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Dear Radio: Benefits of DAB+’s Unlimited Spectrum

A radio station that nails it, Amazon enters the streaming game and an idea that’s too good to be true turns out to be just that…

Unparalleled connection

If you had to create a radio station just for plumbers, electricians and contractors, what would be the first song played on the station? “We built this city” from Starship, naturally!

That’s the song that launched Fix Radio, a London DAB+ station for builders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, decorators, plasterers and scaffolders. It’s a targeted station built (sorry) around a very specific market in very specific environments: tradespeople on often noisy sites who want a range of upbeat music and good old English banter. They also get ads that are relevant to them; spot breaks are filled with tool ads, roofing products and workers comp companies!

When you have the unlimited spectrum that DAB+ offers you, it enables radio to be experimental, interesting and fun. It also allows for an unparalleled connection when you can target so specifically, eg the station has run initiatives such as The Bacon Butty Tours, handing out free sandwiches at building sites.

Plus, with imaging lines such as “Fix Radio, Hammering it hard”, I think Fix Radio is nailing it!

HD music

News broke this month that Amazon us entering the music streaming game. Breaking up the Apple vs Spotify argument, Amazon Music HD will bring subscribers 50m songs in ultra high definition, the highest-quality streaming audio available — which basically means music can be heard the way it was recorded.

I find it interesting that it has used terms such as HD to describe audio but I suppose it’s more familiar and easier on the tongue than “Amazon with a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz”.

The trend is increasingly towards improving the audio experience, firstly through content, then discoverability and now, seemingly, through audio quality.

And, finally, if you’re a podcast listener, imagine getting paid just to listen to your favourite podcasts. Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately for Podcoin, it was.

Launched a year ago, Podcoin rewarded podcast listeners for using its player. Every 10 minutes resulted in one credit, and credits could be exchanged for gift cards, coffee vouchers and even a set of Bose headphones. From personal experience, my almost 150 hours of listening barely got me a US$2 reward — and some anorak worked out that it would take a few years before the headphones could be redeemed.

But, sadly, no one will ever claim them as the service has shut down.

However, it was a really interesting way of differentiating yourself from Spotify, Apple podcasts, Acast etc, and gamifying content — and using digital platforms to reward loyal audio consumption is something we can learn from.

Paulo Dias