The BBC and a number of commercial partners have today launched Radioplayer. This Web app is designed to bring the BBC’s own publicly funded radio stations together with a wide range of commercial stations, making them available together for the first time.

Rather than offer a directory of the stations, the BBC has opted for a simple, freetext search box.Instructions underneath encourage users to try searching for a station, a location, a specific programme or presenter, or a subject that they’re interested in.

In short, this is a search engine for UK radio, with the ability to listen right from pop-up browser window.

Screen shot 2011 03 31 at 12.24.05 520x318 Radioplayer launches: 157 UK radio stations together in one place

Live streamed stations and catch-up services from 157 stations (set to be expanded to 228 within the next week) are all included and you can save your favourite stations as presets, allowing you to come back to them without having to set up or log in to an account.

Advertising is displayed within the pop-up player for commercial stations, although not for BBC stations, which flips into the familiar iPlayer interface.

Once you’re into the pop-up interface and have got used to the search-only interface, the app is a triumph for making a wide range of UK radio programming easily available from a central location. That said, visiting the main website for the first time, some users may be confused by the lack of much more than a text entry box – there’s no guide highlighting interesting programmes, although given the number of partners involved in the project, that’s probably the simplest solution of ensuring that the project is fair to them all.

Radioplayer UK Ltd is a not-for-profit company founded by the BBC, Global Radio, GMG Radio, Absolute Radio and RadioCentre. Bauer Media and UTV Media will join the project within the next few days, bringing all major radio industry players on board.

Radioplayer is freely available to use in the UK from today.

Screen shot 2011 03 31 at 12.11.27 220x384 Radioplayer launches: 157 UK radio stations together in one place Screen shot 2011 03 31 at 12.10.58 220x384 Radioplayer launches: 157 UK radio stations together in one place