Farmville Radio. Why Not?

Posted on May 9, 2011


While radio may be considered to be old, traditional media by today’s standards we’ve got nothing on farming when it comes to old and traditional.

That’s why I hate being shown up by a farmer.

A while back I wrote a post about “U Mix It,” the new night show at WTMX/Chicago that gives the listeners control of the music using a voting system called Listener Driven Radio.

That sounded pretty cool until I read about the Wimpole Estate Farm in Cambridgeshire, England. Inspired by the 48 million people who play Farmville, the group that owns the farm has launched MyFarm, an experiment that will enable online participants to vote on the farm’s actual operating decisions.

According to an AdWeek article decisions ranging from, “what type of pig to buy to when to harvest the wheat,” will be decided by the wisdom of the masses online.

Dammit Old McDonald, stick to your plowing. Radio is a much more advanced, forward thinking industry than farming. Oh wait… no were not.

Just imagine how a station could take over a market by letting everything from format onward be decided by the audience. Logos, promotions, music, airtalent all decided through a series of listener votes.

Don’t hyper-ventilate. We could still have some boundaries.

Richard Morris, the Wimpole Estate Farm Manager, says the online committee won’t be able to decide to, “Grow cannabis or bananas.”

But there would be times we would have to swallow hard and accept ideas that feel foreign, just like Morris says, “Undoubtedly there will be some strange decisions, some decisions I would not have made.”

And by the way, MyFarm participants are paying  a small fee to be involved. Not only could a MyFarm type station probably capture the attention of a market, it could potentially get the public to pay for being involved.

But I really think the fee is secondary. It just insures that the people voting are really engaged in the project.

What’s far more interesting is what we might learn if we let the listeners craft an entire new station.

Maybe, just maybe, it would get them to turn off Pandora and tune in to their creation.