A fresh start

I’ve become a bit stale recently. Not just because I’m getting old, but because I’ve got no creative outlet. I’ve gone from doing semi-regular weekly shows, to daily and then on to weekly live broadcasts. Life has got in the way, in one way or another. The time has been and gone for Rhubarb Radio. It was an amazing few years and I met some wonderful people and built up skills I never thought I’d need  but now it’s time to move on.

After finding out who secured the domains in 2013, I’ve been developing a platform behind the scenes suitable for the vision I had for Rhubarb Radio. A few months ago I found out the person who purchased the domains had sold them to a community radio station in Yorkshire. At the time I was livid, but in hindsight it’s probably for the best. Part of me has been holding on to the hope that we could create something as special as we had with Rhubarb Radio in the Custard Factory. Being 250 miles away from Birmingham made that a lot harder than it ever should have been.

So now is the time for a fresh start. I don’t have a lot of time each week to devote to recording. In fact, when I’m not at work I’m at a home full of life. That isn’t a bad thing, but it means that spending 2 or 3 hours on recording a show isn’t something I can accomplish easily. I’m going to be using my free time to source new music, get a playlist together and then having a crack at recording all in one go on the odd occasion that I do have some time to myself. I’m hoping to do a mix of new, locally sourced music with some of my old favourites.

It’ll be interesting to see where that goes and whether we end up with a mixture of my old shows or a new one entirely. If there’s anyone still reading, thank you for sticking with me.


It’s that time of year again

I’ve been thinking about Rhubarb Radio and broadcasting in general a lot recently. This time last year I got really motivated and wanted to get the whole thing going again, but for some reason it fell by the wayside. Twelve months later and I’m at it again; I’ve purchased a streamcast server and am getting together a library of music, however a bit of help is required. I’m thinking of trying to put together a team of people who can go out and source shows/programmes, help sort out playlists and schedules and generally help me run the station. I realise that a lot of the people who wanted to be involved four (!) years ago have moved on to Brum Radio or other things, so this is a chance to connect with some new people. I’ll be reaching out on Twitter in the next few days but for those of you who still follow me on Twitter this is your chance to get involved. Whether you’re a podcaster, musician, poet, performer or anything in between, get in touch and we can start the conversation.

A New Beginning

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about getting back in to Podcasting. Since moving to Cornwall I’ve been able to record two shows which really isn’t enough considering I used to do one nearly every day! I’ve decided to put up an archive of shows to fill that gap with a view to launching something properly in the next few weeks. One thing I noticed when I left Rhubarb Radio was that I was used to interacting with a team and producing a structured show which fit the Saturday morning slot perfectly. Podcasting is different, it’s on demand and can be listened to anyone, anywhere, around the world. I need to produce something that is going to fit that whilst at the same time bringing that independent music I’ve been championing for ten years to the masses. I’m going to be contacting local bands down here to start sourcing some music. Cornwall is a rich, vibrant cultural county and I need to champion that on whatever show I decide to run with.

I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis with the shows recently. I managed to get Midsweep for the Masses! out finally (after about 4 tries) but it didn’t feel quite right. The whole thing with Rhubarb Radio has left me a bit deflated, but maybe it’s time to move on properly. When I decided to bring it back 3 years ago it felt as though that was something for me to use to hold on to Birmingham with but it’s not quite worked like that. Moving made it hard to keep things going and the people that expressed interest at the time moved on to Brum Radio. I don’t blame them, it’s what Birmingham needed after the way Rhubarb left them feeling the first time around. I think it’s time for me to be me. I know that sounds contrived and pretentious, but it’s how I feel at the moment. It’s time for something new, something that reignites my passion for this whilst at the same time celebrates the beautiful place where I live.


It’s been a long time since I did one of these. Nearly three years, actually. I’ve got a good reason though. Honest. After moving to Cornwall from Birmingham I was immediately thrust into a life of surfing, pasties and beaches! Ish. I managed to secure myself some regular development work which has helped me keep doing what I enjoy doing, but I’ve also got a job working at Cornwall Council. It’s not fun but it pays the bills. I keep meaning to record a podcast but life always seems to get in the way. I have a plan to sort that out though, so hopefully it’ll come to fruition soon!

So Long, Big City

I’m moving to Cornwall in two weeks time. It’ll mark the end of a turbulent 10 years here in Birmingham, including nearly three years in Kings Heath. In my time here I’ve set up two businesses, put on gigs, discovered new music and made life-long friends. It’s not much on (virtual) paper, but it’s my life and although there have been some really low-times, there have been some equally brilliant ones. A year ago my daughter moved down there and at the time I was apprehensive about what that meant. I’d been a constant in her life since she was born so knowing I’d only see her when time (and money) allowed was hard for me to take.

