30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts


Photo by Ian Hayhurst

This is the first of what I suspect will be a number of radio-related ideas in amongst the 30.

Radio Alerts
Today’s idea is a blend of existing technologies to create a service that I, for one, would find very useful – ‘Google Alerts‘ style messages containing direct links to time-shifted radio content that is about something I happen to be interested in.

Not whole shows, of course – you can already listen to Gilles Peterson in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon if you want to. I’m talking about capturing mentions of topics that you’re interested in.

Here’s how it would work:

1) The audio output of a number of radio stations is fed straight into voice recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.

The software would convert the spoken content of the radio stations into indexed and searchable text. This could apply both to speech and music radio.

2) Phrases and sentences of transcribed speech would be timestamped and identified by station and saved to a database.

3) Users would register their email address (or Twitter feed) to receive Google Alert style messages whenever someone on the radio said something about the thing they’re interested in… with direct links to that section of the archived radio stream.

Users could select their sources by region, format or perhaps choose from a list. You may not ever want to listen to what anyone has to say on Heart FM, for instance, so you could exclude that station from your results.

But let’s say I’m interested in dairy farming, bungee jumping and quilting, and I’m a fan of Joni Mitchell, Pere Ubu and Supertramp. I’d sign up to the service, enter those choices, and then once a day I’d get a message saying:

Hi, Andrew! Here are your radio alerts for the past 24 hours:

Joni Mitchell was mentioned on BBC Radio 2 at 14:36

http://myradioalert.com/q4yfow


Dairy farming was mentioned on BBC Radio 4 at 11:05

http://myradioalert.com/sdgj3v


Bungee jumping was mentioned on Capital Radio at 23:02

http://myradioalert.com/sdjk8s


Bungee jumping was mentioned on Kiss FM at 19:03

http://myradioalert.com/sdjk8s


Supertramp was mentioned on Galaxy FM at 14:42

http://myradioalert.com/djso23a


Nobody mentioned quilting or Pere Ubu today.


I’d click on the links, which would take me as close to that time marker as possible on the correct radio stream and then listen to what each of those mentions entailed.

In this case, it might have been a trailer for a live Joni Mitchell concert broadcast coming up this weekend; a 10-minute report about new subsidies for dairy farming; there may have been something in the news about a minor bungee jumping accident in New Zealand; and Galaxy FM could conceivably have played a new Dizzy Rascal tune and talked about the fact that a Supertramp song that had been sampled for it.

You get the idea. You could scan the airwaves for news about your company or a topic you were researching; you could jump to your favourite song, or hear an interview with someone that you otherwise may have missed.

Of course, not every radio station has an archived stream, but for the amount of content that is out there, this could be a very useful way of finding helpful or interesting things you otherwise may have missed, and in a way that works with the 7-day window that the BBC gives you to Listen Again

Table of contents for 30 Days of Ideas

  1. The other way of following first
  2. Now we’re up and dancing
  3. 30 days of ideas – 01: Keymash
  4. 30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts
  5. 30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)
  6. 30 days of ideas – 04: Modcasts
  7. 30 days of ideas – 05: Numberless Calendar
  8. 30 days of ideas – 06: SpringCleanr
  9. 30 days of ideas – 07: Street Gallery
  10. 30 days of ideas – 08: Smart Business Cards
  11. 30 days of ideas – 09: Recordings in Concert
  12. 30 days of ideas – 10: Vinyl scanner
  13. 30 days of ideas – 11: Photo Stack-and-Scan
  14. 30 days of ideas – 12: A Box of Cool
  15. 30 days of ideas – 13: Karaoke-Tube Celebstar Idol
  16. 30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape
  17. 30 days of ideas – 15: Newspaper download codes
  18. 30 days of ideas – 16: Pebble Splash
  19. 30 days of ideas – 17: Digital radio, somewhere useful
  20. 30 days of ideas – 18: Public domain music collection
  21. 30 days of ideas – 19: Blog cast-list automator
  22. 30 days of ideas – 20: The Retirement Pile
  23. 30 days of ideas – 21: Nationalise EMI
  24. 30 days of ideas – 22: The Stainless Steel Rat (the movie)
  25. 30 days of ideas – 23: WordPress Bandcampify template
  26. 30 days of ideas – 24: Rollercoasters as public transport
  27. 30 days of ideas – 25: Next-gen personalised music radio
  28. 30 days of ideas – 26: New Music Trust
  29. 30 days of ideas – 27: Tamagotchi Gardening
  30. 30 days of ideas – 28: Charity shop clothing subscription
  31. 30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
  32. 30 days of ideas – 30: House of Spare Ideas
  33. Mixtape for You by Ray Kuyvenhoven
  34. What can you do in 30 days?

5 Responses to “30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts”

  1. Hey Andrew-
    This is really a fantastic idea. I had one question about the audio output of radio stations that you mention. Is this common amongst most/many radio stations? Like an RSS feed of their shows?

    I’m wondering if most stations already have a feed – or if some type of standard would also need to be created. Not saying this is the idea to be executed on – but definitely very intriguing and worth asking some questions. I know you gave the BBC example, but if there’s a station you’re aware of that already has a “feed” type thing going could you let me know?

    Great idea!

    Andrew

  2. Dubber says:

    Most radio stations have a live stream online, which is what the speech recognition software would listen to and convert to text.

    Quite a few (though by no means all) radio stations provide listeners with the opportunity to re-listen to programmes or timeshift their content by providing archives of those streams for a limited time – usually a week. Those archived programmes are what the links would point to.

    It’s not a ‘feed’ in the sense of RSS, but in the sense of a continuous stream of audio that is then chopped into pieces (usually by hour or by programme) and archived on the station’s website.

  3. Okay, gotcha. Thanks for the additional info. This seems like it would be pretty challenging, but totally awesome if executed well.

  4. Jeff McLeod says:

    Wow, great idea! I could see this being extremely useful for podcasts as well.

  5. Great idea, I’d really love to use this. But as a stop gap until someone does this is an RSS feed on programs. Take the BBC for example I can see a page with the time, date and a short explanation of what it’s about, and an iPlayer link if I’ve missed it. However what I really want is an RSS feed either to remind me that X program is starting now or a feed to say this program is available on iPlayer now. This would be really useful for TV and radio programs and would probably get bigger listening/watching figures.

Leave a Reply