Mushroom FM, why are we here?


On behalf of the team, welcome to the new-look Mushroom FM website, and indeed to the new-look Mushroom FM itself.

In this blog post, I'd like to introduce, or perhaps I should say reintroduce, the station, talk about why we're returning, why we hope you'll give us a listen, and why you might like to consider broadcasting with us.

How the Stars Aligned for an unexpected Return

Like many other listeners, I was sad to see what now turns out to have been the temporary closure of Mushroom FM in November 2013. After over three-and-a-half years of enormous success tinged with a bit of drama and turmoil, it was definitely time for me to at least take a break from the management of what had become a large project, with two radio streams and a big team. After all, when one sets up a project like this, it's not a contract signed in blood to say you'll do it forever.

When I made the decision to step aside, it was my expectation that I would be able to hand Mushroom FM over to someone who shared my vision for what a successful Internet radio station in this space needs to be and do. And there is no doubt, Mushroom FM had become very successful.

But sadly, I was unable to find anyone in whom I had full confidence to take it on. Everyone on my shortlist was also well aware of just what it took to run a station like this, and some difficult decisions that would have to be taken if Mushroom FM's vision was to be preserved. They therefore made good lifestyle choices, and declined my kind offer to take over the brand.

By the end of that week, I felt a bit like the man Phil Harris sings about in that song, "The Thing".

I could have settled for someone in whom I didn't have full confidence, but I felt it better that Mushroom FM say farewell with its head held high and reputation intact.

While I'm not big on regrets, I do try to objectively assess things. It's been good to have time to think about where we did very well, where we could have done better, and new things we never did at all. My good friend Gordon Luke, who was Mushroom FM's Operations Manager starting mid-2011, and I have had a few thoughtful conversations of this kind.

Many people have asked me over the last 20 months whether there might ever be circumstances in which Mushroom FM would return. I never ruled it out completely, and from time-to-time, Gordon and I were very, very close to jumping back into it. But it isn't something you do lightly, not when you want to run a station with the high production values and robust infrastructure that we believe is necessary. It takes serious time, money, energy and effort.

Mushroom FM's return has evolved as a slow-motion version of Mushroom FM's creation.

Since December 2013, I've been hosting The Mosen Explosion on my own server, which has become known as The Mosen Channel. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by there, not just for the current show each week, but to hear some memories too. I've been able to do my show in a relaxed environment, and largely forget about Internet radio things for the rest of the week.

One of my wishes when I was running Mushroom FM was that I might be able to coax my good friend the Snowman out of seclusion. Jim is a genius, a naturally gifted broadcaster, and just a great guy. I was unsuccessful in this mission of mine, but in an example of things happening of their own accord when you least expect them, Jim approached me late last year, saying he was ready to get back on the air. He asked me if he could broadcast on my server. I told him that of course he could, and that I hoped it didn't bother him that the station was currently called The Mosen Channel. It didn't bother him, and he went to air in December.

A few months ago, Brian Dalton, a great guy from Ireland with an extensive musical knowledge and a natural gift for communicating, contacted me to ask if he could broadcast on The Mosen Channel too. So we welcomed him aboard.

Next, it was Anne Cosgrove, one of the fun guys on Mushroom FM, who was looking for a home. When we first took her on at Mushroom FM, she was Anne with an E. Now, she's Anne with an E, and a very nice-sounding microphone and mixer as well. Anne has a natural on-air presence and loves what she does, and I was glad to give her show a slot.

By this stage, the name The Mosen Channel was starting to bug me. I knew it was no longer appropriate, and wondered where we should go from here.

The tipping point was hearing from Brian Hartgen. Brian and I have been friends for a long time, going all the way back to the early ACB Radio days. Our tastes in music, our meticulous approach to taking on projects, are all uncannily similar. He was one of the founding members of Mushroom FM, and its first operations manager.

One of the things that has given me a great deal of satisfaction, and I think I can safely speak for us both, is having the opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings between one another and repair that friendship. I'm not usually a fan of the word "closure", but in this case, closure is great.

So when Brian wanted to host the Music Machine on The Mosen Channel, I decided it was time to take a risk. I said to Brian, "look, we've got the nucleus of a really good team here. I've spent thousands of dollars on jingles and associated branding...can we put something new together that's worthy of the Mushroom FM name?"

I wasn't at all sure how Brian would react, but sometimes, these things are just meant to be, and he jumped at the chance.

I always thought that Mushroom FM would be ready to return if Brian, Gordon and I could get together and recreate the magic. Gordon's not equipped to broadcast just now, but he did agree to come on-board at an operational level, and is working plenty of Gordon-type magic behind the scenes. More on that later.

So here we are. Gordon, Brian and me, building a new Mushroom FM, joined by a bunch of extraordinary broadcasters. The creativity, the back-and-forth, the feeling of everyone pooling their talents towards building something very special, it's all been wonderful.

