At yesterday’s meeting of the Programming Team, we talked about some of the steps we need to get through before we can get on-air and start filling in a weekly programming schedule. For our next meeting at the studio, on Sunday November 21 at 5:00 PM, we’re going to collaboratively rough out a weekly schedule. Everyone is supposed to show up with some idea of the musical genres we want to find music for and schedule around the week; also, we’re each expected to show up with at least three candidates for syndicated spoken-word or public-affairs programming so we can fill in a good amount of spoken content alongside the music.
Another thing we talked about was training as many people as possible to use Audacity, which is free open-source software for manipulating digital audio. In the beginning, we’re each going to use Audacity to create a public-service announcement (PSA) or a station ID.
To get started, download Audacity from here, making sure to select the one that matches the operating system on your computer. Install it on your computer. At the same time, if you plan to export your sound files as MP3s, you need to download and install the LAME MP3 Encoder. The first time you use Audacity to export to MP3, it will ask you to point it to the place where you installed LAME MP3 Encoder; once you do that the first time Audacity will remember where to find it.
Audacity is a pretty complex little piece of software, but luckily there is a lot of documentation available: the built-in Help system is pretty good, and you can download a manual as a PDF or view it online.
The best way to get started is to go to Import Audio… under the Project menu. Find an MP3 or other sound file somewhere on your computer and pull it into Audacity. Now you will see the waveform (like what you’d see on an oscilloscope) and you can start to manipulate the file. Your imagination is just about the only limit in terms of what you can do: fade in/out, echo, wah-wah, tremolo, reverse the sound, speed it up or slow it down, and on and on.
So for our next meeting we’re supposed to see how far we can get sound sources, ours or others’, to come up with a little snippet that we might put on air to identify the station or get some message across. Should be interesting.
One of the reasons I’m so excited about community radio here on the Upper Sunshine Coast is its power to connect: to connect people to other people by throwing them together in an atmosphere of shared work and play; to connect people to the many other amazing projects happening all around us; to connect these projects to each other and let them find ways to work better together; and to connect us, isolated and dispersed as we are, to the goings-on out there in the other bits of the world.
I think that this region really needs that X Factor that can make these connections: media entirely owned and operated by the people it serves. Something to bring together a lot of people with a lot going on and plenty to say about it. All the existing media and methods for moving information around are adding up to chaos rather than simplicity: we have a weekly newspaper, a monthly magazine, a quarterly magazine, numerous email lists, a community calendar, blogs aplenty, bulletin boards, and gossip. (Lots of gossip.) And it’s overwhelming.
Nothing beats radio for its immediacy and its ability to pump out useful information as fast as human mouths can say it and human ears hear it. If we can boost our signal to blanket the region — and beyond! — then we could become THE clearinghouse for information in this corner of the Salish Sea. People can learn about what meetings are happening, what events, what concerts, what secret beach parties… well, you get the idea. Information wants to be free! Not trapped on paper or stuck inside pixels. Out in the air, getting a rain-tan.
In the short term, we can start connecting ourselves to our fellow community radio stations and to the organization which advocates for the interests of campus and community radio stations across Canada. The more we know about what’s going on elsewhere, the better we’ll be able to deal with all the hurdles and surprises ahead of us. After all, we have a huge crew of well-meaning friends who’ve been through it all before, many times over.
For starters: did you know that Cortes Island has a community radio station? They appear not to have their own website, but you can find some information here (scroll down the page to see their broadcast schedule). Even better, you can listen to them via an internet live stream.
Gabriola Island, another near neighbour, has a community radio station (which is operated by a Cooperative Association instead of a Society). They appear to be not yet broadcasting, but like Cortes Community Radio they are streaming on the internet. (I can’t find their schedule online.)
Spend some time listening to these two neighbour stations. Along with a few others around the coast, especially CHLY in Nanaimo, these are probably the stations we are most likely to exchange information and resources with as we get ourselves up on our feet.
And then there’s networking on the national level. CJMP FM is a member of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), the national organization which represents the interests of all campus and community radio stations and the communities they serve. Their website is jammed full of information, but one place that you might want to dig in is their listservs, which connect together people working in campus & community radio stations throughout Canada, allowing them to exchange information and stay on top of what’s happening elsewhere.
Anyone affiliated with a member station is free to join the listserv(s) they’re interested in. If you’re part of the Programming Team, you might want to join the ncramusic list; if you’re planning to get involved with local news coverage, you might want to join the ncranews list; and so on. These lists are great ways to see what other stations are doing.
Community radio is alive and well and living in Powell River! Please come out and celebrate a couple of weeks of hard work this Friday November 5 at 5:00 PM at the Community Resource Centre (4752 Joyce Ave. in Powell River).
You’ll hear reports from our newly-formed working teams:
Memberships & Promotions;
The board will report on all of the work they have been doing since we last met two weeks ago.
Come out this Friday! Bring your friends and family, because we need plenty more members and would-be programmers, techies, talkers, and doers!
Let’s keep the momentum up.