Visualising radio - phase two
Over a third of people in the UK listen to digital radio each week and most of these devices have a screen. As a result, people increasingly expect visuals to supplement their listening. With that in mind, we're running a trial to bring a new level of interaction, including the faces and events of live radio, to the screens of your computer and your mobile.
This started at the beginning of June with 5Live's Simon Mayo show (5 Live's Interactive Editor Brett Spencer wrote about visualising Mayo here). At the start of this week the trial moved on to The Chris Moyles Show, Radio 1's Zane Lowe show, Switch, Radio 4's live science magazine show, Material World, and BBC 6Music's The Hub. The programmes in the trial represent a cross-section of BBC Radio output and target audiences in order to give us representative insights into how we can innovate and offer a much richer experience to those listening to their radio on a device with a screen, but without losing any quality to traditional radio output.
So how does this trial look to audiences? They will be able to go online to access the 'console' which will give them a whole new view of their favourite radio programme. The new 'console' will bring you live steaming video feeds from the studio, as well as giving you the opportunity to send messages into the programme, live DAB text, track listing information and even tweets from the Twittering classes. On other BBC blogs over the next week or two you'll be able to read about other aspects of the trial too, for instance, information about the video kit we're using (which is quite different from the tech you'll find in a TV studio).
It's important to note that this trial is not about turning radio into television. Early experience tells us that the pictures we get from our radio studios are very different from the material produced in BBC TV studios daily. There's something about the intensity of a filmed radio interview that I think you're going to find fascinating. But this is not just about AV - there is far more interactivity being offered to audiences through the new console. For instance, you can email the show directly from the console, and see the results of an audience vote on a 'swingometer'. We call this 'glanceable' content - the kind of stuff that will add something to your listening experience without being essential to it.
Another important aspect of the visualisation trial is our plan to share our findings with the rest of the radio industry, once the trial is complete. The whole UK radio industry needs to understand the implications of visualisation better and we're happy to help spread the knowledge we acquire during the trial.
Posts by Brett Spencer on the News Editors blog and Guy Strelitz on the Radio Labs blog have already appeared and Mark Damazer, Radio 4 Controller, has written about the Material World experiment on the Radio 4 blog. Participants and listeners will be twittering their experience - on both sides of the glass and on both sides of the mic. Keep your eye on the hashtag #vistrial to read their contributions (but remember the BBC doesn't control what appears on Twitter).
Please join in with our experiment in adding pictures to live radio - on your computer or on your mobile - and let us know what you think, here on the blog or via the participating programmes.
Mark Friend is Controller, Multiplatform & Interactive, BBC Audio & Music
- Brett Spencer on the News Editors blog, Guy Strelitz on the Radio Labs blog and Mark Damazer on the Radio 4 blog.
- The Visualisation Trial is available on the following Mobile devices: Nokia N95, N96 and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic; Sony Ericsson K800i; Blackberry Bold and Storm; Samsung i600 and HTC Touch.
- BBC 5 Live's useful FAQ for the visualisation console.
- The BBC's press release for phase two of the visualisation trial.
- Search Twitter for the hashtag #vistrial.
- The most recent RAJAR radio listening figures.