Chris Hall bio photo

Chris Hall

Adjusting technology to make it fit my requirements...

Windows, Linux, Virtualisation, Unified Computing & Cloud Offerings Design Engineer.

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Continuing on in the "I don't like being advertised AT" series [previous posts here and here]. Quick recap for those catching up; As you may have guessed, I really don't like being advertised at.  Yes thats right, AT.

So, now lets turn attention to Radio.

Event though Radio is the oldest form of broadcast media, it seems in recent years to have become the worst affected of all broadcast media when it comes to advertising annoyance.  Is it advertising one-up-man-ship or some obscure advantage to have the most annoying advert there is?  Having listened to some of this tripe, I think I know the answer and I think you do too.

Additional annoyance comes in the form of one particular commercial radio broadcast conglomerate that seems to have been swallowing up / re-branding all of their stations recently.  This particular RDS enabled broadcast group like to transmit the same programming across their stations, but different adverts.  The idea of RDS - AF (Alternative  Frequency) is that it "allows a receiver to re-tune to a different frequency providing the same station when the first signal becomes too weak".

This was obviously lost on the oblivious advertising execs of this particular broadcasting group.  Why transmit the same adverts at the same time on all transmitters when you can divide up each transmitter individually and sell that airtime individually?  Effectively multiplying your advertising income by  the number of individual transmitters you have.

Sure the commercial (no pun - honest) aspect aspect of this is clear.  However how about the poor traveller?  Remember around 95% of all RDS enabled radios are in cars / vans / lorries / etc.  Certainly around here, the transmitting areas somewhat overlap.  So depending on where you are you may get anything up to 20 seconds of one transmitter and then one or two minutes of the other transmitter before switching back to the first.

The upshot is as the travelling listener merrily listening to the music (which seems to have been selected purely on the basis of which recording artiste's tour the conglomerate is currently sponsoring), not noticing the RDS-AF swaps.  Come advert time, the listener then gets confronted with a hotch-potch of half an advert here and half an advert there, bit of an advert here, bit of an advert there, or if they are truly lucky they may get the same advert twice, one right after the other.

Let me assure you this is even more annoying than the annoying adverts in the first place!  Anyone travelling on Romney Marsh whilst tuned into this conglomerate will know what I mean.

So.  As is common, vote with your feet time.  Lets look at the alternatives.

Well, since we are on the subject of travelling, how can you get away from radio adverts on the road.  Hmm tough.  Just one provider (including DAB): BBC Radio.

As is usual, the internet is where the real choice is at.  Follows is a very quick list of sites providing commercial free radio stations or (as more commonly referred to) audio streams:

Site
Radio Genre
Number Streams
BBC Radio
Various
12
SomaFM
Underground / Alternative
18
Radio Paradise
Contemporary
1
eye 97
70s, 80s, 90s, Today
1
RadioRnR
Rock
1
dublab
Chilled Dance
1
Lost 80s
1980's
1
All Worship
Christian Worship
3
Lounge-Radio
Lounge + Downtempo
1
netmusique
Electronic / House
3

To listen to these the streams (other than BBC via their iPlayer) I recommend VLC Media Player. This freeware media player will play pretty much anything you throw at it.  No problems with codecs etc, it's all built in.  Excellent.

TIP: The easiest way is to listen is to choose any of the above stations, find the listen now link, choose the Quicktime or iTunes link (the link should end in ".pls") and open with VLC.  Job done!

What's even better, nowadays you don't even need a computer to listen to internet radio.  See here for receiver details and reviews.

How about down the gym (shudder) or totally mobile?  No problem.  SomaFM is working to provide as many customised streams for as many mobile devices as possible.  See here.  You never know, your phone may already capable of receiving SomaFM!

So how do these stations exist?  Listener support.  If you like a station, please consider donating. 

My personal favourite?  SomaFM Groove Salad A nicely chilled plate of ambient beats and grooves.

- Chris