Regular readers of this blog will know that in that past few months I’ve been working at a local community radio station, Palace FM. I won’t bore you with the details here, but recently it looked very much like the future of the station was in doubt. Thankfully all that has been resolved now, but whilst everything was in limbo, I decided that the radio bug had well & truly bitten me and that even if it meant launching my own station, I wasn’t going to give up.
I looked into it and discovered it was surprisingly easy to launch an online radio station. There are two basic routes. The most user friendly way is to use a service called Live365. All you do is pay a small monthly fee to cover the cost of playing copyrighted material, upload your music to the Live365 server, hit the “go” button and you’re on air. There are drawbacks though… First of all the monthly fee you pay is dependent on the number of concurrent listeners you have. A basic package can be had quite cheaply, but this only allows you to have a maximum of fifteen people tuning in at any one time – there’s no limit on the total number of listeners, but only a paltry few can listen simultaneously.
The main competitor to Live365 is not so much a company, but a whole industry standard. There is a platform offered by many operators called Shoutcast. This is a way of turning your home PC into a server from which you stream your music & content live to the web. After much searching I found a company called Voscast who use the Shoutcast platform, but also allow you to upload content to their AutoDJ service. This fulfils the same basic function as Live365’s auto streaming service, but to an unlimited number of listeners. This, then, is how my new station will be broadcasting.
The station will be called Guitar-FM and will be playing pretty much any style of music with a strong guitar focus. Obviously this will include a lot of rock and metal (both modern & classic stuff), but there’s also going to be jazz, folk, blues & classical genres too. Sometimes all of this in the same show. Yes, that’s right… there will be actual shows! This is NOT going to be just a way of me streaming the contents of my iPod to the world wide web with no speech content. I’m currently putting together a schedule which will include themed shows in most genres of music which feature the guitar. There’s also going to be some factual programming – shows about the history of the guitar, or how certain styles of guitar-focussed music developed. The sort of programming that BBC Radio1 used to put out on Saturday afternoons in the late ’80s/early ’90s if anyone remembers that?
This brings me to the main point of this blog… Does anyone out there fancy hosting their own show on Guitar-FM? You don’t need any broadcasting experience, just a keen enthusiasm for the guitar and the desire to share it with the world at large. The way the station will work is that individual contributors will record their own show by importing their choices of music into something like Audacity & any half decent mic to do the voice track. These shows will then be uploaded to the Shoutcast AutoDJ service in mp3 format. Then the AutoDJ takes over and plays all the mp3s (including the shows which have been uploaded) in whatever order to whatever schedule that has been determined. There’s no need to worry about the big red “on air” light over the mic – it will all be pre recorded.
So, if you fancy giving it a go, then email me via my website and we can get your show organised. Don’t be shy! This is your chance to tell the world about your band, or your favourite music, or that album you love that no-one else seems to have heard of. It’s your platform to share your musical passion with the world. Not by posting about it on a forum, or on Facebook but by actually playing your music and speaking to people about it!
Oh, and Palace FM? The station is moving home to new premises and will be back on air with live programming in the next couple of weeks when I’ll be bringing a new show to the masses. More details on that in a future blog.
Until next time, Have fun!