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Radio With Pictures

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 09:47 UK time, Wednesday, 17 June 2009

There's been a few things that (to our shame) we've missed on the Internet blog recently. One is BBC Radio (or Audio & Music)'s trial of "Visualising Radio".

5 Live's interactive editor Brett Spencer introduced the trials that started with the Simon Mayo show earlier this month.

Guy Strelitz looks at some of the technical detail on the BBC Radio Labs blog.

This week's Ariel, the BBC's staff newspaper, sent their reporter Adam Bambury behind the scenes to have a look. This is what he found.
Nick Reynolds is editor, Social Media, Central Editorial Team, BBC Online.

A man sits hunched over a mixing desk, deftly cutting between camera feeds of people talking - a scene that occurs in many a BBC television studio. The difference here is that this man is deep in the bowels of 5 Live. Welcome to the future of radio.

One of many possible futures, admittedly, but a future that's been receiving a lot of praise from listeners turned viewers of the Simon Mayo show, the first programme on the receiving end of the second phase of FM&T and A&M interactive's latest visual radio trial. Just don't call it tv for radio.

'This is visualisation of radio,' clarifies Brett Spencer, interactive editor for 5 Live. 'We're not making television, but we are adding more visuals to the radio programme, perhaps to attract a younger audience that may want to consume things in a more multimedia environment.'

You can see the results online, via a shiny new 'visualisation console' that listeners can ­access via the 5 Live site (see box). What is attracting the most attention, however, is the console's 'studio cam', which utilises the four video cameras already built into the 5 Live studio.

Far from a bog standard webcam, this is a high quality streaming video feed that displays radio as it happens. The visuals are mixed live to capture the action, while another member of the interactive team sources images for news stories and studio guests. 5 Live has filmed radio ­before, as has Radio 4 with its recent 'Today TV' experiments, but this is the first time it has been done in this way through the new console.

On the first day of the trial, which began at the start of this month, a holding card was displayed during any non-Mayo items, such as news, traffic and toilet breaks. A raft of complaints ­ensued, and now proceedings within the studio are revealed in all their mundane glory.

The addition is not without its challenges, like needing to get visual clearance from all guests (no-one has refused so far), but judging from incoming messages during the show - ranging from 'what a babe' newsreader Justine Greene is to the scruffiness of the crew - listeners evidently relish the opportunity to take a peek behind the scenes.
Presenter Simon Mayo agrees: 'The audience seem to like it - I take no notice of it at all. I've had to start wearing make-up which is a bit strange, but I haven't started playing to the camera yet.' "

The Simon Mayo show will be visualised until June 19, when the trial switches to Chris Moyles (R1, Monday-Friday), Switch (R1, Sunday), Material World (R4, Thursday), and The Hub (6 Music, selected sessions) until the end of June, when the technology goes before the BBC Trust.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Radio may have pictures, but why have the higher quality live Internet radio streams been delayed for an entire year? Is it because the BBC is biased towards DAB and biased against Internet radio by any chance?

  • Comment number 2.

    digitalradiotech - you're off topic. No more please.

  • Comment number 3.

    Why is it off topic?

  • Comment number 4.

    The post is not about DAB or radio streams. Consider this a red card.

  • Comment number 5.

    I find the experiment interesting and wonder as bandwidth becomes available via 'Canvas' and other related technologies whether the service if approved could be carried as a matter of course via the 'extended' EPG that these services will offer.

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Get the sound right before worrying about vision,I'm with digitalradiotech on this one.

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    Can someone tell me why every so often I hit a link which sends me to the old style of BBC News?

    Apologies if this isn't the correct place to post this.

    Richard

  • Comment number 11.

    Who seriously wants pictures with crap audio?

    About time BBC got priorities right

  • Comment number 12.

    I tried the 5live website but couldn't find the shiny new 'visualisation console'.

    Sounds just like watching a webcam of someone doing radio show, have I missed something ?

  • Comment number 13.

    Good Afternoon

    Nick,seeing as Radio is being shown live on BBC Television,does that mean we can discuss radio on the Points of View BBC Television board?

    Regards
    Techno

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    You're going to have a hard time convincing the majority of people that 'radio with pictures' is anything other than television.

    What would be more useful would be metadata accompanying the radio stream. Current song and artist are obvious ones. Hyperlinks and phone numbers - if I'm listening on my computer or a mobile phone, it would be nice to be able to click these directly rather than having to listen to the audio and type them out manually.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    What utter rubbish. If it has pictures, it's television.

    And why this continual "Younger Audience" drivel. How about appealing to ALL audiences?

  • Comment number 19.

    "What would be more useful would be metadata accompanying the radio stream. Current song and artist are obvious ones. Hyperlinks and phone numbers... "

    Isn't this just updated RDS ?, the problem with that is no-one bothers to provide the data on lots of shows.

  • Comment number 20.

    #16

    "You're going to have a hard time convincing the majority of people that 'radio with pictures' is anything other than television."

    Indeed, isn't that how the BBC first introduced that new fangled technology called 'television'?! One of the nice things about radio is that there is no distractions for either presenters or listeners, ask people about this mornings edition of "Today" and they will - for example - talk about the interview with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's driver, ask about BBC Breakfast time and the chances are many will just remember what the presenter was wearing...

    I must say that of late, the BBC really is showing just how low it's stooping in both quality and editorially and these 'lets make TV out of radio' stunts (and this blog) has been no exception - the BBC Trust really must start reminding the BBC of it's core purpose and remit.

    I Trust that no one will find this comment off topic either, far to much censorship from the BBC of late...

  • Comment number 21.

