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Pump up the volume? Bringing radio stations closer to their listeners

An EU initiative is making radio fully interactive and personalised by integrating broadcast radio with digital and social media.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy

You’re an avid radio listener and tune into your favourite programme every morning before you go to work. One day you hear a song that you like and want to find out its title and the name of the artist, but don’t have the time to check it. In the evening you start a conversation with the radio station’s chatbot and learn about the song that was playing during the morning show. Do you want to create a personalised playlist based on your available time and preferred subjects like sports and politics? By using an app on your smartphone, you decide when you want to hear content related to your selected topics of interest. Such automation of audience interaction is possible thanks to the EU-funded MARCONI project that brings radio stations and their listeners closer together. “MARCONI focuses on creating tools for radio-makers to handle novel ways of interaction with their audience,” says Rik Bauwens, lead developer for VRT Innovation, in a ‘Radio World’ news item. Bauwens adds: “Aside from interaction, visualization and extensive automation would be important topics for us.” Coordinated by the public broadcasting network of the Flemish Community in Belgium, the Flemish Radio and Television Network Organisation, MARCONI uses AI to automate the processing of content and interactions. The same news item summarises how project partners recently demonstrated the technologies behind MARCONI at a media, entertainment and technology show: “different software tools integrated in a dashboard, using AI-powered chatbots and content analysis. The project showed engagement with listener content by replying to messages, dragging and dropping them into the radio program, and playing their footage on a screen on the other side of the stand.”

Supporting interaction

With radio shows increasingly revolving around user engagement, MARCONI focuses on two objectives, as stated on the project website. “First, consumers will be able to interact with ‘live’ radio through their preferred communication channel in various ways. Second, radio-makers will be given an integrated view on audience interactions and will be supported by interaction automation services.” To realise this vision and to facilitate easier interaction between radio producers and listeners, the project has recently organised a radio hack week. MARCONI partners prototyped “a proof of concept that combines the rundown, phone & chat application and playout tools in an integrated radio production system,” according to the project blog. “At the end of the Hack Week, we presented the proof of concept to a large group of radio producers and technicians. Our next steps include making the prototype ready for actual radio productions and testing it in a real studio environment.” The MARCONI (Multimedia and Augmented Radio Creation: Online, iNteractive, Individual) project will run until February 2020. Its platform also encourages interactive engagement with listeners through polls and specific targeting, based on location and other metrics. For more information, please see: MARCONI project website



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