The project by BBC Local Radio to operate stations using a central hub has gone live today at BBC Radio Northampton.
The BBC’s Virtual Local Radio experiment will expend to BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Essex and BBC Three Counties Radio.
It allows the stations to be equipped with ‘the latest in-studio capabilities, offering the potential to substantially reduce the cost and time needed to upgrade a typical Local Radio station’.
To the presenters and production teams the studios will appear much like traditional studios but with the underlying equipment and infrastructure moved to a central, shared, location. Editorial teams will have full control over the play-out system and mixing desks, but the actual audio files will be stored, streamed, mixed and processed in a remote data centre, in real-time.
The system was designed to ensure that only the back-end equipment is centralised so that editorial and production teams can continue to present locally.
Peter Coles, interim CTO for the BBC, said: “This is an excellent example of BBC innovation helping us find new, lower cost and more flexible ways of providing the technology our programme makers’ need to deliver great Local Radio to our audiences from the local community. Northampton is a first, but significant, step toward us proving the potential for a fully virtualised BBC Local Radio network, and I’m sure we’ll see the industry begin to adopt a similar approach. We’ll continue to test and iterate the technology to help shape future plans before we decide whether to roll the system out across additional BBC Local Radio stations.”
Jess Rudkin, Managing Editor for BBC Radio Northampton, said: “Throughout the design and installation of ViLoR, BBC Local Radio producers, presenters and journalists have worked with the BBC’s technology experts, and we now have the best studio equipment in the business. Not only do our new studios and software make it even easier for us to create high quality programmes and give us new editorial options, they can also be installed in almost any building: ideal for radio which prides itself on being so close to its audience.”