Pirate Radio Part 1: Strange Hobbies

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Pirate Radio logo
I'm going to start out this post with a warning. Don't be like me! Don't do this project!

The reason why you don't want to do this project is that you can get yourself in some serious legal trouble. I almost did, but I think the project is still important for a number of reasons. This project shows that a professional sounding radio station can be set up and run at a VERY low cost, it shows how quickly projects can get rolling with some community involvement, the importance of being different in advertising and promotion, and hopefully serve as a warning to others to not play around with radio broadcasting equipment without the proper training and permits!
Me and the winner of a 'Pathetically Small Prize'
One of our t-shirts we had made.

Because I don't want you to get yourselves in trouble, I will keep some parts of the technical side of things rather vague. I'm sure that right now there is a radio operator who is about to shake his head and laugh at how dumb I was in creating my radio station.

On to the show. In the summer of 2012 I was at my University taking some classes, and looking for new projects to do. Me and a friend of mine thought that a radio station might be a nifty thing to build. With this in mind, we came up with a few ideas. It would have to be low cost, not need to much labor to keep it running, and play local music.

With these thoughts in mind, we got the stuff together to make a low cost, low power transmitter. Along with this, I started work on the software to automate the radio station.

The solution we came up with was to create an internet radio station which could be automated, not just changing songs, but also putting in station intros. Now we just set up a laptop, started it playing the internet radio stream, and plugged in our transmitter.

I'm going to repeat myself. DO NOT DO THIS.

The station worked wonderfully, and I was able to control the content of the station from any computer I was in front of. We then set up a Facebook page to advertise the station. On there we shared the station info and the internet feed. To promote the station we had what I called 'Pathetically Small Prizes'. Someone would answer a trivia question, and they would win a 'Pathetically Small Prize'. Along with that, we were collecting local music from artists, ripping the tracks, and putting them on the air. The local artists loved the airplay, and the leftover CD's we gave away as 'Pathetically Small Prizes'. For the station intros, we came up with the concept of a character who was a radio DJ who was doing his job as a labor of love, but he was at the desk 24 hours a day, so it was just killing him on the inside. So the voice I used had a bit of a pathetic sigh to everything, and was monotone. People loved the DJ character, most likely because he was so different from all the Top-40 style DJ's.

Almost overnight, we were a hit.

Soon there were requests for t-shirts. I made the design, and sold them slightly above my cost. All told, the radio station broke even, and was becoming hugely popular!

Tomorrow you get to read about why I am begging you not to build a radio station! That post is where the other foot drops!


Unknown said...

It's not just about strange hobbies, it's also about addictive and controversial ones too.

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