Krypton Radio: Music for the Geeking World

It Begins with Love

I’m Gene Turnbow, the founder and station manager of Krypton Radio – and like the most worthwhile things in science fiction fandom, it began with love.

Susan Fox and I were group leaders of a bunch of gamers in 2009, and we wanted some inspiring sci-fi tunes to listen to while participating in our favorite MMO. We looked around for a radio station made just for us, and we couldn’t find one, so we did the obvious thing: we made one. It was the crudest thing you could imagine and still be an internet radio station. We had an ugly little web site, and posted an article or two a month, and we were happy. At first it was just a couple of albums of nice action music we’d put together, perhaps four or five hours’ worth, but that got us started. We told our friends about it, and on their requests we began adding more and more music to it. It was a great hobby, and it was starting to take on a life of its own.

Two years later, we took another look around the ‘net, and discovered that though there had been a short-lived imitator or two, nobody else was doing what we were doing. It seemed so obvious a thing to us that we thought there would be a dozen or more of them, but impossibly, we found we had a niche on the internet all to ourselves.

And all the love we were putting into what we were doing began to heterodyne.

Learning to Heterodyne

It’s a hard fact of life that most of the sudden successes you see are usually the result of great gouts of money diverted from some other already successful project. You look at some big new thing, and you say to yourself, “where on Earth did that come from? How did they get everything done so fast?” When you do that, you’re probably selling yourself short. It’s a lot easier to hit escape velocity if you happen to have a Saturn 5 strapped to your butt. So what have they got that you don’t have?

The better question is, what have you got that they don’t have? The answer is usually, “Quite a lot.” You have a passion for what you’re doing, and a vision that goes beyond a sixteen-frame pitch deck and an investor’s brochure. Yes, the money will make it easier, but it frequently won’t make it better. That’s the focal point where good ideas become great ones that spark people’s imaginations.

I’m a polymath, so I kept gravitating towards other people who were, and they to me. Every single person who works with me on the Krypton Radio project has four or five different skill sets they can bring to bear when needed.

  • Susan Fox is not only our executive producer and co-founder of the station, she’s also got some 30 years experience under her belt in the motion picture industry working in various capacities. Most recently she’s the managing editor of Hollywood News Calendar, and it was she who came up with the station’s slogan, “Sci-fi for your Wifi”. Without her love and support, Krypton Radio wouldn’t have been possible.
  • Our technical director Dan Vanderwood not only does server maintenance, he’s also a brilliant writer, and a sculptor, and a painter.
  • Our bookkeeper Nicole Brown took a turn at as newsdesk editor, but is a videographer and filmmaker as well.
  • Our morning DJ Shawn “Obi-Shawn” Crosby drives his custom-built Star Wars car around the country doing about 160 Lucasfilm-sanctioned charity appearances as Obi-Wan Kenobi a year.
  • We have Mr. Vestek of “Mr. Vestek’s Outpost”, who takes over our stream once a week from Dublin (or from the far side of the Asteroid Belt, take your pick). He’s an IT professional by day, but he’s also famously known for his tutorial project videos involving Raspberry Pi’s.
  • Gary DaBaum, our original DJ, has been doing this since 2006, and has literally helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research.
  • Willow Leafstorm, another of our DJ’s, is also an IT professional, and a musician.
  • Even our production manager Cat Carter is a newly minted web programmer!

We have a stable of writers, each of whom have various high-density specializations of their own. Add them all up, and the team is far, far greater than the sum of its parts.

Lightning in a Bottle

A radio station, whether it’s a terrestrial broadcast station, an internet-only station like ours, or a station that does both terrestrial and internet broadcast (a lot of them are set up that way) is a really complex technical and business structure. It’s like the definition of a helicopter: 10,000 spare parts, bent on self-destruction, flying in close formation. It doesn’t take much for the whole thing to come violently apart, and the internet is littered with the ghost imprints of the stations who came before us – or tried to mimic us – and failed. And yet, after eight years, we’re still rising.

