Review: PhoneCasting supports civic participation, whether good or bad

RCR Wireless News
Application: PhoneCasting

Running on: Nokia 6555 on AT&T Mobility

Yay: PhoneCasting is a rather innovative approach to broadcasting that enables users to listen to a variety of podcasts and phonecasts via the Internet or on their phone. Better yet, if you’ve always wanted your own radio show of sorts, PhoneCasting allows you to create your own right from your cellphone.

Nay: It was near impossible to find programming that interested me, but that’s not to say the bottomless pit of niche content available wouldn’t captivate someone out there.

We say: Traditional radio sucks so bad these days, it’s a shame most radio stations are even wasting the spectrum to fill our heads with the junk they broadcast. There are always exceptions to the rule—like any station that plays jazz or re-broadcasts NPR or BBC—but there’s still plenty of voids to fill. Enter: Phonecasting.

The real beauty of PhoneCasting is that it gives the listener (any listener) the power to create his or her own show. The problem with that, of course, is there are legions of people with too much time on their hands and not enough editors to keep them on point and interesting.

PhoneCasting is a world without editors, sheer anarchy on the airwaves, and there’s something beautiful about that. However, after perusing PhoneCasting’s programming for a few hours, I’ve decided (much to the chagrin of my anarchist tendencies) that yes, we do need experts and program managers to help us wade through the nonsense.

I did listen to a few interesting podcasts on PhoneCasting. It was pretty easy to dial in. Users can visit www.PhoneCasting.com, and peruse a menu of audio categories including “arts,” “biography” and “technology.” Selecting a particular show allows a user to either listen to the program online or call a phone number to listen to the program using a phone. Each show has a unique phone number assigned to it that simply allows a caller from any phone to dial a phone number and immediately begin listening.

I listened to a 30-minute interview with AT&T Inc. Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. The interview was actually pretty good. Stephenson talked about the steady build up that brought AT&T to its current position today, evolving from a “subscale wireless business” into the No. 1 wireless service in the country.

Then I listened to a crazy, funky show called “Strange Music in Small Doses.” I’ve never liked the idea of describing music with words, and I’m not about to start now. So I’ll just use the short, self-description I found on PhoneCasting: “Inkxpotter hosts a three cut collision to the avant extremes of sound.”

Lastly, I found a plethora of programming from NPR. I decided to phone in and listen to “World Story of the Day.” Now, this is something I could listen to regularly. NPR’s foreign desk picks the top stories from all of the station’s international coverage.

While technology has unearthed the potential for more civic participation (and who wouldn’t support that?), it has also filled our universe with more crap than we could ever possibly read or listen to. Everyone is a writer/producer/director, and I’m not sure the world is a greater place because of it.

Still, I like PhoneCasting. I like what it’s trying to do. I’ve always dreamed of having my own radio show and opening it with “Liberation Frequency” by Refused. PhoneCasting makes that dream possible. So, without further ado, I give you the first eight lines of one of the greatest songs of all time:

It’s coming through the air

For all of us to hear

Could it be the sounds of liberation

Or just the image of detention?

We want the airwaves back

We want the airwaves back

We don’t just want airtime

We want all the time all of the time