Alexa gets new skills for 69 radio stations

Amazon Alexa skills have been launched this month for almost 70 radio stations in the UK.

The skills are available for national radio stations, including KISS, Magic Radio and Absolute Radio. Some local radio stations can also be played, such as Metro Radio and TFM.

An Alexa skill is essentially a capability of devices including the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. Smart speakers with Alexa listen for commands which then use a skill to respond or perform an action.

The new skills are optimised for listeners based on data from the radio stations. For example, nearly one in four Absolute Radio listeners also listen to the Absolute decades stations. Listeners can switch between them by saying “Alexa, next”.

In addition to playing the stations Alexa can also respond to queries, such as “Alexa, ask Absolute 80s what’s playing?” and “Alexa, ask Key 103 who is on air?”.

The radio stations plan to make more podcasts and on-demand content available on Alexa. Listeners will also be able to ask Alexa to play on-demand channels like KISS Jams and KISS Grime, which are not broadcast on digital radio.

Nadia Holmes, Head of Digital Audio at Bauer Media, said: “The Bauer radio skills for Alexa enhance the listener experience users expect in an increasingly connected home environment, and we anticipate further take-up of voice-activated devices with research from the Radiocentre showing that 77% of Amazon Echo users use their devices to listen to radio. This innovation creates further exciting opportunities around digital audio”.

Owners of Amazon Alexa smart speakers can start using the new skill by asking “Alexa, launch Viking FM” or “Alexa, launch Viking FM” or “Alexa, play Absolute Radio 90s”.

Skills are also available for other radio stations. For example, users can ask “Alexa, ask the BBC to play Radio One” or “Alexa, open Smooth Radio”.

Radio stations which do not have their own skill can be played through TuneIn.