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A Strong Connection to Your Audience

Journaline digital radio data service enhances the traditional radio experience

The author is project manager for Journaline at Fraunhofer IIS.

Keeping up with the trend towards personalized and instantaneous content for users is key to gaining the attention of today’s radio audience.

Program-independent topics can cover subjects such as sponsored hotel and restaurant recommendations. With classic radio advertisements declining, we have entered an era where the listener expects, and typically has access to, versatile information whenever and however they want. The radio industry must keep pace by delivering an enhanced user experience.

How do you keep listeners connected to your station? Opening a Facebook site, writing a blog or starting a Twitter channel all cost extra time and money. And, perhaps most importantly, those tactics force listeners to switch to other media channels and away from the radio dial.

To solve this problem, broadcasters must consider implementing a modern digital radio data service that can re-use content currently available online to enhance the user’s traditional radio experience.

With the correct system in place, broadcasters can repurpose and deliver content to their audiences directly through the radio they already use, in an immediate, clear and structured way.

Journaline is one of the most powerful tools to keep radio audiences connected. This new information service for digital radio enables users to receive information tailored to the specific needs and wants of the listener. The content is accessed easily by the user and designed to be useful in many types of radio sets, whether it’s a high-end radio with a graphical screen or an entry-level radio set supporting only a few lines of text.

This service allows the broadcaster to choose how to tailor content to the interests and needs of its specific audience.

Examples of this content include the station’s listener contact information, or recently played songs with the option to purchase. Other features might include program-related topics such as show background information, or the phone numbers to dial into a radio show.

Program-independent topics cover a number of subjects including current news, stock market tickers, sports results even beyond mainstream sports, the latest airport arrival and departure times and sponsored hotel and restaurant recommendations.

How it works

Journaline delivers textual information with easy and immediate access through hierarchically structured topic menus by extending the program content and broadcaster triggered short text information messages currently available for all digital radio systems (RDS radio text, DAB Dynamic Labels and DRM Text Messages). Its core functionality resembles that of an electronic newspaper or magazine.

Designed with simplicity and efficiency as primary goals, broadcasters can reuse existing data sources such as RSS feeds and XML data. Content is encoded in a binary form and compressed to minimize the required transmission bandwidth. In fact, Journaline services have successfully been launched at 200 bits per second.

JVC recently announced its first in-dash receiver to support Journaline for in-vehicle applications, the KW-NT3HDT navigation system. Journaline can also deliver dynamic ticker messages for multiple topics and in various languages simultaneously.

While a main radio program can deliver its content and advertisements to only one language group at a time, Journaline targets the accompanying textual information offerings in numerous languages simultaneously. Multi-language capability is also a prerequisite to utilize Journaline broadcasts in case of emergencies, when listeners need to be informed about an emergency in several languages.

In addition, this feature could enable broadcasters to reach hearing-impaired audiences via the service’s caption sub-title capability.

On the receiver side, both the decoder footprint in terms of CPU and memory as well as the minimum required user interface functionality are very small, enabling the integration of a Journaline decoder into the full range of digital radio receiver types from price sensitive alarm clocks and kitchen radios, to high-end multimedia devices with graphical displays. To support special environments such as car radios, Journaline provides speech hinting information for high quality text-to-speech playback.

The Journaline specification is an open ETSI standard. Its standardization was a joint effort of major broadcasters, receiver manufacturers and research institutes, including Fraunhofer IIS.

In action

Journaline-based services are on-air from major broadcasters including Radio Vaticana, Deutsche Welle, BBC, and now for the first time in the United States on Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network Plus service.

The service enables enhanced real-time news information available based on the open Journaline standard and is currently being rolled out throughout the United States. The new content offerings available to users comprise local and national weather conditions, sports scores and news headlines.

Total Traffic Network is the leading source of current traffic and news information for 125 metropolitan areas in four countries, supplying real-time traffic data to more than 125 million users through partnerships with automotive manufacturers as well as navigation device makers.

Journaline, shown at work in the Clear Channel Total Traffic Network Plus environment. On a main screen of the JVC unit, not shown, the user clicks on a TotalTraffic icon to gain access to news; local and national weather including forecasts and current conditions; and sports scores, including game updates every five minutes. These images are courtesy Clear Channel and JVC. The popularity and demand for Journaline is growing, as demonstrated earlier this year when JVC announced its first in-dash receiver to support Journaline for in-vehicle applications. This receiver is the first of many to come with Journaline and Total Traffic Network Plus implementation. Of course, additional broadcasters can deploy the open Journaline standard to enhance their digital radio offerings while benefitting from the growing support in receivers.

On a global scale, Journaline is featured on-air by many international broadcasters, particularly over the DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) and DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting, Eureka-147) platforms.

In addition, Uniwave recently launched its Di-Wave 100 DRM radio featuring a graphical color screen and Journaline capability. Analog Devices has integrated Journaline support into their DAB and DRM receiver reference design platform.

Journaline encoder solutions as well as decoder implementations are available at Fraunhofer IIS for chipset and software based commercial radio receivers, as well as for non-commercial GPL based open-source projects.