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Visualising Radio without a studio webcam

Visualising Radio without a studio webcam

Is your radio station stuck in a rut when it comes to the visualisation of radio?

Visualising radio – a buzzword for adding pictures to your audio* to make it easier to reuse and share online – is an important part of preparing audio in a multiplatform world.

In many people’s minds, ‘visualisation’ is now shorthand for ‘posh studio webcams.’

However, there is a danger of getting stuck in a creative rut. Studio cameras are a useful tool, but they are not the only way you can visualise your station’s audio.

In today’s video, I give you three alternative ways to visualise your radio and audio content – scroll down the transcript below to see some extra videos of the examples I mention.


(The lighting is a bit weird – I’m not really a ghost.)


Is your radio station stuck in a rut when it comes to visualisation?

[Ident – music only]

Hello, it’s Ann Charles here from and today I want to talk to you about some ideas I’m having around visualisation.

Now visualisation of radio, if you don’t know, is the idea that you’re going to be putting pictures of some form or another with your audio to make it more interesting to people who are listening or watching (I suppose) your content online.

And at the moment, for many people, visualisation automatically means some form of webcam in the studio.

Now, as an industry, we tend to have moved on from a live stream or – when it first came out – a live photo posted every 10 minutes to the internet as it was ten years ago or so.

So people are understanding that you shouldn’t really just have a live stream and then do nothing more with it, ‘cos it’s pretty dull for the audience and cutting up your content and repurposing it for use online later on is a much more effective way of making sure that the audio that you’ve produced and paid for gets more than one use.

However, I think as an industry we’ve got a bit stuck in that idea and we’re not thinking widely about what else you can do to visualise your audio.

So I have got three main themes and ideas for you to have a think about so that you can start experimenting and innovating a bit more with what you are doing online.

Idea one: Animate!

So the first one is why not animate what you’re doing instead of relying on a feed from the studio?

Imagine that you have had all of your studio cameras broken, or you’re somewhere where you’re not allowed to use cameras for whatever reason but you still want to have something pictorial to go with your audio.

Well, in that case, animation can be quite useful.

Christian O’Connell and his team posted a video recently of their weekly highlights which was entirely animated.

I don’t know how they did it, but I would guess you could do something pretty similar using a presentation program like PowerPoint or Keynote.

There’s also a lady who runs MyVoxSongs online. It’s not a radio service, it’s a song service for children, and she takes recordings of nursery rhymes and puts them with her own animations and combines them together to make a quite popular YouTube channel in multiple languages, now, which I’ll pop a link to below so that you can go and have a look and get some inspiration.

There is (I’m just going to have a look at my list…) there’s also Ira Glass – I’ve talked about this before but someone has animated some of the text that Ira Glass spoke online a while ago about the creative process and why people sometimes get stuck in their creative process and in animating that, by using words coming up to match the speech that were pictorially interesting, that then became an item that was shared multiple times and has become a thing in its own right, even for people who’ve got no idea that Ira Glass has got anything to do with radio.

So animation is one technique that I would suggest that you investigate in some form in order to visualise your clips.

Idea two: Audio Slideshows

The next thing that we can do to visualise our audio – and it’s a technique which I think is massively underused in our industry – is audio slideshows.

And that’s something I’m probably going to talk more about in future episodes or editions or whatever but the idea that you can take some audio that you’ve edited, perhaps of a vox pop, perhaps of a soundscape, and then you add some pictures or some photographs to that.

The key thing is to make sure that you start off with the edited audio first and don’t try and make the pictures match the sound and do it backwards. So make sure you start with the audio first.

Idea three: Social Media Live Streaming

The third thing that I’m seeing a lot of people doing which is a little bit like the idea of having webcams in the studio is that they are using a lot of stuff with Periscope and also the new Facebook video feature.

So I’ve seen a couple of people do this really well. Stephanie Hirst and Iain Lee are both in their different ways using their Periscope feed to give their listeners a behind-the-scenes view of what’s going on in their radio studio.

So between records they are talking to their audience, they’re engaging with them, they’re getting them to answer questions or to vote on which song should come next… Stephanie was giving people little quizzes about what the next song coming up was going to be by playing a bit of the intro.

And that is a way of getting some immediate feedback and engagement from your audience and providing an extra service to the superfans who are following you on places like Periscope.

Iain Lee also for many radio nerds is providing quite an addictive channel because he’s not just letting the webcam be in the studio and people watch what’s going on, he’s actually giving you another show within the show because between records you’re seeing him talk to his producer and also remember that he (and Stephanie [Hirst]) are talking to you as the viewer.

(Some swears – scroll through to find a behind-the-scenes link. Some of it makes more sense when watched live, as Periscope allows viewers to send live comments which all the followers can see and they don’t show up on the YouTube version.)

So they’re really creating a lot of content and engaging each audience and respecting the fact that the watching audience, who is live, is getting something different and something extra from the audience that is listening on the radio in the traditional sense.

But crucially, they’re not diluting what they’re doing for each platform.

Oh, and there’s another one I was going to talk about, which is Radio Norfolk, in the last week, has done quite a bit of Facebook video, now it’s a feature which is available for most accounts.

And they had B.C. in the studio. If you don’t know who B.C. is, you obviously did not grow up in East Anglia, he is an absolute legend and a superstar.

I’ll put a link to the video below.

BBC Radio Norfolk B.C. video

I don’t expect you to understand it if you didn’t grow up round here, but, you know, if you did, you’ll completely understand why it was a great video to do, and how that video enhanced the experience of what people were hearing but didn’t take away from the show as a whole and didn’t reply on a passive camera in the background.

You know, they were doing content that played up to the camera, as well as remembering that radio, and audio, was their primary medium.

So three different ideas for you.

(Three, not four!)

To enhance what you’re doing with visualisation.

Think about the alternatives!

And so firstly, consider how you’re going to animate it. Can you do a Wordle, can you do something that is going to bring it to life in a way that doesn’t rely on a camera?

Second idea is to consider audio slideshows. They’re really underused, and I think that they can be great little pieces of content in their own right.

And the third thing is, if you are going to do a camera, think about doing Periscope, think about doing Facebook video, and really engaging with your audience and asking them, get them to ask you questions between links if you’ve got the energy to effectively run two shows at once.

So those are three suggestions for you. Let me know what you think, pop a comment below. Give me some examples of stuff you’ve done.

And your challenge for this week is to visualise some audio that can be shared online that does not rely on the automatic feed from your studio cameras.

Thanks for watching, see you soon, bye for now!

*Anybody who says, “Oh, you mean like television! Haw Haw!” is to be sent to the back of the room and have all their biscuit privileges removed for the next month.

If you liked this, you may also enjoy: 10 Steps to make audio go viral.

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