Spreading the Jelli: User-Driven Radio Catching On


Longtime readers will remember my prior posts about Jelli, the socially-driven radio experiment. Well, it’s time to check in with them again.

Jelli is a groundbreaking approach to fusing broadcast radio and Internet-based social networking. Listeners can go online and vote for their favorite songs, and those with the most votes get played on the air. Jefferson Graham compares it to American Idol in his recent video interview for USA Today.  Give it a watch; I’ll wait here.

Jelli has been expanding, as shown in this excerpt from Graham’s USA Today column (companion piece to the video linked above):

Traditional broadcast radio stations in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Syracuse, N.Y., and a handful of smaller markets have signed with Jelli to bring “crowd-sourcing” music decisions to the people, and away from professional programmers.

Jelli’s website streams personalized music to registered users and provides a home for radio listeners to vote for songs. Where Dougherty hopes to profit is through traditional commercial on-air advertising. Jelli’s all-request radio format — a variation on Top 40 — is given to stations for free, in exchange for two minutes of commercial airtime each day that Jelli gets to sell.

Summer of 2009 was when it all began, a trial Sunday night show in San Francisco on CBS’s Live 105; last month it expanded to seven nights a week. Now, this week, more stations will be embracing Jelli including new ones is Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

I think the fusion of web-based social media and broadcast radio is one rife with potential. I don’t think will become the new standard, but I do think most stations will eventually have at least a show or two driven by this sort of mechanic. Online, we only have to look at the success of websites like Digg and Reddit to see an established template behind this innovation.

It’s quite a recipe they’re cooking with there. What do you think of it? Fleeting trend or glimpse of the future? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Image: Jelli Logo / Fair Use: Reporting


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2 Responses to “Spreading the Jelli: User-Driven Radio Catching On”

  1. jamescridland Says:

    “Summer of 2009 was where it all began”… except I personally ran Manx Choice in 2002, on the Isle of Man in the UK*. This was a station where you could choose the music you wanted to hear by voting for it on a website or a 3G phone; and if it got enough votes, it got played.

    In 1999, the UK radio station “Core” started broadcasting, and it, too, included an element called CoreControl, where text messages requesting a song were used to shape the output of the radio station. My understanding is that it was a little more smoke and mirrors than Manx Choice, but it, too, followed the Jelli model.

    And Dabbl Radio ( http://www.dabbl.co.uk ) is currently on-air, a radio station which is similarly entirely driven by the listeners. I’m credited with writing the document that led to the station’s invention (though they’ve not yet implemented all the ideas).

    Just as many things (computers, the world-wide-web, television) I’m afraid Great Britain got there before you. (grin)

    * Technically, the Isle of Man isn’t in the UK actually, but it helps explain where it is if I overlook that fact.

  2. George Williams Says:

    Hey James,

    Summer of 2009 was where it all began for Jelli. Sorry if that was somehow unclear in the original posting. Thanks for the quick history lesson on Manx Choice, etc. I might have to pester you for a guest post giving us more detail!

    (Also, as you may recall, I’ve posted about Dabble a few times over the past year or so.)

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