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A radio futurologist writing about what happens when radio and new platforms collide
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What radio looks like in Australia

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 at 9:03 am. #

Australian DAB+ slideshow

Last month I was in Australia: driving from Brisbane to Melbourne, via Sydney and Canberra.

As I’ve written here before, Australian radio sounds different: and it looks different, too.

Listen on DAB+ with a suitable radio and radio becomes a glanceable experience as well as an audio one.

Crucially: this doesn’t change radio from a ‘secondary medium’ – something you can enjoy while you do something else. This isn’t crap TV. This is radio that you can glance at to discover what’s playing; what’s up next; and other pieces of information from broadcasters.

SLS – as it’s officially known – works on DAB or DAB+ by broadcasting these images along with the audio. More usually this is known as DAB Slideshow – or visual radio. A variant of this standard, called RadioVIS, uses hybrid radio to achieve the same thing – using open technology called RadioDNS linking the broadcast audio (on FM, IP, DAB, HD or other platforms) with images available online.

It’s still early days: but the richness of some of the commercial operators’ images seem to show that this is slowly taking off. Uncharacteristically, the ABC has yet to do much with this technology, simply transmitting radio station logos – but even this, in a land that still uses diaries to register peoples’ listening, is useful, since it aids brand recall in a way that a small programme label cannot. (Now that ABC News has moved buildings into a purpose-built Brisbane office, it would seem a great excuse to work harder on these visuals.)

- See the full slideshow on Flickr here.
- Stations in the UK are doing this too: try a PURE Sensia or a Revo Axis tuned into many DAB or FM services. The BBC are still trialling RadioVIS, but you’ll find public services from many stations, notably Absolute, Global Radio, Planet Rock and others.
- If you’re interested in RadioDNS, there’s a hackday next week at the EBU in Geneva, along with RadioDNS’s General Assembly.

9 comments

Greg
commenting at February 8th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

“Listeners give digital radio a poor reception”

“It was billed as the future of broadcasting: pristine reception, loads of stations, and scrolling text displaying song titles and news headlines. But two years after its introduction, digital radio accounts for just 7.6 per cent of radio listening time in Australia, according to figures from Commercial Radio Australia.”

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/listeners-give-digital-radio-a-poor-reception-20110903-1jrcg.html

It appears that just like the rest of the world, digital radio is not taking off in Australia. Analog radio offers the same features (via RDS, plus tagging)except for artist display. Not enough to entice liseners, as they give up excellent analog reception, to questionable reception with digital radio.

James Cridland
commenting at February 8th, 2012 at 8:55 pm

A little knowledge, Greg, is dangerous.

In Australia’s case, that 7% is significantly ahead of any other digital radio service in any other country: and that is a great achievement. Meanwhile in the UK, half of the population uses digital radio every week.

But since your mind (and ears) are closed to any alternative, it appears pointless to argue with you. Analogue and digital both have a place in the future of radio; I tend not to react very well when people like you tell me I am stupid for wanting more choice on my radio.

Greg
commenting at February 8th, 2012 at 11:46 pm

That “half the population in the UK uses digital radio” includes all sources of digital radio, not just DAB. I’ve read Grant Goddard’s blog for years, and kow better. I love how you twisted my post around. LOL!

Christian McGregor
commenting at February 9th, 2012 at 12:56 am

A slight correction to the ABC comment in the article – we do broadcast “Now playing” SLS for most of our music services (ABC Dig Music, ABC Jazz, ABC Country, triple j and triple j Unearthed) with artist and track data & album cover art. And we’re working hard on getting slides of playing info for ABC Classic FM.

But you’re quite right. We could be doing more with the other services. At the moment it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation – there are only a few – relatively expensive – radios in our market that support SLS, so the listener demand is low, when compared to DLS info.

James Cridland
commenting at February 9th, 2012 at 9:26 am

But, Greg, you wrote: “It appears that just like the rest of the world, digital radio is not taking off in Australia.” – and then started talking about analog reception.

If you meant DAB+ only, then why didn’t you say?

Håvard Wien
commenting at February 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am

What kind of DAB+ reciever do use here? Is is a iRiver?

James Cridland
commenting at February 14th, 2012 at 9:13 am

Yes, it is an iRiver.

Håvard Wien
commenting at February 14th, 2012 at 9:19 am

iRiver s100? Is is worth buying? Do you know if it recieves DMB?

James Cridland
commenting at February 14th, 2012 at 10:44 am

Not sure of the model number.

Does it receive DMB? I think you might find this photo interesting…
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/5520410230/in/photostream/
(yes, in short – it gets the NRK DMB services).

Is it worth buying? It’s the worst radio user interface I’ve ever had the misfortune of using…

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