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Ever notice how when you're driving and you're stuck at a red light or sitting in traffic, and you look out the window into the other cars, you see people talking, as if to themselves? But of course they're not really talking to themselves; they're speaking to someone on their cellphone via their loudspeaker/microphone car setup. Or are they?
Not if you look into my car; I don't have one of those diburit things. When I'm by myself in the car, talking out loud, I'm not conducting phone business. I'm telling the idiot on the radio where to go with his/her idiotic opinion. Yes, there it is: Something else for Shamah to complain about. But in this case, I think you'll agree with me that something has to be done - even if it's just the cathartic experience of screaming back at the radio program or a particularly inane or grating commercial.
It's really sad, because radio has always been the "intelligent" media, where you could find a variety of opinions and ideas - as opposed to TV news programs, which aren't usually geared to smart folk like us. But all it takes is a few bad apples to spoil the whole barrel, or a few obnoxious talk show hosts to ruin the listening experience. And unfortunately, Israeli radio seems "blessed" with more obnoxious talk show hosts than other places.
And so, I yell at the radio. Of course, they can't hear me, but I've got to do something - and I can't afford to keep throwing radios against the wall in frustration. The worst part is, they don't let just anyone have a talk show. There aren't that many radio stations in Israel to begin with, which means there aren't many slots for hosts. Of course, you know who I think should be rendering the opinions that everybody needs to hear and accept as gospel truth. But there's not a chance in a million that I can get one of the local radio stations to give me a talk show slot. Hey, just because I yell at the radio, it doesn't mean I'm delusional!
But I no longer need the favors of the Israel Broadcasting Authority - not since I discovered BlogTalkRadio (http://www.blogtalkradio.com), the free on-line service where you can tell the world what you think, talk to listeners and hang up on the ones who say stuff you don't like - just like on the "real" radio. Blogs you've already heard of; sites like Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) and a host of others let you host your own on-line op-ed page, like the guy who runs the Muqata (http://muqata.blogspot.com/), one of the more interesting pro-Israel blogs. And of course, you've heard of Internet radio, with its thousands of on-line stations - such as the ones at http://yp.shoutcast.com - which, as I am writing this, lists 18,077 stations playing any and every type of music in existence, as well as talk shows on every subject under the sun.
For those who want to share their opinion with the world verbally, setting up a Shoutcast is definitely an option, although fiddling with the server can be complicated. But BlogTalkRadio is super simple to use; everything you need (even the phone number!) is on the Host Dashboard, with which you interact on-line to broadcast. You can prerecord shows or work live on-line, taking live phone calls from listeners. And, because it's BlogTalkRadio - i.e. verbal discussion of the types of issues usually discussed by blogs, which tend to be overwhelmingly political - people who seek out programs on BlogTalkRadio are looking to hear ideas and opinions. Those who tune into Shoutcasts are usually more interested in hearing music.
Which makes BlogTalkRadio the perfect place to host a talk show, because you know you've got an audience primed to hear what you have to say. The site provides you with some promotional material (buttons, a Web site, etc.) - all available automatically when you register. It was obviously designed to be an adjunct to a blog, meaning that people who read a particular blog would click on the link to the BlogTalkRadio program and hear more - but you can promote your show any way you want, and you don't have to write a blog to have a show.
You can broadcast/record in any language, from anywhere in the world - all for free. In fact, you can even sell ads on your show to make money (they split the advertising cash with you). And, once you have show up and running, BlogTalkRadio will put you in its programming guide, so surfers looking for a good listen can find your program. And of course, you can listen to your heart's content to others who have taken on the job of hosting a program without registering. But keep BlogTalkRadio in mind when you listen to local radio, especially when you hear opinions you can't handle on an empty stomach. Finally, we sensible but powerless people have a way to make our voices heard. Your influence counts - use it!