Build your own radio station

I was just looking at the ICRT thread with some amusement. I thought it was crap even before they changed the format, or whatever it is they’ve done that ired Maoman and the great god Gus so, so haven’t paid much attention up until now. But one very interesting point emerged and it set me thinking. (Don’t worry, I’ll go back to drinking soon.)

ICRT, as far as I can tell, is a commercial organisation that doesn’t appear to be making any money. It can try to compete on equal terms with every other radio station out there, but instead it has chosen to try and distinguish itself by being the English language station. Now, although I personally don’t like their style of presentation, that’s just my opinion. I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically bad with about trying to be cool or interesting in the eyes of your audience.

The key point that came out in the thread was that having an ‘international’ radio station is not only good for anyone trying to learn English, it’s also an important ‘sales point’ for any country trying to make itself more international. Little things like, for instance, the news hour mean a lot to some people and have a greater value to Taiwan than the money that can be made from advertising in that slot.

So ICRT is important to all of us, not because we are potentially going to listen to it, but because it’s an important part of the infrastucture that makes this island that bit more liveable than it would have been otherwise. It’s because of ICRT that some taxi-drivers speak a little English. It’s because of ICRT that the wife of the president of XYZ corps billion-dollar Taiwan venture doesn’t nag him to close the company down and go back to head office. ICRT is part of the nationwide effort to keep Taiwanese people in language schools, providing employment for a great many of us. And realising that has made me value it a little more.

I don’t have a lot of suggestions of my own, as I’m not a pop-culture person, but surely some of you lot must have some good ideas for ways in which ICRT can please a larger audience?

What kind of programming would you like to see (hear?) that would improve the station for you?

What could they do to increase their attractiveness to advertisers without sinking to the lowest common denominator?

What can they do to attract those fabled government dollars?

What kind of content should they include to maintain the ‘english learners’ audience?

What can YOU or forumosa contribute, other than criticism, that will prevent the loss of a valuable resource? Focus not on what ICRT is, but on what it can be. Imagine that you are starting from scratch and are going to design and plan your own radio station - using your own money. :slight_smile:

I have looked into the possibility of operating an online radio station before and the findings are that the costs are very prohibitive. Most of it would go into the broadening of bandwidth to accomodate increasing listeners - If the whole operation gets off, anyway. So if there are individuals willing to fund an actual radio station to rival that of what we have available at current, drop a line here, please. Stragbasher has a good point. Be part of the solution.

Stragbasher frequently raises good points.

However, I feel compelled to comment that I kind of get the feeling that you are implying the old “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”… If I am correct, I think that notion is pure bunk.

Many people, including myself, have already offered criticism of what is wrong with ICRT. For example… the DJs are often difficult to listen to, with their idiotic antics and screaming and laughing and exaggerated speech, which often runs over into the songs. Another complaint is that the news broadcasts are too infrequent and or horribly presented.

Even lacking abundant wit, I am able from those criticisms to glean two suggestions for improvement. First, tell the DJs to tone it down and shut up during the songs. Second, bring back the news and present it in a manner unlike that which has received negative criticism.

:unamused:

Stragbasher frequently raises good points.

However, I feel compelled to comment that I kind of get the feeling that you are implying the old “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”… If I am correct, I think that notion is pure bunk.

Many people, including myself, have already offered criticism of what is wrong with ICRT. For example… the DJs are often difficult to listen to, with their idiotic antics and screaming and laughing and exaggerated speech, which often runs over into the songs. Another complaint is that the news broadcasts are too infrequent and or horribly presented.

Even lacking abundant wit, I am able from those criticisms to glean two suggestions for improvement. First, tell the DJs to tone it down and shut up during the songs. Second, bring back the news and present it in a manner unlike that which has received negative criticism.

:unamused:[/quote]

Fair enough, have it your way. Bear that there would still be people who’d write in and try to help. Criticism is a way to raise a point and to effect solutions. Therefore whatever is written to critique will draw even more suggestions, like it or not.

