If you’re tired of your local airwaves, you can now surf ones from around the world. Radio Garden, a new website emerging from the international research project Transnational Radio Encounters and developed with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, allows you to click through various radio stations as they stream in real time. This means that you may go from listening to local, alternative hits from New Plymouth, New Zealand to Bollywood tracks spun by one DJ Guarav in New Delhi — with just a click and a drag of your mouse.
Mapped out on global satellite imagery, stations are currently available in hundreds of cities, with some presenting multiple station options. Rather than plotting points on a political map, the designers Studio Moniker have instead opted to present a physical map. The elimination of borders was a deliberate decision; as the website states:
By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places. Radio Garden allows listeners to explore processes of broadcasting and hearing identities across the entire globe. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away — or using local community radio to make and enrich new homes.
Radio Garden offers more than just live radio to spread its message. In the “History” section, you may listen to a number of archival clips that transcended borders, such as when Radio Moscow announced in 1963 that it had sent its first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, to space; the news was read in English — ensuring that any Americans who heard this major space race development would understand. In the “Jingles” section, hop around select cities to hear various sounds such as show openers or interval signals; these became familiar cues to countless listeners, together showing how radio created communal understanding of a musical language. And finally, in “Stories,” you may listen to individuals talk about how their relationship with radio — from an Australian radio journalist to a Danish woman describing her first time hearing commercials on American airwaves.
As it currently stands, Radio Garden’s map of live-listening stations has heavy representation from the Western world (which may simply be a result of accessibility), but there’s so much material, you’re certain to discover something to suit your interest (I am personally very into this post-rock broadcast from Ankara, Turkey). Its archival sections, too, are small — but they’re growing, with Transnational Radio Encounters inviting anyone to contact them to share relevant personal, historical, or contemporary audio clips.