Reboot Your Radio!
Notes on the polymorphous architecture of a free cultural radio: Radio as Frontend, internet as Backend. Open Radio License. Free Cultural Radio. Exstream Programming.
RADIO AS FRONTEND, INTERNET AS BACKEND
As we heard, the internet has become an all day mass medium, more and more "things" are networked, digital audio and video turn into net based services, and the desktop interface of the workplace is not the only way to go online anymore. In the post-internet phase, the network doesn't disappear, it only becomes less visible. The audio channel emancipated from the screen first, to put the presence of the net in the background, in favour of the ear (and the sharing of music files). Media resources can get transparently connected, while the end user experience doesn't change drastically, such as in IP telephony or radio syndication. Satellite, cable, radio, and other kind of large technical networks get interconnected and glued with IP based networks hence they aren't replaced by them. They still exist next to each other. Some old media types are there to stay and have a second life, like vinyl had with the introduction of digital culture. Radio, as a highly developed medium, works cost effective on a local level, it has many advantages on the end user side, it is mobile, and available to the farthest corners of the world. So the combination of radio and internet doesn't lead to the replacement of radio as a means of distribution, it rather reintroduces people into the loop. On the level of production, through decentralisation, interconnection and automatisation of the studio and archive, the virtuality of possible changes and connections multiplies the freedom in which the flow of sounds can go, to only intensify the need of social labour, and focus even more around the people producing and listening to the program. The network effect escapes into the acoustic space and doesn't stay as a mere epiphenomena of self-referential net culture, but comes back to reinform the urban environment about itself. The architecture of radio broadcasting creates an instant communality, it is local and one-to-many, while the opposite counts for the net. Both together form a new media type ready for exploration.
OPEN RADIO LICENSE
Radio shows usually contain music which is copyrighted. Radio stations have to pay a fee to their national royalty collectors to be able to legally broadcast copyrighted content. The creators should get compensated through this system, but in reality, commercial format radio works as a redundancy machine in favour of mainstream artists. For radio archives publicly made available, additional fees have to be paid as well as for live streaming and even more for on demand archives. Non-commercial Radio Stations which do not play mostly mainstream music have problems financing these fees. On the other hand, they do not have problems sharing their shows with other non-commercial radio stations, if credits are given. To simplify the international program exchange between such radio stations, a license model would be useful which combines an internationally compatible compulsory license model with an open content license model. The use of already published copyrighted material is then combined with the creative work component of the radio DJ. A new form of agency is needed, international and specialized for the compensation of non-commercial use of copyrighted music in a networked broadcasting environment. An open radio license would make it easier to facilitate legal file-sharing between non-commercial radio stations and to provide public access to radio archives (on demand and as stream) through the internet. Such an environment would foster the development of new musical styles and support non-mainstream music in a way which has a positive effects worldwide for the labels and artists producing music. With a compensation system based on the indexing of such radio playlists it would be possible to better redirect the fees to the authors. Such a system would need to be internet based, to facilitate the registration of music tracks, the indexing of access statistics, playlists control the payment of fees. Other forms of content, such as journalistic features can get compensated in similar ways.
FREE CULTURAL RADIO
The common alternatives to mainstream radio are free radio or public radio formats, which define themselves dialectically in the way they distinguish themselves from the commercial formats as "counterparts" often focusing on a transcendent concept of society and the public sphere. A new form of radio would define itself by the immanence of the given social fields, and their political, cultural and economical factors of production. The components: Local music culture, free software driven editorial systems, cultural openness, international program exchange, art + experiment, political information, and the archiving and transmission of local cultural events would serve as a suitable abstraction of editorial content zones, which then can get organized autonomously down to the level of single programs and shows. The goal is to interpolate the already existing cultural production of a local urban environment into the airwaves and relate it to the one of other cities. None of the categories of locality or non-commercialty are completely fixed or clear, they are produced in the process of making the radio program, not just as a representation of the struggle of surpressed minorities, or the expression of subjectivity, but as a transformation of an ongoing production from one sphere to another, the urban space to the acoustic space, a social feedback process of subjectivity production which is for many reasons certainly under a paralyzing central control.
Software culture means to reflect the function, architecture and philosophy of software in a way which makes it possible to change it. With the availability of open source software components it is possible to multiply the productivity of a software development process without multiplying the costs. It means more room for open ended experimentation. In a fully experimental programming environment, the software and it's social application are embedded into one constant and incremental development cycle. Bug reports and feature requests, chat discussions and wiki checklists, sofa debates and research orgies are providing a critical environment of constant challenge and pragmatic and collective decision making which avoids a few common problems of software development, such as overcomplexity. The artistic use of software is to be practised almost immediately by the use of artists testing the functionality with their own content, or by the artful consideration of a complex situation into beautifully simple concepts and guidelines. Archive, Scheduler, Playout. "Tools not rules."