Pocket FM's in Syria create independent radio network

Sep 30, 2015 10:31 pm
[caption width="600" align="alignleft"] From Nieman Labs website.[/caption]Shan Wang at the Nieman Foundation reports that the Berlin-based nonprofit Media in Cooperation and Transition in collaboration with design firm IXDS have created Pocket FM, "a portable FM transmitter the size of a shoebox that starts working as soon as it’s connected to a small antenna, a power source, and an audio signal." Pocket FM looks like a radio receiver more than a transmitter, and can reach a radius of about six kilometers. A Raspberry Pi mini-computer drives the transmitter, and is being used by the Media in Cooperation and Transition group worked with the German Federal Foreign Office to set up an independent Syrian radio network called the "Syrian Radio Network," or "Syrnet," with stations within Syria and outside sharing programming. “The challenge in Syria is that it can be scary, in some areas, to set up big FM transmitters, because they are easy to detect, easy to destroy, and expensive to run,” said Klaas Glenewinkel, MiCT’s co-founder and director. “We had the idea of bringing in many small ones and creating a mesh of radio transmitters so people can access local information where TV and other means have failed.” Larger transmitters could be stolen, or taken over, while anyone can easily walk away with the Pocket FM at the first sign of trouble. The transmitter can also find new open frequencies when broadcasts are jammed, and can send listeners text messages. Now developers are trying to add the ability to turn off the transmitter remotely by mobile phone, a solar panel, GPS, and Internet connectivity, all for a $2,000 cost. Read the full story at the Nieman Lab website.