Most websites come and go, but not Radio Garden. The Dutch non-profit keeps its simple website interface, a 3D rendered globe you can move around with the radio stations appearing as green dots. Ever since it surpassed the 8,000-radio station mark, the interactive radio project remains on the airwaves - all around the world.
Perhaps the video didn't kill the radio star after all. Instead, the radio star has adapted to the times and with Radio Garden, made available to everyone, everywhere.
What does home sound like?
What would eventually become Radio Garden was a project started in 2013. As it exceeded 8,000 registered radio stations, it was announced at the 2016 Radio Conference, bringing the news to more people around the world. Its novelty is in the use of a relatively old technology, consolidated and presented using a simple interface.
The minds behind this incredible yet straightforward project are Bas Agterberg, a Media Historian for the Institute of Sound and Vision of the Netherlands, and Jonathan Puckey, founder of experimental interactive Studio Puckey.
Radio Garden was the result of investigating the role of radio concerning one's identity, asking, "What does home sound like?" The result was an interactive globe that users could move in any direction. They can zoom in on any city and see which stations are available and what music they play. Jonathan Puckey served as the principal designer; he recognizes that while the radio is everywhere--it is home". Puckey notes that radio is "no longer the tangible presence it once was". He then asks, "where is radio exactly?"
Crawling through more than 8,000 stations
On the website, radio stations are arranged by their respective locations and then grouped by cities plotted on the three-dimensional map. Radio Garden covers about a thousand live streams from radio stations all over the world, except in some parts of China where their stream uses a different file format incompatible with the usual browsers.
Radio Garden works by web crawling, meaning it uses an algorithm to systematically search the Internet for streams coming from radio stations all around the world. The source sites from the web crawl are traced for the source location and are then overlaid on the map to pair the stream with its geographical locations.
Strolling through the garden
A small characteristic of the three-dimensional globe is that the map does not have territorial lines or the names of the cities and countries, allowing you to explore and see where you land. Once you stop, though, the name of the place is displayed on the on-screen taskbar. The taskbar also displays the list of stations available for that city, especially the local ones, as well as the "popular radio stations" in the country.
There's something curious and entertaining about listening to radio stations around the world. Almost everywhere you go, you will always find the latest tracks as well as what the people consider as classics in their place. It's even too amazing to hear Taylor Swift in far-off areas, such as in pop radio stations in Kazakhstan. Aside from music, radio dramas also remain a treat around the world, with some still using the old-school foley effects as trained actors deliver their lines.