Radiotopia Logo

Here in the UK, we already pay for radio. That 40p a day buys you all of BBC network and local stations (with the added bonus of a bit of telly and a few websites too.) When you buy stuff, you’re funding commercial radio. It’s a system that’s given us a vibrant and successful radio universe that’s the envy of the world.

So we’re not used to actually paying for other radio. Just ask Fubar, or the vast majority of podcasters attempting to make a living out of it over the last decade.

If there’s a criticism of UK radio, particularly in speech, it’s around new formats, ideas and broadcasters. Radio 4 is, well, very Radio 4. 5 live is news and sports driven. BBC Local is occasionally troubled by notions of reinvention, but always cosily retreats to its ‘news for people who wear fleeces’ position.

Four years after David Hepworth wrote this, we’re still no closer to a new platform for interesting speech. British Public Radio is a good idea, but sadly remains little more than that at the moment. An idea.

But meanwhile, on the fringes, the best podcasters in the world have been slowly learning, growing and juggling their day jobs to deliver radio’s research and development. Sometimes purely home operations, sometimes partially-supported by the apparatus of Public Radio, and usually from the US – where the lack of a BBC arguably provides a bigger audience vacuum – audio hipsters have been falling in love with our medium and pushing at the boundaries.

In comedy, science, culture, ‘the craft of radio’ – this is where it’s at. Show me a show that’s as creative as Radiolab in its use of audio on British Radio. Or a show as beautifully niche and simultaneously accessible as 99% Invisible. Or as consistently funny and interactive as Answer Me This.

Roman Mars, the man behind 99% Invisible and Radiotopia.

Roman Mars, the man behind 99% Invisible and Radiotopia.

Now Radiotopia is bringing some of these broadcasters together. One ‘portal’, infinite ideas. And they need some cash to do it, hence the Kickstarter.

At the time of writing 15,803 people have contributed the total of $463,400. If 20,000 contributors come forward in the next 8 days, even with a $1 contribution, an extra 25k will come in from a sponsor. With that cash, Radiotopia is promising more of the same from its family of podcasters, as well as new content – like an intriguing etymology podcast from Helen Zaltzman. For contributing more than a dollar, you can get gifts like T-shirts, mugs, digital downloads etc.

I believe in radio. I love it, obviously. I’ve been making it for nearly three decades now and I still want to hear stuff that challenges how I do that. That’s why I’ve donated a few quid. The T shirt will look cool too.

If you love radio too, please click on the link and do the same.

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