U.K. Unifies 400 Stations in New Online Player

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It always pays to look at how other countries are bringing radio into the future. You never know what idea might work well over here once given an American spin. I think we might be seeing one of those ideas reaching fruition right now in the United Kingdom.

Sarah Hartely at The Guardian describes it:

Due for launch early next year, The UK Radioplayer will be a pop-up console able to stream more than 400 national, local, community and student radio stations, offering a unique, constantly updated live and on-demand audio service, according to the BBC.

During a presentation at the Manchester Media Festival today, [Tim] Davie [BBC director of audio and music] displayed images of what the service might look like, with embeddable widgets for websites and a localised search facility to seek out content by postcode.

The slides showed the player being transferrable across social networking sites such as Facebook, as well across blogs and other websites.

The idea here is to advance radio as a whole. Putting a broad mix of the different radio subspecies all under one digital umbrella, then taking that catalog into the viral world of social media should provide momentum for all involved. As someone who enjoys British programming, I will certainly be checking it out. Why? Because the idea of discovery excites my imagination. I know I like BBC programming, so I’m curious about what else they listen to over there.

Now think about what could be done with this concept here in the U.S.  Imagine one portal with accessibility to thousands of stations across the country. I could share college station WTUL New Orleans across my Facebook to friends with a click.  I could listen to WBUR community radio in Boston and embed a player in my blog’s sidebar. I could listen to Clear Channel’s Urban station in San Francisco, KMEL, on my mobile phone. All through a single, central interface. It is impossible not to see the potential.

Andrew Laughlin at DigitalSpy reminds us of the boon this can be to advertisers and also shares a bit about the service itself:

RadioCentre chief executive Andrew Harrison added: “The Radioplayer brings together all of the UK’s radio output in one online console. This is a breakthrough for listeners and an attractive new proposition for advertisers.”

Listeners are able to use search functions to browse every station on the service, as well as track down news programming, sports highlights, music genres and even individual songs. Pre-set buttons are available to lock down favorite stations for ease of access.

I have a feeling that this approach is going to have legs. Ease of access is a huge concern in the modern age, as people are increasingly averse to extra steps when online.  Look at the interface for Twitter, one of the most talked about social media platforms to debut in the last few years. It’s incredibly simple and streamlined. Likewise, so is the touchscreen interface of Apple’s iPhone. Bringing all the broadcast offerings together like this and equipping them with social tools seems an almost guaranteed win for radio across the U.K.

I think we should be looking at this closely. An American counterpart could be a boon to the entire medium, especially when you factor in the vastly larger array of stations we have available here.

I can’t wait until 2010 when it is set to debut!

Image: eisenbahner / CC BY 2.0
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2 Responses to “U.K. Unifies 400 Stations in New Online Player”

  1. Mike Says:

    Doesn’t http://www.radiotime.com already offer most of this? You can share on Facebook (or other places) with a click, and embed a player on a blog. I have a Squeezebox and use my RadioTime presets everyday – a single, central interface.

  2. George Williams Says:

    There are quite marked similarities Mike, but the thing I find interesting here is coupling those capabilities with the entire radio output of an entire nation.

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