Virgin radio: boot up and feel the music

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Virgin has launched Britain's first online radio station. Anyone with an Internet connection and RealAudio software can now listen to Virgin 1215, and can go on a virtual tour of the station. You can click your way from room to room, picking up play-list details, DJs' biographies, an online newspaper, and can also listen to recorded music sessions and interviews.

"Our mission is not to drive people on to the Net but to drive people from the Virgin Net site to Virgin Radio," says David Campbell, Virgin Radio chief executive.

He also believes it could help his plans to expand abroad. "People can sample the service if they've not heard it before, And if they want it in their country they can let us know."

The service is so far not without its teething problems: volume cannot be adjusted, except by altering your PC's internal speaker. And audio quality remains basic AM mono. Future software upgrades will improve this, says Ajaz Ahmed, a partner at AKQA media consultancy. "The technology has serious potential," he says. "Rather than waiting to download a massive file, RealAudio enables you to hear it immediately and live - which will have tremendous applications."

But he does not suggest you throw away your wireless yet. "For listening to the station, a radio set is by far the best choice," he says.

MEG CARTER

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