The end of the month marks a new chapter in my life, a fresh start with my first love and the chance to live somewhere that’s truly inspiring. I’ll be back in Birmingham every few months and I hope I can hold on to those friendships I’ve built. Being involved in Rhubarb Radio again will keep that link with the city I’ve grown up in, but I’m going to miss all of this.


Rhubarb Lowdown

I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to do something connected with podcasting again, but I really missed being part of a community. When I left Rhubarb, I missed it instantly. Not just producing the show, but being part of the technical & outside broadcast teams and doing a bit of production for new shows if they needed it. I’ve been working with Sticky Joe for a while now. He was involved in Rhubarb just before it went under and really enjoyed his time on it. He studied sound at BCU and is in the process of putting together an album working with artists from Birmingham, Jamica, Brazil and Germany (so far). Over the past few weeks I’ve been listening to old shows and talking more and more to Joe about resurrecting Rhubarb in some way.

On Monday I secured the domain names for Rhubarb Radio. They had been registered just before they expired last year and in October I started an email dialog with the registrant. We’ve both been really busy recently so emails were sporadic. He’s agreed to let us use them as he’s also really passionate about music and loved what Rhubarb was at it’s peak. I was out of work when I got involved properly and Rhubarb was a springboard to everything I’m doing now. It gave me the confidence to start building websites, meet new people and share the music that I loved most with people.

The ethos of New Rhubarb is simple. It’s going to be a global community of DJs, podcasters, musicians, comedians, poets and everything in between. Primarily a music station, we’re also encouraging people to produce documentaries, radio dramas, sports shows, phone ins and original content. There won’t be any explicit content on the station, at all. We want people to be able to tune in to the live stream and be able to share it with their family and friends.

All shows will be pre-recorded for now. We’re keeping costs to a minimum and I’m covering the server space at the moment. There are a couple of ideas on how we can raise some money in the future and we may ask for a contribution from shows to keep things going. It won’t be much, probably in the vicinity of £2-5 per show, per month but it will help. The schedule will be on a rotational basis on the most part, with “series” of 6-10 shows to allow people to secure more content and still be a part of it without having to be too committed.

We don’t have a studio space at the moment. Again to keep costs to a minimum but to allow myself and Joe to run the station without having to keep an eye on an external space. It doesn’t take much equipment to record a show at home and we’ll be providing quick tutorials on how to record once the new website is up and running. So far we’ve had about 30 people express an interest in doing shows for us and we’re looking to launch sometime in September.

Although we’re using the old logo for now, we have already started the rebranding process which should be complete in a couple of weeks. We’ll also be producing a whole new set of jingles for people to use on their shows and to handle the scheduling announcements on the stream.

We’ll be releasing more information on how to register later today, but for now if you’d like to be a part of it you can send a demo show to us. An existing podcast is fine, as long as you’re aware that when the station is up and running we’ll be looking for something specific to Rhubarb. We’re also looking for mixes, so if you’re doing something regularly on Soundcloud or Mixcloud, send us some links. You can leave a comment here, find us on Facebook or talk to us on Twitter.

For press enquiries, please contact production@rhubarbradio.com.

Wanted: Producers, DJs, Musicians (frustrated or otherwise) and Podcasters

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start the ball rolling on a new online radio station and I need some help. If you’re a DJ, Producer, Musician, Podcaster or just someone who enjoys talking in to a mic, I want to hear from you.

Details on the station are very limited at the moment, but I know it’s going to be entirely online, with shows being sent in via Dropbox and played out both on a live stream and available for download. The schedule will be on a rotation basis, and we’ll be asking for a commitment of 3 shows to start with. More details once I get a clearer picture on how many people are interested.

Shows will “live” on one main website, and full shownotes will need to be submitted along with your show. Tracklisting *must* also be included. There may be the opportunity for shows to be broadcast live, but that’s dependent on budget really. You’re welcome to set something up via livestream, YouTube or similar to get a more interactive show.

The aim is to create a station with a diverse selection of shows from all over the world. It isn’t just about playing music; talk shows, radio drama, comedy, whatever you have a passion for will all be welcomed. If you’d like some more information, you can talk to me on Twitter @philcoyne email me or leave a comment below.

I’m taking submissions now, so if you’ve got an existing podcast or show somewhere, send me links to a selection of episodes. If you’ve got no experience at all, please do still get in touch, there will be some training materials on the website which will walk you through setting up to record.

BT Wi-fi: Customer Support on Twitter

There’s been a rise in the number of companies that use Twitter for customer support lately, albeit with varying degrees of success. Generally the companies I’ve interacted with seem to be quite effective at offering simple support solutions for their customers, however, as with anything, there are exceptions.

Around 6 years ago I used BT Wi-fi (nee BT Openzone) on a regular basis. Whether I was in London for a gig, or in a coffee shop in town sometimes I couldn’t do what I needed to do without a stable connection. I opened an account, loaded it with £10 and used it when I needed.

