Absolute Get it Wight

Image from www.absoluteradio.co.uk
Image from http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk

Do you picture this lot as typical listeners of Absolute Radio?

Last week, I wrote about Capital FM’s coverage of their excellent Summertime Ball, and how the online offering was a little lacking for the tech savvy, online audience. I also hoped that Absolute Radio’s forthcoming coverage of the Summer’s festivals would prove that online content can be engaging, fun and also in some cases perception shifting. Having photos of listeners like those above helps them shift perceptions from being a blokey station to having a wider audience profile.

To me, Absolute’s coverage of this weekend’s Isle of Wight Festival punched well above its weight. Not only were there tons of photos posted during the weekend – both official and user generated. But there was a fair degree of interaction with their audience away from the event.

Via twitter, I got updates on when the acts were onstage and when new content was available online.


I also got a few updates live onsite from reporter Andrew Bailey via Audioboo

This was rough and ready live reportage – giving a bonus behind the scenes feel to the coverage. For the station – it was simple to create – needing just an iphone and a free program -plus the simple know-how to link to it via various platforms.

In addition, the audio from a number of stage performances is online – not with video but with photo slideshows. This again was something that could be achieved fairly easily with fewer resources needed than creating full video packages. It was also supplemented by video interviews by the key artists.

The beauty of Absolute Radio’s coverage however is how every piece of content is neatly tagged – so that music fans can search for their favourite band and easily find all the relevant content from them. Searching on Stereophonics for example brings you the backstage interview from the festival, plus backstage interviews from a couple of other events. Alongside that, there’s an artist biog and links to buy songs. But more importantly, a link to the 1,189 other Absolute Radio VIPs who also like the band – allowing more interaction and enhancing the station’s online community.

Having seen this offering, I’ll be interested in seeing what they continue to offer across the Summer of Live.

And this is how they did it..

Audioboo – Instant reporting for radio?

I came. across AUDIOBOO by chance following a Twitter from James Cridland, one of the BBC’s online gurus.

Essentially it’s an online audio blogging tool – currently available as a free application from the Itunes store for iPhone, but I’m sure that will change rapidly.


Essentially, the application lets you record audio on your iphone. You can’t edit it – but you can pause, then resume. Once you’re finished, you can upload it. However, you can also add information – maybe a picture of who you are recording or where you are. Since it’s recorded on the iphone, it also adds a GPS tag of where it is recorded. You can also tag the recording with keywords. Then, when you are finished, you hit publish, and it goes straight up to the audio boo website front page for anyone to hear. It’s simple and at present, you can’t make the recording private. You can publish anonymously – or linked to a user account (where you can manage /delete your audio). At first I couldn’t really see the point; there are loads and loads of posts, mostly strange or dull, or even just bizarre (like my test recording last night of the sounds you hear walking from Charing Cross to Embankment tube…)

[Audio http://blog.jamesstodd.com/page5/assets/Audioboo_walk.mp3%5D

So what does this mean for radio? Well, it depends on what you want from it to be honest. The quality is fairly good for a phone based recorder – but the ability to get audio online or even back to base quickly may outweigh any slight quality concerns. The example post above (from journalist Matthew Weaver) is one of his recordings from The Guardian’s blog coverage of the G20 summit.  He didn’t use everything he recorded – but then again, you wouldn’t use everything you recorded as a journalist.

[Audio http://blog.jamesstodd.com/page5/assets/Audioboo_obama.mp3%5D

Of course, The Guardian isn’t a radio station – but as mentioned before in my Twitter feed, they have 8 radio studios onsite – so the multimedia offering is increasingly important to them. In this case, they could have someone on the ground, recording audio and blogging, and then have it all tidied up on site.

For a radio station – particularly one on a tight budget, this is a method of allowing a journalist to be on site, to record an item in pretty good quality, and then to post the audio with nothing more than the click of a button. Now of course, at the moment, this audio is available for anyone to hear – so maybe each recording needs to start with “I’m XXXX for Badger FM onsite at xxxx before getting into the audio – thus tagging the audio with your station name. However, once it’s uploaded, it just needs someone back at base to find it, download it and if necessary delete it. Since you can also take a photo to upload with the audio, and later download it – you also have a way of not only getting audio content for a news bulletin up to the site, but also a picture of the event for the website. All the audio can be downloaded – either directly from the site into itunes, or by grabbing it via the RSS feed.

And of course, since your listeners have phones, the ability to make use of the resource of citizen journalists at a big event or news story is immensely useful.  Think about what you could get from listeners at a big music festival – or caught up in big travel chaos when the snow comes agin – or maybe on the day when school exam results come out. Get them to record audio and post it – you never know what great content you may get from it. Since the site lets you publish your updates directly to your Twitter account, I guess there’s a fairly easy way to tag these Tweets and aggregate them into one place. I’m sure there are people out there who could explain this aspect far more concisely than me…:-)

So, if you have an iphone, grab the application and give it a go. record something meaningful, or something bizarre. You never know who’ll be listening.



Here’s how Richard Bacon is using it to interact with his listeners on 5 Live