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Radio and Music update: personalisation & mobile

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Chris Kimber Chris Kimber | 13:48 UK time, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

screenshot contrasting new menu bar -

The new Radio homepage, compared to the previous version (behind)

This week we have released several new elements of the Radio and Music product, which I will explain in this post.

Since my last post in December we have been busy releasing features and fixes every three weeks, listening to audience feedback sent in via our feedback form and also through formal user testing.

It’s worth re-stating - before I go into detail on the new features - that what we are doing here is leading to a new cross platform product for BBC radio and music, to be launched fully later this year. So the work we have been doing is either laying the technical foundations for that product, or experimenting with new design and feature ideas which may or may not be included in the future.

In January for the first time we offered the ability to customize the main BBC Radio homepage to the stations of your choice. This means that you can remove stations you are not interested in but keep the ones you like, and add your local station.

Edit to add or remove your preferred stations

Personalise your stations

You have to log-in to the BBC to do this, so that you can access your personalised Radio homepage from all of your computers - at work, at home, and, with this new release, from your smartphone. This is one of the first times that the BBC has enabled sign-in on a mobile browser site, so we look forward to your feedback.

screengrab of /radio homepage with options for National, Nations, and Local stations, along with a choice to use your location

bbc.co.uk/radio on mobile

We have built on this basic personalisation with the addition of what we are calling “Favourites”. From within the station views (e.g. Radio 2) you can click the "+" button and add any audio or video item to your own Favourites list. You can then access your list by clicking “Favourites” in the top right of the navigation banner.

favourites +

Again, you have to be logged in to do this, so that you can add items to your list from one location, and access them quickly from another. Currently you can add a programme episode or a clip, but not a whole programme series - but we’re working on adding that functionality.

We tested this new feature with a range of different age groups and it was universally welcomed as a great way to capture radio programmes or clips that you want to listen to at a later time.

It’s worth noting here that these Favourites are not the same as the ones you can see in the main iPlayer site, or in the Radioplayer console, but that will change so there is only one set of radio Favourites. Tell us what you think by commenting below, or filling in our feedback form.

There are two more innovations with our mobile sites that I want to highlight. Firstly, we now have mobile browser sites for all of the BBC’s stations, not just the national networks. So that means you can access all of the 40 English Local Radio stations and the six Nations stations on your smartphone.

Simply navigate to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/ on your smartphone, and select your local station. You can then click on “Edit Stations”, log-in, and save your preferred choice of stations so that next time you visit you get straight to the stations you want.

list of stations with checkboxes

editing your stations on your mobile

One point to note is that whilst we now have live radio streams for all stations, there’s a few more weeks wait until Local Radio and Nations stations are available for iOS devices such as iPhones. If you have a Windows or Android phone it will work fine, but Apple lovers will have to be a little more patient!

Lastly, we have introduced an easy way to find your local radio station. Simply visit the site on your smartphone, then select Local Radio, then click on “Use your location”. This will then map your current location to the nearest three local stations.

using your location on your smartphone

If you have already given us feedback or left a blog comment, then thank you. If not please do let us know what you like or dislike. We read all of the feedback we receive.

Chris Kimber is the Executive Product Manager, Radio and Music, BBC Future Media


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Although welcome as a prototype, the current favourites function isn't worth much at all until it can add a series/regular programme, and it is of concern that the current system cannot read iPlayer's favourites data. (The iPlayer interface is clever and slick.)

    When will the listings be coordinated/harmonised?

    The favourites listing needs to show:

    - last programme(s) listened to (as per iPlayer);
    - whether a programme has been listened to.


  • Comment number 3.

    Using iphone to goto this page to set up radio stations - selecting menu then choosing news or tv in the list takes you to a blank page and an error saying either not found or not authorised?

  • Comment number 4.

    MATT: yes you are correct, there is a technical issue which is being worked on to fix this issue, which only came to light once we had made the latest release live. Hopefully this will be corrected in the next day or so

  • Comment number 5.

    I still don't really understand the point of some of the new radio site, apart from duplicating content and generally confusing me.

    For instance if I wanted to find out about 5 Live programmes I could go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/stations/5live/programmes or www.bbc.co.uk/5live/programmes . Personally I prefer the latter as I find it easier to use. Also I notice on the station pages the link to the station's actual home page is tucked away on the right, whilst the schedule link is in the horizontal bar.

    Some consistency across the radio & station sites would be nice.

  • Comment number 6.

    KEITH: to answer your question, the point is that we're building a new product for the BBC's radio and music content and brands, which will replace the existing sites with a new consistent offer for all stations and across multiple platforms (destop, mobile, tablet, and eventually IPTV).

