Radio TC International Proposal

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Radio TC International:

An Online Therapeutic Community Broadcasting Station

A Proposal (26.2.2006)


SUMMARY

This proposal is for ATC and EFTC, CHG, CoC, PETT and other potential partners, in association with TC-OF, to work together to develop regular and consistent Internet broadcasts, sharing the task of creating content; with TC-OF responsible for the station mechanics and broadcast management, and for liaising with the various providers to ensure a unified and consistent service.


Contents

The Medium

Internet radio consists of a sound file and a mechanism for getting the content of the file from a distant server where the sound file is held to the local computer where it can be played.


Audio Format

The audio format generally used for Internet radio is mp3. This is because of the relatively small sound files created, because the sound quality is acceptable, and because the software and equipment needed to play it are widely and freely available,.


Delivery

In order of complexity, the three principle mechanisms for getting a sound file from server to player are:

  • Direct Manual Download. Click on a link, and the sound file is downloaded and copied to your computer, from which it is then played.
  • Podcast: Automatic Download through RSS feed. Between the sound file on the server and the player on the computer there is a third file (the rss file), which acts as an intelligent go-between. With appropriate software it effectively tells the local computer what is available, when and where; and it takes instruction from the local computer to tell the sound file when and where to download. The sound file is then downloaded and copied to the computer, from which it is played.
  • Streaming. In streaming, the sound file is played as it streams down the Internet to your computer. The file itself is not usually copied to the computer.


The Proposal

The Internet offers an unparalleled opportunity for sharing information, knowledge and experience. Online radio (and beyond that, online television/video) offers a platform upon which the field of therapeutic community can present itself to the world with greater depth, richness, openness and immediacy than has previously been possible. Furthermore, through programme-making individual therapeutic communities can explore and expand their therapeutic potential, and by sharing experience and ideas, establish and develop communication with other therapeutic communities around the world.

The Therapeutic Community Open Forum, through its new wiki web-site and 2 Gb of web-space, offers a base from which a Therapeutic Community Online Radio station can be quickly and easily built, and then maintained.

The proposal therefore is for ATC and EFTC, CHG, CoC, PETT and other potential partners, in association with TC-OF, to work together to develop regular and consistent broadcasts, sharing the task of creating content; with TC-OF responsible for the station mechanics and broadcast management, and for liaising with the various providers to ensure a unified and consistent service.


What is involved: The Technology

To create a programme for broadcast, the organisation or a participating therapeutic community would need a computer with a sound card, inputs, a microphone, outputs and software for recording and editing. A portable digital recorder with a high quality microphone and appropriate outputs would be useful for recording interviews, music and events, for transfer to the computer for editing. An Internet connection with broadband, to email or ftp the finished programme to the station, would be ideal; but programmes could be burned to CD and sent through the post to the station, where they could be translated into mp3 format, prepared for broadcast, and uploaded.

Station-side, the requirement is for adequate web-space, computers with sound cards, audio-editing and ftp software, broadband connection to the Internet, and appropriate software for podcast and/or streaming. At this stage in the project we are still in the experimental and exploratory stage, and further experience may show that the software and/or the hardware and server solutions so far discovered are inadequate or in need of upgrading; but for test purposes, and barring further research and development, we have demonstrated that the online radio station is immediately possible and feasible.


What is involved: Production

For consistency, programmes would have a common opening and closing format – station name, broadcast date, producing organisation, programme theme if there is one, copyright statements, production staff and so on; the rest - the middle - would depend on the programme makers. A programme could be as simple as a recorded interview or talk; or as complex as a magazine programme, with music, poetry, stories, interviews, commentary, readings, drama, atmospherics. There is no externally-determined limit to programme length, but default standards would be 15 and 30 minutes, to create containing boundaries, workable file sizes, and familiarity and predictability from the point of view of listeners.

How the programme was planned, assembled, recorded and edited would be a matter of local decision and negotiation. A group within a therapeutic community would take responsibility over a four week period, for example, and work together and with the rest of the community to produce a 30 minute programme. They might also liaise with similar groups in other communities. They would learn and share information about recording equipment and techniques, editing software, and other essentials of programme making, including issues of ownership, copyright and publicity. They would build programmes out of their own stories, and from the daily life, work and talents within the community. At the end there would be a concrete and enduring outcome, shared with potentially millions of others around the world, and the skills and experience gained through the process. It would be an insight and confidence-building enterprise.

