Radio Free Peterborough launches new website and two free mobile apps to celebrate 12th anniversary: search, browse and stream nearly 13,000 tracks of unique audio culture from Peterborough Ontario.

There must be something in the water in Peterborough Ontario. For a city of its size “The Patch” (as locals call it) boasts an incredibly rich and diverse live music scene. Back in 2004 project founders Steve McNabb and Brian Sanderson set out to capture and archive this unique body of work with several goals in mind: make it available to everyone free of charge, preserve it for future generations and inspire other communities to do the same. The Radio Free Peterborough catalogue has grown to nearly 13,000 tracks, sprouted two mobile applications and enjoyed 85,000 hours of FM broadcasting time via CFFF 92.7 FM ­ Trent Radio. Not bad for a volunteer project with an operating budget of $0. “We want to show people just how far you can go on guts, passion and hard work” says McNabb. “Radio Free Peterborough is a love letter to our community and a way to celebrate all of its talent, hard work, and dedication to the music we love so much.”

Radio Free Peterborough exists to promote and preserve the unique musical heritage of Peterborough Ontario for audiences local and global, present and future. The project is proud to celebrate its twelfth year of operation as a 100% volunteer­run initiative with two new mobile applications for both iPhone and Android and a new website allowing users to search, browse and stream its substantial one­of­a­kind catalogue from anywhere in the world.

Radio Free Peterborough began humbly enough as McNabb’s personal collection of Peterborough music. “I played in bands during my university years and always tried to buy recordings from other musicians at shows: partly to support them financially and partly because I wanted my own copy to enjoy. I collected just over 350 tracks which I began to organize and catalogue.” As McNabb digitized the collection, he realized that many of the works were very small­run recordings by artists who played only a handful of shows. “It dawned on me” says McNabb “that maybe I had the last surviving copy of many of these recordings, and if I didn’t archive them properly they might be lost forever. Many of these were home­made: produced one at a time with photocopied or hand­drawn cover art and sold from coat pockets or backpacks for a few bucks or a beer.”

As they continued building the initial archive, McNabb and Sanderson realized that maybe others might enjoy this music as much as they did ­ and Radio Free Peterborough was born.

“At first, RFP ran out of my apartment.” McNabb remembers. “Not because I had a great setup, but because I had no money or resources at all to work with ­ only what I could scavenge or build myself.” The initial launch of RFP’s audio stream and website in July 2004 proved more popular than imagined so they put out the word that the project was seeking additional recordings of Peterborough music and audio culture to further develop the archive. “I loved going to my mailbox” says McNabb, “because there was a steady supply of lovingly packaged recordings from generous folks looking to donate their personal copies to RFP.” When the project began to gain momentum in the fall of 2004, McNabb and Sanderson were contacted by John K. Muir ­ General Manager of Trent Radio to form a partnership that lasts to this day. “Trent Radio had lots of recordings in their archives that we didn’t have, and we had a bunch that they didn’t have so it seemed natural to merge the two archives and work together.” says McNabb. “Trent Radio used to go off the air when the last programmer for the day went home. When we joined forces, Trent Radio would play our all­local catalogue instead of dead air, broadcasting 24/7 for the first time ever.” They’ve been together ever since and McNabb remains the longest standing member of the Trent Radio Board of Directors having served since Fall 2004. The Radio Free Peterborough and Trent Radio Local Content archives now boast the world’s largest archive of Peterborough audio culture.

Two free mobile applications have also been released by the project. Both are available for iOS and Android devices and each allows you to experience Peterborough’s audio culture in different ways.

The Trent Radio mobile app allows CFFF FM fans local and global to stream the Trent Radio live feed in real time and send messages directly to the programmer on­air. Now even distant listeners can participate directly without long­distance charges. With this free app, no matter where you are you’re a valuable part of the Trent Radio community.

The newly re­launched Radio Free Peterborough mobile app and website allow listeners to browse, search and stream the entire catalogue by artist, recording, keyword or randomly. McNabb hopes that “anyone who wants to be a part of the Peterborough music community can listen anytime they like, from anywhere on the Internet for free. You can put Peterborough in your pocket and take it with you wherever you go.”

Radio Free Peterborough runs entirely on volunteer power: McNabb covers the project’s expenses himself out of pocket. Tax­deductible donations can be made through the RFP website or through Trent Radio’s website ­ just select the ‘RFP Stream fund’ when making your donation. Any donation of $50 or greater will receive a tax receipt from Trent Radio.

Links: ­ Main Radio Free Peterborough Website ­ RFP and Trent Radio Free Mobile Apps ­ Trent Radio Website ­ Trent Radio Local Content Music Project Website