Pirate Radio and Open Source: The power of subversive technology

Short Form


Running a radio station is hard, but OSS software helps to fill the gaps. Hear about how House of Sound, Portland's largest free-form radio station (with around 40 DJs per week) uses open source software to solve hard problems like archiving shows, doing playback, improving audio quality, and streaming to the masses on a budget. I'll also talk about the share culture of pirate radio, how it's similar to OSS, and why I think the pirate radio movement has a very important role in the future of our culture.


Community/pirate radio and open source have a very close and interesting relationship. Not only do they utilize (and create) a lot of open source technology, but they also share their schematics, much in the same way that they do in the OSS world (though much of the process is still secretive, for many of the same reasons the Lions’ commentary once was).

I will talk about this relationship, why subversive radio is an important community resource, and how to use open source software and schematics to make your own radio station, legitimate or otherwise.

At focus will be House of Sound, Portland’s largest free-form radio station (formerly pirate, now web-only), and how it uses OSS software to do things like record shows for archival (a from-scratch ruby program), improve the quality of the audio chain, and stream to the masses on a budget. I will also highlight how we’ve used Ruby to manage proprietary software (such as iTunes).

Speaking experience

Keeping it Realtime, pdx.js, PDX.rb, RailsConf Baltimore, Ruby Users of Minnesota, Minnebar. I've also done a talk on LPAM (Low Power AM broadcasting) a long time ago, but I don't have a link handy. My slides are on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/kyledrake


  • 861abf5a82cf11e29ee622000aa80004 7

    Kyle Drake

    Net Brew Ventures


    Kyle Drake is a hacker that has been programming computers since he got his first 286 computer at home. Kyle has a very long and bizarre history, and has been involved in numerous projects, including early work with OpenBSD, work on political campaigns, radio transmitter design, senior developer for a large Facebook development company, working to build the Geoloqi platform, and now working on Net Brew Ventures, a shell company for promising new startup ideas.

    Some of Kyle’s interests are language productivity, simplicity, good API design, concurrency, finances, and business.