At Kurley’s Friday evening bluegrass jam I learned from my
friend Dobro Dave that the performances from the main stage at the 2011
Telluride Festival were going to be streamed real-time over the Internet. Next morning I did a
bit of web surfing and washed up on Telluride’s community radio station, KOTO’s
site. I clicked on
the “now-playing” button, which downloaded a link so iTunes could play KOTO’s
live feed. Twenty seconds later I was listening to Edgar Meyer’s morning solo
So everything should be great, right? Super music, played
live, and streamed directly to my speakers…but there was one humungous problem –
the music was being streamed at 20 Kbps!
No, I didn’t mistype – 20 – Two – Zero Kbps. To give you
an idea of just how bad this bit rate is – I don’t even bother listening to
Internet radio stations that don’t “broadcast” at 128 Kbps or better because
they sound like crap. 20 Kbps is worse than police-band radio. Voices not only
had the kind of hollow phasey quality I’ve come to expect at 64 Kbps, but they
also had an otherworldly “ghost image” that
followed every syllable with an extra rush of electronic aphasia. I lasted
about ten minutes before I gave up listening.
I know that community radio stations such as KOTO have
tiny budgets, but KOTO really needs to use a higher bit rate for their Internet
streaming. Heck, even 64 Kbps would at least be listenable.
By broadcasting the Telluride festival at such an
execrable bit-rate KOTO squandered a golden opportunity to expand their
listenership exponentially. I know that
if I had listened all weekend long (as I had planned to) I would have made a
donation. Maybe they could slap together a “Help KOTO go 128 Kbps Fund.” I’ll
donate some loot. Anything to make it so next year’s Telluride festival broadcast is worth listening to.