Love is in the airwaves – social radio aims to make world of difference


12 Feb 2009

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This Saturday is Valentine’s Day and up to 100 DJs from around the world will show their love for the emerging genre of social radio, while at the same time raising money for children who have suffered in the recent fighting around Gaza.

DJs from Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Canada and even the Falklands Island will strut their stuff on a 24-hour ‘Blipathon’, which can be accessed at http://blipathon.com

The DJs will hope to raise funding and awareness for the Tuesday’s Child charity based in Belfast, which seeks to provide support to children living in the Gaza Strip who have been affected by the recent Israeli offensive.

According to one of the organisers, 75 DJs are signed up so far, and this will reach 100 by Saturday.

Digital radio aficionado Brian Greene said the event marks an important watershed in the development of social radio, which consists of thousands of internet-based radio stations run by people who are passionate and want to add a live element to their previous podcasting abilities.

Many of the purveyors of this new form of broadcasting converge on radio website Blip.fm – described as the Twitter of online radio – to share music.

“Blippers everywhere will be taking part in the Blipathon,” said Greene. “But only a few fanatics like me will do the full 24 hours.

“Tuesday’s Child is a music-centric charity for children, and it is focused on getting aid on the ground in Gaza to help the children most affected by the conflict.”

While on the fringes of broadcasting, the social-radio movement is a cultural shift that needs to happen in broadcasting, Greene said.

“Radio has historically been a passive engagement on the part of the audience, but social radio is about the listener being more active and playing a part. People can listen to social radio and hit ‘next’, or download what they’re listening to, and can communicate with their friends and share playlists and programmes.”

According to Greene, most of Blip.fm’s content comes from MP3s that exist on the internet, and the result is a broad range of music that transcends all genres.

“The big music labels are in discussions with Blip.fm to put signed acts up there, and while it’s a slow process, it’s happening. In the meantime, it means there’s a vibrant place for people to put new and eclectic material out there.”

Greene said the monetisation of social radio will be primarily by audio streams that get inserted into popular shows, rather than AdSense or other forms of traditional internet advertising.

“The overall future for social radio is to get it into cars or other devices that people can listen to on the move. The future for internet radio will be 3G or WiMAX transponders in cars or on buses through which passengers can access their stations and the internet.

“The transponder, for example, could sit on a London or Dublin bus and a passenger with a laptop or an iPhone can tune into their favourite social radio stations by Wi-Fi. This is the future of social radio, and that’s why I think digital audio broadcasting (DAB) will be outmoded,” Greene said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: just some of the 100-odd DJs set to take part in this Saturday’s Blipathon