Okay, so the other day I was looking around for some music to listen to in the background and by reflex, bopped over to Shoutcast to browse their streams. I did this more or less within a few minutes of listening to Adam Curry's latest Podcast and it dawned on me that even though it seems completely backwards, what would be really cool is a Podcast Shoutcast stream! Podcast Radio!
Yes, the whole idea of Podcasting is the time-shifting, take it with you, listen when you want, no wires needed thing. Yes, I know. It seems like a massive step backwards. But there's also something nice about knowing that whatever you're watching on TV or listening on the radio is being shared with a gazillion other people also, no? I know it's sort of a 20th century way of thinking, but what can I say? I spent the first 28 years of my life in the 1900s. Wouldn't the Super Bowl be less interesting if everyone watched when ever they wanted? Or the Apprentice?
Think about it - there's more than enough podcast content out there now for a 24 hour a day "radio" station, no? So why not download all the latest Podcasts and start streaming them, one after another like a real broadcaster. If you did it intelligently you could have timeslots, etc. with some of the most professionally produced podcasts at certain times, then have other less-well known Podcasts be played in between. The idea is that instead of having to go out there and find all the interesting podcasts yourself, you could just have a station which samples a bunch of the podcasts out there and you could hear a bunch of different shows, one after the other.
Who would decide which podcasts to schedule when? Well, (wait for it) the PodJockey of course! The podcasts could even be themed up into rotating channels. Tech podcasts and lifestyle podcasts, etc. You get the idea. I think this would be a great way to introduce the idea of user-generated media content to other people as well: "Look, here's a stream you can listen to. Like what you hear? Well all those programs are also downloadble individually on demand as well..."
Seriously, what is the most popular way to find out which music to listen to? The radio, right? You hear a few samples of a band or song, decide you like it, then go get the CD to listen to when ever you want. Podcast Radio would be the same thing, but for finding podcasts that interest you instead.
Anyways, I thought I was going to launch a Podcast Radio stream when I posted this post, but it didn't turn out that way. I got Icecast installed okay on my Debian Linux server and I tested it by reflecting what I was playing on my laptop using WinAmp out to some friends and that worked okay, but then I started getting into the next stage which was to use ICES2 to stream from the server itself and I ran into trouble. The latest ICES streaming client only supports .OGG files, not MP3s. There's a think called DarkIce out there which will stream MP3s using the semi-bootleg LAME encoding software, but I couldn't get it working. My co-loed server most likely does not have a soundcard of anysort, so using XMMS to stream to DarkIce which would reflect it to the IceCast server all on the same box seemed out of the question. It'd be nice if you could just point this stuff at a directory and say "go!" but it's always a bit more complex than that with Linux. I could continue to stream from my home PC and reflect it, but it wouldn't work well since I use a laptop which goes on and off all the time, etc.
Anyways, I hope this isn't some old idea - I Googled for it and didn't find anything. Any help on the technical side would be appreciated. I think it would be fun to play with the concept for a bit and see if it worked or not.