The Home of NU Rock, The Rhythm of the City, and CityLite live again (kinda) on PinoyTuner.com

While NU107 was gasping for its last breath some months back, I wrote a series of blog posts suggesting that the best way for a niche-audience Philippine radio station was to go online – this way you eliminate the costs associated with running a broadcasting facility (the transmitters, the studio, etc) and concentrate on producing content. Second, by going full-on digital, you recapture the listeners that music radio has lost to digital media – i.e. iPods and internet audio streams.

A lot of people thought that NU 107 was still a great brand and that the only reason why it didn’t do well financially was crappy sales and marketing. But translated to other media, the brand and concept still had great value. So why not bring NU online?
Mike Pedero, a broadcast legend and founding father of stations NU107, 99.5RT, XB 102, Citylite 88.3, took note of my posts on Facebook and my blog and wrote back that the idea was not too far fetched. In fact, he pointed out that he was actually hatching a plan to revive the formats of some of these radio stations of days gone by on the internet.

Here’s what Mike wrote in a comment on my blog on December 8, 2010:

Jim, we’re working on it. We’ve made headway and had some people interested in doing it online and in other media. We’ve yet to put together our automation computers. It will be more exciting than you think. Watch out for it. Regards

I waited a couple of months with bated breath, and it looks like that day has come. After a few teaser posts made by Francis “Brew” Reyes on his Facebook accounts, a couple of Facebook pages came to light: PinoyTuner and Digradio.ph.

(Updated Note: Not so fast!! Looks like my previous conclusion was mistaken, as you can see from the comments after this post. Yes Mike Pedero did have that idea, and yes he is working on a digital radio station, but he is NOT the guy behind Pinoytuner or DigRadio, as he explained in the comments section below.)

Reyes had done a few Ustream test broadcasts at home so it was apparent he was rehearsing for something. But as the links on the Facebook pages showed the whole scenario was coming to fruition. Based on a little online detective work in just the past couple of hours, here is what I’ve picked up. Hopefully more details will emerge in the next few days that I can write about here.

Pinoytuner.com is an audio streaming portal containing original “internet radio” programming – these are programmed specifically for digital consumption, these aren’t streams of radio broadcasts originally beamed to the airwaves. It currently features three channels:

DigRadio – a modern rock radio format which features ex NU107 DJs as jocks. Apart from playing music, the on-air personalities provide commentary, jokes, and all the usual DJ stuff. Ex-NU DJ Francis Reyes is the programming director/station manager for this baby. Joining Reyes are former NU jocks Cyrus, Shannen, Trish, Kim, Evee, and April, all reprising their old NU personas for this gig.

Jazzistas – a contemporary jazz format that brings to mind the old Citylite 88.3. And to pump up that nostalgia factor, we heard that Pinky Aseron, known as that silken voiced “Pinky” on Citylite is behind this channel.

TCMA – This is short for The Classical Musical Authority. I thought this was a Classical station at first, similar to Classic.FM. However, it turns out that its definition of “Classic Music” is more like pop and rock oldies from the 80’s and 90’s. For example, when I tuned in, I heard A Flock of Seagulls and Falco. In other words this is 80’s-era 99.5 The Rhythm of the City or your Maximum Music Authority all over again.

Who’s behind Pinoytuner? The About section lists the owner as a Singapore-based company called StratuscastPte Ltd. – and a short Google search turns up the company’s Linked In profile:

Stratuscast Private Ltd. is a Singapore-based company specializing in web design and consultancy, mobile applications, and operates a web portal known as http://www.pinoytuner.com. The site offers a wide array of Philippine entertainment features—from music to films to TV shows to sports to broadcast streaming. It is envisioned to be one of the major promoters of Philippine entertainment in the Web.

The officers of Stratuscast Pte are listed as “Paul H. – Director”, and “George M. – Director and Vice President of Marketing”.

“George M.” is none other than George Mercado – who also goes by the radio handle “George Boone,” who you might remember from stations like 99.5RT, LS-FM, KISSFM, Kool 106, and others. Back in the late 80’s, he put up Broadasia, which produced the website TunogPinoy.com – an internet radio venture that was probably ahead of its time. Broadasia was funded by Ajonet Holdings, an internet company that also acquired MP3Manila, another defunct music venture.

One interesting thing about Stratuscast is that in the “Content Disclaimer” section of the Pinoytuner website, it lists the following statement

You further recognize and agree that STRATUSCAST PTE LTD adheres to the internationally known principle of “safe harbor” doctrine.

I’m guessing that this is some sort of legal cover for broadcasting copyrighted material over the Internet. Philippine radio stations pay annual hefty sums to FILSCAP for the rights to air music over the air. Startuscast might be paying some form of global license for broadcasting its music programming now, but just in case a song slips through the cracks, there is the safe harbor doctrine.

The Safe Harbor doctrine protects websites from litigation against copyright infringement lawsuits and is one of the elements of the US DCMA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). If there is a complaint about copyright infringement, the site should do a takedown of the content immediately.

From chillingeffects.org:

In the online world, the potentially infringing activities of individuals are stored and transmitted through the networks of third parties. Web site hosting services, Internet service providers, and search engines that link to materials on the Web are just some of the service providers that transmit materials created by others. Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects online service providers (OSPs) from liability for information posted or transmitted by subscribers if they quickly remove or disable access to material identified in a copyright holder’s complaint.

