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West Coast music hits online airways

Whistler-based public radio station, www.wmn.fm, readies to launch, receives $60,000 grant to develop their project



Forget iTunes, music lovers will soon be able to get their tracks from a far more local source: a brand new public Internet radio station, www.wmn.fm.

The online radio station is actually just the first part of the Whistler Media Network - or the WMN - project, a new company created by a group of local artists, including Steve Clark, a local rhythm guitar player and all-around music lover. Clark is just one of the creative and technologically-inclined people that has been hard at work trying to get Whistler Media Network's new radio website off the ground, in hopes of creating a support network dedicated to artists on the West Coast.

"We're trying to create a small template in a local town that is expandable to other communities," Clark explained.

Clark saw that the West Coast seemed to have many talented musician, but noticed that everyone was just kind of "doing their own thing." So, he wanted to give fellow musicians a tool so they could work together, remotely, while gaining mainstream exposure.

They've already recruited 200 artists from throughout the province to contribute their music to the project; they are hoping to reach the 500 mark by this summer.

"I'm getting a pretty good knowledge of local content," he said laughing.

But he points out that there are many more artists and musical resources he has yet to tap into on the West Coast of Canada.

"It's been tough because we haven't really had anything that's been marketable."

The first beta version of the full site should be operational by next week, and that should make recruiting musicians a bit easier.

The process of creating the site has been a struggle, the biggest problem being securing the financing. But their fortune may be changing: they just received a grant of $60,000 from Adobe and Nokia's Open Screen Project, a grant pool for developers using the Adobe Flash platform. With that funding, they've hired two fulltime developers who will be working to deliver their "next generation radio application" within six months.

"The next six months is really understanding the space and the community of people coming through it."

A very basic, scaled-down version of the site has been up and running online since February, allowing listeners to tap into a constant stream of pre-programmed tunes. But in just a matter of days, the beta version of the full site and station will be operational.

Music lovers around the world will soon be able to log onto the website, www.wmn.fm, for free and listen to music by West Coast musicians, many of whom are from the Whistler area. Eventually, they'll even be able to create their own playlists, share those playlists with other users and even peruse top-10 lists.

You see, WMN creators have been focusing on creating a unique interface for their site, paying close attention to the design and functionality of their application. They've created a site that will eventually allow users to interact with their media, with a searchable database to filter through content, build their own libraries and save their favourite tracks. There will also be a chat area where members can discuss music and share tracks. And unlike sites like YouTube, wmn.fm will offer up a stream of uninterrupted music, allowing visitors to explore the rest of the site while still tuned into the audio.



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