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Airtime Pro gives a voice to Global Voices online radio

Image by Kevin Rothrock
Image by Kevin Rothrock

Global Voices is a borderless, largely volunteer community of more than 1,200 writers, analysts, online media experts and translators. They have been leading the conversation on citizen media reporting since 2005.

Their mission is to speak out against online censorship and support new ways for people to gain access to the internet. Sourcefabric’s mission is to support quality independent media worldwide and so we provided the organisation with an Airtime Pro instance a couple of months ago to support their efforts. They started 24/7 broadcasting a few weeks ago. We’d like to introduce the project and its future plans to you, that’s why we spoke to Eddie Avila, currently leading the Rising Voices initiative.

Q. How did you arrive at the decision to starting running your own online radio?

At Global Voices, we follow and highlight interesting conversations, ideas or points of view that we find on social media or different blogs and thus give voice to news that is not mainstream. Our first experiments with audio date back to 2007 when we started our Global Voices podcast. A lot of content shared on this podcast was about external community, about hearing voices and sounds around the world. We started using Airtime Pro accounts a couple of months ago, that’s when we began experimenting with it.

Q. What kind of programming do you have?

We initially started streaming what we already had: 15-20 episodes of our Global Voices podcasts. We also have audio from our GV Face series of Google Hangouts with different bloggers around the world. We’re currently collaborating with a community of music bloggers called Music Alliance Pact. One-time per month, bloggers from 35 countries choose a song from their country. This creates a nice selection of diverse non-mainstream music that we feature on our Airtime radio broadcast stream.

We opened the idea up to our community and they were very interested in contributing. Some even started creating their own programmes. A lot of the programming is music from their communities and countries, with a special focus on Creative Commons licensed music and music that you may not hear on mainstream stations. This is parallel to what we’re trying to do on our own GV online website: highlight voices that may not be heard in the mainstream media. We have a podcast from Pakistan, a soundtrack to a media training program in West Papua, and even a children’s language radio show from Australia.

Q. How do you involve your community members in this project?

We have a mailing list for approximately 40 people interested in our radio project. They have participated in many different ways such as suggesting podcasts, recording promo audio pieces, editing, or doing full music shows. There are also a lot of people interested in learning how to record, how to edit, etc. We want to make sure we’re opening doors and providing opportunities for people who want to take part.

All the work is done by volunteers. Originally the radio was meant to be for our community of 800 people, but we launched the project publicly instead. Hopefully it will grow and we’ll be able to interact with the public to see what type of content they want.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

Our plan is to revive the Global Voices podcast, there’s a lot of interest in it. We already had two different waves of podcasting back in 2007 and 2011. Some of our older podcasts were done by an experienced community member who worked for the BBC and had access to a high-tech recording and editing platform. We even won an award for it! Now we have to be sure we can live up our good name.

We’d also like to have the technical capability for live broadcasting. Our plan is to connect with different community members across the world and enable them to live broadcast a specific news event or anything else that is happening. We also want to set up the schedule widget to be able to show what’s playing, and also provide web links so that people can find out more about the show.

I’d like to specifically mention and thank Annie Zaman, Silvia Viñas and Manuel Ribeiro, who are our community members responsible for programming. They have a lot of radio experience and have been advising and helping us a lot.

Listen to Global Voices online radio.

Are you running a project that is in line with our organisation’s mission and could use our help? Send an email to contact@sourcefabric.org and we’ll see what we can do for you.

If you like what you have just read and are interested in helping us build open source tools for journalists, then have a look at our open jobs.