Digital Radio Gets Personal With Local On-Demand Audio
Is AM/FM radio destined to retire in the land of the eight-track?
Digital radio is quickly becoming the "wave" of the future and a new
corporate partnership is helping to clear the path. Multiplex operator MXR,
founded by Chrysalis Radio, Capital Radio, jazz fm and Guardian Media Group,
recently reached an exclusive agreement with California-based technology firm
Command Audio to help add local flavor to digital audio.
Local on demand audio will now be available through regional multiplexes
operated by the consortium, reaching 8 million listeners in North East
England, Severn Estuary/South Wales and West Midlands. MXR license bids hope
to reach an additional 18 million listeners in the NorthWest, Yorkshire and
London areas in the near future.
The new form of "personal radio" will allow digital listeners to select from
local news, sports, traffic, travel and business bulletins. Through Command
Audio's technology, listeners can personalize their radio
programming, selecting certain programs at certain times.
Command Audio-UK, a joint venture between Capital Radio and UBC Media Group,
will produce on-demand interactive programs, as well as handle licensing for
other programmers and service providers. When the technology is fully
deployed, listeners will be able to choose from a wide range of programs from
a variety of different media, then listen to them whenever and wherever they
Command Audio-enabled services will provide listeners with an Electronic
Program Guide. The guide will allow listeners to control how and when to
listen by instantaneously scanning from story to story, pausing, skipping, or
saving programs for later listening.
"Command Audio-UK will enable digital broadcasters to deliver a truly new
media experience that will clearly differentiate their services from
conventional FM radio," said Don Bogue, co-founder and CEO of Command Audio.
"On-demand interactive audio is about providing listeners a 'personal radio'
experience that appeals to their individual lifestyles and satisfies their
particular interests. It is the ultimate application of digital broadcast
technology. By teaming with industry leaders Capital and UBC, we have created
the basis for rapid proliferation of this revolutionary new media."
Command Audio's partner, MXR, has promised in each of its bids to be "Local
from Launch," according to Phil Riley, Chairman of the MXR Consortium. "The
importance of local programming is imperative to listeners as we discovered
through extensive research undertaken across the country," he said. "By
joining up with Command Audio, MXR are adding even more value to that
In addition to hearing local news at any time, radio listeners also want to
hear their favorite music. The MXR radio operators have pledged to offer
their existing analogue stations exclusively to the MXR consortium [Century
and Galaxy in the North East, Century and jazz in the North West, Galaxy in
Yorkshire, Heart in the West Midlands and Galaxy and Real radio in the Severn
Estuary/South Wales], along with a range of additional digital-only
programming. Another MXR operator, Soul Media, joins the company's founders
to provide personalized, on-demand and interactive audio.
Simon Cole, founder and CEO of UBC Media agrees that consumers enjoy having
the right to choose. "This powerful platform gives broadcasters new and
innovative program opportunities and consumers more choice," Cole said. "The
technology available to this joint venture takes digital radio to another
level as it brings the on-demand element, now increasingly expected by
consumers, into the radio medium. The result will be the development of new
kinds of programs which will lead to exciting new services for consumers."
Command Audio plans to bring personal radio to a larger market through the
Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) network.
The latest developments from MXR and Command Audio are attracting interest
from broadcasters, who will be able to make better use of their bandwidth,
appeal to a wider range of listeners in a more targeted fashion and create
new advertising and revenue opportunities. Capital Radio is particularly
intrigued. "As leading players in the provision of digital radio services and
internet radio, Capital is keen to apply innovative applications such as
on-demand audio," Sally Oldham, Strategy and Development Director for Capital
Radio, said. "By partnering with Command Audio and UBC we will benefit more
fully as the take up of digital radio rolls out."
Capital Radio, the UK's leading radio group, has even developed a new
marketing structure for its stations in and outside London to foster the
growth of digital technology. David Andrews, currently Managing Director for
Century 105.4 FM, will serve as the company's Regional Marketing Director. A
creative services division will also be established to oversee all print
production, design work and media buying for the group.
While DAB is still a relatively new name in the United States, it is nearly a
household word in the UK, with over 40 digital stations available in the
London area alone. BBC national radio and Digital One both operate their own
multiplexes. There are five additional multiplexes for local radio in
England, and national stations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (BBC
and commercial), according to BBC Online.
Digital audio is a popular option for drivers, and MXR and Command Audio are
working to include this technology in more vehicles this year. The companies
plan to use their combined power to encourage auto manufacturers to include
local, on demand audio into the next generation of radio receivers, with many
available by the end of this year.
MXR doesn't have to convince global car manufacturer Ford of the advantages
to digital audio. A founding shareholder in MXR, Ford UK intends to fit
digital radios as original equipment in Ford new cars sold in the UK by 2004,
and to promote digital radio upgrade availability in its authorized
With a digital radio receiver installed in the dash, drivers will no longer
have to re-tune their radio to follow a program on the road. The new
receivers will be free of static and will allow drivers to choose from
digital radio, CD, cassette, or standard AM/FM radio.
With the launch of local on-demand audio, digital radio is expected to become
the interference-free sound of the future, joining the ranks of the CD and
the DVD, and leaving AM/FM radio for the history books.
BBC - www.bbc.co.uk
Capital Radio - www.capitalradio.plc.uk
Chrysalis Radio - www.ChrysalisRadio.com
Command Audio - www.commandaudio.com
DAB - www.dab.org
Ford - www.ford.com
Guardian Media Group - www.gmgplc.co.uk
jazz fm - www.jazzfm.com
UBC Media Group - www.ubcmedia.com
Related News from Mi2N:
» MXR And Command Audio Bring Local "Personal Radio" To UK : New Partnership To Deliver Revolutionary Service Via Digital Audio Broadcast System
» "Personal Radio" Coming To U.K.:Command Audio Teams With Industry Leaders To Bring Revolutionary Service To Digital Radio
» Capital Radio Steps Up Its Commitment To Marketing 14th February 2001