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Monday, February 20, 2017

Radio Garden is worth a visit

As I may have mentioned previously, radio and the internet make a great team. One enhances the other, like Burns and Allen or Burns and Schreiber. (Remember the '70s?) For music and information fans, there are more options than ever - streamed right to your computer from anywhere on the planet.

Streaming audio is two decades old now, so the cool stuff is in the presentation.  Such is the case with Radio Garden, an interactive website that's possibly the most addictive thing I've encountered online. I return to it again and again, like a kitten drawn to a shiny object.

Radio Garden screen capture
Radio Garden is the creation of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision as part of its "Transnational Radio Knowledge Platform,"  a study of radio's impact on making the world a smaller, friendlier place.

The interface for Radio Garden resembles Google Earth, and users can turn the globe with the swipe of a mouse. As Earth rotates, luminous green dots representing radio stations appear on almost every continent - more than 8,000 in all, and the number is growing. Simply click on any dot to bring in one or several stations from that area.

Jonathan Puckey, a Danish designer who came up with the rotating sphere concept, recently told NPR that the site went viral almost immediately and there are constant requests from radio stations who want to be added to the collection.

There are four Radio Garden modes: live radio; a history section with vintage audio clips; jingles from all over the world; and listener stories about the transcendental nature of radio, versus political and geographic boundaries.

It's all there. Every conceivable radio format - the mundane and the exotic, commercial, non-commercial, special interest, religious, and micro broadcasting.There are even some scanner feeds included on a few of the American green dot locations. (As I write this, I'm listening to  "Geronimo 106.1 FM" from Dangdut, Indonesia, which features American-style pop and a hip-hop music.)

So find the site, spin the globe and click on a dot. You'll find the world really is a smaller place sometimes.

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