Allowing listeners to curate BBC radio

A Radio Times radio listing written on Steve Bowbrick's hand in felt pen

It was a quite brilliant weekend for BBC radio – so much good stuff that really stood out. Loads of radio that wasn’t just gripping, interesting, entertaining but was also sonically fascinating – a uniquely radio experience. Sounds that I really wanted to share. Another testament to what’s unique and different about radio (and BBC radio in particular, obviously).

There was the awesome boom and roar of 5 live’s Haye-Klitschko coverage, Craig Charles’ inspired heavyweight Motown vs Stax evening over on 6 Music, Paddy O’Connell’s brilliant riff on the Johann Hari story on Broadcasting House, the oddly intimate sound of sheep shearing on Radio 4’s On Your Farm, Saturday Live’s hilariously unpredictable live broadcast from centre court on the morning of ladies’ final day, a gorgeous Beverley Surprise Minor on Bells on Sunday, Stewart Lee on why comedians are better than everybody else, Jarvis Cocker introducing a concert of electronic music from Radio 3, Von D. May’s favourite synth sound with Mistajam on Radio 1, mindblowing Hindu devotional music at the crack of dawn on Asian Network, and a song about Elvis’s sock by the Valentines on Radio 2.

And it got me thinking about how you get people to share great radio, to tell their friends about it, to spread the loveliness. At the BBC, we’ve got ‘sharetools’ (the palette of social network links you’ll find on most BBC content pages these days) and embed buttons and these days there’s quite a lot of content that you can download and keep forever but rights and agreements and regulation make it difficult for us to allow listeners to share the actual sounds. But could we allow listeners to go beyond ‘liking’ our stuff and encourage them to lift clips, assemble montages of good stuff and share them with friends? I mocked up a sort of sample montage from the amazing output I heard at the weekend – no clip is longer than about twenty seconds and the whole thing is less than four minutes. I’ve added in a little linking element between clips – the kind of transition you might offer listeners to pick from a menu if you built a tool to do this.

Would you share BBC audio in this way? Would you go to the trouble of curating a montage like this if BBC radio provided a tool to do it? And what form would a tool take? A button on programme pages? An addition to the transport controls in Radioplayer? A mobile app?

Download the MP3.


  1. Hi Steve – I can’t say that I would do this except for mischief but this is what i would like… Most people I know have a base station be it Radio 4 or Radio 1 etc and then certain things come on that make them want to switch over or off. For me it is the Archers and a few other things. Can your team of highly trained boffins, make a switcher that live streams me my default channel and then flips me out for programmes I tell it I hate and replaces them with shows from other channels of or podcasts I would like to hear but never do because I am stuck on Radio 4?

    If I wasn’t so lazy I would ask someone to do it for fun but you guys might actually get paid to do it.


  2. Nice idea Damian. Have you tried Huffduffer for podcasts? It makes a kind of meta-podcast from the audio you find online. Not quite what you’re describing but nifty nonetheless.

    I really like the idea of jumping between live streams on a kind of conditional basis. Kind of “IF Woman’s Hour comes on THEN switch to 6 Music UNLESS Lauren’s on holiday THEN switch to Radio 3 until 1300 THEN switch back to Radio 4 UNTIL The Archers THEN switch to some comedy…” etc. I suppose you’d need a kind of scripting language or some really nifty UI to deliver that but it would be very cool.

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