Monday, May 31, 2010

Mobile Health & Radio Logical Partners

A couple of relevant interviews from the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As community radio stations migrate to become community media centres in some countries, team up with mobile networks is obvious. But I believe broadcasters also need to consider the health industry too as a partner. In the case of the US$75 billion fraud problem with fake drugs in Africa, I can imagine a link between stations and sproxil to name and shame the fraudsters. It worked well in Ghana, and it should work elsewhere as well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Capital Radio's Afritude

David Smith is back again with some more great radio stories from Southern Africa. This time he explains what made him search out Capital Radio 604 while in Zimbabwe in 1983, and end up working there - twice. There is a website that looks at Capital's music years in the 80's and 90's (, but not the project that David ran in the 90's. Perhaps it was just ahead of its time?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

VNL, Community Radio and other thoughts

I think the future of community radio in many countries in West and East Africa means a move towards the role of community media centres. Radio will remain a core function of what they do, but villages will also add services that help members of the community do business, keep healthy, read at night, access family and friends abroad. To me this means a much closer cooperation with the mobile operators. This may be on the content side (SMS services in local languages) but it may also mean sharing towers, power and security. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, they gave a prize to an Indian company exhibiting for the second time.

VNL now has nearly 100 base stations operating in India using solar power. The panel technology is much better than before and I believe we have reached a point where radio stations need to learn from the ways the companies like vnl in India have made it simple for a village to install its own base station. It is a question of plug and start calling. I have no connection with them. Just think they have got their ideas right.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Peter would be proud on top of Solsbury Hill

Amazing what great video you can shoot with a DSLR camera these days (In this case the Canon 5D Mark II I believe). If this is Brian Wilson' first video on vimeo, I certainly hope it isn't the last. Only problem with these cameras is the relatively poor sound quality. But then it make be nice to have both a video camera and one of these. And someone to carry it for you :-)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Leo Laporte Deletes His Facebook Account

Seems some radio stations in the US have had their Facebook accounts disabled for linking to this video showing Leo Laporte deleting this Facebook account. I share their concerns that no-one understands the difference between making stuff public and making information public to a group of friends and friends of friends.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Jingles from the mid-nineties

Eleven years after the first show on jingles (republished last week) I revisited the subject of jingle production in the 1990's, this time talking with makers on both sides of the Atlantic. This edition was originally broadcast on the last Thursday of 1994. I've posted it following nice comments on the first one!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BBC Cancels Real Audio Streams Real Soon

My Internet radio from Logik is starting to replay a garbled message from BBC Radio 4stating that "this feed will shortly be discontinued". It is garbled because the pre-roll announcement chimes in mid sentence and sends you to a webpage which just has generic stuff on it, rather than a news update with more specific details. This blog-post is much more helpful and explains that the Beeb is indeed retiring the Real streams by the end of May 2010. So the Windows Media Files will still work in the future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pure Digital Visit

This 25 minute clip is the inside story on Pure, the company that has probably done the most to turn digital radio from an idea into an affordable proposition. They were leaders at the start of DAB in the UK and Denmark, now that has been extended to DAB+ and their interpretation of Internet Radio. I have had several web radios side by side - using different tuning systems, and is a much easier to use interface, especially if you like selecting stations by programme type or on-air quality. Colin Crawford gave me a tour of the labs and hints at what they are working on next. If you like radio, I'm sure you'll be interested in what these guys are up to.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Found a Media Network devoted to jingles in 1983

When I was hosting the communications magazine, Media Network, we made several visits to the topic of radio jingles, how they are made and what programmers in the early 1980's thought they were for. Their use seemed to go in waves, sometimes stations overused them and there were periods when stations hardly used them at all. There were enthusiasts like Tom Konard who made vast collections of station idents and sweepers. Some are still on line - check this reference. This show was broadcast on December 29th 1983 and I remember the recording well. Technican Pim Wijmer thought it would be a simple mix and wondered why I had booked four hours of studio time. Today, you can make the same show on a laptop using free multitrack software. In those days you had to cut and splice audio tape and cue everthing with yellow leader. There was more yellow leader on those montages than tape. Fun making it nonetheless. We finished about 1 am in the morning before transmission.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WAN Congress Beirut Suddenly Cancelled

Something very bad must have happened at An-Nahar newspaper to cause them to cancel the World Association of Newspapers Congress due to take place in Beirut, next month. It had the best line-up of speakers in a long time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir

One of the best examples of creative collaboration on the web at the moment. Inspiring stuff. How did they do it? Answers here

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Vizrt - what a difference a couple of years

When I was last in Bergen two years ago I was told that the 3D graphics company, Vizrt, was about to move from its home inside commercial station TV. Development director Petter Ole Jakobsen had an office that looked out onto a building site opposite.

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Not any more.

Now their HQ is 50 metres down the same pier in a superb building complete with a magical view of Bergen's gateway to the Norwegian fjords. Wow...

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Painting the town red in Bergen - and some other colours as well

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Hanging out with a fascinating Finnish street artist J├╝rgen Scheible who carries a 3000 lumens projector, a Nokia N95 and a Macbook Pro with him so he can just appear infront a buildings and "repaint" them all of a sudden. He tried it on Big Ben and was stopped by the police, until they understood what he was doing and then gave him a licence to carry-on painting until the end of the evening. In Bergen the target was the UNESCO heritage site in the harbour. There is a gallery of other projects at They should get him to light up the palace in Barcelona during GSMA.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Toaster Radio Pops Up

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Saw this in a catalogue a few months back and thought it was an April Fools joke. Then as I wandered around the city centre of beautiful Bergen, in Norway this afternoon I saw a bunch of them in a store window. Been there before and they carry a huge range of wifi enabled radios. The toaster radio is only AM/FM (curious to know what kind of reception you get on mediumwave when the toast is cooking).Price tag is around €83.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bar-Kulan Gets Going

Was delighted to do an interview with David Smith, the launch director of Radio Bar-Kulan. This is a new venture based on successful projects in Congo and the Central African Republic. The task of uniting Somalis in a country with no functioning central government is daunting. But, I believe, if anyone has the expertise to get it right, it is the team of Somalis working alongside David Smith at the moment.