Radio Meets Video At Ocean 98

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webcam

In Ocean City, Maryland, radio is jumping on the multimedia bandwagon in a big way. WOCM, also known as Ocean 98, has taken the plunge into online video as they evolve with the times.

In the old days, the announcer was a disembodied voice, judged on performance and playlist. Then celebrity DJs like the legendary Wolfman Jack began appearing on TV and billboards as their stations attempted to leverage the new found popularity of the announcers. Now it’s the 21st century, the Internet Age is upon us, and the curiosity of listeners is satisfied (at this station anyway) by the ability to tune in a live video feed straight from the control room.

Via Brian Shane at Delmarva NOW:

So what’s a tool for video broadcasting doing in a radio station? Well, they’re not just playing music and taking calls at Ocean 98. WOCM jocks are producing a live video programming over the Internet at irieradio.com for a global audience — for in-studio bands, outdoor concerts, even bikini contests — and it runs 24 hours a day.

What’s more, when the station launched an updated Web site Dec. 4, anyone in the world can plug in with their own Web cams to participate in the broadcast, taking listener interaction to a new level.

“What this station is doing with multimedia right now is groundbreaking and pioneering,” said Brian Smith, the station’s technology director.

Video content is the future of radio, said Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming for powerhouse Washington news station WTOP.

“It sounds like these are smart guys,” he said of Ocean 98. “The kind of people they’re drawing in with their format are younger people who are looking for a social experience and an interactive experience, so this is very smart. There are other radio stations using video, and they have video feeds, but I’ve never heard of somebody with (so many) cameras.”

Now I do not believe that video content, per se, is the future of radio. I do, however, believe that web-based video is a major component of that future. The plethora of ways in which radio and audiences can interact using web and mobile tools is integral to the evolution of the medium overall.  The broadcast element is one that will always be important, even central to radio’s evolution, but the development of more platforms for interaction and the addition of multimedia cannot be downplayed.

It takes a lot of gumption to break away from the expected and innovate. As one of the DJs in Mr. Shane’s article observes, “Who the hell’s going to watch radio? It’s almost voyeuristic. Would you want me to watch you at work all day?” A natural first reaction in my opinion. Then I got to thinking about my own DJ days.

When I was still announcing, I used to run into people all the time that thought is was “so cool” to see what I really looked like. To quote Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King, “the face AND the voice!” This is the same curiosity and desire for personal connection that I see driving the success of Ocean 98’s experiment in online video. For the modern listener, tools such as videoconferencing and Twitter are the equivalent of the telephone-based call-ins of prior decades.

Photo courtesy of MShades, used under its Creative Commons license

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