Eventually we had a gaggle of live DJ’s, adventure serials, talk shows and enough geeky music so that if we played it all back to back, it would take one person a solid 18 days to listen to all of it. By 2011 we realized that except for a couple of near misses, we were still the only ones doing what we were doing. By 2013 we had incorporated, and by 2015 we were in the black.

There’s a saying: “Nothing succeeds like success.” The reason this saying is bequeathed to each generation by the one before it is that it’s true on several levels at once. You could say to yourself, “Oh, of course, if you’re successful, you already have the advantages you need to be successful some more,” and you’d be right. There’s another side to the story, though, and that is that successful things are fun. People look at what you’re doing, and they’re inspired by it. They begin to walk alongside you on your path, because they can see how much fun it is, and they want to have fun too, their energy joins with yours and the whole thing starts to resonate. Love starts it, and love keeps it going.

Building the Station

It turns out that radio, as we knew it, is dead. Terrestrial radio is mostly chain operated, and plays the same music regardless of the city they’re in. Every city gets the same music; the opportunities for local bands to get the attention of the local DJ, hoping to get that all-important airplay, are gone. It’s a different world. Now everybody has access to the internet. It’s a level playing field. Of course, the problem with that is that everybody is on that same playing field at once. How do get started, and how do you get noticed?

Figuring it all out was pretty tough. There just isn’t any place you can go to ask how to set up a sci-fi radio station, and all the advice I found on the ‘net was obviously not going to work for me, because what we were doing was too different. Most of the information was either hopelessly outdated, too cursory to do me any good or intentionally wrong, given to me by bitter people who couldn’t stand the idea that I looked like I was about to do something they couldn’t.

Music streaming is a weird place to stand, from the standpoints of both business and technology. A background in audio code development comes in handy. So does a background in contract law, and a deep knowledge of the intricacies of music licensing for internet radio stations – who are subject to staggering heaps of regulations and license fees that traditional radio stations don’t have to bother with.

You’ll also need web design and graphic design, social media, project and personnel management, and if you’re in a niche market like we are, you’ll need something to drive listeners to your site, something to build a community around. We use geek news, served up daily, on our website. That meant we had to become journalists as well, and good ones.

Getting the word out and keeping the audience engaged is nearly a full-time job all by itself. Mostly, I join every club, group or association that’ll have me and talk to everybody who’s doing something even remotely similar to what I want to do. Nobody succeeds in a vacuum, and I didn’t either.

Why It Matters

That’s part of why Krypton Radio is important. We give geek bands airplay they couldn’t get anywhere else. That also means that listeners can hear bands on our stream that they would have a hard time finding elsewhere. Sure, a listener could find all the stuff we have for themselves, looking things up the same way we did. Because we did, though, they don’t have to. Instead of making a CD, or a podcast, or Yet Another Podcast Network, we created our own entire always-on distribution channel from scratch.

The only way we’re able to do what we do is to establish and maintain a near constant dialog with our listeners and fans. Everybody talks to everybody. The days when you could just broadcast out and have a one-way conversation are gone. To survive, a radio station now has to be interactive, and if possible, transmedia as well, so we’re starting to explore video, game technology, podcasting, traditional publishing, and VR.

Can’t Stop the Signal

Standing still and resting on your laurels is death. Complacency is death. Believing your own hype is death. Settling for being a big fish in a small pond is death. There’s a whole lotta death. It’s like Christopher Lee is standing there in a hooded shroud holding a scythe the entire time.

It turns out that it’s expensive to do what we’re doing, so we tried various crowdfunding platforms until we finally settled on Patreon to help us keep the lights on. It’s a struggle – we want to be able to pay our DJ’s and artists and other producers for all the hard work they do keeping everything running, but we’re not there yet. We are covering the server and licensing costs, but just barely.