    Hmm, guess I'm going to get censured and accused of being off topic.

    Nick is it fair to say once you've blogged and are done with it you dont go back. In essence the blog is abandoned?


    Because you appear to be either not answering or abandoning blogs. ie POV

  • Comment number 22.

    Franky_Herbert - you are as you well know off topic. This post is the place to discuss POV. And I refer you to my previous comment here.

    Any more off topic comments from you on this thread will be moderated out.

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Also, Brett Spenser says
    "perhaps to attract a younger audience that may want to consume things in a more multimedia environment.' "

    OR, Radio on it's own is not "pritty icky" enough to keep the attention of the young. They need over-stimulation of their senses to be able to follow what is being said.....with pictures and video streaming, and speaking yoof innit. Youtube's got a lot to answer for.

    Next, we'll have a webcam and CCTV streaming Nick making a cup of coffee/tea, and ferreting about in the biscuit tin for a Caramel Log. Because, we NEED to know these things. It's to improve our knowledge/appreciation/understanding of BBC. Or, simply pretentious dressing up of Televisuals - god that's an old word (haha) as "Visualising Radio"

    OR, BBC could maybe make GOOD QUALITY programmes which folk might want to listen to, without the cartoon effects.

    "Visualisation Console", Haha, this is where I would use a (rollseyessmiley), and (slapshandtoforeheadsmilely), if BBC blogs did smileys. Wonder how long you lot spent thinking THAT one up?

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    Touchy aren't we?

    I'm sorry, but I seem to be missing the point of something here!

    "Radio with pictures"...What's to get excited about? BBC television
    has been doing this since 1932! Instead of wasting time and effort on this rubbish, please fix the stuff that IS broken. I would give a list, but it would get binned for being off-topic.

    The world's gone mad!

  • Comment number 28.

    Seems this blog is being moderated by the Iranian Government!

    Please explain quite how Radio with pictures is not Television.
    It seems someone has been blue sky thinking this one, to come up with utter nonsense.

    Time for the Beeb to come up with what the customer wants, and not what they give us.

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    RE: "The world's gone mad!"

    Can we all agree the date that the world went mad?

  • Comment number 32.

    The day they dreamt up blogs, twitters, and the visualisation of radio.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    28. At 00:48am on 18 Jun 2009, Tengsted wrote:
    Seems this blog is being moderated by the Iranian Government!

    Please explain quite how Radio with pictures is not Television
    ______________________________________________________________

    Well they cant. It IS TV

  • Comment number 35.

    31. At 6:25pm on 18 Jun 2009, _marko wrote:
    RE: "The world's gone mad!"

    Can we all agree the date that the world went mad?

    32. At 7:24pm on 18 Jun 2009, dave wrote:
    The day they dreamt up blogs, twitters, and the visualisation of radio.
    _________________________________________________________________________


    Yes most definetly Blogs

  • Comment number 36.

    Radio is sound - and that's it. Brand and Ross behaved as they did because they are TV people on radio but behaved as if they were on TV. All the twitter, blog rubbish is just that - it adds absolutely nothing and drives listeners away. Good way to lose my support of the licence fee.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. The BBC should be encouraged to experiment with the technology around their services. If they had been discouraged from the start, we'd all still be listening to the Home Service and watching BBC tv in glorious 405-line black-and-white-o-vision.

  • Comment number 38.

    @37

    There's experimenting, and there's re-inventing the wheel.

    I know what so called "Radio with Pictures" falls in to.
    Remember the James Whale Radio Show?......

  • Comment number 39.

    #37

    "I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. The BBC should be encouraged to experiment with the technology around their services. If they had been discouraged from the start, we'd all still be listening to the Home Service and watching BBC tv in glorious 405-line black-and-white-o-vision."

    But why re-invent the wheel, if they want to make television out of the "Today" programme (for example) why not just televise it on the BBC News Channel, or were ever. At a time when the BBC is having to make cuts in other areas, as others have said, wouldn't it be better to make one new technology work well rather than a hundred new technologies work only mediocre? As for radio and the Home service etc, I think you'll find that the BBC did little to improve their radio services until the 'Pirate Stations' showed the way, the BBC merely played catch-up!...

  • Comment number 40.

    If the BBC wishes to experiment, I have no objection. However the experiments should be of some import. Perhaps they could experiment with making the rolling news channels, News 24 and 5Live, the "Newsnight" of their genre, rather than the "Sun gossip column". They could experiment at targeting programmes at demographics other than "yoof". They could experiment in having some programmes on 5Live that aren't phone-ins.

  • Comment number 41.

    bit late I know but what about the opposite... "Hearing the TV"... as exemplified by Bottom Line on BBC News and Radio 4. (with separate Websites pod casts and the TV on the iPlayer (for a year!!)) The production values are informal but not quite as much as Radio 5's (which I note actually plays it both ways. with BBC News)and the add ons are provided by the OU (open2.net) But it does pose a question: this time 'why on TV?'
    Another example of a different vision is the BBC orchestra's series of concerts with Radio 2 which have been televised or visioned (?) and offered after the concerts but with no add ons
    To work all of these have to act as radio first then add the pictures.
    I hope the BBC Trust is not confused by all these experiments when it comes to make the decision next month and avoid demanding as some of the audience clearly expect all the contributors in Dinner Suits

    I think 'Bottom Line' is just about right for now.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. The BBC should be encouraged to experiment with the technology around their services. If they had been discouraged from the start, we'd all still be listening to the Home Service and watching BBC tv in glorious 405-line black-and-white-o-vision.http://www.seslichatailesi.net/

 

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