Junk offender: Mini Radio Player
I love the radio. Actually, let me qualify that. I love radio stations that don’t churn out annoying adverts every few minutes. Thankfully, we live in a country where there’s still so much choice when it comes to ad-free radio content. All the BBC’s national and local radio stations, for example, are mercifully free of the hard sell. And these days there’s a wealth of excellent free podcast content you can stream direct to your PC, phone or tablet.
But there is a problem. Unless you listen to radio on an actual radio set, you could find yourself having to endure adverts even when the broadcast was free of them in their original form.
Here’s what I’m talking about. The other day I was using the free Windows 10 app Mini Radio Player (https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/mini-radio-player/9wzdncrdr0c2?activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab), when I noticed that two extremely unwelcome adverts had been injected into the bottom of the app window (see screenshot). I had no desire to see “25 epic wedding fails”, nor did I have a sudden compulsion to give my insides a “powerwash”.
And this was while listening to BBC Radio 4 – an experience that’s supposed to be free of ads. Marketers are finding other ways to pelt us with ads, such as playing them before the radio show begins. In fact, an entire industry has sprung up around podcast advertising, with new companies such as Midroll (www.midroll.com) specialising in making money by stuffing episodes full of ads.
I’m not naive. I realise advertising is a necessary evil to fund ‘free’ content and services. But that doesn’t stop it being invasive and often tasteless. With even the BBC recently announcing that it’s adding adverts to podcasts available outside the UK (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43975703), I worry that it won’t be long before ads start to invade our non-commercial airwaves, too.