Friday, September 2, 2011

Hackin' the Radee-o

Yesterday marked a first for me - broadcasting live over a mainstream radio network along with my old buddy & new co-worker, Darren Kuropatwa.

This was an awesome experience for me on a number of levels.  I'd listened in a couple of times in the past when Darren was being interviewed by Richard Cloutier on CJOB radio and I knew that we'd be in for a great conversation.  Sitting beside Darren while he waxed poetic about various aspects of the current state of our education system was nothing less than thrilling.

You can have a listen to the broadcast here:

Richard Cloutier was a great facilitator and he's a master of his craft.  Along with Mark, the young & gifted sound engineer for the Richard Cloutier Report, this 'Dynamic Duo' sure knew how to ask the right questions and push all of the right buttons to keep the conversation moving forward.  Whether fielding questions from callers or quickly locating and queuing up 'teacher' tunes for use between commercials and guest spots, both Richard and Mark were gracious hosts.

But what really set this experience apart for me was the sense that we were trying something new - pushing the limits just a little. During the frequent sponsored breaks, weather reports and news updates, we kept the conversation going.  Through both Twitter and Today's Meet back-channel conversations, we were able to engage with our live audience and connect on a much deeper level with the CJOB listenership than we could have if we were simply fielding e-mails and phone calls.

Sure, we responded to a few callers through the two hour broadcast, but we were able to connect with many more of our listeners in real time through our back-channel conversations.  Not only did they ask some critical questions, but they also provided us with some valuable answers.  It was all of our collective knowledge that made for a much richer conversation.

At one point during a sponsored break, Richard even commented about how they needed to find new ways and better ways of keeping the conversations going during all phases of their program.  Sure, they have to hand the airwaves over to their sponsors for a portion of their time, but this shouldn't kill the conversation.  From behind the glass wall at the back of the studio, we could already hear Mark's wheels turning as he pondered the many ways he could put a Twitter account to good use during future broadcastings of the Richard Cloutier Report...

Our conversation turned in many different directions, and we covered a lot of ground.  We discussed assessment, mobile devices, textbooks, spelling and so much more.  And our dialogue caused listeners to reflect on many of their own beliefs about where our education system is today and where we need to be tomorrow.

The opportunity to share ideas and information through mainstream radio has me thinking more deeply about the societal changes we're seeing all around us as a result of the technologies that are now commonplace.  We know that textbook companies need to give themselves a facelift to maintain their appeal in this day and age.  We've seen our major newspapers strive to update their image to maintain their relevance through the information age.  We've witnessed a dramatic shift in the role of the record companies who once owned the ability to bring our favourite music to our ears.  And we're still seeing the need for radio networks to put themselves in closer contact with their listeners.

This is something that was really brought to my attention earlier this summer when I attended Unplug'd.  Although I'd heard a bit of buzz surrounding #ds106radio prior to my arrival at Unplug'd, I really didn't know much about this grassroots broadcasting platform.  I didn't know that #ds106radio was as mechanism that had been developed by Grant Potter where anyone, anywhere could broadcast live from their computer or mobile device.  But the power of #ds106radio became immediately apparent to me when I witnessed Bryan Jackson conducting a live broadcast with Danika Barker, Dean Shareski & Alec Couros (and so many more) aboard the Unplug'd bus...

The Unplug'd 'buscast' was a real eye-opener for me because I saw how Bryan tapped people on the shoulder to share their wisdom and how the Twitter network responded in real-time.  This dynamic has huge potential and really brings the power of the audience to the forefront...

I've started listening casually to the #ds106radio feed and heard many of my Unplug'd friends taking over the airwaves the share their songs and their stories.  I've even had a couple of opportunities to broadcast with others on #ds106radio over the last couple of weeks and it's really opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist with this medium.  I'm extremely grateful to Alan Levine for taking Chris Harbeck, Darren & I under his wing and getting us on the the radio as he wound through Winnipeg this summer on his North American odyssey.

There's power in this medium and I need to take more time to explore it more fully.  Any advice that you can offer me when it comes to hackin' the radee-o?


Grant Potter said...

Hi Andy,

I am constantly amazed by how the chemistry of open, freeform radio extending broadcasting via mobiles and backchannels yields such compelling experiences and gives rise to such rich connections between listeners and broadcasters.

As I read your post I was reminded of a visit to Kootenay Coop Radio Brian Lamb, Alan Levine, and I made back in June - see here for the recording ... with special guest caller Seldon from Kentucky.

Looking forward to hearing more from you on the open freeform radio experience and on #ds106radio ... there are new developments in the mobile broadcasting functions - I have devised a system that will enable mobile broadcasting using at VoIP PBX and SIP protocols which significantly extends the devices that can be used to broadcast - see here for more

Mr. H said...

Great post Andy. You and Darren were great on the Radio yesterday. Perhaps we need to get together and start thinking about the whole ds106radio thing. Kids would get a hoot doing stuff like this and we could also enjoy the airwaves too.

Andy McKiel said...

@Grant - Thanks so much for the comment and the update as to the developments with mobile broadcasting functionality. Will have a listen to the Kootenay Coop Radio archive a little later today :-)

@Chris - Thanks! Yes, we should get together soon to talk about how we can get more local teachers and students on board with #ds106radio. I think we should all follow Stephen Hurley's lead and find meaningful ways to leverage a tool like this within our divisions/districts...