Through the co-operation of the various partners, a regular pattern of broadcasting would be established, with a variety of new programmes each week within recurring series: Programmes from communities, weekly or fortnightly news roundups produced by the partner organisations (individually or together), advice programmes ("How to start a therapeutic community"), programmes drawing on material from the Archives, book discussions, interviews, opinion pieces. But the flexibility of the medium would allow for what is realistically possible within the life and work of the communities, organisations and individuals involved. One new programme a week, or one new programme a month, if that is what is possible, will build up over time into a powerful cumulative library of audio resources, a repertoire of past programmes with enduring value and relevance.


What is involved: Organisation

The level of organisation required would depend largely on the level of complexity and sophistication of the programming, and the fullness of the scheduling. At the very least there would need to be consistent liaison among the participating organisations, and a person or team to help recruit programme-makers, pay attention to the state of play of the works-in-progress, be available for support and advice, bring consistency and continuity to programmes presented as ready for broadcast, upload and manage them, manage the web-site, and help with publicity. They might also create material on a regular basis themselves: "News from Charterhouse" for example, or "International News Roundup", interspersing readings with clips of comment and interview recorded over the telephone.

As with other projects the more complex the task, the more essential the question of personnel.


What is involved: Costs and finances

The costs of producing individual programmes would largely fall on the producing community or organisation itself, some if not most of which would be incurred in the normal course of daily life, work and public relations.

1. Local set-up costs. Each community, organisation or individual making a programme would need a computer with appropriate soundcards and software, microphones, and preferably a mobile digital recorder. Many communities and organisations will already have appropriate computers, and most of the necessary software is available in free versions on the Internet. Set-up costs could therefore range between £200 where most of the equipment is already available, to £2,000 where capability is being set up from scratch. In many instances, however, programme-making at some level could get started right away with what is in hand.

2. Annual Station costs. Radio TC International is hosted as one of its projects on the Therapeutic Community Open Forum web-site, where annual web-space costs would begin at £100 and rise as the programme archive built and listener demand rose. The start-up costs of computer and computer software, and software for streaming and podcasting would amount to £1500. With experience and further research and development, of course, that figure could rise.


3. Management. Initially, and to enable programme-making and broadcasting to begin immediately, management costs will be absorbed by voluntary labour, with Craig Fees and Ian Milne acting as Programme Manager and Technical Manager, supported by the Therapeutic Community Open Forum Moderators and representatives of the partnership organisations.

In the longer term, given the limitations and uncertainties of purely voluntary labour, a successful and thriving radio station will require a paid Station Manager, supporting new and established programme-makers, making programmes, generating programme ideas, managing programming, liaising with the various partner organisations, and generally ensuring the smooth and efficient functioning of the station. On a full-time basis, we would assume a salary range of £25,000 to £35,000, with a budget of £2,000, with the possibility of part-time support at £10,000 to £15,000.

The sources of funding would include donations, solicited online; sponsorship of particular programmes, particular series or the Radio TC web-site; and grants. Partner organisations would make an annual contribution towards the basic web-site costs and necessary software, with a voluntary contribution towards management and upkeep costs.

Following discussion among the major partners, who would apply jointly, it is proposed that a major grant application be made with the object of providing a significant number of communities around the world with the necessary equipment, software and training to make programmes on a regular and sustainable basis, and to fund the Station Manager and support positions necessary to facilitate that programming and to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the broadcast service.


Ownership and Copyright

Ownership of the recording/programme as broadcast will pass to Radio TC International, which will have right of re-broadcast and publication in other formats on a non-profit/for-costs-and-management basis.

Copyright of original material within a programme (songs and poems written by community members, for example), will remain the possession of the authors, but under a Creative Commons "Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd)" copyright licence see creative commons. Copyright in programmes as a whole will remain with the originating team, organisation or community, as designated on the Broadcast Information Sheet, and again under a Creative Commons "by-nc-nd" licence.


  • This Proposal has been prepared by Craig Fees and Ian Milne, in consultation with the Moderators of the Therapeutic Community Open Forum
  • 26 February 2006
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