    Right now, as you say, we have both the existing sites running and the new site being built, so I can see the confusion, but in the future there won't be two versions of station sites or programmes pages, just one. Bear with us whilst we build the new product which will later this year replace the existing suite of sites!

  • Comment number 7.

    @Chris, you say the plan is to replace all the existing sites with one all encompassing radio site. If this is the case, why was so much effort, and so much promotion put into the relaunch of the radio 1 homepage? A homepage that still appears to be a completely separate entity from the rest of both the R1 site and the radio r1 pages.

    Not trying to be argumentative here, just trying to understand exactly what the long term plan is because I'm honestly quite confused at the moment.

    Cheers :)

  • Comment number 8.

    @6 Chris: Thanks for the explanation, I understand it better now.

    Looking at new radio pages such as /5livesportsextra (which is powered by the new radio product) I think the navigation could do with tidying up. Currently the main navigation bar above the station logo has links for "Radio Homepage, Stations, Categories, Programme Finder, Schedule, Music, Favourites", with additional 'Now' and 'Programmes' links below the station's logo in a line. Some of these links are specific to that particular station, though at a quick glance it's not necessarily that obvious.

    I think it might be better if rearranged to use a two tier type navigation with "Radio Homepage, Stations, Music, Favourites" on the top tier and the station specifics "Now, Categories, Programme Finder, Schedule" on the second tier. Perhaps also using the local masthead layout http://www.bbc.co.uk/gel/web/foundations/masthead/local-masthead-min where the relevant logo is above the navigation may make it look tidier.

  • Comment number 9.

    When will you make bbc local radio 128 aac+ streams available in itunes?Shoiutcast like the national ones? Also when will you provide 128aac+ streams available on listen again?

  • Comment number 10.

    Why ? We had the Sports Pages ruined and the BBC Homepage massacred. Are you actively trying to discourage people from accessing the BBC Online content ? You have succeeded ! I used to come to the radio page at least once a day. This "re-imagining", or whatever it is you call it, is clearly not designed for the regular desktop user who isn't stoked on e-numbers and caffiene listening to Radio Groovy 1 on their iphone/table/whatever. I can't find a flipping thing.

    Brilliant. I'll just look at the EPG on my telly now and find out if there is anything that I actively want to listen to. Previously, I would spend many happy hours browsing through the categories and came across a lot of really great programmes that I would never have thought of listening to at the time of broadcast.

    Why is the BBC Doing This ? The world does not revolve around ipads and tablets and this whole project of "re-imagining" the online portals is alienating a lot of your core users.

  • Comment number 11.

    Thank you BBC for making another part of the site inaccessible to me. I can no longer actually read the home page, now I'm no longer able to navigate the radio categories. At least I've discovered an android app and matching webpage that allows me to view schedules and access iplayer content without having to run the tv based app. I want to listen to radio, why do I need big useless pictures? It's radio?
    I've got reading problems and lack of clear boundaries between text it all runs into each other. Just trying to separate out the homepage makes me feel ill. I'd like to be able to use the BBC on a daily basis again please, not have to search out alternative providers to access BBC content. My next fear is for the New pages.

  • Comment number 12.


    I'm sorry to hear you have reading problems. The "my web my way" site explains how to adjust your browser settings to help, whether it's because you find words difficult or can't see very well.

    Gareth Ford Williams blogged here recently about how the BBC concentrates on making it easy for your browser to adjust how the page displays, rather than on offering text only pages.

    I hope this helps.

  • Comment number 13.

    We are also aware of the feed issue which means that sometimes the "latest programmes" carousel is not as up to date as it should be. It's more complicated that it appears, but we are working on fixing the issue.

    Not only are the latest programmes carousels out of date, the programmes aren't even appearing in the correct order. What exactly constitutes "more complicated than it appears"? Have you abandoned syncronisation of the iPlayer data deliberately, or has the iPlayer team told Radio to sling its hook and fend for itself? Has the iPlayer team given notice they will cease editing broadcast slots when iPlayer dumps all radio content later this year? (Andrew Scott, Head of Radio & Music, evaded most of the associated issues raised by Roger Bolton in his recent Feedback interview.) The prospect of replacing the accurate iPlayer-fed old-style station schedule pages with an equivalent based on the new messed-up carousels fills me with horror.

    The strategy behind these fundamental building blocks has never been made clear throughout this whole sorry 6-month saga of the new Radio product, and I detect the problems are as much connected with territorial squabbling within the BBC as they are of being only 'of a technical nature'. At the moment, it just seems you are spending a lot of money replacing a system that works with one that doesn't.

    Btw, ignoring ongoing editorial input costs, what's the budget for the new Radio product compared with the recent revamp of the Sports pages?


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