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Monday, December 10, 2007

Does radio need pictures?

The BBC is running a story about the need for pictures to accompany audio. It points out that people growing up now have different expectations than people who grew up pre-internet - namely that they expect to see something on the sharp little screen their internet device comes with.

They've got a point. I already find it deflating to click on an audio link and land on a blank page with a small control strip in the middle or, worse, those swirly psychedelic patterns.

The question is, though, what images do you put with radio? A themed podcast could likely be matched with a captioned slide show. But radio?

Sure, radio news could be matched with key images from the broadcast, suitably headlined and captioned. But as the article asks, what about an interview with a politician? They're likely to mug for the camera if you throw a webcam into a radio studio and you'd lose the focus that radio usually brings to interviews. Then there's the fact most radio studios are pretty dull to look at.

Roger Mosey, director of BBC Sport, sums it up nicely: "
Sometimes when people are talking about what they might do, they are in danger of inventing television."

In the meantime I'd rather dispense with landing pages for audio links and use a widget that sits in a corner or sidebar. At least there wouldn't be any expectation of visuals to go with the audio and I'd be able to carry on working without being diverted to a lame landing page.

The widget would display what you're listening to, maybe a single headshot of host/interviewee/artist, links to more information about the interviewee/artist/topic, 'I like this'/I don't like this' buttons, social bookmark buttons, what's up next, further listings, links to the source site, and control buttons.