Technology Spain , Salamanca, Tuesday, March 24 of 2015, 17:40

The digital showcase of radio

A project of the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca aims to make programme planning information and access to the broadcasts of all Spanish radios available to all listeners in a single Internet application

José Pichel Andrés/DICYT First day of class at the Faculty of Communication Studies. The lecturer is talking about "the dial" of the radio. The what? Some of the young people are not familiar with the term. They have probably never tried to tune in to a radio station on a traditional radio with its dial and numbers indicating the various frequencies on the Medium Wave (MW) or Frequency Modulation (FM) band. They belong to a generation that has grown up with digital media and with mobile phones that give access to almost all contents. The anecdote dates from the beginning of this academic year and reveals a new situation to which not all traditional means of communication are adapting in the same way.


Luis Miguel Pedrero is the lecturer who had this experience some months ago in the Faculty of Communication Studies of the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA). A year earlier he had already begun to set in motion a research project to attempt to breach the divide that exists between traditional radio and new technologies. “Audiovisual consumption has already become generalised on the new mediums, particularly on tablets and smartphones, but in the case of radio the offer is highly dispersed”, he pointed out to the DiCYT news agency.


Each radio channel has developed its own application and some communication groups have not even brought together their different stations on a single platform. On the other hand, some apps propose wide access to various radio offers, but these solutions “are outside the sector” and have many deficiencies.


The iRadioGuía project was born to cover this gap. Throughout the last academic year (2013-2014) it developed an Internet application to collect together information on radio programme planning for national analogical broadcasts and to provide access, in some cases, to the on-line broadcasting of some signals. This is one of the projects included in the Club Universitario de Innovación, which brings together lecturers and students to work on R+D+I initiatives. In this case of the Faculty of Communication Studies, apart from Luis Miguel Pedrero the students Miguel Santos and Nubar Hamparzoumian also took part, together with the lecturer Alberto Pedrero and the student Pablo Aibar from the Faculty of Computer Studies.


This academic year the same participants are continuing with the project with the objective of upgrading from a mere prototype to an application with the maximum possible services for potential users. The application will continuously update programming data and offer the possibility of listening to all stations directly, both those of traditional radio and those that only broadcast on-line. “We want a single application with information and tuning”, Pedro sums up.

Bringing the whole of the sector together


The major reference is the British application Radioplayer, which was developed by all public and private operators in the United Kingdom. In our case two express supports promote the programme: for traditional radio the Cope Channel and for the new business model the Spanish On-Line Radio Association. The university therefore proposes a joint work project from a non commercial perspective, as the major objective is to promote radio listening and improve the experience of the listener, who can thus discover new stations.


From a technical point of view companies have but to provide files with updated information and access to broadcasts by streaming, so that the application, which at this new stage is known as iRadioPlay, can become an aggregator of signals to access all the radio offers in Spain. As it is an Internet application it adapts to any mobile operating system and can become the standard radio access.


From analogical to digital


In contrast to other sectors of the audiovisual world, it appears that the radio industry is not taking steps to find its audience owing to the idiosyncrasy of the sector. While television has changed its analogical signals for digital ones, in Spain digital radio has not been developed although it has been adapted to the Internet, which is the means by which a large proportion of the 25 million Spanish radio listeners access programmes live or podcasts.


Taking into account the rise of mobile devices, “it is probable that radio will jump from analogical wavebands to 4G networks”, Pedrero points out, ", “which will perhaps have to assume distribution in Spain”. Counting on the involvement of telecommunications operators will be essential. In any case the UPSA proposal through telephone or Wi-Fi networks may serve as a reference so that listeners can finally have all the radio programme planning at their disposal in a clear and simple manner.