and The Hits in 2003. Today over 45% of all radio listening is via a digital platform. When that goes over 50% the UK government are committed to naming a date for “FM switchover”.
Germany launched DAB+ radio in 2011. As the largest radio market located at the heart of Europe it’s effect is spreading quickly with France already announcing new DAB+ services in the majority of its major cities.
Norway have gone the furthest by announcing an FM switch-off and total adoption of DAB by 2017.
The future is bright, the future is digital.