Page last updated at 07:34 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 08:34 UK

How the web makes radio reactive

Digital Planet
Sao Paulo Special
BBC World Service

Radar Cultura's radio studio
The radio station's website is as much part of the show as the mic
Last week the BBC World Service Digital Planet programme was in Brazil. In the last of its reports from the country it looks at a Brazilian radio station which is more in touch with its listeners than most.

It is not just websites such as Facebook and MySpace that are prospering thanks to the huge communities of friends they bring together. A small radio station in southern Sao Paulo has discovered how to turn radio into a new medium.

Radar Cultura is allowing listeners to vote for songs, chat to other people and create their own playlists via the station's website.

The idea was created in late 2007 by Andre Avorio, who drew inspiration from sites like and to produce a novel type of radio experience.

"Radar Cultura is a public radio station and we were very interested in getting closer to the audience," he said.

"Giving the audience the power to choose the music, publish content related to their main interests - so that we can explore together all the issues that concern them most," said Mr Avorio.

"Radio used to be the main media for people to discover new music, now in fact, they are using the sites like to help them explore the world of music.

"When you connect the radio with the internet, you get a very powerful media platform," he added.

Open content

Mr Avorio created Radar Cultura's website using free open source software called Drupal that helps them manage the content they produce - be that radio shows or playlists.

Screengrab from Radar Cultura homepage, Rada Cultura
The site lets listeners decide what they want to listen to.

The whole station and its website is run using Drupal and the tools that have grown up around it.

"Any other radio station who wants to use the same system behind Radar Cultura, is able to download the software from Drupal's website," he added.

Much of the information published on the site is also released under the Creative Commons license so anyone can take and use it freely.

"The idea is to create collaborative radio and the audience is invited to produce everything," said Leah Ranja, the station's internet producer.

"The audience can vote for the music that they want and we then play the music with the most votes.

"You can also see all the other people who have selected the same track as yourself," she added.

The most popular tracks become the set list for the programme and the resulting show is broadcast over the airwaves and is also available via the net.

The station and its site is also active during events such as the Virada Cultural - a 24-hour party involving music and other cultural events that spans the city of Sao Paulo.

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