Since the early 20th century radio has been an important source of information and entertainment for people of various ages and backgrounds. Almost every Australian home and car has at least one radio and most Australians listen to radio regularly. The introduction of new radio technology—digital terrestrial radio—which can deliver a better listening experience for audiences, therefore has the potential to influence people’s lives significantly.
Digital radio in a variety of technological formats has been established in a number of countries for some years, but it is expected only to become a reality in Australia sometime in 2009. Unlike the idea of digital television however, digital radio has not fully captured the imagination of audiences and in some markets there are suggestions that it is no longer relevant.
This paper provides a simple explanation of the major digital radio standards and a brief history of their development. It particularly examines the standard chosen for Australia, the Eureka 147 standard (known also as Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB). The paper also traces the development of digital radio policy in Australia and considers issues which may affect the future of the technology.