Workshop Report: Radio & Internet

published: March, 1997

Wiretap 3.02 was a weeklong workshop organised by V2_Organisation in cooperation with IKON Radio and Press Now. It was supposed to investigate the relationship and interaction between radio and Internet. The public event of Wiretap 3.02 took place on Sunday, February 23rd, with a live radio programme from 14.00 till 17.00, broadcast on the internet and partly through the national ether. The RealAudio signal was picked up and rebroadcast live by local ether stations in Amsterdam and Ljubljana. Radio B92 from Belgrade was so kind to let us use their RealAudio server at xs4all. You can find the recording of the event in RealAudio format at:

These were the participants of the workshop:

Drazen Pantic from Radio B92, Belgrado Bojan Azman from Radio Student, Ljubljana Edin Karamehmedovic from Radio 101, Zagreb Andor Fabian from Radio TTT, Zagreb Vuk Cosic and Luka Frelih from Ljudmila, Ljubljana Dr. Beeldplaatje from Radio 100, Amsterdam Josephine Bosma from Radio Patapoe, Amsterdam Reni Hofmueller from Radio Helsinki, Graz Martin Schitter from Uni-computerlab, Graz Ludwig Zeiniger from ORF Kunstradio, Vienna

Due to the difficult situation of the station, the representative of Radio Zid in Sarajevo could not participate at the last minute. The participants from SOS RadioTNC in Paris could not come either and were replaced by people from Graz and Vienna.

The week before the broadcast was filled with visits to several places in the Netherlands where we suspected experimentation with audio and the net. These places were: VPRO Digital Attic, Dutch World Service, HKU-artschool media department, Institution for Affordable Lunacy, The Apollohuis (art&audio experimentation only, no net), Frank Tiggelaar (SarajevoSatelite Link), xs4all, Desk, Patapoe (pirate radio), Ronald Verlaan (Packet Radio amateur).

Wiretap 3.02: Work, Shop or Bust

The initiative by V2_Organisation to organise a weeklong workshop around the subject of netradio instead of the usual Wiretap format of a Sunday afternoon get-together, had quite some interesting consequences.

First of all let's contemplate the phenomenon Wiretap, introduced by V2 three years ago. Wiretaps are designed to give the audience, often artists or workers in the field of new media in the Netherlands, a deeper insight into the workings behind the presentations and artworks they see at V2. The Wiretaps are free to attend. It is possible to meet and have good talks with the presenters and lecturers, if one has the guts or desire to do so. Wiretaps have offered a change in the approach of art and new media, as it was common in the conference circuit. They broke down the top-down hierarchy between the cyber-elite and the audience. They served as an example for other initiatives like Heath Bunting's anti with e confs in London. One could say that the style of the Wiretaps is that of the trigger, the plotted impulse for future projects and collaborations on many levels. They are not just presentations, and they are not workshops. They are somewhere in between, for the participant to choose which way to tilt the balance.

Now this Wiretap in February 97, 3.02, was a different one. It was announced as a workshop, and it was not one afternoon of talk, but a whole week of talk, work and preparation for a netcast as a public event on Sunday, 23rd of February. Somehow the subject netradio seemed to the organisers too interesting to squeeze into a Sunday afternoon lecture. They wanted to do more, and I also started to get involved. We wanted people from several former Yugoslavian radio stations to come over and exchange ideas, we wanted to explore the medium in an artistic sense and for this people from ORF Kunstradio and Ljudmila joined the workshop, we wanted to make a map of the Dutch situation in the field of audio and internet and share it with the other participants, we wanted a netcast as a result and public presentation of the workshop, ..., a question could be: did we want too much? I think its good to want much, have high aims. The problems you encounter then are somewhat predictable, first of all with the technology, which is never sufficient or big enough to make all dreams come true, but we came a lot closer then we expected.

