Absolute’s New Digital Lab Cues Up User-Programmed DAB Station

Absolute Radio, which always had a strong internet track record as Virgin Radio, may have found its online fire again. It’s devised an experimental new DAB station, dabbl, that will play only tracks voted for by dabbl.co.uk users.

Live in beta from 7pm BST Thursday and airing from 7pm to 6am every day, dabbl asks listeners to vote for songs from an on-site library. The more votes a track gets, the more likely it is to be played.

For now, the repertoire is only live music, an area Absolute had pursued with festival tie-ups this summer, but could extend to other genres – and there will be no presenters.

But dabbl is only one product coming from a One Golden Square Labs, a new rapid prototyping team working at Absolute’s HQ.

The old Virgin Radio always had a strong online track record – as the first station in Europe to broadcast online, for example. Absolute’s audience has shrunk by Rajar figures since the rebrand, but the station argues it’s increasingly strong on platforms not recorded by Rajar.

Failure will be if dabbl ends up playing tracks from the same kinds of artists that are already staples of playlist radio rather than satisfies new audiences (there’s only so many times one can hear Kings Of Leon and The Killers before really wanting to turn off).