RampART/radio

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rampART radio is an internet radio station streamed from a server in the USA. It was was born when a studio was created at the rampART social centre in September 2004 as part of media production facilities aimed at providing independent media coverage during the London European Social Forum held in October. When the ESF finished the station continued, adding a variety of regular live programs, and putting out daily news and events listings, along with some of the best revolutionary tunes and parodies you are likely to come across anywhere on the net.

During the G8 in July, rampART radio provided 5 days of live up-to-the-minute coverage and enjoyed it’s highest ever audiences as the stream was rebroadcast around the world. rampART radio also played a role in covering the protests against DSEi in 2005 and the no borders day of action in April 2006.

As well as generating a podcast and archive of past shows that people can download and listen to at any time, you can also listen online 24/7. We generally provide three streams with identical content but different bandwidths suitable to different people.

Here is the current schedule of regular live shows:

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     Monday 19:00 - 19:30 Seabreeze Poetry Slam - Tony and Sean Seabreeze throw down original verses
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     Wednesday 18:30 - 19:30 Arriba, arriba, andale,andale! - Andres, Oscar and Maria with iberoamerican eyes playing music and discussion on iberoamerican issues.

Get Involved

rampART radio is a collabrative open project and you are invited and encouraged to get involved. If you are involved in a campaign or project, why not create a show about the issues rather than hope that the corporate media might give decent coverage. You could do a one of piece about a specific event or a regular show with the developing news relating to a specific issue of theme.

You can record your shows out in the street with a minidisc recorder etc and edit at home on your PC using free software. Alternatively you can come into the rampART studio and record or edit here, or do your show live if you like.

We’ve been considering proposals to de-brand the station and concentrate on building up and strengthening a wider radio network collaboration. We’d like to hear from other groups about the idea to build a syndication network of radical radio producers.

Radio Active

The rampART has a radio studio from which it streams radio. The studio consists of two rooms, one of which is intended for recording. There isn’t any expensive flashy gear but there is everything you need to record and broadcast a radio show and you are welcome and encouraged to come and do so.

Internet radio suffers from many problems, some of which are slowing be solved by technology and some which can’t. The two main problems are content and listeners.

It is so easy to set up a station that there are litterally tens of thousands of internet stations fighting over what is actually quite a small potential audience. Unlikely real broadcast radio, internet streams require expensive computers and broadband internet connections to listen to them. This may change as WiFi technology advances and provides battery operated pocket internet radio players, but in the meantime it remains a very elitist technology. Obviously real broadcast radio would be better but the state makes sure that only the rich and compliant have easy access to the air waves. Unless we want to be harassed by the licencing authorities we have to continue with internet radio and make the best of it.

Making new content on a regular basis (such as daily news bulletins) requires commitment. In this country there doesn’t seem to be that many activist projects producing audio content. Indymedia Radio have been producing a live one hour show almost every week for Resonance FM, as have Small Slow Peasants. Up north there is Below The Pavement. During the G8 there was the Radical Radio Collective which produced quite a bit of content during the week, but DSEi saw only one audio file uploaded to indymedia. It is hard to maintain or justify a political radio stream with this little new content.

Indymedia sees loads of written reports and photos for most demos and protests. It is also seeing a massive increase in the number of video clips being uploaded. It is perhaps strange that audio clips are so rare since the technology has been around so much longer - perhaps it simply isn’t as sexy as video and digital photography. However, audio does have many advantages to video, it is easy and quicker to produce usable content. Arguable, audio encourages better reporting and can convey a better understanding of issues and motives than most video clips.

The proposal is based on a concept early on in the history of rampART radio when it was argued it should be called something more generic like Squat Radio or Real Radio. However it now takes on board lessons that have learnt since October 2004 about the importance providing non streaming access to connect (ie. public archives) and the benefits of content syndication. Additionally this proposal is inspired by a project based in Barcelona called R23 (see www.r3.cc) which incorporates web based remote management of archiving, playlist editing, scheduling and streaming.

A priority would be to encourage individuals and groups to produce regular content in the knowledge that it would be streamed on an established radio station and archived so that other stations are likely to rebroadcast it or individuals download and listen to it at their own convenience. Contributors would form the management collective that would sort out scheduling issues etc by consensus. The collective would communicate by email list, facilitate skill sharing and training, plus maintain a list of equipment and expertise on which they might call.

The website would act as a front end to both listeners and contributors. It would enable remote management of the stream playlists and schedules and also facilitate the addition of new content to the ac hives and playlists. Listeners would not only be able to listen to the stream or download something from the archive but also be encouraged to get involved in content creation.

We envision different groups (eg. the Samba band, No Borders, Smash EDO, Schnews etc.) and different spaces (eg. rampART, Sumac Centre, the Basement, 1in12, Cowley Club etc); creating their own content on a regular basis and acting as nodes to promote the station locally. Perhaps some squats might rebroadcast on micro power to the residents or simply pipe to communal rooms.

Content wise, we would hope for daily news summaries from indymedia and other sources, events listings, a weekly schnews reading, detailed reports of actions by the participants, recordings of cultural events, gigs etc taking place in ‘our’ spaces, interviews with interesting visitors about what’s going on in their countries or with their projects, discussions and debates, political musics, and drunken ranting. Basically, the kind of stuff rampART has been doing for the last year but much much more of it from a many more spaces, groups and individuals. (Also encouraging people doing video to consider also ripping decent audio from their footage).

If different projects all create a radio stream then most of the time it will be just looping the same old tired playlist and getting tiny audiences. But if different project all concentrated on content then we all get one good stream with bigger audiences attracted by constant fresh output with daily news and events listings and info about what’s going on where and what there is to get involved in.

What is needed is people to commit. Talk to friends, the people and projects you are active with.

Would they be interested in get involved?

Let us know. Ideas for shows? Read the news? Get the software working? Create the website? Administer the mailing list? Promote the station or rebroadcast the station?

Please do get in touch. e-mail: rampartATmutualaidDOTorg