FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

"Road Pirates": Yet Another Radio Phenom

Yet another radio trend is emerging -- that of people using MP3 players and FM transmitters to not only broadcast their MP3 files to their car radios, but to others' radios as well. In traffic, these folks become mobile radio stations.

Gadgets that allow device output to be broadcast to an open FM band have been around for years, usually sold to people who couldn't afford a cassette deck or CD player for their cars. They're ideal for attaching to an iPod so one can listen to one's MP3s while driving. But these transmitters have enough range so that others can listen in as well... and some are taking advantage of that.

The article on ABCNews.com explains how one radio pirate got started:
While Tim Lynch is wading through traffic on the way to his New Canaan, Conn., corporate consulting job, he may be the only person on the Merritt Parkway wearing a grin.

That's because he's a kind of radio pirate. And with the iPod, Apple's innovative digital music player, all it takes to hijack the airwaves is a car and a bumper sticker.

Lynch, 31, is one of a handful of iPod owners using the device to transmit FM radio stations from their car. He uses a bumper sticker on the back of his fender that reads "iPod @ 89.1 FM" to let passers-by know how to tune in...

"I go on this road trip with a friend of mine," he said. "I'm driving along, listening to my iPod and for a goof I was thinking, 'I wonder, if it's so strong, I wonder if it's leaking outside my car.' "

In order to test the theory, Lynch did what any good scientist would do.

"I put on some profanity. Comedy, R-rated comedy, Chris Rock's early stuff. Then I called [his friend] up on his cell phone and he was two cars behind me. I said, 'You're not going to believe this, but somebody up here is broadcasting swear words! Tune to 89.1FM.' He turns to the station and he's like, 'I can't believe I'm hearing this!' It was a big joke for a few minutes."

The pirate wields a lot of power. He never has to listen to anyone else's music.

"Its great if you're stuck in traffic next to someone who has a big booming stereo or something," said Rik Myslewki, editor-in-chief of MacAddict magazine. "You can just override his frequency if you have a powerful enough iPod antenna and have like little birdies singing or something. It's fun to be a little bit smarter than the guy next to you."

Source: Boing Boing