When former software designer and computer journalist Robin Nixon launched his Cyberville radio station in December 1995, he thought he had located a gaping hole in the market. Going online at that time, he stole a march on the major stations which, perhaps, should have got themselves Webbed earlier.
Today, Nixon has Radio 1 and Virgin for company, with Capital preparing to launch soon. But he still believes Cyberville offers something extra for the Net enthusiast. "We're the only station with dedicated content created solely for Web users," he says. "The others are just broadcasting their regular shows. How can that be better than just turning on the radio?"
Cyberville's team of freelance radio producers and presenters put together two half-hours of programming a day. The station is available on demand (as opposed to live) and Cyberville always makes the previous few days' programmes available so there are five hours of radio from which to choose at any time. Its content combines chat, entertainment, news and technology stories with music.
Accessing audio isn't too straightforward first time around. You need to download TSPlay 32, closing down Netscape as you do so. Apparently, Cyberville is even better when played through Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Once you're in, you're free to listen to the service while surfing any old Web site you fancy.
The Microsoft connection is a strong one. Nixon hopes to have Cyberville included on Internet Explorer 3.0 towards the end of this year, enabling users to sample the station offline. There are even plans to build the service into the next version of Windows 95.
Microsoft is interested because, according to Nixon, Cyberville is extremely popular. He claims his station has attracted 3.5 million listeners since it went on air. According to questionnaires returned to Cyberville, most of them are young and male, with an average income of $25,000.
What's more, the station is picked up worldwide. So even though it's put together in Ashford, Kent, 60 per cent of Cyberville's listeners are in the US. Of the rest, 10 per cent are in the UK and 10 per cent in Japan.
Of the remaining 20 per cent, Canada and Australia feature the most heavily.
Future plans for Cyberville are ambitious. In addition to various planned Microsoft cross-promotions, a dedicated UK server is under discussion for the early part of 1997 (Cyberville currently uses hosts across the globe). There is even the possibility of a TV show on the Net and the company is currently negotiating with cable operators about cable modem trials.
Cyberville Radio Launched December 1995
Designed by Cyberville UK
Target audience Twentysomething males interested in Net issues
Radio1 Capital, not yet on air
Also see www.ukdirectory.com/ent/radio.htmfor other sites
Setup Hosts in designated countries. CIX and Mildram.co. uk in the UK Setup cost #30,000
Hits per day 13,000
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