[quote]However, I feel compelled to comment that I kind of get the feeling that you are implying the old “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”… If I am correct, I think that notion is pure bunk.
[/quote]

You are jumping to conclusions and implicating something that wasn’t written. If you subscribe to your own notion, would you be speaking to those who have also filed for the petition?

Gentlemen, thank you for your input. I would be grateful, however, if any further discussion about who said what could take place somewhere else.

Anyone have additional suggestions for what a community radio station should look like, or how it could be paid for?

Thanks
The newer, kinder, more constructive stragbasher.

When I first discovered The G’day Cafe a few years ago, I thought the radio they were playing was ICRT. It was an easy listening station, the DJ sounded like Richie Walker or Gray Gleason.

The traffic report came and went, and I did a double take. Did the DJ just say “Maui”?! It turns out that the restaurant pipes in music from a Hawaiian radio station

The point of my story was that ICRT was a lot like a radio station I would flip on back home (not Hawaii but on the mainland). And that was easy to take for granted. Here was a station that sounded familiar, except that I could here news about Taiwan instead. And that is neat.

In college, I tuned into the morning shows to wake me up, and the late night shows to keep me company on my long commute home. I don’t think ICRT needs a shock jock to satisfy me, but to tune into the morning to listen to some corny skits, or special effects was harmless entertainment for me. What I thought was nice was to hear so-and-so from Taichung call in to talk about the hockey rink or some community service going on there.

If I had the money to build my own radio station, I would set aside a few hours in the morning for that kind of variety show. Because it would target working and school going people and families, I would target the companies these people work for to hit them up for sponsorships. Remind people that the Community station needs to be supported by the community it serves, and regularly seek requests for improvement.

On top of my list of sponsors are the companies that sponsor other fine international community institutions here, like the Community Services Center, the American Chamber of Commerce, TAS, The Japanese School, and all of their various European counterparts. I do not know much of how radios are supported or funded in Europe, so I do not know if they would be as understanding of the function ICRT can serve for them.

Didn’t ICRT come from the same gene pool that spawned TAS? That is, the US armed forces community. Could there be more done to re-awaken the support that goes to TAS?

Like Tigerman, ICRT for me has been one of those quaint institutions that’s just always been there. You don’t pay much attention to it, it’s just a fact of life.
I’m also the sort of person who spends little time listening to radio since my tastes in music are far from mainstream. Back in the west I might listen to college radio once in a while to see if I was missing anything on the indie scene, but it would more likely be out of boredom than genuine interest. Now I have internet radio to provide genre-specific programming, completely free of advertising or buffoonery.
I’m never going to buy a Take That boxed set or a new boy band CD, and the record companies here would go broke in a week trying to market the crap that I listen to, so it’s better that the twain shall never meet. I don’t give a rat’s ass what they play on the radio, and they’re smart not to care what I want in music programming.

My primary use for a wireless radio station would be the morning news I could listen to during my morning commute. I’d get to reading my email faster from not browsing internet news sites or reading the Chinese newspapers when I arrive in my office. Second to that would be the community announcements, since I don’t read the Englishy papers. I used to enjoy Brian Kennedy’s rants, though the traffic had to be pretty bad for me to get to hear all of it. I’d never be tuned in to listen at that hour, but I thought it was a good idea to run shows that would introduce the local kids to something outside of the pop mainstream (like Bill Teeson’s jazz show, and the BB King blues hour) while still being accessible enough for a wide audience.

If anything, I think it’s a good idea to pitch the English level at that of the migrant workers here. ie, not as fast or slang-laden as the native speaker, but still somewhat higher than the average young Taiwanese person. The migrant worker is a large segment in the market and relies on the radio for entertainment. Some familiar content from back home goes a long way to making life here more bearable. They love the call-in dedications etc. I think the worker’s rights show that the Filipina lady ran was very popular also.

As an aside, has anyone listened to XM or Sirius back home?

[quote]thank you for your input. I would be grateful, however, if any further discussion about who said what could take place somewhere else.
[/quote]

If I did that, it was unintentional, apologies. Agree that irrelevence should be kept at bay.

