Friday, July 01, 2011

Jelli not Jelly

On May 5th Tom Taylor wrote about Jelli, and I was sort of looking forward to the chaos that would obviously ensue. For those that are unaware, Jelli is a listener interface that lets people like and dislike songs on a playlist via the Jelli website or their iPhone app. It's like live response polling. We used to pay consultants for this kind of data. Of course here is the first problem. Any system with a public face can be easily hacked. A small organized group could rick-roll their playlist at any time.

More effectively these results can be used as a source of listener feedback for a music director or in the case of KXLI, as the sole source of programming.  Jelli bills itself as "100% user-controlled radio."  This is somewhat disingenuous, as no one before KXLI dared to actually do that.  Early adopters include KITS, WKRL, WPST, KISN, KENR, KTRS, KDOT, WJYY, KSMX, WCYY, KEEY, WKLS, WPST, WBLI, WBOS, and WYSP. It's over 20 markets in all. But let me get back to quoting Mr. Taylor here:
"A couple of caveats - Nobody really knows what a fulltime social web-powered (and automated) station might sound like on the air. And these FMs (KVBE, Moapa, NV and KHIJ, Bunkerville) aren’t the biggest of signals. In fact, they both citygrade St. George, Utah and are rimshot signals to Vegas."
He's right, and the ratings on KVBE weren't' exactly enviable. Jelli replaced the format that 94.5 carried since it's debut in 2008 as KMOA. So on the 30th at Midnight KVBE played some unremarkable instrumental dance tune which petered out to a short stretch of silence at about 12:05 AM.Then about 10 seconds of the song "She hates me" by Puddle of Mudd, which was followed by their first Jelli ID. KHIJ flipped to a "pop" version of Jelli and became KYLI more or less simultaneously.
94.5 KXLI first Jelli ID:

The first adopter of "Jelli" was KITS in San Francisco who launched a Sunday night program in June of 2009. They took it six nights a week in January of 2010. That's about the same time that Triton media began distributing Jelli. Triton is a perfect match as they tried to create this "format" back in 2005. In May of that year 1550 KYCY-AM became "Open Source Radio" and began broadcasting listener-submitted podcasts on air. WBEW aired another podcast-like format prior to their Vocalo branding. Ken Freedman at WFMU has some claim to the idea as well. Just to make things clear, Jelli isn't alone in their space. There's also Blendella,and a couple others.

But there are a number of conceptual precursors.  Back in 2008, 100.5 WXMM in Norfolk debuted a listener-based online interface. It seemed to fade away before May of 2009. If you go all the way back to 1966, KRLA billed itself as "All-Request Radio" as did many Top-40 stations. These in fact did program a lot of their playlists from requests. You might find that contrasts with the use of Jelli on KXLI and KYLI but the fact that the pair in Vegas are planned to be "rock" and "pop" stations respectively. This thinking indicates some external forces beyond the apps. It's not 100% use-controlled radio.  I'm sure there have been more. The repeated failure of similar concepts does not bode well for this latest, jellied attempt.