Purpose– In sharp contrast to television, various sources of market failure currently prevent market forces fulfilling the promise of digital switchover in radio markets. The purpose of this paper is to review the strengths and weaknesses, business models and market deployment of the two main platforms, with a view to establishing the economic case for higher regulatory involvement in digital radio markets. Design/methodology/approach– The paper analyses the relevant broadcaster, engineering and regulatory literature, with particular emphasis on technical compatibilities among terrestrial radio broadcast technologies, and the technological and economic difficulties they face. The exercise is the first of its kind to scope and bring together these multidisciplinary contributions. Findings– The highly uncoordinated development and deployment of terrestrial digital radio platforms is leading this new digital industry to an impasse. There is a legacy of uncertainty and scepticism amongst market players. Furthermore, prevailing technology and business models have marginalised community radio services and regional audiences. Research limitations/implications– The analysis does not cover the demand side (contents, culture) nor developments in non‐terrestrial digital platforms, nor in the US‐based IBOC standard. Practical implications– There is considerable scope, particularly in large, sparsely inhabited countries with sizeable rural audiences to remedy the failings of the current fragmented approach through regulatory intervention through platform integration. Originality/value– There is a lack of coherent information published on the potential benefits that the new digital platforms are bringing to the audio broadcasting market, and on the current market difficulties they face. The article remedies this gap.