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TMCNet:  Southernmost Radio Network takes off [Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon]

[July 25, 2009]

Southernmost Radio Network takes off [Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon]

(Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jul. 25--A new radio culture has broken out in Key West this summer, one that's woven itself right into new media, and seems headed outward in every direction imaginable.

In the last two months, KONK AM began broadcasting an all-day local talk show format (first at 1630, then at 1680 on the dial) with hosts proliferating and Key West characters wandering in to be interviewed. Then came the launch of the Cowboy Bill's Honky Tonk Saloon Internet-only radio station. And on its heels last Saturday Key West we saw the launch of something called the Southernmost Radio Network.

David Bethune describes the Southernmost Radio Network as something like a local, Key West version of National Public Radio -- a non-profit corporation whose mission is to create quality radio programming. And the way in which he describes it makes it sound a little like cable access television.

Bethune, the owner of a Key West-based software company called Trellis Corp., has invested his own money in equipment that he'll lend to anyone in Key West who wants to make a radio show. And he'll teach them how to do it. All radio shows, and some video, too, will be posted to the radio network's web site, SouthernmostRadio.org, and radio programming may also be supplied to local radio stations.

Bethune and friends are moving forward with lightning speed. On Saturday, Bethune ran around the island with his new equipment, stopping people on the street and enlisting their help in making a promotional radio spot. That night, he did an experimental broadcast from a stripper party at the Fairvilla Megastore, and on Sunday afternoon, the Southernmost Radio Network officially launched at the Coffee Plantation on Caroline Street in Key West with the first in a series of computer classes called Coffee College. About six people sat in front of computers as students in the class, learning how to make and edit Wikis, while Bethune stood facing a laptop with a small video camera clipped to the top, doing the tutorial for a live online audience. Sound engineer Gary Ek manned the soundboard. The video was streamed to the Southernmost Radio Network's web site, and there was even a caller of unknown provenance -- a woman, who said she'd been listening along while doing laundry. The next night, Bethune was at the open mic night at Harpoon Harry's, recording a man and woman playing a folk song with the sun setting through the glass behind them. He threw the video up on his Facebook page, and on the radio's web site.

The Southernmost Radio Network has just launched, but it's already been granted non-profit status, and as such, has a board of directors in place. Serving on that board are Bethune, Gary Ek, Cao Boi, Erika Biddle and Lucy Barker. Bethune, Ek and Cao Boi all worked together at KONK AM, where Ek was the sound engineer and Bethune and Cao Boi both hosted shows.

Bethune's now working on filing a patent for the new company and has gone out on the street, and to the beach, interviewing "Key West characters." The first of these interviews is already posted at SouthernmostRadio.org.

To see more of the Keynoter, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.keysnet.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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