- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

In the beginning, there was radio. Then came talk radio, Internet radio, satellite radio — you get the idea.

Now, there’s BlogTalkRadio, which bills itself as the first “social radio network.”

Come again?

“We allow anyone with a phone or Internet connection to host a live talk-radio show,” said Alan Levy, co-founder and chief executive officer.

BlogTalkRadio.com, which debuted in August, enables users to create their own call-in shows for free, without special equipment or software.

Upon registering, hosts are assigned their own “channel” page and a phone number for call-ins. Shows can take up to five callers at a time, allowing hosts to hold a panel discussion or have multiple people on the line at once. After they air, shows are archived as podcasts.

The goal of the venture, Mr. Levy said, is to make blogging more interactive.

“There are 55 million blogs growing at a rate of 200,000 a day, but they’re not live — you can post to a blog and then your readers may comment on it, but these bloggers don’t have an ability to engage their audience in a real, live manner,” he said.

The site’s main page includes a programming guide, a list of the top shows, and a breakout by genre. So far, the site has about 1,200 registered hosts from 25 countries including political bloggers, authors, comedians, nonprofts and even the Los Angeles Fire Department, Mr. Levy said.

“What’s happened so far is a real grass-roots movement,” he said.

BlogTalkRadio is supported by ads that appear on its home page as well as each host page. In addition, the shows themselves — which run 15, 30 or 60 minutes in length — include short audio advertisements, Mr. Levy said.

Hosts get a share of the ad revenue from their show, giving them a financial incentive to link to BlogTalkRadio.

“People come to it now because they see a host’s [link], but ultimately we want people to come to BlogTalkRadio to find entertainment,” Mr. Levy said.

In other news …

• “Don and Mike,” the popular afternoon shock jocks who’ve been missing on WJFK 106.7 FM since Nov. 14, will be back on Jan. 2, according to General Manager Michael Hughes.

As for the story behind the duo’s absence, Mr. Hughes would only say: “We had some things we had to work out and we look forward to their return.”

• Public radio outlet WAMU 88.5 FM is shuffling its lineup next week.

Starting Monday, “Fresh Air” will move to 2 p.m. weekdays, followed by “To the Point” at 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. On Friday, “Talk of the Nation: Science Friday” will air from 2 to 4 p.m. “The World” from the British Broadcasting Corp. will move to the 7 p.m. weekday slot, while the 10 p.m. hour will feature an alternating mix of local and national programming.

On Saturdays, the station adds “Calling All Pets” at 7 a.m. and moves “This American Life” to noon. At 1 p.m., listeners can tune in to the sports show “Only a Game,” followed by “The Splendid Table” at 2 p.m. and “Marketplace Money” at 5 p.m.

• C-SPAN has tapped Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain, currently executive vice presidents and co-chief operating officers, as co-presidents of the public affairs network. Ms. Swain, an on-air interviewer in charge of programming and marketing, joined C-SPAN in 1982. Mr. Kennedy, who focuses on finance, engineering and technology, came to the station in 1987.

Channel Surfing runs Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3139 or e-mail [email protected]

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