We’re doing a lot of good in the community. We help writers, filmmakers, artists and musicians of all kinds to reach their audience, in a world where there is a hurricane of corporate noise that ordinarily drowns out individual creative efforts. Krypton Radio matters.

From the beginning, the Krypton Radio station motto has been “we all rise together”. I think that’s something worth fighting to keep. Around here, we try to inspire that creative spark and help it along its way. If you feel the same way, perhaps you’ll consider joining us on the path.

For Krypton Radio, I’m Gene Turnbow.

Pixel Scroll 11/26/16 And Pixel,  When You Call Me, You Can Call Me Scroll

(1) ELLISON KICKSTARTER FULLY FUNDED. The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project Kickstarter has blown past its $100,000 goal. The total raises at this time is $102,409, with four days to go.

(2) TELL ME YOU’RE KIDDING. CinemaBlend says Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may give us more Howard the Duck.

In case you’ve somehow forgotten about Howard the Duck’s surreal appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, he was briefly spotted in a display case during the main movie as part of The Collector’s…well, collection. Later in the post-credits scene when The Collector sat by his destroyed museum, Howard (voiced by Seth Green) sat nearby and criticized the eccentric entity for letting Cosmo the Spacedog lick his face. Funny enough, James Gunn didn’t originally plan on including Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy because the original post-credits scene was supposed to tease Avengers: Age of Ultron. When Captain America: The Winter Soldier “stole” that, Gunn and editor Frank Raskin noticed in their existing footage that Beneicio del Toro looked to the side at a box, thus providing a way to sneak Howard in and redeem the character a little bit for that movie of his that still occasionally haunts our dreams.

With or without Howard the Duck’s participation, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5, 2017.

(3) BRUCE SCHNEIER. What’s he been doing since he worked on E Pluribus Hugo? The Daily Dot reports on his recent testimony before Congress — “Bruce Schneier: ‘The Internet era of fun and games is over’”

Internet pioneer Bruce Schneier issued a dire proclamation in front of the House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday: “It might be that the internet era of fun and games is over, because the internet is now dangerous.”

The meeting, which focused on the security vulnerabilities created by smart devices, came in the wake of the Oct. 21 cyberattack on Dyn that knocked Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and other major web services offline….

Here’s how he framed the Internet of Things, or what he later called the “world of dangerous things”:

As the chairman pointed out, there are now computers in everything. But I want to suggest another way of thinking about it in that everything is now a computer: This is not a phone. It’s a computer that makes phone calls. A refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold. ATM machine is a computer with money inside. Your car is not a mechanical device with a computer. It’s a computer with four wheels and an engine… And this is the Internet of Things, and this is what caused the DDoS attack we’re talking about.

He then outlined four truths he’s learned from the world of computer security, which he said is “now everything security.”

1) ‘Attack is easier than defense’

Complexity is the worst enemy of security. Complex systems are hard to secure for an hours’ worth of reasons, and this is especially true for computers and the internet. The internet is the most complex machine man has ever built by a lot, and it’s hard to secure. Attackers have the advantage.

2) ‘There are new vulnerabilities in the interconnections’

The more we connect things to each other, the more vulnerabilities in one thing affect other things. We’re talking about vulnerabilities in digital video recorders and webcams that allowed hackers to take websites. … There was one story of a vulnerability in an Amazon account [that] allowed hackers to get to an Apple account, which allowed them to get to a Gmail account, which allowed them to get to a Twitter account. Target corporation, remember that attack? That was a vulnerability in their HVAC contractor that allowed the attackers to get into Target. And vulnerabilities like this are hard to fix. No one system might be at fault. There might be two secure systems that come together to create insecurity.

3) ‘The internet empowers attackers’

4) ‘The economics don’t trickle down’

The engineers at Google, Apple, Microsoft spent a lot of time on this. But that doesn’t happen for these cheaper devices. … These devices are a lower price margin, they’re offshore, there’s no teams. And a lot of them cannot be patched. Those DVRs are going to be vulnerable until someone throws them away. And that takes a while. We get security [for phones] because I get a new one every 18 months. Your DVR lasts for five years, your car for 10, your refrigerator for 25. I’m going to replace my thermostat approximately never. So the market really can’t fix this.

