Picture radio draws closer

The notion that radio is a stuck-in-the-mud medium should be put to the sword next month.The innovation infantry responsible for the slaying will be O

The notion that radio is a stuck-in-the-mud medium should be put to the sword next month.

The innovation infantry responsible for the slaying will be O2 and Virgin Radio, who have declared they’ll be the first UK network and radio station to launch Nokia’s Visual Radio service.

As Stuffers with long memories will know, Visual Radio’s been around for over a year in greater techno nations than ours, and offers images and text on your phone alongside ye olde FM broadcasts.

To start with, Virgin’s big schtick with Visual Radio will be interactivity – making it easier for you and us to stalk the station’s presenters via messages, polls and multiple choice questions. More prosaically, you’ll also be see who’s playing and read artist bios.

The really cool bit is the promise of music downloads, which will initially be limited to ringtones of the track you’re currently listening to - we’re waiting to hear back on the number that’ll be available. O2 also has ambitions to offer full-length song downloads later this year.

Virgin isn’t the only station experimenting with nifty multimedia radio. The Beeb has also been dipping its toe into the image and video waters, running last November’s awesome Gorillaz gig – the Manc one with the ‘holograms’ – on Radio One via digital TV. This year the corporation will also be sending pics and videos to phones and trying its hand at using Bluetooth at festivals.

In the meantime, O2 and Virgin’s service goes live next month on a date that’s TBA. It’ll work on Nokia N-Series mobs (above) plus 8 other Nokias, and should cost roughly £1 an hour in data charges.