Radio, one of the most important inventions for mass communication, gave us the ability to be collectively connected to another human’s voice. By the mid 1900’s millions of people listened to this medium as a fixture in their homes.
Available components and simple designs made receivers abundant, growing the network of ears which shared the common experience of a broadcast. The iconic image of a family gathered around the listening box is ingrained in our collective memory. The modern era introduced homogenized programming, where syndicated shows and hit songs echoed around the country on corporate stations, but eventually the popularity of radio declined amidst a growing landscape of other media and technology.
While today’s streaming options are copious, these audio experiences are mostly solitary — a broadcast for one at the time of our choosing. This Public Radio is meant to reinvigorate the shared experience of listening, offering a public amenity, at public scale, to play whatever happens to be on the airwaves. If you don’t like it, change the station.
New American Public Art, in collaboration with Microsoft and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, is proud to announce the launch of Public Radio: a larger than life, futuristic radio designed for public use.
“I think people will be excited to experience the Public Radio because it's an innovative way to activate a public space using a combination of interactive art and technology,” said Aimee Sprung, Director of Civic Engagement at Boston’s Microsoft office. “The build-out at Microsoft Garage has been both an educational and exciting experience and we're proud to have sponsored this program as part of our commitment to driving civic engagement in Boston.”
Public Radio was the winning proposal for the 2016 Public Space Invitational Digital Challenge. It made possible by Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement, Microsoft Garage, The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston, and the Artisan’s Asylum. Public Radio is a collaboration between interactive design studio New American Public Art with Somerville artist and creative programmer Andrew Ringler. It is sponsored in part by Vernier Software & Technology.
And download the Fusion360 full assembly and see how we made the radio.
New American Public Art