Schneier then laid out his argument for why the government should be a part of the solution, and the danger of prioritizing surveillance over security.

We’re now at the point where we need to start making more ethical and political decisions about how these things work. When it didn’t matter—when it was Facebook, when it was Twitter, when it was email—it was OK to let programmers, to give them the special right to code the world as they saw fit. We were able to do that. But now that it’s the world of dangerous things—and it’s cars and planes and medical devices and everything else—maybe we can’t do that anymore.

That’s not necessarily what Schneier wants, but he recognizes its necessity

(4) BIG DATA. Mark R. Kelly spent a busy day updating the Science Fiction Awards Database, that indispensable research tool —

Latest Updates

2016 Anlab, Asimov’s Readers, and Dell Magazine results

— posted Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 5:33 pm PST

More 2016 results: the readers’ polls from Analog and Asimov’s magazines, and the Dell Magazine Undergrad Awards, reported in Asimov’s magazine.

AnLab: 93 new and updated pages

Note the Analog readers’ poll now has a poetry category. Also, first page in this index for Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.

Dell Magazines Awards: 37 new and updated pages

Note these awards have a new dedicated website: http://www.dellaward.com/

Asimov’s Reader Awards: 91 new and updated pages.

Also updated: 2016 Results

Assorted 2016 results

— posted Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 3:37 pm PST

Updated today:

Big Heart 2016
First Fandom 2016
WSFA Small Press 2016
Dwarf Stars 2016
Elgin 2016
Copper Cylinder 2016

(5) REACHING A MILESTONE. Adam Whitehead celebrates a decade of blogging in “10 Years of the Wertzone: Listing the Classics”.

Occasionally I award a particularly special book, video game, movie or TV show the honour of being a “Wertzone Classic”. To be a classic, the work has to both be excellent and also to have withstood the test of time and emerged as a true defining work in its field. The following is a complete list of all works to be awarded a “Classic” award since the start of the blog in 2006. I would strongly recommend all of these works to anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy, be it in print or on screen.

The list includes 30 books.

(6) VISITS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG. At Locus Online, “Russell Letson reviews Alvaro Zinos-Amaro”.

Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-63-7, $16.99, 274pp, tp) August 2016. Cover by Patrick Swenson.

Robert Silverberg’s career has spanned more than half the history of modern American science fiction: he began reading SF magazines in 1948, during the ‘‘Golden Age,’’ and by 1954 was writing for the pulps, producing the first entries in a bibliography that now runs to 600-plus items of fiction and booklength nonfiction alone. Between receiving a Hugo Award for ‘‘Most Promising New Author’’ in 1956 and attaining SFWA Grand Master status in 2004, Silverberg has been in a position to meet nearly everyone of consequence in the SF field, sell to nearly every editor (and do plenty of editing himself), and explore nearly every market niche, while also (for a while) carrying out parallel careers turning out carefully-researched nonfiction and pseudonymous, non-SF yard-goods.

(7) A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” — W. Somerset Maugham

(8) BOB FELICE OBIT. Cynthia Felice told her Facebook readers, “My beloved and much-loved husband of 55 years, Bob Felice Sr. died yesterday. While his death was sudden and swift, it was not unexpected, not even by him.”

Cat Rambo says of Cynthia, “[She] is an SF writer and was the SFWA ombudsman (currently the position’s held by the amazing Gay Haldeman) for years, solving member problems with serenity and grace.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 26, 1862 — Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson sends a handwritten manuscript called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground to 10-year-old Alice Liddell.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born November 26, 1909 — Eugene Ionesco
  • Born November 26, 1922 — Charles Schulz
  • November 26, 1926 – Poul Anderson
  • Born November 26, 1853 — William “Bat” Masterson. (John King Tarpinian sent this one in because, “The theme song from the TV show still reverberates between my ears.”)

