Video Killed The Radio Star. By Alex Mott

radio star


Alex Mott on digital innovation, interconnectivity and interaction. Key concepts from CW Digital Delivery and Content SIG ‘The Evolution and Future of Digital Radio’.


What has always been so appealing about radio as a medium is that it is ‘lean back’, something you can have on in the background whether you are driving your car, cooking dinner or in the office. You do not have to fully engage. However with the exponential rise of social media over recent years 16 – 25 year olds in particular have come to expect interaction as the norm.

At last Thursdays Digital Delivery and Content SIG delegates were told in no uncertain terms that the digital switchover is imminent. Whether it is by 2020 or 2025 pretty soon FM radio will be a thing of the past. As Laurence Harrison of Digital Radio UK noted the task now for all those involved digital radio is to convert the second ‘50 %’ who are either deferring, resisting or completely rejecting the switch. A significant victory of this campaign will be to get young consumers listening to radio again.  So the key question remains; can digital help radio start ‘leaning forward’?

One emerging technology that holds a lot of promise in this regard is ‘RadioTag’ which is currently in development by BBC R&D in partnership with Frontier Silicon. Luckily for the delegates in the audience Pablo Fraile from Frontier Silicon was on hand to provide a comprehensive account of how this functions. Essentially RadioTag allows listeners with internet radios to bookmark their favourite tracks and identify new music. What makes this new technology even more appealing is that it allows radio broadcasters to work alongside online streaming services like Spotify and Pandora rather than be in direct competition. For example a listener tags a song they like on their radio; they can then can add this to a playlist on ‘BBC Playlister’ and play it back on ‘Spotify Connect’.

This approach has already caused a lot of buzz mostly because it maintains the essence of the radio listening experience while increasing engagement. This is something that social media has so far failed to replicate.


About The Author

Alex Mott


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