Community Radio- Entering The Digital Age

Community Radio- Entering The Digital Age: “Community Radio – Entering the Digital Age

With webcasting, iPods and P2P file sharing, it is difficult not to notice that the ways people are using audio are rapidly changing. Where a few years ago teenagers might swop ‘mix tapes’ it is likely now that they will instead swop a few gigbytes of their favourite artists. With social networking tools it is ever easier to share social preferences – in essence, to generate an understanding of what is ‘cool’ in a particular social group. Tools like allow us to see what ‘similar’ people are listening to.

All of this has caused considerable consternation amongst various groups. The recording industry is understandably concerned that rampant music sharing could destroy their business model. Legislators and regulators worry about how to control this changing landscape. Professional journalists wonder whether amateurs will displace them.

The changes are also posing a challenge for radio stations. The BBC, for instance, have a research team looking at how ‘social software’ can be integrated into broadcasting. We’re already all familiar with one impact on radio – the use of SMS messages to provide a ‘return channel’ for listeners. Those of you who, like me, can remember when dedicated call-in lines were rare on Irish radio will understand the changes that regular live phone calls and SMS messages have wrought on radio style and content. The BBC have experimented with bringing that one step further, allowing music content to be automatically set based on the text messages received, and looking at the possibility of further developments that are a blur of jargon and emerging technologies:

The potential of Flickr/ tagging for radio; the possibilities of combining buddy lists with media players; new applications for SMS; and concepts like ‘100 Composers’–DABJava applications on PDAs that can have data trickled to them over broadcast radio.

And there’s more. “…

Andrew will be reporting later in the year on more from the world of cutting edge radio. I think that our little podcasting experiment might be an interesting illustration of the kind of thing people might get up to with the traditional radio form. I know I was prompted to buy an ipod mini (really, if Dave Fanning still only has two thirds of his original ipod full, the rest of us will never need a full one) when I discovered how to schedule my computer to record programmes from the BBC to listen to on the bus.

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