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The next radio revolution - your very own BBC Radio station

Mark Friend

Controller Radio & Music Multiplatform

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People love the simplicity of radio. Simply turn it on and it’s your companion for the day from when you wake up to going to bed. It works anywhere, combines entertainment seamlessly with news, sport, travel and weather, and the content on offer is hugely diverse and of great quality. Around 90% of the UK listens to radio each week and almost all of that listening is live but it’s increasingly becoming easier, and popular, to catch up on your favourite shows whenever and wherever you want to – whether it’s by downloading BBC radio programmes when using the BBC iPlayer Radio app on your phone or by subscribing to a range of podcasts ranging from Desert Island Discs and Private Passions to Friday Night Comedy and the new Seriously podcast from Radio 4. 

Every month millions of episodes of BBC Radio programmes are downloaded by our audiences - in fact over a million programmes were downloaded in the first month after we launched the new BBC iPlayer Radio app feature - so it’s clear to us that habits are changing fast for many listeners. We also know that there is also no shortage of brilliant radio produced every week by the BBC and all of that is available online to catch up on, but much of it can be hard for listeners to find or even to know about. So we need to make finding and accessing our radio content easier.

Our plan is to create a personalised radio station, for every listener.

When we started thinking about developing this we knew that we would have to keep it simple. But we also need to make radio more sophisticated if it is to stay relevant to both the new generations of listeners as well as our current audiences who now have new ways to listen. So our proposal for personalised radio is to aim for sophisticated simplicity - as simple as turning on a radio but giving you your very own BBC radio station based on what you like listening to. 

This will respond to your needs, wherever you are, whatever time of day. It will combine live and on-demand audio with music playlists and regular updates for news, sport, travel, weather and other alerts. This will be based on understanding what you normally listen to, what you like, what you don’t like and linking this to factors such as time, location and what device you’re listening on.

Think of radio in your car. You can’t let yourself be distracted by constantly looking for something you want to listen to while you’re driving, so your personal radio station will give you the radio you want in one place. It will automatically combine live radio with on demand programmes, clips from services like In Short, music recommendations and news and travel updates. If you don’t like what’s playing then simply press the left button on the steering wheel and your personal station will switch to the next best option.

This service will help you get the most out of your listening. It will support varied schedules that mix speech, music and news bring together local and Nations news and radio alongside our national stations and the World Service. All the BBC Radio that you want, in your pocket, at home, or on the move. And of course, you’ll still have access to all of the BBC’s radio stations & their regular schedules, and switching between these and your personalised radio will be easy.

We plan to take some early steps towards this over the next year but the full service will take time to develop and we’ll be listening hard to our audience to work out what works best and what needs changing. If you have any thoughts on what you’d like from your personalised radio, do leave a comment below.

  • Discover more about our plans for the BBC over the next years on the Inside the BBC website. 

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