About a month ago I started receiving emails from BT Openzone advertising their latest services. I’ve been trying to keep the amount of useless email in my personal account, so I tried to unsubscribe from the newsletter only to be greeted with a page asking me to log in and update my preferences.

I tried a password reset, and was then told that I’d need to contact them via telephone as I hadn’t set a mobile number on my account when I signed up. This left me a bit puzzled, as I wasn’t using the account any more and simply wanted to stop their emails from showing up in my inbox.

Rather than pay to phone an non-geographic number I opted to contact their customer support on Twitter;

Suddenly something that should have been as simple as clicking an unsubscribe link had turned in to a task that had taken around 30 minutes of my time.  From what I understand it also goes against the CAN-SPAM act;

Include a “clear and conspicuous” unsubscribe mechanism in every email (section 5(a)(5)(A)(ii)).

BT are a huge company, they may not support many customers outside of the UK, but they should at least be following guidelines like anyone else on the Internet. When I told them about the act, they had this to say;

Not only do they opt for txtspk when supporting their customers, but they also have no knowledge of an act that any company who sends out marketing emails should be following, including little old me.

I may be overreacting, but my inbox is a temple. How am I ever meant to reach inbox zero?

Rhubarb Radio to return?

Rhubarb Radio studio in Custard Factory, Birmingham
Rhubarb Radio studio in Custard Factory, Birmingham by gavinwray

When I was getting all nostalgic about Rhubarb Radio recently, I had a look on the old domain name. It looks as though someone registered the domain name when it expired in October and set up a holding page.

Welcome to what will be the new home of “Rhubarb Radio”, (www.rhubarbradio.com).

Based in Birmingham England, Rhubarb radio was a pioneer in community radio, it used to operate out of the old Custard factory media site up until November 2011. It produced a great Birmingham & West Midlands quality output of Local & International Music, community news and topics on Birmingham life and our proud history of Brum.

However, sometime around 3rd or 4th November 2011 someone broke into or somehow entered the Rhubarb Radio Studio and removed a large amount of essential equipment.  In short, the station was unable to broadcast at all. Due to different financial reasons the original owners were unable to save the station, the interim owners were not aware that there were historic problems and the presenters and support staff rallied round to try and save what they could but with all the equipment gone it was  an impossible task. So the Rhubarb radio station went off air. Shortly after the station domain name  lapsed.

But by a quirk of fate some new entrepreneurial owners who really believed in what Rhubarb Radio stood for and what it meant to the Brum Music scene, managed to acquire it to ensure that it may have a fighting chance to re-launch if the right team could be re-assembled in the future.

So as a first step here we are, over the  coming weeks/months we intend to provide as many links as possible to the original  presenters and their work, plus keep you up to date on what is happening next.

Thank you for stopping by.

I’ve since been in contact with the new owner of the domain to ascertain how far along their plans are, but haven’t received anything back just yet. It’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out, and perhaps more interestingly, I’m listed as one of the presenters on their links page 😉

The First Month of Windows 8

When I was a lad, I wasn’t really aware of Apple. I’d seen a few Macs in the shops, but was always skeptical, mainly because until Windows XP, I’d never had a problem with using it. My first machine had Windows 3.1 on it. You couldn’t do much, play a few games, paint some “masterpieces” and send a fax, if you wanted to. The world was a much simpler place pre-Internet, the 10 o’clock news was the only way I’d find out about what was going on in the world. I didn’t really listen to music, apart from when Dad let me play around with his record player and I was only ever allowed to watch what my Parents wanted to on the TV. Although I was 8 at the time.

I’ve always been a user of Windows, despite all the times I’ve declared to myself that I’ve had enough, I’ve never been able to permanently switch to Linux. The latest versions are beautiful and let you do most things that you can do on a Windows system, but it just doesn’t feel quite right at times. When Windows 8 was released last week, I decided to, belatedly check out the consumer preview. At first I was skeptical, but having used Windows Phone 7 for a few weeks on my Lumia, I decided to take the plunge and plonk £25 on the upgrade.

I’m now just over a month in to using Windows 8 and have to say that I’m definitely in love again. Although it’s definitely built for touch devices, it doesn’t take long to work out that if you use your mouse (or trackpad) wheel you can easily scroll horizontally throughout the full screen apps. If you have two screens connected to your machine, the experience is seamless. I use one screen for full screen apps and then have the “traditional” desktop on the second, larger screen. Of course you can switch between the two simply by dragging the app on to the screen you want to use it on.

The only disappointment so far is with Skype. It looks like it’s been rushed, with lots of the features that are standard on the desktop app not available or not quite working. The automatic integration with Windows Live and Facebook is also a bit annoying when you can get those from the Messaging app. It’s definitely an improvement on Windows 7, but unless you’re in to consuming a lot of your media on your PC, you may not benefit fully from the rather cool new features.