Now: YOURadio… Next: OURadio

Now: YOURadio… Next: OURadio

: Infinity Broadcasting’s announcement that it is turning over a transmitter to the people is big, big news: great news, gratifying news, inevitable news. But it’s still just one milemarker on the road to the future of citizens’ media. And no, kids, we’re not there yet.

This is still a big company handing over its time and using the second-person plural: YOURadio.

We’ll know we’ve arrived when the people take over that station for real and change the name to OURadio.

At YOURadio, there are still executives picking what goes onto THEIR air.

At OURadio, WE the audience will pick what goes on OUR radio from what WE the producers make; there will be no difference between audience and producer, there will be no THEM: It’s all OURs.

That is where this road is going. And we’re still driving.

Still, I’m delighted by YOURadio.

Now we have a newspaper made totally from citizens’ content: NorthwestVoice. We will have a radio station made totally from citizens’ content: We will have a TV network made almost completely from citizens’ content: Al Gore’s (And last night on MSNBC’s Connected, I joked that blog TV is next and when we get there, I said, we’ll invite Ron and Monica on.)

But ultimately, they’re all still networks. They’re all still one-way pipes (but with a new way to dive into the pool that feeds them). They’re media.

This is why — I think — Doc Searls and David Weinberger and the other visionaries behind this thing we have here refuse to call it media. Doc says it’s speech. This, I believe, is why David got cold sweats at becoming part of media at MSNBC (see here and here as well): He said, ‘I’m not media, I’m something else.’ I call it conversation. (But I also am of the old “media.” And I call this new thing “citizens’ media” because this is like the English language and “snow:” We don’t have as many words for that fozen stuff as the Inuit have. We don’t have a word for this thing we’re doing. So until sombody invents a new word — something more sonorous than “blog,” please — I’ll keep calling it citizens’ media.)

So anyway, we’re creating new things:

Google is the new library… and network… and ad agency (see the post below).

Blogs are new newspapers, right?

Podcasts are new radio then.

Vlogs will be the new TV, yes?

But then again, no, they’re not. They’re none of that. They’re new, they’re different, and they’re not done yet.

And for that matter, old media aren’t done yet, either… if they know what’s good for them.

So each is trying to figure out the other, how to dance and who’s leading — and that’s good. That’s what the blog segments on MSNBC are about. That’s what YOURadio is about. They are process.

Now having said all that, I’ll repeat that YOURadio is big news and good news for a few reasons:

First, it is big media recognizing that it’s time to listen — and do more than listen: Let the people speak. It is big media recognizing the value of citizens’ media.

Second, it is an admission that the old, one-size-fits-all, top-down, one-way models of programming are broken and the audience can do it better.

Third, it an admission that the old business models are soon to break and that the people can provide more talent for less than the old talent could. It’s nothing less than the economic salvation of old media… if old media is smart enough to financially support citizens’ media and not just exploit it.

What’s important is that a big media company knew it was time to stick some dynamite up the alimentary canal and push the plunger.

It is the tipping point.

: I’ve been saying that we’re at the tipping point. Glenn Reynolds is tipping, too.

Jay Rosen says:

It has been pointed out that tipping point talk is cheap. But Infinity Broadcasting actually tipped over today.

: See Rex Hammock on top of YOURadio. That’s the frequency, Kenneth.

: Now let’s tune in for a big, honking reality check from young MasterMaq, whom I last quoted on why he can’t stand newspapers. Now here’s his reaction to YOURadio:

You’d think I would be excited about the launch of the world’s first “all-podcast radio station,” but instead I’m disappointed. San Francisco’s 1550 KYCY will now become KYOURadio and will feature content submitted by listeners. The problem? It’s not podcasting at all:

In part because of licensing requirements, which usually cover only broadcast and streaming, the company has no plans to provide downloadable program archives.

More and more, individuals and organizations are attaching the term “podcast” to their audio endeavours, trying to jump on the bandwagon. This is very clearly one such example, and it’s disappointing. KYOURadio is not a podcast radio station – they simply play content submitted by listeners.

He’s a tough master, Maq.

Engadget agrees.

: Doc, the original radio geek, geeks out on the signal.

: LATER: Mark Glaser sums up the efforts of new services serving our video (and audio).

  • Intersting developments. I know little about KYOURadio, but am wondering how much difference there is between Infinity providing bandwidth for listener-submitted content and public access television. Is there something fundamentally unique (other than the medium) to the KYOURadio concept that I’m missing?

  • It means we can find out if there is talent out there capable of creating exciting and genuinely different radio for the Bay Area. It’s a test, as Jeff says: one step “into” citizen’s media that might allow us to know how viable it is. We’ll know if anyone listens (as long as the run the rest for long enough.) Myself, I have no idea what KYOURRadio will get when it opens the lines to amateurs, radioheads, and podcasting pioneers. Do you?

  • chris

    The Internet and LPFM are far more efficient means of dispersing narrowcast culture. It remains to be seen how Infinity can bring in enough revenues from a public access radio format to even cover its fixed costs (which in this instance includes hiring personnel to ‘clear’ program content.) And that program content will be a source of endless frustration, as independent program producers will have unrealistic expectations as to their latitude, while Infinity has a reputation (and a license) to protect.

