What WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Means For Radio

The new way in which WordPress develops means that they’re moving at a good pace, and today WordPress 3.8 was released.

Codenamed “Parker”, after Charlie Parker, this version brings mainly visual changes to the backend, as well as the usual security updates WP is well known for.

Here, I’m going to go through the main changes and what they mean for radio stations that use the platform for their website.

WordPress 3.8 - SidebarThe ‘Fresh Look’

Gone are overbearing gradients and dozens of shades of grey — bring on a bigger, bolder, more colorful design! – WordPress

They’re right! Parker brings the flatness that we’re getting used to in Apple’s latest iOS to the world of WordPress. The admin bar and menu in the backend are flat and a single colour, which a contrast to highlight the current item you’re on.

Alongside the use of the Open Sans font and simplified icons, it gives the tired looking UI and breath of fresh air. It really does feel like it’s been dragged, kicking and screaming to the middle of the 21st Century.

And for radio stations, it means happier users. There’s nothing worse than logging into a system that looks a decade old, but under the hood actually acts like a 6 week old puppy and is ready to give anything a go. It might scare some users who don’t use it that often, but like anything else they will get used to it after using for a while.

A splash of colour, and then some

WordPress describes it as “Admin color schemes to match your personality”, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say personality, but more just to match the colour of your frontend.

WordPress 3.8 - Colour Schemes

There are six colour schemes to choose from and they can mostly be described as the colours of the iPhone 5C (they’ve even visualised it for us!).

For radio stations, it means all users can pick the colour that they wish. In one office you could end up with the colours of the rainbow, just on one WordPress site! That will certainly brighten up winter days, and make you scream for mercy the morning after the company Christmas party.

Posting from Tablets, properly

WordPress 3.8 - Admin on Nexus 7

You could just about use previous WordPress version on tablets, if you had a lot of patience and time. But Parker means that the admin pages are truly responsive and enable you to easily update via your tablet (or other mobile devices).

Looking at the admin for this site on my Nexus 7 makes for a pleasant experience. It’s now easier to find icons and format the body of the post. Overall, it’s just a much more appealing layout, which may make me update on the move more.

And for radio stations, this means you’ll be easily able to update your site from the scene of an event, or if you discover a major error, it can be eradicated from your hand instead of your laptop. I believe that if used correctly, this is the best part of Parker and it will empower content creators like never before. Plus, there’s no need for a silly plugin to generate a nice admin section!


Whilst the first two points are simply cosmetics to bring it up to modern design expectations, the real kicker in Parker is the way it now properly reacts to devices like tablets.

You can get WordPress 3.8 either via the Updates system in your WP install, or manually from wordpress.org/download.

Further Reading

#NowPlaying: Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

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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.


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.


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.


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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