It's French. It's all online. It's pretty much Radio 2.0...
Created in 2002 by the European Cultural TV channel ARTE, ARTE Radio produces original creations (features, dramas, short pieces - 1600+ to date) with no format, no commentary and no music. ARTE productions include sound postcards and poetic pieces, features and dramas, political satires and plain silly stuff. Beginners and professionals alike contribute, under ARTE's supervision. Every author is paid, and all ARTE creations are distributed freely under Creative Commons through podcasts, apps, community radios or blogs.
Here's a short selection from ARTE's vast archive to whet your whistle. It's in French, but don't worry, you'll catch on quickly. Fumee clandestine was produced (in one day!) by ARTE founder Silvain Gire, and mixed by Christophe Rault, in response to a recently passed French national law that bans smoking in public places.
Silvain quotes Hillary Clinton effectively and warns of his tendency to swear, Behind the Scenes.
Writer and journalist Silvain Gire is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of arteradio.com. Gire started working for France-Culture (French public cultural radio) in 1991, then joined cultural television ARTE in 1994. Gire founded arteradio.com in 2002 with young sound engineer Christophe Rault. ARTE Radio introduced podcasting in France in 2005, and has played a major role in making radio creation relevant again for young generations.
Looking for english on arteradio.com? Right this way.
Where to start otherwise? Here are a few of Silvain Gire's favorites, from the library of 1600+ audio works: Violent Femmes, found tape featuring two feisty women and The Fish Tank, a "kind-of radio cartoon" about harrassment in the work place, which won ARTE's first prestigious Prix Europa award.
Psst! Here's the english transcript for The Fish Tank.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Silvain Gire
When/how/why did ARTE Radio come to life?
Ten years ago I was given a wild card to create a web radio by ARTE, the European cultural TV channel. Their audience had grown old, and they wanted to be more active online. Together with a young sound engineer, Christophe Rault, we decided to emphasize the power of sound, voices, silence... to blend the tradition of creative radio with shorter formats, using all possibilities of the web : freedom of choice, free donwloads, podcasts, etc. Ten years later we are still a niche, but a very happy niche!
Who's your primary audience of listeners? Of makers?
Young listeners (18-35) discovering that sound can tell stories. Later they write to us to become makers, and some of them do, because we think radio should be open to everyone. The talented ones go to work for Radio France alongside ARTE Radio - they become active and successful in radio, but never very rich.
Have you found being an internet station more liberating than terrestrial radio?
Sooooo much more! For what we do, which is called "creative radio", I am fully convinced that web is more suited than waves. Podcast IS the place for creative radio. But I still love traditional radio, and especially live performances.
How does ARTE compare/contrast with the national French network, Radio France?
Fewer people, less money, more creativity ;)
What excites you most about this project? It's clearly a labor of love...
The freedom of creation is always exciting. Also, we work with different authors, different writings, and even a very autocratic boss like me has to accept the opinons of others and find pleasure in change. To quote Hillary, it's my baby but it takes a village to raise it.
How is ARTE navigating the multi-hyper-trans-media-platform landscape, to tell stories in other mediums beyond audio?
ARTE is very active in digital creations, combining an author's point of view with modern medias and interaction. I am convinced that we radio and sound people have a key role to play in multimedia narrations. So, we try collaborate with other creators.
Rumor has it you'll be coming over for the 2012 Third Coast Conference this fall. How about a sneak preview of what you'll be talking about?
I will play some very short stuff, because I noticed there is not that much sound in radio conferences. [Ed. note: Au contraire! We aim to revert this trend.] I will mainly try to show and tell what radio 2.0 means: a mix of sound, images, photos, animations... online and live, and without Power Point, cos' I am the worst tech ever. Expect some swearing.