WordPress for Radio Stations – More plugins, themes and ideas

In July 2012, I did a post about using WordPress to build a radio station website.

This post builds upon what was discussed in there, bringing in some new plugins and themes as well as news about future WordPress releases that will affect radio stations.

Themes

As usual, there are literally thousands of themes out there.

My main source of themes is ThemeForest. The new design for Cre8 Radio‘s website is a theme I bought from there and customised.

The only downside to any theme collection website is that sometimes you don’t get a feel for the features until you’ve actually bought it. If there  is the option to log in and play around with the ‘Theme Options’ panel, do so. You will get a better feel for how easy/hard it is to customise, as well as see if it truly have what you’re looking for.

On Twitter, why not search for “WordPress themes” or something similar. You may have to be picky with what links you click, but there are some gems out there. It’s just finding what you’re after.

The other option is to build your own. This can be a difficult process if you don’t already know how to use PHP or the WordPress loop system. My first attempt at designing a WordPress theme from scratch was the KingsStock Music Festival website, which uses Twitter Bootstrap as a framework for coding structure.

Plugins

There were was a great plugin suggestion on my previous post which I will give a mention here.

Radio Station – WordPress.org/plugins

This is based on Drupul’s ‘Station‘ plugin. It has some pretty neat features and means you can do things with playlists, the role of ‘DJ’ for users and widgets which generate the current ‘DJ’ on air.

I tried it out on an RSL station’s website and found that it was difficult to work with at times. That might have been because I wanted to really customise how it looked and how the widgets were laid out.

I can see the promise in the plugin, however things like the presenter profiles didn’t work for me out the box and I couldn’t find a way to fix it.

If there was an update or explanation for this error, then I may have continued to use it, but it’s certainly one to watch.

Audio/Video Plugins

There are some big changes coming to WordPress 3.6 which mean we can dispense with many of the audio or video plugins.

I previously mentioned that WordPress Audio Player plugin, which uses a shortcode to generate an audio player of your choice.

However, I’ve been playing around with MediaElement.js for my live streaming players (see Cre8 Radio and One Media Radio).

Previously there was a plugin which brought that library within the WordPress system, however it will soon be within the core of WP!

Audio/Video support in WordPress Core

With MediaElement.js within the core of WordPress, it means we no longer need to have plugins to generate those players for (many) podcasts or short clips that give context to a post.

Instead we can simply type audio src="audio-source.mp3" (in square brackets) and the player with MP3 will appear. It even supports WAV and OGG files. You can specify just one or all of the file types and the WP core will handle how the file is delivered to the user.

It even works in IE7! And can deliver native player options to devices such as iOS or Android.

It remains to be seen how exactly we’ll be able to manipulate the library or even if there is any visual customisation, but it is certainly a step to help us use less plugins!

You can read more about MediaElement.js in WordPress Core over on the Make WordPress Core blog.

Post Formats in WP 3.6

Along with audio/video support, WordPress 3.6 will add post formats.

The theme I use on this site has post formats built in, but now WP have added that to the core.

For radio stations, it will help you distinguish audio content, from YouTube videos and galleries of photos from community events you’ve popped along to.

New themes will be able to harness this information and display content differently and interesting ways. Imagine how easy galleries could become!

I was really excited to read the post I mentioned above about Post Formats in WP 3.6, however they have now been pulled from the core and will instead live as a plugin.

Post formats are powerful for radio stations as it will help you distinguish audio content, from YouTube videos and galleries of photos from community events you’ve popped along to.

I’m not entirely sure how this will now work, but it should enable us to make interesting content easy to find and display. Again, this is a topic that might be worth a watch.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has given you some more food for thought.

What could the future of WordPress mean for radio stations? Will it make our lives easier or make us work harder for the medium we love? That remains to be seen.

But as always if you have any more plugin, theme or ideas to suggest, then feel free to comment below or pop me an email at oliver@oliverneedham.co.uk

 

Article image: Erik Pettersson / Flickr

This article contains affiliate links. While I only ever write about products I think deserve recognition, I may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question.

