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A radio futurologist writing about what happens when radio and new platforms collide
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Sunday afternoon reading

Posted on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 at 3:07 pm. #


The NAB and RIAA (bizarre combination) have insisted that new mobile phones come with an FM chip inside them, and are forcing Congress to make this a law. I must confess that bullying manufacturers to include radio leaves me cold: radio’s relevant and much loved by everyone, and that’s why it ought to be in your new gadget. Steve Safran’s lostremote comments “This is a reactionary and absurd response to the new media marketplace”, meanwhile Radio InSights points out that “Robo-radio, voice tracking and tired programming isn’t going to persuade a listener to switch her cellphone from email to the radio” (though neglects to note that actually, a listener can switch her cellphone from radio to email without losing the radio…)

Mind, Radio InSights are being a little overly rude towards Mark Ramsey. I’ve criticised Mark in the past for being too American and insular; but they’ve gone a little overboard on a critique about one of his recent posts, imho. They do have a point; but argue against the point, not the person, chaps.

Talking about Mark Ramsey, he posts an interesting polemic about The End of Local – which argues that “local” mostly doesn’t matter. “I – the consumer – don’t care where you are. I only care that you care where I am. And that you give me what I want wherever and however I want it.” This is an interesting read for those of us in the UK, where recent changes in legislation have meant a dramatic decrease in the localness of some commercial radio here. While the anoraks don’t like it, I do quietly point out that not being local doesn’t appear to have damaged BBC Radio 2 an awful lot.

Absolute Radio are crowing about appearing in the Nokia Ovi store TV advert. I’ve a lot of time for Absolute (and am currently consulting for them); but the only thing I can see in the TV ad is a curious unfamiliar purple fast-forward icon. If you’re not using your proper logo in your app, you’re missing a trick, in my opinion. That’s not to take away from the fact that Absolute’s been recognised by Nokia as a good brand to use alongside YouTube and Tesco, incidentally: which is excellent news.

The future of radio is multiplatform, as I regularly boringly say, and NPR have just released a bunch of research that underlines that: showing hour-by-hour figures for each platform. Interesting reading.

MediaTel have a new report out, ‘The Changing Face of Audio Consumption’, and their blog makes some bold claims: “In the entertainment area, the role of radio has been superseded by the internet, and the rise of MP3 players” (really? how so? Evans, Moyles, Just a Minute, Geoff Lloyd, etc listeners might disagree) “With analogue radio switch-off announced for 2015″ (er – no, it hasn’t been); and quotes and ‘analysis’ seemingly thrown together without any cohesion. I hope the report’s better than the blog posting.

Using Wikipedia as content for your website can be a great idea, but sometimes – just sometimes – it’s not. This screenshot of a widget from the BBC Music website is almost inevitable. If BBC Music had correctly credited Wikipedia, the headline wouldn’t have been “BBC Website WIN!” but “Wikipedia WIN!”, and it’s hardly likely that anyone would have screen-shotted a Wikipedia vandalism. Of note, however: the BBC Music cache of Wikipedia is refreshed automatically on every Wikipedia edit; so when a similar vandalism that day was cleared up within three minutes, so would the BBC Music version have been: if you didn’t do what Patrick Sinclair did and written a bot to monitor Wikipedia changes (details), then you might have simply grabbed the Wikipedia page at the wrong time, and that vandalised version could have been there for weeks.

The clever folks at BERG have done a clever tool for the BBC which overlays events onto the UK – probably better to click through to see a rather breathtaking example: what if the Pakistan Floods were centred on London? Notwithstanding the rather patronising way that the tool defaults to W12 7RJ (that’s TV Centre), it’s an impressive tool to help people visualise the news. Mind – If they were thinking straight, they’d have linked to W1A 1AA, which is BBC Broadcasting House – a very central location that many people would have seen, rather than TVC, which is out of the way in an otherwise rather dreary location.

If you’ve an Android phone, you might enjoy Tasker which is a very clever app indeed: it allows you to program your phone to do things automatically. Very geeky, very powerful. Recommended.

Radio or audio types might like Myna, which is an online audio editor. I’ve not tried it – preferring Audacity – but you might find it right up your street.

And irreverent consumer site Bitterwallet has inexplicably given a big puff for ‘World’ World, the internet’s collection of places called (something) World.


Adam Bowie
commenting at August 22nd, 2010 at 4:49 pm

It’s worth noting that the Mediatel research you cite isn’t by Mediatel. The piece linked to has been written by two researchers from GfK. I’ve not seen the report either, and can’t find it online. While I think the summary of results is hard to believe, I’d like to see the full document to perhaps put the findings we’re presented within context.

Clive Dickens
commenting at August 23rd, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Hi James,

That ‘curious unfamiliar purple fast-forward icon’ is affectionately called our ‘Discovery icon’ and has been part of the Absolute Radio logo for 2 years. It is ‘only’ familiar to users who have downloaded our 1.2m apps, 16m podcasts and over 1m unique streamers who have started a streamed from our websites :)

Seriously though, ‘The Smartphone App icon graphic’ dilemma is a challenge for all brands. But do I presume you consider Facebook’s ‘f’, Twitter’s ‘t’ and Linked in’ ‘in’ also curiously unfamiliar. :)


James Cridland
commenting at August 23rd, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Of course, the facebook ‘f’, the twitter ‘t’ and the linkedin ‘in’ are all portions of a logo that are in front of their users every day: because the web works like that.

What’s notable about radio – over consumption of all other brands – is that listeners can consume radio for years without being aware of the station’s logo at all…

Your point – that the ‘f’ or ‘t’ do nothing for people who don’t already use facebook and twitter – is a valid one, of course; I’m not quite sure whether every Absolute Radio listener would recognise the ‘discovery icon’, though. But still. It’s a very nice discovery icon.

commenting at September 9th, 2010 at 2:57 am

Thanks for the link to Myna. Sounds like a useful thing to try out.

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