How radio can be a conversation (not a lecture) and a jukebox (not a playlist)

Airtime is an awesome piece of software, built by Sourcefabric, which lets radio stations take control of programming via the web. It includes a simple scheduling calendar, smart playlists and automated playout. To mark World Radio Day 2013, FrontlineSMS:Radio's Amy O'Donnell wrote a post for Sourcefabric's blog on how this scheduling tool can be complemented by channels including SMS to help to make radio interactive. A snippet of the post is republished below, or you can read the original post in full here.

The occasion of UNESCO's second World Radio Day (February 13, 2013) encourages us to reflect on radio as a medium which is celebrated for reaching the widest audience worldwide and is often a primary source of information, even for the most marginalised communities. Radio is a powerful low-cost, accessible medium which brings groups together who are united by song tastes, interest in certain issues or simply by virtue of their location. Whatever reason people have for tuning in, the radio community are recognising that radio is changing in nature and the medium no longer serves as just a one way broadcast. Instead, radio is an interactive platform for audiences to share ideas. Working with both the Airtime and FrontlineSMS communities in the radio space, I've seen the number of channels through which thus type of interaction happens. Both of these tools are widening the spectrum of options available to presenters to make radio the truly interactive, multi-platform conversation that it can be. In my work with FrontlineSMS – a platform which supports sophisticated applications of text messaging, I am witnessing how radio stations are exploring innovative ways to allow audiences to drive content. Using a spectrum of different options for audience engagement, including harnessing mobile technology, many stations are working to ensure that radio is not a lecture, but a conversation; not a set playlist, but a jukebox.

Airtime and FrontlineSMS share more than a user-friendly interface. Both are free and open source (essentially anyone can access and tinker with/modify our code). This underlies our commitment to collaborative and creative thinking which we're keen to explore. Speaking with the folks at Sourcefabric, I know many Airtime users are exploring interactive options to allow listeners to engage via communications platforms with which they are already familiar. Some of the questions which intrigue me include: how do presenters make radio programming interactive and responsive? What communications channels do audiences use which radio stations could harness to reach them in ways otherwise unexplored? What technology or toolsets do radio stations use which have complementary functions? Who really controls the content? As I see it, when it comes to the tools radio stations use to manage both content scheduling and audience interaction, the next step we should be considering is how to make sure these tools are as multi-platform as the conversations happening around them.

To read the post in full click here

• The Airtime Community and Sourcefabric are celebrating World Radio Day on February 13, 2013. Find out more details about their events on their Facebook page.