Linux radio suite powers independent broadcasters

By   |  December 13, 2006

Community radio stations in Sierra Leone and in other emerging democracies may well soon be powered by Campcaster 1.1, free and open source software that turns a PC running the free Linux operating system into an essential tool for radio broadcasting.

Campcaster 1.1, code-named “Freetown”, was released last week by developers Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF). This week members of MDLF are in Sierra Leone providing training to community users.

MDLF’s Douglas Arellanes says Campcaster 1.1 was built with conditions in difficult environments such as Sierra Leone in mind. It provides very stable playout and, because it runs on Linux, there are fewer problems with viruses, spyware and malware.

“In a user-friendly way, it enables both automated broadcast at preset dates and times, as well as allowing ‘live’ playout from the studio. At the same time, it also enables the exchange of radio programme material both online and off-line, and provides a stable, secure, extensible archive server for storing, searching and retrieving program content,” says MDLF.

“Campcaster provides features that used to be only available in extremely expensive commercial radio systems,” says Sava Tatić, Managing Director of the Media Development Loan Fund’s Center for Advanced Media, Prague (CAMP), which coordinates the Campware Initiative. “We believe there is a strong north-south aspect to using and extending Campcaster,” Tatić says. “Every time a station in North America or Europe adapts and extends Campcaster, stations in places like Sierra Leone benefit.”

Tatić says, however, that Campcaster’s relevance is not limited to the developing world: stations in the developed world are starting to adapt the system to their own needs. In Vienna, for example, Austria’s Radio Orange is adapting Campcaster’s playout system to work with its existing digital archive, while in Hungary, a network of independent radio stations is integrating Campcaster’s storage server into its IKRA project, a generic public website engine for radio stations.

Because all of the Campcaster software is free and open source, stations are free to adapt it to their individual needs, but are strongly encouraged to share their efforts with others.

Campcaster was developed by an international team of software developers, user interface designers, media activists and radio professionals who have worked for more than 12 months on the 1.1 “Freetown” release, says Tatić.

“Campware representatives have coordinated their work with the Cornet community radio network on the software, and members of the development team will travel to Freetown, Sierra Leone later this month to provide training to partners implementing and servicing Campcaster locally.”

Campcaster 1.1 is the latest release from the MDLF’s Campware Initiative, which creates free and open source tools for independent media in emerging democracies. Initial funding for Campcaster was provided by a grant from the Open Society Institute.

The tools are all free and available for download at the Campware website at www.campware.org. Developers can visit the developers’ page at http://code.campware.org/projects/campcaster.

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