RTÉ to end longwave broadcasts on 252 kHz

RTÉ Radio 1 is to stop transmitting its 252 longwave service from the end of next month as it pushes listeners to FM and digital radio instead.

The station has been on 252kHZ since 17th March 2004 and is of course the frequency previously used by Atlantic 252 in the late 80s and 90s. It will end transmissions on Monday 27th October.

RTÉ says the vast majority (98%) of Radio 1 listeners will be unaffected by the move but that it will run a campaign to inform remaining longwave listeners how to find the station on DAB and FM.

Tom McGuire, Head of RTÉ Radio 1 said: “This development is an opportunity for the listener to tune in to the varied output of RTÉ Radio 1 in a new way. The availability of the radio service through new digital platforms provides a much improved sound quality and broader access for all programmes. Just as the audience migrated from medium wave to FM in the past, the end of longwave is compensated for by the availability of RTÉ Radio 1 on various digital platforms through the television in your home, the phone in your pocket, the tablet on your lap or the digital radio in your region.”

Broadcasts from the 248m mast at Clarkstown, Co Meath are perhaps most famous for pop station Atlantic 252, which was a joint venture between RTÉ and Radio Luxembourg’s parent company, RTL. It ran from 1989 to 2001 and was mainly aimed at listeners in the UK. The 252 frequency was briefly used by UK sports station TeamTalk 252 for a few months in 2002 before being returned to RTÉ.

JP Coakley, RTÉ Radio Director of Operations, says: “The RTÉ Radio 1 Longwave signal covers the island of Ireland and carries also into Britain. This technology gives further reach than FM, but at the expense of quality, and it is rare in modern radios. Nowadays, digital platforms mean that quality and reach do not have to be traded, especially for those listening overseas. The longwave service on 252 has only been in use by Radio 1 for 10 years, and while the service was financially and technologically viable for a short time, this is no longer the case.”

RTÉ Radio 1 is available on national FM, on DAB, on Saorview, SKY and UPC Digital TV platforms, online globally on the RTÉ Radio Player and on the RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Radio Player mobile apps. It is also available on the UK via Freesat.

RTÉ Radio 1 on longwave carries the same content as RTÉ Radio 1, except where the service splits to carry programmes from the digital station RTÉ Radio 1 Extra. These programmes include Mass and Services every Sunday morning and total 2 hours per week approx. Masses and Services will continue to be available on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.

JP Coakley continued: “This move to digital platforms is in line with other public service broadcasters such as the BBC in the UK and VGTRK in Russia, who have announced the closure of their longwave services. This service is a very expensive one for RTÉ and is unsustainable in terms of the organisations current financial position. RTÉ reported a break-even in 2013, thanks to rigorous cost-cutting and financial management, and there remains an emphasis on value-for-money across all services and technologies.”

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  1. Bernd says


    RTE seem to be still alive ! A last known shutdown date was 1.1.2015 but this seems to be obsolete. The transmitter keeps running.
    Does anyone have current Info about this?
    Thank you really * HAPPY NEW YEAR Irland! *

  2. Bernd says

    Notice of changes to transmission from 19 January 2015
    Thursday 21st August

    RTÉ Radio 1’s Longwave 252 service (LW252) will close down on 19 January 2015. The vast majority (98%) of Radio 1 listeners are not affected and no change is necessary. However, you will need to retune your radio if you listen to RTÉ Radio 1 on LW252

  3. Robert D. Campbell says

    I enjoyed listening from Edinburgh. What will happen to the site,transmitter,mast and buildings etc. now ? It would be nice if it was to transmit in DRM.

  4. Alan says

    A weak signal could be heard this afternoon 26-07-2015 1600 Z on 252 kHz, an Irish sports transmission.

  5. Michael says

    I am listening to it on 252 daily going to work in Hertfordshire.

  6. Des Walsh says

    RTE’s longwave transmissions are now severely degraded in the evening here in Cork and throughout southern areas since transmitter improvements were carried out in Algeria. .In west Cork the Algerian transmissions dominate all the time in darkness hours. The 252 kHz frequency should be changed to 261 kHz for clear channel transmissions but RTE just wants the longwave off the air. In interests of national security the longwave system must be kept in operation , any digital service can be easily taken down by hackers .DAB is only suited to fixed home reception.and will have reception problems in the valleys .