Most of the participants of the workshop were chosen from a "country" that is in a tender state of being, on the edge of war still, divided and full of controversy. Media in this "country" are all vital signs of the different sides they represent. If an information stream is cut, it bleeds so to say. There were several reasons to choose five radio stations from there, from the whole spectrum of netcatsts and radio stations. Most netradios available on the net now are highly commercial stations, and most of them are based in the States. It is very necesary to create new spaces and links for more alternative broadcasts of any kind, that make tactical usage of the net for different cultures to have presence. I mean culture in every sense of the word, be it national, artistic or 'underground', to just name a few. Important is of course that with the broadcast of B92 from Belgrade using RealAudio 24 hours a day since last December, for the first time internet broadcasting has been of such an enormous influence on local politics (as cnn reports). Radio 101 from Zagreb has been able to stay on the air by, amongst other things, sending out petitions over the several mailing lists as a protest against their closing down, another, smaller, victory.

The Netherlands are not a country in which tactical media are used or need to be used in the same sense as in for instance former Yugoslavia. Radio Patapoe and in Amsterdam radio history DFM (deformed radio, radio that attacks radio like a virus from within) are examples of "decadent" artistic usage of tactical media in a decadent society. Decadent in this case being used as a proud banner in front of our name. We indulge in media but avoid professionalism or the usual notions of quality. Before the workshop started this made me wonder whether a cooperation between the radiostations from former Yugoslavia, that to me seemed to be working from a mostly politically tactical background, and us would work. The needs for creating radical audioworks or the processes of making artworks seem not necessarely the same ones as those of making tactical usage of a medium in a sensitive situation. Of course when it comes to creative usage of media in any situation, no possibility is excluded ever and this turned out to be a general opinion. There was no problem whatsoever about this. We were left with the hard question which of the many possibilities of audio on the net to choose for our netcast.

During the week a couple of times at meetings and in private talks the sensitive subject of the proper and best usage of the internet for broadcasting came up. The many angles to approach this subject however, plus the large number of workshop participants and their different backgrounds and views, unfortunately or maybe logically made it hard to produce clear answers. What is interactivity, what is radio, how many different options of audio usage on the net do we want to combine and can they be combined, were some questions. The first one being the most dominant and most difficult to answer. I myself wonder about the second one too, what is radio, especially when it is attached to a screen and a trillion mixers and dj's at the same time in the case of the kind of interactivity some people think is a must when playing with the net and broadcasting. Allthough there was no consensus on these matters, on the individual level and in smaller groups insights and new ideas created a breeding ground for future cooperations and initiatives. It is now up to us to investigate all bits and pieces of the different audio and broadcast scenario's that passed that week in coming projects.

Some new collaborations have allready been planned. The most exiting and interesting probably is the fact that Felipe Rodriquez, the director of xs4all, has become so enthusiastic that he has decided to buy a very large RealAudio server for alternative interesting radio usage of which the Amsterdam pirate stations might very well profit, like B92 before them. Links between the former Yugoslavian radiostations have been created or strengthened, Ljudmila media lab might do some collaboration with B92 this year and exchanges between Amsterdam and Ljubljana will happen in the shape of radio programs of different kinds, like interviews to be broadcast in Ljubljana to prepare for the upcoming Nettime meeting. Apart from this, the contacts will be of great help and inspiration for the audio year that is taking shape more and more. In other words: its going to be a very exiting year for net and broad- casting on a more "alternative" level. ORF Kunstradio and Radio Lada (Rimini) have been lonesome pioneers for too long now. They are getting company. Other initiatives already exist or are being set up, like Radio Internationale Stadt Berlin and Riga's E-Lab. A new network seems to be emerging. I wonder whether something like such fast and deep explorations and developments are possible without "workshops" like this one, the meeting and working in real life of people specialized in this specific topic. At any conference or meeting the subject field rarely is so specialized. We should have more of them.

It was a good week, in which hype (of the wonders of net and audio to be so easily unfolded and grasped) and reality were nicely mixed, cursed and enjoyed.