We’ve all been spending a bit more time at home lately but this doesn’t mean our wanderlust has dimmed. But if you’d like to experience the language and music of another country there is the Radio Garden App which you can download on your PC or phone any time.
As people around the world have been forced to spend much more time in their own country over the past year due to COVID, the not-for-profit Radio Garden app has seen a huge spike in its popularity. The app hosts thousands of radio stations broadcasting live 24 hours a day and recently The Guardian reported the app has had an increase of 15 million users in the first months of this year – which is a 750% increase on the visitors they normally get in a month.
The Radio Garden app is a map of the globe and all the radio stations on the platform are there as a green light. You simply click on an area which interests you and then the radio stations in that area will be listed for you.
Listen to music or talk shows
Once you’ve done this, the feed will automatically start playing, telling you the name of the station you’re listening to and where it is. You can listen to stations from anywhere. They can be in France, Africa or Asia – it’s all your choice.
You can also click the search icon and type in the name of the country you’d like to listen to and then the most popular radio stations for that country will come up. You can scroll through them, sampling them, until you find one which interests you.
For music lovers it’s a feast. You can scan the globe and you’ll find a pop station in New York or reggae station in South America. I found a station in Yakutsk in Russia playing Russian folk songs and it was amazing. Because music is the universal language, it still communicates so much even when you don’t know exactly what the words mean.
Great for brushing up on your language skills
So if you learnt French at school and you’d like to listen to ‘le francais’ then type in ‘France’ and scroll down until you find a station speaking in French. Or if you’ve learnt Spanish before you can do the same thing only this time search for Spain or South America.
The Radio Garden is now hosting 30,000 live radio stations on its platform and the numbers are going up every week. The app was launched in 2016 by the Amsterdam-based studios, Puckey and Moniker. It started out as a temporary project run by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision but then grew from there. At first it was only available online but in 2018 it was launched as an app.
Spike in use could be due to COVID.
One of the app’s founders, Jonathan Puckey, said the app’s latest spike in popularity “… appears to have come from people sharing the platform with friends on social media websites.”
This would correlate with the fact we’re not traveling as much as usual so people are using social media more – and sharing an app like the Radio Garden would make sense.
As Puckey said: “We had the idea to make a modern version of the old world receiver radio sets … We hoped to recreate this magical feeling of travelling across the globe blindly, relying on the sense of hearing and the knowledge of location to bring these live radio stations to life.
“The globe should act a kind of dérivé device; people should be able to get lost and use their ears to paint the picture of the location. Hopefully we can also remind people that those borders that divide us are just in our minds. Radio knows no borders.”
To download the free Radio Garden app visit here.