LONDON — A new radio station consisting entirely of content uploaded by users for broadcast has launched in the United Kingdom. Upload Radio, produced by Folder Media, covers more than 6 million people on three DAB multiplexes, including much of London, and the northern city of Liverpool.
A one-hour slot on the station is priced at £20 (US$26) per multiplex. Users are asked to supply a program as two 29-minute MP3 or WAV files, along with a 30-second promo. Each hour the station features two promos for other shows, then part one of the booked show, two promos and the second part of the show. As well as DAB digital radio, the station also broadcasts online both live and on-demand, and via the U.K. Radioplayer.
David Madelin, CTO of Folder Media
Matt Deegan, Creative Director of Folder Media
The biggest challenge facing this new type of station was to make it as easy as possible for users to get content on air. “Upload Radio is designed to look very simple, but to do this requires a huge amount of work behind the scenes in the code,” said Folder Media’s Creative Director, Matt Deegan.
“But fundamentally the really hard part is the thinking required to build the model where all the elements work together. We talked a lot about ‘what happens if a user…?’ Oddly the service is almost identical to what we first thought up, however the types of content and where it goes to has changed a lot.”
Folder’s CTO, David Madelin, explains how the system works. “There are two elements to the project — the Upload Platform, and the radio station playout. We’ve built the Upload Platform entirely in-house from start to finish. For the consumer it’s a website that allows a user to register, create a series, then an episode, upload their shows and add relevant metadata,” he said.
“They can then buy a slot for their program that activates the moderation process. Here, an Upload Radio team member reviews their show to ensure it’s compliant with U.K. broadcast regulation. Once they’ve cleared it, the system then schedules the show, and it appears in the program guide. The Upload Platform lives in the Amazon cloud, with the audio stored in S3. Every day, the system then gathers together the audio and sends the information along with an XML manifest to play out.”
The Upload Radio homepage
The team at Folder Media has been working with radio software company RCS, says Madelin. “We’ve built some software that takes this information and inserts it into Zetta’s live log. Zetta then plays out the station and feeds our DAB networks and online streaming. There’s absolutely no technology in our office, and the web backend allows us to manage all of the functions, plus we have the ability to VPN into the Zetta machines if necessary.”
Although Upload Radio has only been on air since April, Deegan reports there’s already been a range of different programs submitted for broadcast. “They vary from DJ-led music shows and internet radio samplers, to improvised quiz shows and football preview programs,” he said.
How to submit programs.
“The growth of the podcast sector has meant that there’s lots of people already creating great material — but they don’t always have the ability to reach a large number of listeners. “Upload Radio combines the freedom of podcasting with the ability to reach a broadcast audience, and a 30-day catch-up in places like U.K. Radioplayer,” he concluded.
The system offers interesting opportunities in the future for broadcasters, believes Madelin. “Upload Radio has been designed as a cloud-based platform that anyone can use. We’ve used it as a pay-as-you-go radio station, but it could be the backend for a community radio station; or an existing analog station could use it to allow people to buy slots overnight,” he said.
“It works with RCS’s Zetta at the moment, but we have plans to make it interface with other popular playout systems, as well as the ability for it to play itself out too.”
Will Jackson reports on the industry for Radio World from London.