(11) ANIMAL ASTRONAUTS. The art is irresistible and the story is cute. Krypton Radio tonight will air an interview with STEM children’s book author Andrew Rader.

Buckle up, space fans, for an intriguing conversation with Andrew Rader, author of the upcoming children’s book Mars Rover Rescue, and its predecessor, MC Longneck’s Epic Space Adventure. Andrew has a PhD in human space flight from MIT, and works professionally as an aerospace engineer. This gives him a unique perspective when it comes to creating educational children’s books that can ignite the imaginations of young budding future scientists. The new book has already blown past its goal on Kickstarter, and now the second book about the self-assured “giraffestronaut” is well into stretch goal territory….

Tune in this evening at 9 pm PT / Midnight ET for the first broadcast of this fascinating interview with Andrew Rader. Your hosts this evening are Susan Fox and Gene Turnbow….

 

(12) NEXT STEPS. Cat Rambo begins her blog post “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Prepare to Ride, My People” with a list of links to disturbing post-election news, then tells how she plans to move forward.

The world is broken. Love isn’t enough to fix it. It will take time and effort and blood and sweat and tears. It will stretch some of us almost to the breaking point and others past it. We must help each other in the struggle, must be patient and kind, and above all hopeful. We must speak out even when we are frightened or sad or weary to the bone….

In my opinion. You may disagree, and that’s fine. This is what I think and what’s driving my actions over the next four years. I am going to speak up and object and point things out. I am going to support institutions that help the groups like the homeless, LGBT youth, and others whose voting rights have been stolen and whose already too-scant and under threat resources are being methodically stripped away.

I am going to continue to insist that honesty, tolerance, and a responsibility for one’s own words are part of our proud American heritage, the thing that has often led us along the path where, although there have been plenty of mistakes, there have been actions that advanced the human race, that battled the forces of ignorance and intolerance, and that served as a model for the world. That “liberty and justice for all” are not hollow words, but a lamp lifted to inspire us and light our way in that direction.

I will continue to love in the face of hate, to do what Jesus meant when he said hate the sin while loving the sinner. I will continue to teach, formally and by setting an example of what a leader, a woman, a good human being should do, acknowledging my own imperfections so I can address them and keep growing and getting better at this human existence thing. If I see a fellow being in need, I will act, even if it means moving outside my usual paths.

(13) DOGGONE IT. Adam-Troy Castro sees no reason for feudin’ and fussin’ over awards:

I have won a few significant (if in prestige second-tier) awards at this gig, and on those occasions, I won because some folks thought that I had written the best story, and by God, that is less complicated, and more satisfying than AGITATING FIGHTING COMPLAINING CAMPAIGNING FRETTING RAGING AND DECLARING ENEMIES FOR MONTHS ON END could possibly be. It certainly was. I don’t have a Hugo or a Nebula or a Stoker, and may never get one, but by God I came close a bunch of times, and each time it was without the help of a carefully-managed campaign by hundreds of yahoos screaming bile. It was just me, putting words down, getting what acclaim I got all on my own, and that was *it*. Again, it feels better.

Since Gustav Gloom, I have gotten that feeling just being beamed at by kids.

And on top of that? Typing THE END at the close of work of fiction, and knowing, *knowing*, that it’s a superior piece of work, is where that great feeling comes first.

(14) CANCEL THE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. Now we know what the Sad Puppies are waiting on –

(15) IT’S ON THE BAG. Fan artist Jose Sanchez – who provided the back covers of my past two paperzines – announces his online shop http://www.shopvida.com/collections/jose77sanchez, which he touts as a place “where you can find my artwork on new apparel products that can make great gifts-especially now in the holidays!”

sanchez-tote

(16) RON GLASS’ TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE. You can watch “I of Newton” on YouTube. Teleplay by Alan Brennert based on a short story by Joe Haldeman.

[Thanks to Steve Green, Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]