RadioDNS started as a collaboration between Global (the "iHeart" of the UK) and the BBC to link radio stations with web services to provide an enhanced listener experience. RadioDNS is an entity created by the European Broadcast Union and unlike other solutions, RadioDNS is an open standard that is available to any radio station as well as to any manufacturer without any licensing fees. Major players can become members of RadioDNS for an annual fee of €3,000. Members help steer the future of RadioDNS, but there is no annual fee for broadcasters (even though RadioDNS states that they can charge radio stations €10 per year, they have never instituted that fee).
RadioDNS hybrid radio supports several features including:
- Station Information - This includes the name of the station, slogans, genres, links to websites, telephone numbers, text messaging as well as logo graphics that help listeners find your station and remind them of who they are listening to!
- Service Following - In conjuction with the station's internet stream, a RadioDNS equipped receiver can switch the listener to the station's stream when they leave the FM broadcast area.
- Program Schedules - Have your station's program schedules easily accessible to your listeners.
- Visuals/Slideshows - The ability to introduce promotional graphics and other images.
- Targeted audio - Through the use of the listener's location, the ability to deliver localized messages.
- Analytics - Statistics of listening habits.
Stations already on board
In North America, RadioDNS is currently being used by the following:
- iHeart Media
- Radio One/Urban One
- RadioPlayer Canada (most Candian independent and CBC stations)
- Educational Media Foundation (K-Love, Air 1, Radio Nueva Vida)
- National Public Radio (select stations including KPCC, WUNC, KUOW, WUFT, etc.)
- LPFM stations hosted by REC Networks (launch stations KBUU-LP and WHCP-LP)
RadioDNS is currently available in Audi vehicles in the United States. In February, 2022, Volkswagen has announced that they will be launching RadioDNS in their models. There are also plans for BMW and Porsche.
While this may be a short list at this time, any promotion is better than no promotion.
How does it work?
RadioDNS uses the existing domain name server (DNS) infrastructure of the internet. Stations in the area are "discovered" through the encoding made by radio stations running Radio Data Service (RDS). The radio will call the DNS to see if the station has an entry at RadioDNS. If it does, the service will then direct the radio to the website where Station Information (SI) metadata and logo graphics are hosted.
Sounds expensive. What does a radio station need to do to be on RadioDNS?
The only radio station equipment requirement is that the transmitter needs to have RDS encoding. Most LPFM certified transmitters already have RDS built in and for those transmitters without built-in RDS, an inexpensive adjunct unit can be connected to the transmitter through the MPX ports. RadioDNS is also compatible with HD Radio. Using RDS, RadioDNS is a very inexpensive, if not free, upgrade for any radio station. No licensing fees, no royalties, no nothing. Some may want to set up their own RadioDNS presence if they have the website administration skills, including DNS. Anyone can do this!
RadioDNS at REC Networks
REC has fully embraced the concept of RadioDNS due in part to the open environment that permits anyone to create devices and services as well as for any licensed radio station to participate. As a result, REC has completed two major projects related to RadioDNS.
Free RadioDNS opportunities for every LPFM station through myLPFM
REC Networks will make available, free of charge, the ability for every licensed LPFM station to be able to enhance their station with RadioDNS hybrid radio.
Using myLPFM, all LPFM stations can upload their logo graphics, fill in some basic station information and register their station with RadioDNS. REC will host this basic aspect of RadioDNS for all LPFM stations at no charge.
Clients of REC Networks with a historical spend of at least $350 in FCC filing services over the life of the LPFM station (even between owners) will also be able to include their streams to support the Service Following function.
All LPFM stations are encouraged to go to myLPFM.com and sign up for a free account, not just for RadioDNS, but for all of the station management and channel searching features the service has to offer.
FCCdata.org enhanced with RadioDNS
REC's broadcast lookup tool, FCCdata.org is now set up to make real time queries to RadioDNS like it is a compatible receiver. FCCdata will display the station's logo, other meta data and any streams that are compatible with web browsers. RadioDNS is available on FCCdata for stations in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the USA, RadioDNS information also shows up on the "Dialscape" (the list of stations that appears when a city is entered). This information is updated once per week on Sundays.
REC has already launched two utility programs to support RadioDNS:
- Connectivity Check - For US stations, you can enter a call sign and the system will attempt to access RadioDNS to make a connection to the service provider's server to obtain the meta data and graphics. The check also allows you to diagnose any issues with the XML file used for station information. The tool will also check for any radio station in the world running RDS, HD Radio, DAB, DAB+, DRM and AMSS using the proper station technical parameters.
- Service Provider List - A list of organizations that are hosting stations with RadioDNS. Clicking on the provider's server will bring up a list of all of the US stations at that service provider.
- RadioDNS - radiodns.org
- myLPFM.com - free metadata and image hosting for all licensed LPFM stations in the USA.
- ETSI Standards:
- ETSI TS 103 270 - RadioDNS Hybrid Radio; Hybrid lookup for radio services.
- ETSI TS 102 818 - Hybrid Digital Radio (DAB, DRM & RadioDNS) XML Specification for Service and Program Information (SPI).
- ETSI TS 101 499 - Hybrid Digital Radio (DAB, DRM & RadioDNS) Slideshow; User Application Specification.