RADIOS may have been losing ground the last few years pushed to the back of the cupboard by X-Boxes, DVD players, mini discs and mobile phones.

But digital audio broadcasting (DAB) has opened the door to enjoying this age-old standard in new ways. According to most sites, about 85 per cent of the UK has digital coverage, and DAB users can get up to three times as many FM stations as normal radio.

Recent reports say digital radio sales are fast outpacing analogue models. By dialling in to some key web sites, you can find out why this phenomenon is such a growing success.

In our region, Morecambe and Caldbeck have digital transmitters. If you live in a marginal service area, aerials can help. Aside from all the BBC digital channels, Digital One Network provides links to Virgin Radio, oneword' radio a station for writers and readers - and talkSPORT. The awarding of local and regional licences for digital radio stations will continue to be rolled out.

The first site to tune into' is . It has an excellent What is Digital Radio section. People are attracted to the clarity of sound, volume of choice almost double the current station choice - and access to new specialty channels that are its most attractive features. Being able to choose from a growing selection of stations; listen to sound without interference, fading or cutting out; and being able to have some control over how and when you listen to them is proving to be the icing on the DAB cake.

Ukdigitalradio also offers information for businesses, journalists, advertisers and broadcasters to help you to work out what you can do and how to take advantage of this new medium. A digital radio development bureau, charged with growing the medium, has a site at .

The digital' options of being able to record shows to listen to at your leisure, stop and replay live programmes, and download information is taking radio much further down the road of technology than radio creator Guglielmo Marconi ever imagined in his wireless days.

The site also provides an online survey to help match the stations available to your personal interests. This is on top of the stations section, which gives you a preview of what is available around the UK. All the standard BBC channels are in the mix, including Five Live Sports. DAB radios for cars are available in the shops and online.

If you are not sure what is available in your area, this is important to know before you purchase a digital radio. Along with, and others, you can do a postcode search to see what is available in your area. Although digital channels can be heard via a digital TV or over the Internet, portability of the radio makes it an attractive option.

Once you start shopping around for the radio, you will be surprised at the options available. Be prepared to invest a little time researching. DAB radios come in standard, hand-held, ones with CD players, alarms, pause and rewind options and USB connections. The world is your Oyster.

At , you can join an online digital radio discussion forum. One person recommended www.digitalradio as his favourite DAB site. The site had a banner saying the UK had the lowest quality DAB services in the world. Why not surf some DAB discussion sites and see what the listener on the street' has to say?

As with any new technology, there will be kinks to work out but it is fun being on the crest of the wave.

Once you are ready to buy the radio, you might want to visit for some price comparison research. The radio styles are fashionable but few so it is easy to check out prices. Most DAB-related sites offer this service. From high street to high-tech stores, this new listening device is growing in popularity.

For a plain speaking site on what DAB is and what stations are available, visit . It highlighted the groundbreaking' digital station, Passion for the Planet, which received a Special Commendation at the 2004 British Environment and Media Awards for its contributions. It also offers a buyers guide.

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