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Work Experience at BBC Radio Stoke

bbcradiostoke_smallIt’s been over a week since I did my work experience at BBC Radio Stoke. I was there for five days and it was filled with lots of events going on and gave me a great chance to observe what the great journalists at the station get up to.

Here’s a round-up of what I got up to whilst I was there.

Monday 11th Februrary

In the morning I had a tour of the station and some training on how to use Quick Edit Pro (part of Radioman) and ENPS. For the afternoon I sat in the Ops Room for Paula White’s and Tim Wedgewood’s shows. Just as Paula’s show came to an end, some news came in about a death on the railways near Stoke-on-Trent. This meant all trains through the station were suspended. I assisted by answering phones about the travel chaos and also updated Tim with the latest news from the train companies.

Tuesday 12th

On Tuesday I started working with the Breakfast team (Stuart George and Katy O’Regan). After their show I joined in the daily morning meeting to see what is coming up on the next day’s show. There was a story about over 55’s who don’t always take out travel insurance before going abroad. I was asked to make some VOX pops about people’s stories of travel insurance; if they’ve never taken it out and had trouble, or even had trouble claiming whilst they’ve had insurance. Here’s that audio.

Late on Tuesday, the team at BBC Radio Stoke had found out that former Port Vale Football Club chairman, Bill Bell, had passed away after a battle with cancer. The news room was a strange place to be in as they couldn’t announce the news until they had confirmed all the family had been informed. Once the green light had been given scripts were completed and the next bulletin contained the sad news. I didn’t do much that afternoon except observe and understand what the news and on air teams did in the situation.

Wednesday 13th

As Thursday was Valentine’s Day, I created some VOX pops about people’s ‘most unromantic gifts’. It was a spin on the ‘best Valentine’s Day gifts’ and wasn’t specific to Valentine’s Day at all. It provoked some interesting answers from the people of Hanley!

Whilst I was editing the audio in the Ops Room, it started to snow across the TSA. This meant that there were a lot of travel disruptions and event cancellations. During Paula’s show and into Tim’s, I stepped in to answer the flood of calls and travel updates that followed. This took up most of my afternoon but was enjoyable as I spoke to a lot of people and once again was able to contribute to the information which was broadcast on air.

Thursday 14th

My Valentine’s Day VOX pops were played out during the Breakfast Show whilst I went out with Qasa Alom in the Radio Car. Qasa travels out most days to cover stories and regularly does a live piece during the Breakfast Show.

We travelled to a bridge renovation project near the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Hanley. Qasa explained to me how some of the equipment worked, did his piece then we travelled towards Tittensor to feed an interview back to the studio.

When we arrived we discovered that we had driven to the wrong house down the lane. Qasa reversed and got the Radio Car stuck up a steep bank. We had to wait for the RAC to come and remove the car safely from the location.

This incident, along with a similar one from Katy, prompted a talkie on Friday’s show about getting stuck. This was to be the subject of my VOX pops, to be played out the following day. Here’s me asking people about places where they’ve been stuck.

Once I had finished editing I visited the Ops Room again and assisted with phone answering during Tim’s show.

Friday 15th

My final day at the station started off with me sitting in on the last hour of the Breakfast Show. They had played my VOX pops shortly before I arrived (08:45).

During the station-wide ideas meeting I contributed a story about ukuleles and a local open day for learning to play the instrument.

In the morning Breakfast Show meeting there was talk about strike which was taking place the following Monday. The team were instructed to work towards Tuesday’s show and leave one item an hour for Monday’s show.

The horsemeat scandal had continued to develop throughout the week and that morning there had been an interesting interview with a scientist about the tests that had been conducted on the meat in food suppliers. This prompted a question from the discussion about whether the story had changed the public’s meat buying habits. I then went off into town to ask whether this was the case.

For the final couple of hours I sat in the Ops Room assisting with Tim’s show.

 

The week was varied and it was fantastic to meet such a great team and learn what they do. I couldn’t have wished for the week to have gone any better and I hope that one day I will be able to work in such a great environment.

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