The CPB Grants Radio Station a “Second Life”


Literally. WGBH Radio Boston has received a grant that will allow them to expand their operations into cyberspace. It’s not a simple website or online audio stream, but rather full-on cyberspace of the kind described by authors such as William Gibson. A full virtual world where people use digital avatars to interact. A virtual world that has its own economy that handles millions of U.S. dollars in transactions. How, you may ask? They are going to build a studio and present performances in Second Life!

Radio World Online’s (RWO) Jim Careless brings us the story:

“Using a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Public Media Innovation Fund Program, we are going to construct a virtual music studio based on the actual Fraser Performance Studio,” said WGBH radio producer Gary Mott.

“It will have an auditorium space where Second Life avatars can go to hear live concerts modeled on those we broadcast on WGBH 89.7. Our goal is to see how Second Lifers react to this opportunity: Will they attend concerts? Will we reach people who do not usually listen to public radio? We will only find out by doing it.

Now this is a great example of radio evolving! With 12.2 million “residents” (i.e. regular users with unique avatars) as of last January and growing, Second Life should prove fertile ground for radio as it takes the next leap forwards.

The RWO article contains a great interview with WGBH radio producer Gary Mott, the man spearheading the project. In addition to his musings on the subject there is also a very interesting sidebar that gives an overview of five other grant recipients and an outline of what each of them is doing. Since these grants are for experimenting with emerging platforms you will see a lot of social networking and Web 2.0 based efforts. A very nice little window into the future.

For those who might dismiss the idea, look who is already in the Second Life cyberverse:

  • The Library of Congress has an exhibit in Second Life, as do many large and respected companies.
  • The screen capture above is another example, it comes to us from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and shows an avatar of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband taking part in a press conference in Second Life.

Do you think radio can embrace a successful “second life” in Second Life?

Second Life Screen Capture courtesy of The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, used under its Creative Commons license


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