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KCRW Launches First Radio Station Virtual Reality App

88.9 KCRW Los Angeles VR Google CardboardSanta Monica Community College’s 89.9 KCRW Santa Monica/Los Angeles has launched the first Virtual Reality app tied to a radio station.

Available for iOS and Android, the free KCRW VR app works with Google Cardboard and the station is selling a station branded version. The app features special 360º videos of live artist performances from KCRW live sessions. The first performances include Death Cab for Cutie, Brandi Carlile, Thundercat, and Purity Ring.

KCRW built a custom video rig to produce the videos utilizing eight GoPro cameras. The video content will also be made available in non-VR form on YouTube.

Today, Los Angeles-based public radio station KCRW announced the launch of their free Virtual Reality mobile app. Designed to work with KCRW Cardboard (a branded version of Google Cardboard), the KCRW VR app gives fans a unique opportunity to join a live session from the station’s legendary basement studio, by putting viewers inside intimate performances. The KCRW VR app launches with exclusive videos from artists including, Death Cab for Cutie, Brandi Carlile, Thundercat, and Purity Ring. KCRW is the first-ever public media entity and radio station to launch a dedicated VR app, and with its in-house production team, will continue to provide exclusive content throughout the year.

Built by hand in the basement of KCRW’s Santa Monica studio, the custom video rig features eight GoPro cameras that allow each artist’s performance to be captured in stereoscopic 3D (Virtual Reality) to create a 360º panoramic video. Footage is then stitched together to create an immersive, stereoscopic 3D VR experience that puts the user inside the session.

“Now for the first time, you can be in our studio with the artists. It’s a revolutionary change in the way KCRW curated artists and music can be discovered. We are always striving for creative ways to connect with our community and we’re so excited to try out this new technology together,” commented Jennifer Ferro, KCRW president.

Performances are captured during artist’s in-studio sessions for Morning Becomes Eclectic, the station’s flagship music program.

Artists and songs available at launch include:

Death Cab for Cutie – “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive”
Brandi Carlile – “Murder in the City”
Thundercat – “Them Changes”
Purity Ring – “Stranger Than Earth”

“VR is undoubtedly the next frontier for blockbuster entertainment. While the biggest studios in Hollywood develop content for the masses, KCRW can amplify the outstanding live sessions that take place on a regular basis at the station, and offer a uniquely immersive experience to the audience,” said KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley. “This exciting initiative matches KCRW curated music and art with exciting new technologies and partnerships for wider distribution.”

Additional performances will be captured throughout the year, with video from Penguin Prison, Mew, Gardens and Villa, Amason, Mr. Pauer, Shana Halligan, Natalia Lafourcade, Korey Dane and Langhorne Slim, slated for release in the upcoming months. All videos, including several exclusive app-only performances, will live on the KCRW app, with select content featured in the KCRW branded room on Samsung’s MilkVR.

To experience KCRW’s exclusive performances in full stereoscopic VR video, fans can download the free app in the iOS and Android stores and can purchase a specially designed KCRW Cardboard, with artwork by Mr. Scruff, for only a $5.00 donation to KCRW.com. Users that do not have KCRW Cardboard can still watch the videos as an interactive 360 degree video on KCRW’s YouTube channel.

For more information on KCRW’s virtual reality experience, including a behind-the-scenes video, visit www.kcrw.com/vr.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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