Friday, November 7, 2008

Virgin Canada WebRadio

The most visited web radio stations on the web worldwide are those belonging to the Virgin group, one tenticle of the giant media (and soda) squid that is Sir Richard Branson's Virgin corperation. With station affiliated in Canada, France, Italy, U.A.E (Dubai), India and Thailand, Virgin plans on buying more stations to make part of its global network. Virgin actally started as a three station conglameration of U.K. stations, which has sinced changed their names to Absolute Radio.

The website has a glossy, but uncluttered interface, that loads a flast, but high-res flash series of rock artist photography. After the brief, yet scintillating, Christina Agularia, Dave Grohl and Beyonce flash dance, an infered global network that harkens interpol pops up with flashing red stations. You can effortlessly listen to the same "alternative"-commercial (read: all songs propbably actually appear in television commercials) radio, repackaged for audiences in distint foriegn outposts. Kinda fun. The most coolest (and one of the few that are extraneous) feature is one that logs listeners joining and where they are listening from.

It was fairly seamless to scroll through programing streams. It was almost as easy as scrolling between stations on satellite radio, to avoid commercials and songs that are particularlly offensive to your tastes. Overall the site's, success and design sophistication shows that there is commercial potentially in online radio. As an uncommercial station, it isn't practically compareable to ours, but as propnents of online radio, we should be ambilently curious about this.

The programing isn't exactly cutting edge (it's a MTV like "what-is-hip," western trash-culture exporting machine), but is sometimes innovative. Our closest out post Virgin999, formerly Mix 99.9 in Toronto, has the worlds shortest program, "Plannet Maurie," a punchy one-minute rant. To be fair the stations more popular shows are Perez Hilton and the Canada Top 20 pop hits though, so the programming isn't worth abandoning your favorite station.

Don't expect anything especially innovative musiclly, programming categories are as wide-ranging as Classic Rock, Modern Rock, Pop Rock, Top 40, and Adult Contemporary. In addition to unexciting programing there are commercials included in the stream. For all these crimes against artistry, the interface was pretty slick. I don't know if it is feasibly sustainable while maintaining a chaoticlly diverse and unstreamable selection of studenet shows. The only show that wasn't available just as a stream on Virgin999's website was "Planet Maurie." Appropriatly it looked like the only good show anyway.

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