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A little background information…
Regular radio – the kind you listen to in the car, for instance – can allow as many people to listen as can tune in. As long as they are close enough to the station to pick up the signal, that is.
Not so with internet radio. When you listen to Internet radio, you take up one of a fixed number of listener slots the station has made available for the listening audience. So for example, if a station has 75 listener slots, the 76th person trying to “tune in” would not be able to listen because all 75 slots are already in use.
Internet radio stations purchase a fixed number of slots on a monthly basis so their audience can tune in, and listener slots are not cheap. For high-quality audio like Girls Rock Radio delivers, each listener slot may cost between one and two dollars per month — whether anyone is using it or not. So again, our example radio station could expect to pay between $75 and $150 per month to provide 75 listener slots — whether anyone is listening or not.
What about popular stations with thousands of people listening at the same time? Yes, you guessed it: Thousands of dollars per month.
So, as I was saying, when an Internet radio station runs out of listener slots, you won’t be able to tune in, and whatever media player you’re using will probably show some kind of error. In WinAmp, a very popular media player for Windows, the message says, “service unavailable.”
Now, what’s happening at Girls Rock Radio…
Well, I can’t be sure, but it’s clear that something happened recently to increase our popularity and push us right to the limit of our listener slots. Have you seen a “service unavailable” message? Did you think we crashed, or were off the air for some reason? Nope. The station is fine and working normally, but we have been running out of listener slots on a surprisingly frequent basis lately, and that makes us seem “off-air.”
Here’s the real problem, though: Without financial support we have no way of increasing the number of listener slots we make available to you.
Some internet radio stations are supported so well that they can afford to send lucky listeners on vacations to exotic destinations. Girls Rock Radio cannot even pay its bills, let alone send anyone on vacations. Since Girls Rock Radio started in the summer of 2006, for ever $1 of listener support I have received, I have had to spend well over $7. And that’s just to cover the station’s operation. In other words, GRR is not paying me any sort of salary. I have a mortgage to pay, a kid to feed and send to college, and all sorts of bills to pay. Girls Rock Radio is my only job. And it’s providing me no income at all. Cue the bleeding-hearts violins if you wish, but let me ask you – could you live without a paying job for almost 4 years? That’s what it’s been like for me. And then the economy collapsed.
If every one of Girls Rock Radio’s MySpace friends (close to 7000) contributed just $1 per month, consistently, I could begin to make up for lost ground and move the station forward. That’s unrealistic, of course, but if just 20% of those people contributed $5 per month, the effect would be the same.
I was having coffee with a new acquaintance this past fall, and I was telling her about Girls Rock Radio. She proceeded to tell me how she believed that an internet radio station devoted to women artists was doomed to fail from the start. She believed that any endeavor tied exclusively to the talents of women must fail because women are never viewed as more than second-class citizens, and will never actually be taken seriously.
I’m like, “You’re joking right? Surely you can’t be serious!”
Needless to say, I felt no reason to keep in touch with that person. But after nearly 4 years of next to no support at all, was she right? Is there really no redeeming quality to a radio format that celebrates the music of women artists? I’m desperately trying to find a way out of this failure.
Here’s the Bottom Line
We’re running out of listener slots regularly now. I cannot afford more because, well, because I cannot afford the station at all. If you can tune in, that’s awesome. If you cannot, know that, at least for now, the station is still here and working normally, and you’ll just have to keep trying. When you’re done listening, close your media player so someone else can listen.
I am doing some things behind the scenes to try to re-define why the station exists beyond just playing music. If you have ideas, or are well connected in ways that can help, use the “Contact GRR” link on the Help menu to introduce yourself.
Wish me luck. It’s a race against time now. Your support of the station and the amazing music it brings to you would be greatly appreciated.