About First FM
First FM is run by OX4 FM Community Interest Company, an Oxford based not-for-profit company dedicated to providing radio and media services to the local community in Oxford.
Programming consists of a wide variety of music from today and yesterday, along with news and local information such as the What's On in Oxford guide. We broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from our studios in the city, providing a truly local service.
Our evening schedule includes an eclectic mix of shows, presented by local volunteers and trainees. These cater to a wide variety of tastes providing an alternative choice of radio listening. First FM is also one of the small number of FM stations in the country to provide an outlet for specialist music of all types, such as reggae and country music.
From 2014 till 2017 the station was known as Destiny 105. However, following a change to our broadcast licence in 2017, the station rebranded as First FM to reflect our aspirations to be first for the city. In the world of big media companies we're the underdog. As a totally independent local station we're outside the control and influence of any other media group and we intend to stay that way.
Some of our Presenters:
Our main on-air studio taken in 2014
As well as providing an outlet for local and specialist programming, music and presenter training in Oxford, some members of the station are working to enable the spread of information and education via technology and broadcasting in the developing world and provide low cost solutions to common issues faced by other broadcasters. Some of these solutions can be found at www.radiotools.uk.
As part of this effort, almost every aspect of First FM is built on readily available open source software and hardware whenever possible. Some of the free and open source technology currently in use is:
Rivendell Radio Automation - All daytime music, news and commercials are scheduled and played from our Rivendell systems. Rivendell offers the features and facilities of commercial playout systems costing tens of thousands of pounds, effectively for free. Running on Linux, we’ve found it more reliable than a previous very expensive Windows based solution!
Linux - We use Linux on our PCs and servers instead of Windows wherever possible. We use Ubuntu with the Gnome Flashback desktop for PCs and CentOS for servers. Using Linux we’ve experienced massively reduced costs and increased reliability and uptime compared to Windows based solutions.
DD-WRT - We use DD-WRT based internet routers to provide Quality of Service (QoS) features for our studio to studio and transmitter links (STL). DD-WRT allows remote studios or outside broadcasts to simultaneously browse the internet, use a landline phone, stream audio and broadcast over a single internet connection, massively reducing costs. All audio is sent between studios and to the transmitter via digital IP links which currently include cable, DSL (ADSL2/VDSL) and 802.11a 5GHz microwave ensuring the highest quality. DD-WRT is used for each of these.
Asterisk – Our phone system is based on Asterisk. This allows the studio number to be answered not only in every studio but even at a remote location during an outside broadcast. We also use Asterisk with the Opus CODEC, enabling real time broadcast quality audio to be contributed to programmes from PCs and smart phones. Again, being IP based this has effectively reduced our telephone costs to almost zero!
We also use:
VLC, Audacity, Mplayer and many other open source audio tools.
Icecast - We use a customised version of Icecast for internet streaming.
StereoTool - We use StereoTool for some audio processing. Basic features are available free.
Raspberry Pi - A special mention for the Raspberry Pi low cost computer which is used as "glue" for some tasks.
In addition to the above, we also have a number of in-house solutions which we hope to make available to other broadcasters. These include a web based SMS Text Message handling system enabling multiple studios to receive messages to a single number, a presenter web portal allowing rapid access to off-air log recordings, programme scheduling and display of on-air studio status etc. More information and download links for some of this software can be found at www.radiotools.uk.
In memory of David Norland, director and presenter, who passed away in 2014.