UX is in the Radio

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

This morning, on the daily hour-long moan-fest we call “commuting”, we engaged in our normal pattern of radio use – working our way across the entire spectrum several times, not finding anything particularly appealing, before at last settling on the least annoying option. Then, a minute and a half later once that one not-too-bad song had finished, repeating the whole cycle again.

I am given to understand that most people pick a preferred radio station and stick with it, tolerating the annoying bits while they wait for whatever they like listening to to come on. I, and the carpool, just don’t quite “get” that behaviour. For me, ten minutes of inane Scott Mills drivel, yet another yokel radio “guess the sound and win two tickets to the cinema!” competition, the hundredth fucking advert for Apple Fucking Conservatories – they’re intolerable obstacles in the way of possibly-decent music.

I approach this problem in the manner of what old people might term a “digital native” (a term which suggests to me that I should have a necklace of USB sticks and perhaps a battle cry that’s something to do with SuperPokes). The choice for me is not Radio 1 against Wessex FM, Radio Solent against Wave. It’s FM radio versus net radio.

And against that competition, the user experience of traditional radio stations is appalling.

Say, like I usually am, you are in the mood to listen to a particular kind of music that you don’t happen to have on you in any form. Here’s how some popular services compare:

I’m sure it would be premature of me to declare the death of broadcast radio, just the same as I’m sure lots of people enjoy Scott Mills being a twat and the possibility to win virtually nothing by doing virtually nothing in some local radio competition.

But as a means to consume music? It’s a long way from being a service that gives its users what they want.

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