  • Skate

    I’m more than a little wary of the idea that pod-casting is going to be the source of quality amateur programing. I listen to pod-casts of actual radio shows for convenience and a few tech oriented Podcasts from ITConversations. But as far as amateur podcasts go, I think Public Access cable shows are an example of where amateur podcasts may go. The future isn’t that promising.
    For the most part, podcasts don’t offer much more than a written blog. Like radio or TV, the temptation is to fill a regular 1/2 hour by talking or interviewing because it is much easier and cheaper than doing actual reporting or creating a drama or musical performance. This is why many blogs are relatively easy and cheap to put together since most of them don’t do any reporting, they just publish links and commentary about rumors or actual reporting done by others.
    I think podcasts will increasingly show that being a good interviewer is a skill and that most people are not interesting to listen to. Perhaps interview based podcasts will just be lazyman’s blogs for people who don’t want to type.
    I’ve heard Ansel Adams quoted as saying “Great photographs are made not taken.” Something similar is true for quality audio programing. A good audio program has to be produced, not merely recorded. Podcasting is just a delivery system.

  • I agree vlogs are great. Are they the next form of TV. I don’t think so. Why? TV is passive. Vlogs are active, you have to actively seek out vlogs. What if you could have a service that streamed links of vlogs together to create an on demand vlog channel by topics, with a guide, Jeff Jarvis vlogs about the media April 28 2004 on the media vlog stream. now you have something. I know when to tune in. I have a date context. And I keep the feeds to these in my sidebar for future programs. This technology probably exists already, but I think that would be great, then one could search vlog content keywords passively. The only problem is how do you keyword vlogs. Its seems a little tougher to do than text.

  • James

    Will people PLEASE stop quoting the “snow myth”?!
    And I call this new thing “citizens’ media” because this is like the English language and “snow:” We don’t have as many words for that fozen stuff as the Inuit have.
    Maybe this isn’t a big deal, but that whole thing is just BS.
    See here:

  • James: I guess I shouldn’t take what I read in fiction as fact. I think it was in Smilla’s Sense of Snow that I got that.

  • Q. I thought 90 percent of everything was BS.
    A. No, that’s crap. 90 percent is crap.
    Q. Podcasting too?
    A. Everything means everything.

  • I noticed, too, that Infinity will continue selling advertising on KYOURadio. But the Wired article doesn’t mention any revenue-sharing with the “citizens” who upload the content. Are there any more details on this?
    This seems like a trend in recent media business models: have your customers create the content – sell the ads – collect revenue with much lower cost-basis – (maybe) share a portion with those customers.

  • pdf

    Zimmer beat me to it. In their ultimate generosity, Infinity is permitting its listeners to provide free content. They wanted to cut expenses, and the networld jumped right up to help ’em. Ya f-ing hoo. This isn’t a revolution, it’s voluntary serfdom.

  • Jarvis: “Not a revolution, just a step.”
    Jarvis readers: “Revolution? This is no revolution, Jeff.”
    Which one is engaging in hype?

  • Mspell

    Mr. Jarvis
    I call this media
    CIM citizen’s internet media
    SEE I AM more than what the MSM thought I was

  • Good point, Jay. Jeff was careful to note that this is “still just one milemarker on the road to the future of citizens’ media. And no, kids, we’re not there yet.”

  • Michael Zimmer hit the same nail I’ve been pounding — this station, owned by a multinational megacorporation, will sell advertising, but won’t pay content providers.
    But dig into their TOS document, and discover that uploading a podcast to their server gives Infinity the right to use that content any way they like, in any media, forever, with no royalty paid to the creator.
    This is wrong in a multitude of ways, and podcasters who buy into it are eroding the progress of digital media creators to be paid for their efforts.
    Shame on Infinity/Viacom.

  • Let’s hope ‘BlogTV’ improves upon the current version of citizen television — Public Access Television provided by all cable tv operators.

  • Me personally, I find the thought of submitting something to KYOU so that I can be granted the honor of working for them for free while they sell ads around my work to be uncompelling. I also don’t believe Tom Sawyer that whitewashing the fence is so much fricking fun.

  • John

    Look, the station is at 1550 om the AM dial, which, as George Carlin used to note in one of his bits, is just below the police scanner — i.e. a pretty crappy location for a station owned by a major conglamorate. So given a bad frequency location on the side of the radio dial that has a lot of problems attracting young listeners, there’s nothing wrong with Infinity experimenting with allowing people to submit their own podcasts for broadcast.
    It’s not as though they’re getting labor for free to broadcast on a 100,000 watt FM station at 97.9 on the dial — it’s a station where the podcasts themselves can only be heard to best effect if Infinity opts to add a 56K or higher stereo Internet to the station. If they do that, it’s a good place for a test which may or may not work, and not some evil corporation exploiting the CD ripping toils of the masses.

  • out2

    For an entire country’s worth of hyper-local newspapers that are written primarily by the readers, real citizens’ media, see

  • John, from the station’s perspective I’m sure this wonderful. When you’ve got a poorly rated failing station, anytime you can fire people and get someone else to do that job for free you score big. If by the nature of that you attract a little attention to your otherwise unnotable station, so much the better. Without doubt, it’s good for the station.
    So, in what way is it good for any of the podcasters who submit to them? You get your show aired on this failing station, give them the rights and get nothing in return. People are acting like this is a great moment for citizen media but it looks to me like a roach motel for citizen media – citizens create it, give it to KYOU and then the station owns it. What is so good about allowing Infinity to own it all without even having to pony up for it?

  • You know, I’ve twisted my brain in knots wrestling with the “what to call all this” issue – text, audio and video together, generated by individuals. (Of course, I’ve blogged and podcast about it, too!) Despite the baggage of the word ‘media,’ at least it’s understood – so I figure we just need a good modifier. “Masses media” (versus mass) is a favorite of mine, but a bit too clever to be clear. I agree with the “speech” angle… so I’m pushing “voxmedia” (vox for voice, though it might imply audio).