The BBC has come up with another thinly-disguised attempt at tracking its listeners online while providing nothing in return – this one’s called “Radio Pop”.

“Got to get home and type up what I was listening to before I forget!”

Here’s the idea: instead of listening to BBC radio stations on, say, a radio, or through the BBC’s own “listen live” links, go to this address: Then register, login and choose your station. A little pop-up window will appear that plays a live stream of that station. If you like what you hear, press the “pop” button. Why “pop” and not, say, “favorites” I have no idea. Maybe – a much better system not tied to any broadcaster and integrating with a huge variety of other sites and applications – has dibs on that.

What else? Well, the site includes a perfunctory gesture towards creating a network of friends. You can also install a “widget”. Or hope someone actually produces and sells a radio with Radio Pop integration. (They won’t.) Or hey, you can download a dynamic badge for your blog that shows the world your readers what you’re listening to right now (if you’re listening with the Radio Pop widget or web site, of course). And in the extremely likely event that you listen to a BBC programme somewhere and you weren’t using Radio Pop, you have the sensational opportunity to fill that information in manually, on the web site! Brilliant! Now I can do data entry about my own listening habits! It’s almost like the plot of the only good Kevin Costner vehicle, with less running in corridors and more tedious typing.

What all this aggregation adds up to is anyone’s guess, since the kind of person likely to actually use this site is probably not very representative of the BBC’s total audience. Indeed, the most popular station on Radio Pop appears to be the Asian Network – a piece of info that may actually make the whole enterprise worthwhile from the BBC’s point of view. Hey Auntie! You’ve got an underserved audience here who is so desperate to be catered for they’ll even use this awful website.