One of the not so secret projects I'm working on is the development of a streaming Internet radio station.
I am fortunate to live in a city with nearly eighty AM and FM radio stations. The sad truth is that most of them flat out suck. There was a time when radio was a very happening place. DJ's selected all their music, played what they wanted, so long as it fit in with the overall format of the station. Listeners would tune in to get the latest news and hear newest records by their favorite artists.
A handful of large conglomerates own the vast majority of radio stations, especially in the larger markets. Now when you drive across country and listen to the local radio, you'll hear pretty much the same songs. So whether you're in Philly, Cleveland, St. Louis, Denver, or Phoenix, you'd swear you're listening to the same signal. In some cases you are, as a jock in one location "voice tracks" or pre-records all the on-air announcements ahead of time for multiple stations.
This is where the Internet Radio Project comes in....
I have wanted to have my own radio station for a long time. To buy one here in Chicago would cost millions. I certainly don't want an AM station. Other that the news-talk stations in the big markets, most other AM's are struggling mightily, depending on their sister FM's for life sustaining advertising.
Of course you know that stations now stream on the Internet. Some are the feeds of "over the air" stations, and some are homegrown operations playing songs in a "jukebox" format. They upload a few hundred songs to a server, and they are played back at random.
It was also necessary to pay royalties to the publishers (songwriters) and the record companies. Until recently this was expensive, but there are now companies that aggregate many small "webcasters" to band together on a single "streaming" audio server.
One of my friends, Marty Zivin, has been streaming two radio stations at Zecom Radio. Another excellent music station is being served up by Okemos Brewing out of Michigan. Despite the name, the only thing on Okemos' menu is music.
The difference between these three stations and your average Internet radio is that they program the music to play like a traditional radio station with help from some sophisticated software.
Our plan is to join forces to create a single one-stop site for their streams and a new one I am in the process of putting together. We aim to bring back the kind of creativity and variety that used to be heard regularly on great rock stations like WBCN (Boston) WNEW (New York) WMMS (Cleveland) and KFOG (San Francisco.)
I am parlaying over twenty years of experience in the radio business to create a new format called "Acid Flashback."
The description is a "psychedelic blend of classic, progressive, new wave, jam bands, jazz, funk, rhythm, and blues." You will hear a lot of deep album tracks that your "classic hits" radio just doesn't play. That in itself is a shame. When I was growing up, the good rock stations always delved deep into an artist's catalog. I "borrowed" over eight thousand songs from Zecom to seed my music library.
It's an arduous task. I am literally going through each song to determine what I want to keep, what daypart I want it to be heard in, and pruning out material that doesn't fit the format such as "soft" cheesy songs by Corey Hart, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Young, and Culture Club (ugh!)
At the same time I'm adding more songs not in the Zecom collection. In about two weeks time, I've managed to get "A-D" reorganized. Mind you, it took Marty the better part of two years to integrate all his music. My goal is to go through it in eight weeks.
So far I've added additional tracks from Alan Parsons, Al Stewart, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Byrds, Beatles, Clash, Creedence, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Cure, Doobie Brothers, and Chicago.
That should give you a pretty good idea of the music selections. There is also a vast amount of "Live" songs that have to be edited, but that will have to wait until the main library is finished, as it is not a simple copy and upload.
I will give you all a periodic update on how things are going, and even a peek at the stream, when it's ready to be heard.
Filed under: Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, ELP, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Faces, Fleetwood Mac, Funk, Grateful Dead, Indie-pop, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, John Lennon, Keith Emerson, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed, Music, New Wave, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Rhythm & Blues, Robert Fripp, Rock 'n' Roll, Rolling Stones, Talking Heads