Saturday, November 8, 2014

VM Radio Launch & Availability Information, Plus The New Tuned Episode!!

Today's post is very much focused on recent postings and launches from one major local company, but all of it is of note for local rock fans, including the contents of the newest episode of Tuned and the formal launch of a new online radio network, so here's what you need to know!

SooToday parent company Village Media officially launched all 5 feeds of their new internet radio network VM Radio on Thursday! After a successful pilot launch earlier this week, the full website and player are up along with each station's full current rotation, with the launch and related notes outlined in this SooToday news release. Joining the existing website player, there are now Apple iOS and Android/Google Play applications to stream the stations with, while all 5 are now among the internet radio stations listed on iTunes' own internet radio service and through the Apple TV digital media player. There are also widgets on both SooToday and Local2's home pages that list what's playing on all 5 feeds at the time of page visit (from my experience, they don't refresh unless you refresh the whole page), but it's great for extra convenience to listen! VM Radio also announced that they're now the exclusive music provider for the Mill Market and the Soo's Downtown Association, among future establishments to be announced.

VM Radio has also indicated that they want to expand into additional Northern Ontario markets with "increased specialty programming & content", though they didn't elaborate on that or potential on-air shows and genre blocks. They are definitely still looking for local CDs and music to add to the rotation on their five stations (VM Rocks for rock subgenres, VM Bounce for pop & rap, VM Indie for indie/alternative, VM Roots for roots/blues, and VM Y'All for country), so if you're interested in helping the cause, message the stations at A.S.A.P.! In terms of my experience listening to the stations, I do like the full final look to the player and website, with all I'd change being maybe putting album covers up, or listing what's next to play on each station. Just since I started this post, I've heard a wide array on VM Rocks including Woods of Ypres, The Drive By Truckers, Green Day, The Police, and Led Zeppelin, and like in the pilot launch, you have a lot of Canadian content to take in, with few ads!

The online player works fine for me with no hang-ups that it started, but if you're hoping for a review of the mobile applications, I can't help you yet. The Android application isn't compatible with my tablet, and every time I tried to open VM Radio with my iPod Touch, it crashed (but to be fair, it's 5 years old now, so my iPod might be too old in general.) The above SooToday press release did note that "more listening options" will follow, so if the stations turn up on TuneIn Radio or something similar, then I can comment on the mobile experience! So far, I do give VM Radio (and VM Rocks in particular) a solid thumbs up, and it's nice to have the extra diversity in the local radio market! I will note that there was some online comment concerning both Energy Rock Radio and Mike Cliffe's Audiofumes preceding VM Radio in this area for Sault Ontario online radio, and while I like both a lot, E.R.R. moved to British Columbia in 2011, and Audiofumes is a podcast rather than a 24/7 radio station.

Be sure to listen to VM Radio's five online stations at the above links or through your Apple and Android devices, like VM Radio on Facebook, and when we have updates concerning the stations, their programming, or future availability, we'll let you know!

We'll close today's post with one more Village Media note, as the newest episode of Local2's music video profile web-series Tuned With Donna Hopper went online on Tuesday, and at last, this is the episode featuring last month's Rad Zone 30th anniversary concert featuring The Ripcordz at The Rockstar Bar! I wonder what took so long to get this episode online? The 18 minute+ episode features Donna's introductory segments hosted in The Rad Zone (naturally), while the concert footage begins with 4 minutes of video from The Ripcordz' set (including Jack Spades' J.D. Pearce joining in on "X"), before transitioning to interview clips with Ripcordz frontman Paul Gott and Rad Zone owner Paul "Monk" Muncaster. When interviewing Paul Gott, he talks about his views on being a "rockstar", how he got into punk music, what should change in the industry to help rising punk bands, and where to find new Ripcordz CDs, while the interview with Monk includes his surprising music past, and the impact of vinyl records and his connections with the music & this format.

Later elaborating on how The Rad Zone has grown in the past 30 years, his planned retirement in 10 years, the continued impact he gets from people who discover new music at the store, and his advice for vinyl collectors, Monk's interview is very nice, and you can tell how much he loves the music and what's he able to do and provide for our area (and Paul Gott's interview is also an informative listen!) After a brief concert calendar segment, the episode concludes with some more nicely shot video footage from last month's Gob concert at the same venue, and bloopers during the credits, though there's no footage of the opening bands at either show. Still, this is a great and extensive episode of Tuned with lots of quality concert & interview footage, so give it a look at this link! Remember, Local2's video host doesn't allow external embedding. That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news and notes over the coming week! Thanks everyone!

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