In order to qualify for safe harbor protection, a service provider who hosts content must:

* have no knowledge of, or financial benefit from, infringing activity on its network

* have a copyright policy and provide proper notification of that policy to its subscribers

* list an agent to deal with copyright complaints

What’s next for Pinoytuner? The site lists “Beta” on the logo at the moment. An obvious business model for this type of site is online advertising, but that may not generate enough revenue for long  term operations – I’m speculating the next step is to find various distribution channels and charge the carriers. Pipe this programming through mobile using a Pandora or Spotify model, broadcast through cable TV, maybe provide in-house music for buildings and shopping malls.

It might be the ultimate irony to hear NU programming being used to provide elevator music, but if it provides a way to keep niche music programming alive, who’s to judge eh? More on this story as I get wind of more developments.

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11 thoughts on “The Home of NU Rock, The Rhythm of the City, and CityLite live again (kinda) on PinoyTuner.com

  1. Hello Jim,
    Thanks for your reflection on pinoytuner.com. The dream that I once had in tunogpinoy.com has now come to fruition in pinoytuner.com. Thanks to the faith of partners, it has somehow taken off—albeit, initially on a small scale. But more’s in store. Nice thing about it is we don’t have to upload material on prepaid dial-up—like we used to do for tunogpinoy. We do hope that a whole slew of Pinoys worldwide and, of course, other nationalities, will latch on to our vision of bringing alternative radio programming via the internet.

    Hope that we can spend some time shooting light bulbs—I’m sure we can learn more from you. We also hope we can invite the venerable Mike Pedero to throw in some words of wisdom. After all, he was my mentor—dating back to the old DZLM days of Mareco.

    Again, thank you—and do keep writing about pinoytuner.com. We’ll keep youpdated of developments as they unfold—in true radio fashion!

  2. I hope that Capt. Eddie and CROSSROADS will be returning on this new internet radio station. I’m a big fan of internet radio, been using Live365 for several years now. And I’m also listening to UR 105.9 streaming shows — Mr. A and Cousin Hoagy.

    I don’t even own a radio anymore [not counting the one in the car].

    If Capt. Eddie does come back, I’ll look forward to doing an interview with him for Blues Asia Network, and perhaps also with the people behind Pinoy Tuner.

    I’m also really happy to see signs of a CitiLite revival. That was my favorite station in Manila for several years.

  3. Hi, Jim, sadly, I am not in anyway connected with Pinoytuner. Although I have previously had the idea and intention of resurrecting the three stations I have personally conceptualized and programmed (99.5RT, CitiLite 88.3 and NU107), this new venture is solely the group of George M and some of our friends in the industry like Francis B, Pinky A., Wayne, I think is involved also, and others. As I have told you before, we are still working on a radio station that is digitized and solely for digital users. Just for starters, one station is currently on air, on test, but can only be listened to via Media Player. The URL is http://58.69.241.165:8010. Right now, it is just continuous music, with over 400 songs being rotated on automation, without any interruption, commercials, ID’s or plugs. Check it out and let’s communicate on it. Best regards

    1. Thanks for the clarification Mike!! (will make the clarification as well on the blog post) By the way, I’m using a Mac, what’s the best way to listen to that stream?

      1. What do you think? It will be just that, but using the usual radio programming formula (rotation) I have used in all the stations I have programmed. What do you think of the music? Plugs and announcing will be in …. Tagalog!

        Regards

  4. Jim, another point of clarification. I was never involved with XB 102. The following stations I was involved in are – DZUW AM 1310 (first rock radio, I would say), DZBM AM 740, DZTR-AM, 99.5RT, DWKY 91.5, DWRK 96.3 (RK96 – Real Radio), CitiLite 88.3, NU107, and xFM 92.3, that’s from 1967 to 2010 or a span of doing active broadcasting for 43 years! Thanks and regards.

    1. Hi Mike – thanks for the corrections, I’ll just write another blog post with the new info. By the way, the stream info clearly identifies the source as “Mediaquest”. Regarding the programming, interrupion free music is OK, it might even be preferrable. But the choice of music should be predominantly Filipino. Since you’re on the internet, you’re competing with stations from all over the world, you need to stand out. Might as well be through Filipino programming. Maybe the songs or commentary can be in English, but they should be from Filipino artists. Just my 2 cents!

  5. We’re on the same wavelength. All songs will be Filipino, English, Tagalog, or any dialect or language. Annotation will be in Tagalog, with maybe a few English stuff every now and then. Your comments are well taken. Appreciate it much. Regards,

  6. Still prefer listening to music on terrestrial radio on the matter of convenience, among things that I don’t think online radio would ever replace. I just wish people like those execs running mindless Love Radio clones would realize the extent of the damage they are doing to alienate listeners, to enforce societal stereotypes and worse, stoop to a lower level of thinking. I know online radio is going the best new thing but it’s different if it’s a conventional over-the air radio that makes listening so worth-while.

    The masa is all of us. No income group nor socio-economic classification could ever describe the masses. They claim they want to reach every Filipino listener so that no one would feel left out and yet they do these stupid things like pop-culture-infested jocks who talk as if they’re in a salon talking senseless chatter, kids forced to voice cheesy promo plugs for their stations, filling our ears with ampfuls of laugh tracks playing the background, horrible singers with equally horrible and questionable singing abilities, rotating OPM tracks that aren’t even OPM to begin with and those horrible joke segments…God, why can’t they just stop with those segments!!

    It’s a good thing that there’s still RT, Crossover and Radio High (can’t include Magic because its station manager is running a cheap-ass masa station-slash-Love clone) to keep me sane but I swear to God that I’ll burn every single Masa Station down to the ground.

    They can’t do this to us! Arrest me for arson but they’ll be thanking me for making Philippine radio a better place without those idiotic stations.

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