Hypothetically, a community radio station could be run with profits from
the organisation’s own businesses co-opt with corporations which pledge their support to the venture (F&B outlets, lauguage classes, broadcasting courses are a few examples) - In addition to the ways mentioned by another forum member before me (corporate sponsorship). Nonetheless, advertising revenue cannot be avoided altogether, but then again, the quality of the programs do not have to depend solely on what songs are actually being played, when it comes to the crunch. As Tigerman mentioned, the personality of the hosting talent is the deciding factor, whether people listen or not.

As to how a community radio station should look like: Sincerity, as well as skilful ability in music editing and hosting programs should come before banter, idol good looks or expensive station jingles. Their forum pages should be well - regulated and moderated frequently to trim out inanity. But they should be open enough and be able to accept any comments on their performance, positive or otherwise. Above all, let the man with the best ability take the job within their ranks, with less emphasis on nationality or creed, as long as they can be trusted to not mangle english on - air (As pointed out way too many times and now, once again). As long as somebody has something to contribute, a community radio station should consider its value in relevance to issues which matter to their listeners, above prestige and sensationalism.

soundexchange.com/rates.html

[quote]New Subscription Services

1998-2004: The following rates were announced in the Federal Register on February 6, 2004. These rates apply retroactively to performances made beginning on October 28, 1998. All services must make an initial payment, covering the period October 28, 1998 through February 29, 2004 on or before April 14, 2004. Thereafter, services must make payments on a monthly basis on or before the 45th day following the end of each month (e.g. the payment for March, 2004 is due on or before May 15, 2004). Licensees shall, at their election, pay one of the following rates:

Monthly Royalty Rates -Licensees select between options (1), (2), and (3)
(1) Per Performance Option $0.000762 per performance, except that 4% of performances shall bear no royalty.
(2) Aggregate Tuning Hour Option
Non-Music Programming $0.000762 per aggregate tuning hour for programming reasonably classified as news, talk, sports or business programming.
Broadcast Simulcasts $0.0088 per aggregate tuning tour for broadcast simulcast programming not reasonably classified as news, talk, sports or business programming.
Other Programming (including music programming) $0.0117 for programming other than broadcast simulcast programming and programming reasonably classified as news, talk, sports or business programming.
(3) Percentage of Revenues Option 10.9% of subscription service revenues, but in no event less then 27

Apart from the license to operate as a legit station there are other things:

  1. Transmission - where you transmit from and the transmitters( what power, and the number of transmitters to cover the island)
  2. Content as in News, weather, traffic and sports: unless someone is going to read from the AP bulletins and read sections of the TT every morning you will be stuck for news, or do you outsource it. Then you got what show you have.
  3. Advertising: who does this as in goes out and sells the radio station, and how do you measure your listenership (dempgraphics) to prove you are an investment to would be advertisers

I would also try and cover the other foreigners here like the Indonesians, Thai, Philipinos etc, by providing a slot for them on say Sunday… and get some one as hsiadogah was saying to present the shows that could appeal to the Indonesians, Thai, Philipinos etc
I would move all the English program as in “speaky Englishy” programs to a late spot a night
I would direct all DJs to drop the happy happy patriotising accents

But a radio station at the end of the day comes down to how likeable and popular the DJs are… if you can get people hooked on a program they tend to listen to the ads, the news, the sports etc as this is a fill in for them between their favorite show… a couple of controversial or outspoken DJs are good also

Transmission is all but impossible outside of the Internet at least for the first year or two. That in mind, advertising will not be an issue as overhead will be minimal. By the time an on line station gets to the point where it needs to transmit RF, terrestrial radio will be in decline and Wi Fi taking more and more market share.
In the initial stages it will have to be all volunteer so anyone who is willing to be a broadcaster / DJ gets the job.
It’s not going to be a world class radio station, at best it will be a station that appeals to the expat community in a way ICRT does not. It will have to be low budget but that doesn’t necessarily mean low quality.

Right. Madness time.

There are actually people prepared to discuss putting money into an internet-based Radio Forumosa. Not many people, yet, and not much money, yet. However, there is a distant possibility that this could actually be made to happen.

Keep them ideas coming. Content, features, volunteer DJs, marketing ideas, etc. If we have enough to put together a decent proposal then I’ll have a go at selling it.