From 2000-2007, Jeff Pulver and I ran PulverRadio, a pioneering Internet Radio service focused on modern, progressive, rock music. Jeff and I share a love of great music and desire to share in the discovery of new music, which since the 1990s has been poorly-served by commercial terrestrial radio. PulverRadio was our love letter to music.
Jeff was an avid ham radio operator and once had the tallest HAM tower on Long Island, from which he had played his favourite songs as a sort-of pirate radio station. I had worked during University as a night club disc-jockey and had several radio shows at CJSF in the early 1990s. I’d also spent time remixing music and took several courses at SFU’s School of Communication on acoustic engineering and audio.
We built a 3-studio radio station, which included a state-of-the-art live recording studio, in New York. As the only technical resource I architected the service’s global streaming infrastructure, engineered the station’s acoustic and digital compression, and of course specified and setup everything from the acoustic coating on the walls to the station’s live telecom interface and playlisting software.
We were (to our knowledge) the first radio station in the world to require network storage for music. Our monthly playlist was roughly 600x the diversity of a terrestrial rock station’s monthly playlist, requiring commercial playlisting solutions to be adapted to our larger storage needs. We were also the first large-scale MP3 and M4A broadcaster in the world. As pioneers in internet radio we broke a lot of technological ground in order to deliver the kind of service customers could expect.
We created a number of custom, web-based player applications to make the service more accessible from desktop devices.
We also created software called “geezer” which was designed to inject song title/artist information into realtime streams from RCS playlisting software. This also contained an (unactivated) feature to allow for the insertion of image and XML content into the MP3 stream, which would eventually give us the ability to display ads.
Our T-shirts were pretty cool:
We worked with internationally-acclaimed DJs like David Marsden and Shadoe Stevens, who each produced weekly shows that gained broad notoriety. But with respect to those friends, I was particularly proud of our hiring of Mikey McClenathan, a veteran college radio DJ and indie rock musician who powered PulverRadio as on-air personality and programmer for several years. He was a tremendous ambassador for our brand and intuitively understood our mission.
Unfortunately, the RIAA and SoundExchange have not historically been supportive to streaming radio, and various changes to the structure of their programs ultimately made the cost of operating PulverRadio unsustainable.