r _Web.log

tag: radio


Global Breakfast Radio

I've long had a fascination with the power of radio as a medium of transportation to another place or time, a passion I discovered I share with Seb Emina, author (of The Breakfast Bible) and digital dilettante. About a year and a half ago, Seb and I started discussing the idea of a radio station that spans continents and timezones, linking disparate places together by one simple common thread: breakfasttime.

The notion was to produce a radio station that always broadcasts live radio from wherever people were eating breakfast right now: following timezones westwards, moving across oceans and continents on the crest of a wave of sunrise.

The idea grew into an experiment and, after twelve months of research, listening, cataloguing and development, has finally seen the light of day as a fully-formed work:

Global Breakfast Radio

As the sunrise line slowly tracks west across the globe, the radio stream shifts from broadcast to broadcast, always selecting stations within what we call the "global breakfast window": a period of a couple of hours after sunrise in which people are waking up, stretching blearily, and making a bowl of cereal, changua or shakshuka.

Global Breakfast Radio draws from a pool of over 250 stations in more than 120 countries, from Radio Wassoulou Internationale in the Wassoulou region of Mali to KUAM Isla 63 AM, the oldest existing radio station on the western Pacific Island of Guam, broadcasting since 1954. It, and the listener, leaps in an instant from Sarajevo to Prague to Reykjavik, where you'll be briefly humming the same tune as the butcher, taxi driver and lawyer waking up in these far-flung places.

The site is backgrounded by a continuous stream of photographs portraying sunrise from the current broadcast location, selected from a pool of 10,000+ Flickr Creative Common images tagged with "sunrise". Sunrise and sunset images are a ubiquitous trope across the Instagrams of the world, one that we have repurposed to give the site a real sense of place, underscoring the way in which Global Breakfast Radio puts you in the eyes and ears of thousands of unknown people around the globe.

As we've discovered since launching the station, streaming URLs change and disappear at an incredible rate, making maintenance of Global Breakfast Radio a Sisyphean battle against internet bit-rot.

Unusually for a project of this kind, the public and press response to Global Breakfast Radio has been uncommonly deep and engaged. The Guardian report back on a 24-hour period of listening, The Onion AV Club describe it as "basically morning methadone", and BBC Radio 4 talked to us about Global Breakfast Radio on — appropriately enough — their Sunday morning breakfast show. More lovely coverage has come from the likes of It's Nice That, New Statesman, Smithsonian and Monocle. We also did a launch interview with Wired covering some of the more esoteric elements of the work.

Many thanks to all of the listeners and broadcasters who have made the first months of Global Breakfast Radio such a rich and rewarding endeavour.

More: Global Breakfast Radio

ABSOLUTE ABSOLUTE

ABSOLUTE ABSOLUTE is a live radio station playing every Absolute Radio broadcast simultaneously (Absolute 60s, Absolute 70s, Absolute 80s, Absolute 90s, Absolute 00s, Absolute Classic Rock).

Described by critics as "So ontologically terrifying it reminds you how incredible life is" (Paul Bennun), "Radio for those who understand the horror of existence" (Tulta Behm), and "The end of history" (Hestia Peppé), it will be broadcasting for a limited time only. Don't miss it.

ABSOLUTE ABSOLUTE

(To play in iTunes, right-click and Copy Link Location; in iTunes, hit cmd-U and paste the URL.)

Below is a 5-minute excerpt (recorded 2013-03-08, 17:14)

Radio Reconstructions (2013) at LimeWharf

An extended version of Radio Reconstructions is installed at new art/science space LimeWharf over the next six weeks. It's the first in a series of temporary residencies hosted there, and resonates nicely with their general ethos:

LimeWharf is an evolving project that aspires to immerse guests and practitioners alike in thematic journeys. The core values of our programming are centred around building a positive relationship to the future, connecting the old and the new, meshing crafts with technology all in a non-market driven process-led series of experiments...

It's been a good opportunity to reflect on how the piece links together the history and nostalgia of analogue radio with the futurist technology of digitally-controlled tuners and algorithmic analysis. I expect that when the Mac Mini controlling the installation has gasped its last bits, the venerable radios distributing the audio will be still going strong.

Radio Reconstructions at LimeWharf

It has also given us the opportunity to think about the separation between the physical apparatus of the installation, and the sound that is heard through it.

We have started considering the installation itself to be akin to a semi-autonomous instrument, which has a particular space of timbres and behaviours associated with it -- in this case, the space of locally-receivable radio broadcasts, and the capability to record, arrange and analyse those broadcasts into pitched fragments.

We can then compose scores for the piece which determine the dynamics of these behaviours over time. Here, we are scoring for grain amplitude, duration and diffusion, and two EQ parameters.

Separating score from instrument means that we can write multiple distinct scores for the installation, exploring different capacities and approaches. We have composed two new 30-minute scores for Radio Reconstructions, which are designed to be played at specific times and capitalise on the fact that we know in advance what is scheduled on major FM stations -- so, we can navigate between programmes with an awareness of the kind of content that will be played, juxtaposing talk radio chatter with distant shortwave broadcasts with local Citizens Band static...

Both of these scores will be broadcast on art radio station Resonance FM. Listen in on their website at 8pm on Tuesday 12 March and Tuesday 19th March.