While we find ourselves staying home an awful lot these days, in sleepy Kampot, and indeed all over the world, folk are tuning in to Kampot Radio, a 24/7 internet radio station run by English expat Darryl Carter and staffed by a large team of volunteer presenters, a great community resource in these troubled times. Darryl responded to a curious Leng Pleng’s questions about the station’s story and raison d’etre.
What was the initial inspiration for Kampot Radio?
I used to live in Egypt and ran an internet radio station there. After their second revolution I moved to my Plan B: Cambodia. I found myself settled in Kampot pretty soon, and then after several years of bar chats began to set up Kampot Radio. In May 2017, rather than sitting around in a bar supping 50 cent beers talking ideas, we made reality happen.
So what is the difference between the radio I grew up with and internet radio?
To lease a frequency for a regular radio station would cost around US$10,000. I did have this money set aside at the start, however I quickly realised in this day and age who’s got a radio? Our lives are so closely integrated with tech these days – so I’ve focused on that side for now. Also we’ve just this week had an app developed that means if you have an Amazon smart speaker you can now say “Alexa play Kampot Radio.”
We’re utilising the latest tech developments to bring out the best of our broadcasting. Our live streams only use 14 mb or 28 mb an hour, which is very small and still sounds great, and we stream via two media servers in Europe which meet our challenging requirements. I’ve got our hourly data usage as low as possible to improve stream reliability and be easy on mobile data plan usage. The model we presently have ensures the greatest stability 24/7 within our budget restrictions. We have had to reduce the services we use, though, to still be able to pay the bills; hopefully they will return later this year.
What do you think is most important about Kampot Radio?
Without doubt it’s our ability to delight. I laid our goals out from day one. Entertain, inform and promote positivity to expats, locals and tourists. One of the things I’m constantly pushing is Cambodian music. It’s awesome! It ain’t all kaplinky plonky dour love music. I hope to encourage both westerners and Cambodians to enjoy and understand more of each other’s cultures.
What does Kampot Radio offer to the wider world – beyond the Kampot city limits?
We attract a great international listenership. I think Justin Frew summed it up best saying that what we offer is unique. We have those who visit Kampot tuning in regularly from their home countries to get their Kampot fix. Our programming is as diverse as Golden era Asian classics in the morning (6 am – 9 am daily) to a very heavy metal night (Wednesdays at 11 pm) and a mixed bag in between.
We are now available to listen to on most phones, smart speakers, computers, TVs etc, and we keep our prime time content suitable for general listening on a whole. If you like just music, you’ll get that. If you like hearing two people having a laugh, we’ve got that, alongside solo presenter shows. We’re all here doing what we do for the listener. I think that’s what adds that secret ingredient to this dedicated team doing what we do voluntarily. If any of us are having a bad day, we leave it outside in the green room.
What’s this Patreon business we keep hearing about? How does that work?
We started using the Patreon platform last year. We put our presented shows on there for people to listen to On Demand. This is our revenue stream. Listening to Kampot Radio is free live and many of the shows we have on Patreon can be listened to for free too, however for full access we have membership plans starting at $5 a month. We’re not doing what we do for profit. Any money we raise goes straight into keeping us on the air and supporting the radio.
It must be a battle sometimes to keep it going – so what helps you keep it flying?
That’s true. I normally try to keep that side to myself. I’ve been tempted to shut the station down due to struggling to cover running costs, however as I type, there’s Ant and Aileen in Studio 1 full of enthusiasm having a great laugh doing their show. Gary’s just left talking about what he wants to do with his show tomorrow, and I’ll have several messages from others full of ideas on what they want to do. I often overhear people saying good things about the radio too when I’m out and about. That keeps me in line for ensuring things keep going. Also listening to The Nightfly in bed on Tuesday nights.
What does it take to be a Kampot Radio presenter?
A voice people enjoy listening to, good taste in music, and the ability to see past your own ego in order to delight the listener and grasp the bigger picture that a show is just one slice of a larger cake. Tech skills, age and other abilities are developed, however many of the team stem from a radio or music background.
The Kampot Radio team. Photo: supplied