Radio Station KRUU Saves Thousands Thanks to Open Source Software

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 04, 2009

Open source radios are nothing new, but what about open source radio stations? Actually, community-led over-the-air radio stations powered by open source software are more common than you'd think. With a total yearly operating budget of just $77,000, Fairfield, Iowa's KRUU (100.1 FM) runs largely on open source software, and the FOSS philosophy has carried over into the station's general programming decisions as well.

Behind the scenes, KRUU staff relies on Ubuntu as its primary operating system. On-air personality Sundar Raman says, “Our requirements were quite complex and our decision to go with Ubuntu was based on three factors and Ubuntu won hands down. We did not want to get stuck in the world of managing different binary distributions based on what was supported and what was not. The Synaptic package manager is more elegant than the RPM-based solutions in some paid-for Linux distros and can be used by just about anyone. Critically we wanted a distro that would be usable by the average user.”

The decision turned out so well that all KRUU's workstations are now equipped with open source editing tools Ardour and Audacity, its PCs are equipped with OpenOffice, and its Web site is powered by Drupal and hosted on an Apache Web server. Raman says open source software has saved "tens of thousands of dollars."

Archives of more than 35 episodes of Raman's radio show Open Views are available for download or online listening. Many prominent open source community members have been interviewed for this program, including Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth, author Cory Doctorow, and Free Software Foundation's John Sullivan.

Beyond the use of open source software to "give Fairfield a voice," KRUU bills itself as "an open, inclusive, diverse forum for music, creative expression, information, and entertainment. It is a non-commercial, non-profit, community-supported low-power radio station with a strong emphasis on locally created and produced programming." Local community members are encouraged to volunteer in all areas of the station including broadcasting, program production, audio editing, and in-field recording. Want to check out KRUU for yourself? Listen live via your favorite media player right now or follow the station on Twitter.