The Day The Music Died – Sherbet Radio Closes

Sherbet Radio has now ceased broadcasting due to the fact that we have run out of money to continue funding the station!

Our licenses are due for renewal on January 1st 2014 and we do not have the money to pay for them.

When I had the original idea of setting up a radio station for the Taxi trade I had no idea that the ongoing costs could be so much! Yes we could do it a bit cheaper but then we would not be getting the quality of uptime that we currently get and we would not have the resiliency that we currently have and one thing that we cannot get any cheaper is our licensing.

We currently need 2 license to broadcast music on an internet radio station and these are:

PPL @ £241.00 per year
PRS @ £146.40 per year

These both add up to just under £400 in total which in the scheme of things is not really that much money but there are also other costs.

Mark and myself pay for 2 high speed internet connections @ £55.00 per month each.

There are the streaming server costs which are £15 per month and the web hosting costs which are £10 per month

So the ongoing monthly costs total £135.00 per month, add to this the cost of the licenses and this brings up the monthly costs to £169.00 per month, but the license fees have to be paid up front by the 1st January 2014!

There are also other costs which include the purchase of music for the station which comes to about £20.00 per month, imaging costs which vary depending on what we buy, hardware costs because computers do wear out especially when they are running 24 hours per day.

So as you can see it costs around £250.00 per month to run the radio station at the current level. To make it sound even more professional it would costs a lot more, for example to get 1 decent sung jingle made by the likes of JAM (famous jingle makers) would cost in the region of £500. Just to get a very basic sung jingle made costs upwards of £100.

So in essence the more professional we want the station to sound the more it is going to cost, and none of this takes into consideration the time factor! That is the time spent actually running the radio station.

We have also spent in excess of £4000 in hardware and equipment costs so it has been a big undertaking both in financial terms and in time also.

Just doing a 2 hour show on the station requires a time commitment of at least 3 hours, downloading the pre recorded shows and programming them into the automation software is extremely time consuming and takes a good few hours a week.

Just to keep the station up and running I have been putting in the equivalent of 1 day per week in time which obviously has an effect on my earning potential as a cab driver so that compounded with the ongoing monthly costs means that I can no longer sustain paying for everything.

Also when I had the original idea of setting up the station Mac The Cab offered to pay half the costs but recently I feel that he has been losing interest in the project which is understandable due to the low interest in the station from the trade that we are trying to help by running it, and he has said that he no longer has the money to keep paying his half of the costs.

Internet Radio although having been around in various forms for a number of years is still in its infancy and will some day in the future grow to replace traditional terrestrial radio, whether that is in its current form or in another way streaming media will in the end see the demise of terrestrial radio, we have already seen the demise of terrestrial analogue TV and the Government wants radio to go the same way so that the radio frequencies can be used for other things.

Car manufacturers in the USA are already fitting internet radio radios into cars (expect LTC/LTI to catch up in about 50 years time) rather than DAB radios as DAB has not really been the success that it was hoped to be.

Internet Radio offers a far better medium in terms of quality than either FM or DAB and my own personal tests in London have found that the drop out rate of streaming a radio station from the internet is far less than that of DAB!

Most radio stations who broadcast via DAB are now doing so at a far lower quality and most are now in Mono as they are trying to squeeze more stations into the available space, it is no longer the Glorious CD quality radio platform that we were all promised and the signal quality when on the move in London leaves a lot to be desired.

The problem with Internet Radio is its not readily available, by that I mean that you cannot at present just switch on your car radio and listen to an internet radio station, but as mobile data becomes cheaper and more providers offer unlimited data allowances it will become a more usable format for a lot of people. Also most people these days have a smart phone in one form or another but most do not realise that you can listen to radio via a smart phone of that you can plug it into your car stereo and listen in what is by far the best quality radio signal available anywhere today.

Sherbet Radio/London Taxi Radio was at the forefront of what could become a radio revolution, major terrestrial radio stations have become somewhat bland these days with most no longer offering any form of “local radio” instead targeting their adverts at a much wider “national audience” with programming being syndicated across their networks. One terrestrial station “Jack FM” is now almost fully automated with virtually no presenters at all except in some regions where they have a “breakfast show” and a “drive time show” which is fine if you live what is termed a normal life! But what Taxi driver actually sticks to regular hours these days? and by that I mean working 9-5, come to think of it does anyone work a 9-5 job these days?

Sherbet Radio/London Taxi Radio could have been a very powerful tool for the Taxi Trade, compared to trade papers and magazines where the news that you are reading is “old news” which is sometimes news of things that have happened over a month ago whereas radio is instant the news that could be conveyed to the trade could be instant, news of things that are happening now! The Radio station could have given our trade a very powerful voice, an instant voice, I am not going to say that it would have united the trade because it would not but it could have brought a lot of interaction into the trade.

We had spent the last year basically getting things right and making sure that we had the technology to broadcast to what is still considered the best Taxi trade in the World and 2014 was going to see us taking the radio station to the masses of taxi drivers across the country through getting articles written in trade papers about the station to bring about awareness of what we were trying to create and do.

I have had a few drivers offer support for the station in terms of financial support but I am very reluctant to take those drivers up on their very kind offers unless we could raise enough to pay the license fees in full as it would be unfair to take money from a driver if we still do not raise enough to cover the license fees.

What the station needs is a sponsor to cover the main costs of running the station, a sponsor who is prepared to invest in the radio station in return for advertising on the station, so their sponsorship would not be dead money it would be a form of advertising.

We basically need to raise £800 to pay our license fees and server costs for the year just to keep us going.

Alternatively if anyone else would like to take on the running of the station then I am fully prepared to hand over the main computer with the automation software installed, all of the jingles that we have had made and everything and also give whoever wants to take on moving this project forward to the next level my full help and support in doing so as I feel it would be a shame just to let the radio station die never to be resurrected.