Pirate of the airwaves

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The axeing of specialist DJs at Radio One together with Capital's purchase of independent station Xfm, has reinforced support for pirate radio stations. It's still illegal, and you stand an increased chance of a jail term if you broadcast on the frequency used by a Luton DJ last month, when his heady mix of reggae was picked up by airline pilots in place of landing instructions. It's safer on the Internet, cheaper and simpler too. This is where all aspects of listener choice are catered for, and bedroom DJs can target other dedicated fans of West End musical soundtracks.

To achieve the essential underground kudos, it's imperative to use Shoutcast, a plug-in for the Winamp MP3 player, and the modus operandi of Net radio. Shoutcast stations are one of the more popular bedroom-based depots on the Net, mainly because it is easy to start up: if you have a PC and Net connection you can host an Internet radio channel of your own. And the host site gives step-by-step instructions, and solutions to the most common problems.

The Shoutcast stations are an on-line community and are trailing the Net renegades with the adoption of the MP3 audio file. Shoutcast is free, although the sites request honesty if used for commercial broadcast. It also claims to be like pirate radio in one other respect; anyone can play on it, really, as long as the bandwidth doesn't crack mid-show.

Unlucky for some


The phoney side of Hollywood was evident at the American premiere of the sci-fi flick The 13th Floor, held last month. At the event, virtual counterparts to stars of the film walked down a red carpet inside a virtual milieu, complete with reporters and stands of screaming cyberfans. Should Hollywood stars resist such happenings? In defence of The 13th Floor's gimmick, what exactly did anyone miss out on via the virtual replacement of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sarah Michelle Gellar?

"Three-dimensional worlds are the next generation of the Internet," predicts Rick Noll, founder of Activeworld, creator of the 3-D premiere. Virtual worlds have been in existence since 1995, and Activeworld is the largest with some 400 virtual 3-D worlds, where you can attend university, buy a paper and even a permanent plot.