I found an article about London pirate radio stations first published in Sunday Times magazine in September 2003. In it the author, Matt Munday, tells how mobile phones and SMS are being used at Xtreme FM to keep contact with listeners:
A show is in progress, the DJs taking turns to mix records together and exchange banter in a cockney pirate patois. The music veers from chunky hip hop to saccharine R&B – like most contemporary pirates, Xtreme champions “urban” sounds, a term that originated as a euphemism for black music. When not DJ-ing, they fiddle with their mobile phones: texting, reading texts, taking calls. Everyone has a top-of-the-range handset.
There is a studio mobile too. It vibrates every few seconds like a faulty alarm clock, as listeners call and text. Scrolling through its inbox, I notice scores of “missed calls”. Big N explains that this is how pirates gauge a record’s popularity. If listeners like a tune, they call in and then ring off, so the studio mobile registers a “missed call”. This costs callers nothing. If Xtreme receives over 20 missed calls from different numbers before a track ends, the DJs play it again. This is why teenagers listen to pirate radio: it’s interactive in ways legal stations can’t match.
Continue reading ‘Texting to pirates’
I am convinced that Frontline SMS or something similar should be part of an essential toolkit for rural radio stations within the footprint of a mobile telephone signal.
Frontline SMS is a text messaging system “conceived, designed and written firmly with the needs of the non-profit sector in mind”. Basically it is an SMS management and broadcast system that runs on a computer connected to a mobile phone with a data cable. All you need to do is insert a SIM card and you broadcast SMS messages to your listeners and classify and process messages received from them.
Continue reading ‘Frontline SMS’
In a paper entitled “Mobile Phones and Social Activism: Why cell phones may be the most important technical innovation of the decade” originally published on his blog, Ethan Zuckerman argues that the cell phone may be “may be the most important technical innovation of the decade”. Zuckerman, a Fellow affiliated with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law Schools in the United States, traces some trends in the use of the mobile phone around the world as an “activist technology”. His core thesis is that mobiles are powerful because they’re “pervasive, personal, and capable of authoring content.” Zuckerman’s article also addresses the issue of mobile phones used in conjunction with broadcast radio:
The only technology that compares to the mobile phone in terms of pervasiveness and accessibility in the developing world is the radio. Indeed, considered together, radios and mobile phones can serve as a broad-distribution, participatory media network with some of the same citizen-media dynamics of the Internet, but accessible to a much wider, and non-literate audience.
Continue reading ‘Ethan Zuckerman on “the only technology that compares to the mobile phone”’