Radio.Garden an online platform that allows users to explore an interactive globe filled with radio’s past and present is now live.

The project was developed as part of the HERA-funded European collaborative research project Transnational Radio Encounters (TRE), directed by Professor Golo Föllmer from the University of Halle (Germany) alongside Dr Caroline Mitchell, a senior lecturer in the Faculty Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland, Alec Badenoch and Sonja de Leeuw from Utrecht University, Jacob Kreutzfeld of Copenhagen University, Peter Lewis from London Metropolitan University and Per Jauert of Aarhus University, and in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

In addition, it forms part of The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s run up to celebrating 100 years of Radio in 1919 (see https://beeldengeluid.atavist.com/radio-without-borders), next to current TRE-related research.

Radio.Garden allows listeners to explore processes of broadcasting and hearing identities across the globe. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away – or using local community radio to make and enrich new homes.

Dr Mitchell said: “”Radio.garden has been a fantastic way of engaging people all over the world with our research. In addition to listening to live streams of over 8,000 radio stations worldwide (including the university supported community station Spark Sunderland) we have ‘planted’ radio stories and histories that came out of participatory action research with community radio stations in the north east and south west UK, as well as in international  workshops in France, Spain and Canada.

“One of the main themes that emerged is how community radio stations all over the world are supporting both migrants and recent refugees to feel ‘at home’ on the radio. In Sunderland for instance Spark FM broadcast a series of programmes made by and for Farsi speakers and are about to launch ‘Global Sunderland’ made by refugees who are settling in the city.

 

“We couldn’t have predicted how popular this site would become- it’s also great for our funders HERA, because now many more people will be able to engage with the research that we have been doing with our European partners for the past here years.”

Four different layers of the interactive globe allow listeners to dive into radio’s border-crossing:

–       In the section Live, you can explore a world or radio as it is happening right now. Tune into any place on the globe: what sounds familiar? What sounds foreign? Where would you like to travel and what sounds like ‘home’?

–       Jingles offers a world-wide crash course in station identification. How do stations signal within a fraction of a second what kind of programmes you are likely to hear? How do they project being joyful, trustworthy, or up to the minute?

–       In the section on History one can tune into clips from throughout radio history that show how radio has tried to cross borders. How have people tried to translate their nations into the airwaves? What did they say to the world? How do they engage in conversation across linguistic and geographical barriers?

–       Finally, you can listen to radio Stories where listeners past and present tell how they listen beyond their walls. How do they imagine the voices and sounds from around the globe? How do they use make themselves at home in the world?

Following its formal launch, the site, designed by Studio.Puckey in collaboration with Moniker, received approximately half a million visitors in its first day, 35,000 upvotes on reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/InternetIsBeautiful/comments/5hz9y7/listen_to_live_radio_all_over_the_world_by/ and was the subject of write-up in The Atlantic  https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/the-map-that-lets-you-listen-to-the-radio-everywhere/510368/.

Radio.garden is designed to be a growing platform – the ‘seeds’ that have been planted here are the first inspiration to filling the globe further.  If you have a story to share or a station to add, which will further enhance understanding of radio as a transnational medium, contact the station.

For content questions, please contact Caroline Mitchell at caroline.mitchell@sunderland.ac.uk