  7. Enda O'Kane says

    RTÉ Long Wave Radio – why it matters to us all
    Richard Logue

    Right from its beginnings in 1926, RTÉ Radio 1 has been available on a standard radio to much of the Irish in Britain. RTÉ closed their famous Athlone frequency on Medium Wave in 2008. At the time JP Coakley, RTÉ’s Director of Operations, promised the Irish in Britain and indeed listeners in Northern Ireland that RTÉ Radio 1 would remain on 252 kHz Long Wave as part of their commitment to serving the Irish across the island of Ireland and overseas. That promise was to be broken at short notice in 2014 when RTÉ announced the sudden closure of the Long Wave frequency as part of RTÉ’s conversion to digital. But RTÉ had no intention of providing Radio 1 on Digital Radio in Britain or Northern Ireland. Instead, listeners would be expected to migrate from familiar transistor or car radios directly to satellite or the Internet.

    As soon as RTÉ announced the closure, there was a strong backlash from the Irish in Britain. RTÉ had not banked on the Long Wave listenership getting together to protest at the closure and to lobby TDs, Senators and even the President of Ireland on this issue. Conor McGinn, MP for St. Helens in Merseyside directly lobbied his Irish counterparts. Jimmy Deenihan the former Minister for State for the Diaspora received hundreds of letters and emails on the subject. Groups at major Irish centres across Britain got together to protest the closure. A major campaign got underway to keep RTÉ on Long Wave orchestrated by the Irish in Britain group and assisted by Enda O’Kane, a retired RTÉ engineer who offered valuable technical advice.

    The campaign made a difference. Within weeks of the closure announcement a compromise was offered; RTÉ would keep Radio 1 on 252 kHz until 2017. However there was quite a sting in the tail; the transmission power of the Long Wave signal was to be progressively reduced up the final closure date. The effect of this has been to render reception of Radio 1 to be difficult in the daytime and almost impossible at night. RTÉ’s much weaker signal is often swamped by a far stronger station from Algeria on the same frequency, and even in Ireland the signal is weak and interfered with. Compare and contrast this with the powerful signal put out by the former pop station Atlantic 252, who achieved robust UK wide coverage when they transmitted at full power on the same frequency. The old 252 kHz frequency is no longer fit for purpose; the frequency next door at 261 kHz has been empty for some years now. It would make a lot of sense for RTÉ to move to the clear channel of 261 kHz. This would allow RTÉ to transmit at full power, allowing the station to be heard over much of Europe, southwards towards the Alps as well as in Britain.

    Following the announcement of the extended closure date, the Irish in Britain group, led by their former CEO Jennie McShannon agreed with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to co-ordinate a mass survey on the use of RTÉ long wave radio by the Irish diaspora in Britain. During 2016 over 3,000 people responded to the survey, and when the survey was published it was crystal clear that the majority of people who responded wanted to keep RTÉ Radio 1 on their Long Wave radios.

    RTÉ have argued that Long Wave radio is old technology and therefore obsolete in today’s modern digital world, but nothing could be further from the truth. The current RTÉ Long Wave transmitter is digital compatible and at times has transmitted in the new DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) format. Transmissions have been received loud and clear in London in this format. Indeed the supposedly old and obsolete Long Wave band has characteristics that FM Radio and DAB Radio do not have, and that is the ability to send a signal a very long way with a single transmitter and aerial. TDF, the French communications company are developing a new chipset for Android tablets and phones that use the Long Wave and Medium Wave bands to send music and data. It would seem that there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet!

    RTÉ have attempted to get RTÉ Radio 1 on Digital Radio here in Britain. They were part of a consortium that bid for the new UK National Digital Radio Multiplex (group of stations). Sadly that bid failed. RTÉ also attempted to put RTÉ Radio 1 onto a local DAB Digital Radio multiplex in Manchester, but that also failed due to regulatory difficulties with the British regulator Ofcom. Clearly, if RTÉ maintain the Long Wave service then they are only answerable to the Irish authorities and do not need to go cap in hand to the British to seek permission to transmit.

    We in the Save RTÉ Long Wave Radio campaign believe that far from being an obsolete technology, Long Wave has a digital future ahead of it. At this time of Brexit and international instability why wouldn’t Ireland keep and strengthen its voice to the world. I and many others hope that RTÉ will do the right thing, by not only keeping its Long Wave service, but strengthen it and put it onto a clear channel so everyone can listen.

    Note :
    The write Richard Logue is from Quigley’s Point on the Inishowen Peninsula Donegal, Ireland.
    I’ve lived and worked in the Railway Industry in London since 1985 but am a regular monthly visitor back to my family in Donegal. I’m passionate about keeping RTÉ Long Wave as it’s our direct link with home, easily accessible on a standard portable or car radio.

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