Tuesday, June 10, 2008

BBC Radio Player - Happy Birthday / R.I.P.

What with all the recent (and entirely justified) excitement about the BAFTA award winning BBC iPlayer, its easy to forget where the BBC's on-demand programme offer all began; with the BBC Radio Player, which is 6 years old today (or rather, it would be, if it hadn't already been rebadged iPlayer). With a more wholesale integration of radio into iPlayer imminent, I thought I'd pen a brief epitaph to the BBC Radio Player before it disappears forever into the annals of internet history.

BBC Radio Player v1

I had promised (in my first ever blog post) to write more about the Radio Player, after its v2 relaunch in January 2005, but somehow never got round to it. Of course, the original concept wireframes, sketched up by myself and Chris Kimber in a 5th floor meeting room of the old Broadcasting House, have long since disappeared, as have the many pre-launch email threads debating whether it should be in a pop-up, whether users might like to browse by genre as well as radio station (they did) and, of course, what to call it (we went for the Ronseal option). What I do have is screengrabs of versions 1 and 2 (above and below), the former in situ on the old BBC Radio homepage.

BBC Radio Player v1

Obviously countless people have contributed to the success of the Radio Player over the years (its currently delivering 25 million hours of listening a month), but I'd particularly like to credit three people who were instrumental in shaping the product: Dawn Budge, who did the lion's share of the coding for both versions 1 and 2; Jamie Tetlow, who designed the v2 console (and a gorgeous browser-based UI for the back-end production system) and Chris Kimber, who recognised the transformative potential of radio on demand and made it happen, as this June 2002 Guardian interview illustrates. Thanks guys - I think we did good.

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