Radio Open Source

A lively example of what happens in an inviting open space: presented by WGBH Radio Boston and distributed by Public Radio International (PRI),

Open Source with Christopher Lydon is a conversation, four times a week on the radio and any time you like on the blog. We designed the show to invert the traditional relationship between broadcast and the web: we aren’t a public radio show with a web community, we’re a web community that produces a daily hour of radio.

This means that we rely on our listeners and readers — whom David Sifry calls “the people formerly known as your audience” to help us produce the show. At its most basic, we look for this production help in the comment threads of this website. Every time we have an idea for an hour of radio we post it to the site. That show may not go on the radio for another month, but we immediately start reading comments — suggestions for guests, questions for guests, suggestions for ways to frame the show or reading material — and following up on them.

You, the people formerly known as the audience, know more than we do. Frequent commenter razib understands — intimately — how DNA testing works; sidewalker sometimes weighs in about his adopted country of Japan; jeffakboston helped us with a list of theoretical physicists. So pick your handle and name your obsession. We’re reading.

And we’re watching the rest of the Internet, too. We look at every blogger as a “fixer,” a journalist’s term for someone with local knowledge, someone who speaks the language and can tell us who to talk to. We try to get a blogger on every show, whether we’re talking about knitting or Belarus. Almost every picture on the site comes from the photo-sharing site Flickr, and we try to get the story behind the pictures like the one taken from the 10th floor of the Fariyas Hotel in Mumbai

Conversations are happening everywhere on the web, and they’re not just about computers or Star Trek. They’re about God and the world, people taking pictures and and comparing notes of what they see around them. It’s why we chose to run our website as a blog; a blog functions naturally as a conversation, asking for input and correction and responding in turn. Broadcast media can’t just be a bullhorn anymore; it has to be an invitation, or it misses out on some of the best stuff happening around it.

Open Source was conceived and developed by Christopher Lydon and Mary McGrath and is a joint production of Open Source Media Inc. and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.