How we made a radio, and why we want to fly
For the seventh year we have been doing a project without bright ups and downs. This project is an internet radio. We are often asked why we are doing this, for whom, and why for so long, if no one knows about us, this prompted me to write this article.
How it all began.
I like music. At the institute, I played an electric guitar in an unknown heavy band, then wrote music on trackers for several years, and after the trackers, I became a DJ, better known among friends than anywhere else. On guitars we played music of our own composition, without a vocalist, and on trackers I wrote in an indefinite electronic style, telling everyone that I came up with my own. With DJing it was easier - minimal, idm, I didn't have to invent anything.
My friend also loves music. So much so that almost the entire conscious life he worked as an administrator in nightclubs. This gave him great opportunities to communicate with a variety of musicians. He is well versed in music, in all directions, has read many books, and in general is very well-versed (unlike me). He knows many musicians that no one knows.
We met a long time ago, in the vastness of not the most popular FTN network. They met and made friends, despite the fact that they lived in different cities. Once, we talked about the fact that in Russia there are many unpopular musicians who write to the table, who are terribly talented, but about whom no one knows anything. This was the first brick that laid the foundation of our project.
Thoughts about the radio came to me at the moment when I was playing open air in the forest. It was on the shore of a night lake - I suddenly saw people who want to listen to music and after I run out of power to put it on. As it turned out, my friend had been raving about the idea of his own radio for a long time, sometimes visiting the local FM radio station with his own program. He immediately supported this idea, especially since by that time he had already opened a network music label, and actively communicated with musicians whose music could be put on the air.
Since I worked as a network engineer, and I knew what Cisco, FreeBSD was, and generally how the Internet works, I immediately raised the shoutcast server, created the first playlist of my favorite tracks, and asked my future colleague to help with the music.
So the radio was bornverdure station , which was based on a simple philosophy:
- Very often we listen to musicians, friends and acquaintances whom nobody listens to. We are very happy to share this music.
- We did not find a single radio station on the network that we could include at “that very moment”. Everyone has this moment of their own - someone writes code for us, someone prepares for bed, and someone sits and looks out the window. We try to prepare the saving drink of comfort and tranquility that always stands and waits for when it is taken from the shelf.
What happened next.
When the first listeners came to us, we wanted new dimensions, and we began to go live - I sometimes brought music from home, and a friend invited my friends to play with him. Then I met one of the creators of a pirate station in the suburbs, and we worked for some time in the FM band, of course, illegally.
The next member joined when it came to our mind to make regular transmissions with microphones. We liked this idea so much that we bought a separate remote and microphones, and friends brought their old headphones. We went on the air 25 times, received calls, talked, argued, swore - this was our favorite Logia program. All our friends visited us, it was very cool, and maybe someday we will start doing it again.
In general, making your own radio is very nice, almost everyone who can, helps as best as possible - with design, ideas, technology, and we justly cannot say that this radio makes someone specific - at different stages with their ideas, forces, time shared by many. And this was our main success - friendship and communication.
For example, we ask everyone who has the opportunity to record in another country “You are listening to such and such a radio” in the local language, after which one of our ingenious comrade-in-arms (whom no one has seen) makes wonderful jingles .
A few months ago, we celebrated the sixth anniversary, and move on.
However, despite the six-year history, the number of simultaneous listeners is small, 10-40 people. But this does not bother us at all - many of our listeners have been with us for several years, and it does not matter to us how many there are. We do not expect that someday we will wake up famous and they will talk about us. We make a radio that we listen to ourselves, and if someone else listens to it, this is the top of what we could count on.
Maybe this is also because it is almost a home project, and we are doing it unprofessionally. Once, right in front of the live broadcast, I went down after another to help him bring in two turntables, and the door slammed behind me. It was the evening of December 30 :) For two hours we sat with the turntables on the stairwell and waited for the locksmith, and the neighbors congratulated us on the upcoming. Naturally, almost all those who specially gathered for the sake of this broadcast did not master the two-hour wait. In another home studio, the less responsive neighbors simply turned off the power switch during a performance - they probably didn't like the vibrating bass.
Some technical details.
We have internal and external shoutcast servers, two streamers, and a playlist management system. When we upload a new file to the server, it is added to the database of tracks, after which it can be included in one of the daily playlists. In total, we have 7 playlists, for each day of the week - this allows you to accurately and slowly update music, and generate content depending on the day of the week. After the next playlist has been compiled and “converged” (its length is exactly one day), it is poured by the pls file onto the server. Once a day, the first streamer catches this playlist and starts streaming it to an internal server. This is the simplest streamer in Perl, it does not encode anything, it only pours the stream, and its main advantage is that it can switch to a new playlist without interrupting the broadcast. So we have an internal server, on which the weekly schedule is constantly spinning. But hooking users there would be irresponsible, since at any switching of the stream (for example, when you turn on the DJ, or any online broadcast), users would be disconnected from the stream. Therefore, a more complex streamer takes the stream from the internal server, transcodes it to the desired quality, and pours it onto the external server, from where users are already disassembling it. This second streamer can receive a connection from the DJ, and return back to the stream from the internal server, without interrupting the broadcast. Not very elegant, but it works quite stably. Maybe someday, we will rebuild everything on icecast and seriously simplify the scheme. I know that in the 21st century both in icecast and shoutcast there are declared possibilities for switching streams on the fly, but in practice we constantly experienced problems with this.
I am neither a designer nor a programmer (in fact, I am a network engineer), so the design and layout of the site is far from what we would like to see ideally. The engine is sluggishly written in php, and the site is still in vi. The interface also does not sparkle with intuitiveness - our users do not immediately learn about all the features of the site, but when they have an interest in clicking on everything that they have not yet clicked. We like to think that this is our feature - the radio turns its face gradually. Some can’t even start broadcasting, and we patiently reply “click on the nature”. Nature, by the way, is updated every month, following the seasons. It turned out to be a very difficult action for the Internet project - to tear off a physical ass and once a month go to the forest with a camera.
Instead of a conclusion.
We have learned to distribute responsibilities within our micro-collective, and we are replacing each other in difficult times - the radio cannot wait, it must live and breathe always. Despite the almost completely Russian-language chat, they listen to us from such corners of the planet that you have to open a map to understand where it is. Direct connections with us are very rare, and listeners who are unaccustomed to voice on the air are always surprised that there is someone here. One of the failed points in the strategy is to provide a platform for performance to all talented musicians and DJs. The tiny size of the audience cuts off those who need real popularity, but we are glad that several interesting teams took advantage of our invitation.
We try our best not to adhere to a certain format - the separation of music into styles is the most ugly invention of mankind. If you try to describe the music that we play, I would say that we are trying to create an atmosphere of comfort and tranquility for the mind. It will be very cool if you are looking for something like this - we will be happy if our small project will gain a few more new listeners.
Once, a friend of ours wandered around a hipster flea market in Finland, and stumbled upon two sleepy Finns who drank tea and listened to our station on small speakers. At such moments, we want to fly, and never give up our favorite project.