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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Fun new ways to use radio

The innovative, the fun and the experimental are increasingly part of the UK’s digital radio scene. Two further launches this week prove the point but it’s been going on for a while.

Portsmouth’s Weather 24/7 Radio uses live, open-source meterological data to create a spoken word weather forecast, assembled dynamically from a pool of object-based audio assets. I know a leisure sailor who loves it. Hello Nick.

Steve Penk’s Radio Dead, a station that preserves the music of deceased artists and Forever Radio, Steve’s tribute to Peter Kay’s Car Share, are modern creative uses of the medium. The sort of idea that might once have sat behind a breakfast benchmark feature can now sustain a whole station.

Meanwhile, other concepts ‘pop-up’ for short time:

BBC Radio 2 Country is now a recurrent popular service for country music fans, driving more social media interaction for the BBC than any other of its stations when it’s on, according to creator, Brett Spencer.

And a station that aired ‘soothing sounds’ to help babies sleep popped up in November. Sleepyhead Radio also carried healthcare advice for new parents and was backed by the National Childbirth Trust. [Disclosure: I had a hand in the project].

The barriers of entry to broadcast radio have never been lower and two more concept stations join the airwaves this week. One is for professional builders, the other is DIY.

Fix Radio

Launching on Wednesday (they said it would be Monday but had another job on), Fix Radio promises an upbeat mix of music from the 80s to today plus weather, sports and “banter” scheduled around a builder’s working day. 8 – 3.45 right?

They’ve already had a nice plug on the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show:

The journalist and consultant Paul Chantler is working on the project so it’ll be great, and it’s got the spark of originality and talkability that could make it a darling of the popular media.

When we had the builders in a couple of years ago I was fascinated to see what radio they chose. The young assistant brickies picked Radio 1 and Kiss, the older carpenter and plumber hated that and switched to Radio 2. The electrician lived a long way away and wanted local travel news. After a day or two of argument they agreed on Wave 105.

Upload Radio

Upload Radio gfx

A new station made by you, on air now in South London, Liverpool, Surrey, Wrexham, Chester and Gloucestershire.

Alongside today’s tightly-formatted radio, broad mixed stations have long been part of the UK’s radio landscape. It’s not just legacy stations: BBC Radio 4 Extra is a relative youngster yet it drives more than 12 million hours of listening a week to its wide mix of comedy, readings, features and drama.

Now Upload Radio is here with a serendipitous mix of programmes from a range of content creators. The station operators have passed the production and the scheduling job to you while they look after the back end and the UX.

Before Serial and the surge of interest in podcasts the mighty CBS made an AM broadcast radio station in San Francisco by curating online audio they’d found from multiple publishers. In their case a producer found the material they liked, phoned up the creator and asked for permission to air it. The station sold some spot advertising between the shows and the business stacked-up, at least nestled within the resources of a larger group.

Upload Radio logoUpload Radio puts all that responsibility in your hands. You buy an hour of airtime for £20, upload your Ofcom-compliant audio and your show airs. You get some forward promotion in the preceding hour, your content showcased online plus live and listen again exposure on UK RadioPlayer for 28 days.

If you want to sell sponsorship and/or advertising within your show that’s fine. Upload Radio isn’t currently asking for a revenue share or auctioning slots.

Will listeners warm to the Upload Radio concept and brand, or just some of the programmes within it? Will everybody want to buy the breakfast slots and none of the overnights? Will they have a surprise hit on their hands and find the balance of power quickly passes from the airtime owner to the content provider?

It doesn’t matter. These new radio ventures can try, learn and reiterate as they grow. The agile culture of the digital start-up is increasingly being felt in the radio business.

Some experimental concepts will succeed and blossom, and when they do and their backers need to extend their premises, the builders will have a radio station just for them.