Already, we have some gifted people who've joined us, as you'll see on this site in our list of fun guys. Bruce and Caroline, who were with us from the beginning, are back. Caroline is helping us behind the scenes just now, but naturally I would love the Oasis back.

Axel S is rocking the Mushroom once again.

Lulu, who people love hearing on-air, will be hosting Down for Double with Brian.

Anthony is another Mushroom FM veteran who is breaking his radio silence, with a new show.

Glen Gordon, another person I couldn't quite coax onto Mushroom FM last time, is a great communicator with a friendly on-air presence, and owner of a collection that has some very obscure stuff in it. I'm delighted that he's now on the team.

I loved working with Bob Kanish in my ACB Radio Interactive days, and he, too, has become a fun guy.

My wife Bonnie, who was a devoted Mushroom FM listener and managed public relations for the station, is migrating to this side of the mic.

So there you have it. That's how we got here.

We know that we must work hard every day to earn the privilege of your precious time, and we intend to do that.

What's in it for Listeners?

Our People

You know the really great thing about Internet radio? Anyone can broadcast from their bedroom with just a microphone/headset.

You know the really bad thing about Internet radio? Anyone can broadcast from their bedroom with just a microphone/headset.

Mushroom FM's philosophy was always that we would try to put broadcasters on-air who loved their music and had interesting things to say. I enjoyed Spotify, and now I enjoy Apple Music, when I just feel like listening to music, maybe curled up on the couch of an evening. But I also like how a good radio host can enthuse me about music I've either not heard before, or thought I didn't like.

I often pondered whether this was largely a preference of blind people, who grew up with radio having an immense impact on their lives. But then, in June this year, Apple announced Beats 1, essentially taking to a mass market the concepts Mushroom FM has always promoted. Good on ya , Tim! Apple has realised that even with Apple Music, a place still exist for real radio, delivered via the Internet. Radio presented by interesting people who cause you to crank up the volume a bit, so you can hear their voice breaks. Radio where the presenters choose what they play, and speak with passion about it. Radio with high production values. Radio where you feel like you have a friend chatting with you, and who is only an email or tweet away.

Beats 1 hasn't been received with universal applause, but then, what is? Some people view the talk as an annoying interruption, but a lot of people get it.

Beats 1 recycles a lot of its programming, opting for quality, not quantity. Mushroom FM won't be measuring its success by how many hours of live programming we produce. Those quantitative values are certainly easy to obtain and measure. Instead though, we'll be measuring what we do by the quality of what goes out on-air.

There'll be a very wide mix of genres on the station, and we embrace that diversity, but our goal is that you'll always hear something of a high technical standard.

I do enjoy tuning in for more organic, experimental Internet radio, so I'm not knocking it at all. But it is branding and consistency that makes the difference between a bunch of people sharing a server, and a true Internet radio station that is cohesive. So that's our brand.

Is it a voluntary Clear Channel? Absolutely not. No one is told what to play on Mushroom FM, and with the exception of our slogan, there are no cheesy liners. But we strive to do it all with competence and technical excellence.

Our Listening Experience

What has always made Mushroom FM successful is our willingness to write our own rulebook, and innovate constantly. When Mushroom FM evolved unexpectedly in 2010, a small team of us built the station in six days. We focussed on audio elements then, and launched with a dreadful website, comprising a series of pages written in Word. Our quality website came later.

We could have done the six-day thing and been on-air a couple of weeks ago, but yawn, it's already been done.
Instead, we elected to take the time to give you a first-class experience from day one.

Part of that is the work and thought that has gone into our streaming infrastructure. There are a number of positive elements about the way Mushroom FM is set up.

We know an increasing number of people are listening to Internet radio when mobile. I enjoy getting emails or tweets from people who are being taken on a Sunday drive, or are on public transport in places such as Melbourne and Tokyo.

Most people must live within a monthly data cap on their mobile device. So when you're listening this way, it's natural to worry about how much of your precious data the station you're listening to is consuming.

Mushroom FM will be using streaming technology that sounds better than many similar stations, yet takes half of the mobile data. In firm numbers, you can listen to a high-fidelity stereo stream from Mushroom FM, and it's going to consume a fraction under 30 mb an hour. This makes Mushroom Fm a very attractive choice when you're on the go. It's great on your ears, light on your data.

Then when you get to the office, you may be one of many people who suffer the frustration of a work Internet that's highly locked down. I think most workplaces now accept that it's OK for workers to listen on headphones to music while they work. But to keep their workplaces secure, system administrators often have to lock down their Internet, meaning that many Internet radio stations can't be heard. We have a fix.
Mushroom FM is set up this time to blast through those secure Internet firewalls. Unless your workplace only allows you to access specific sites, you'll have no difficulty tuning into Mushroom FM on your computer.

But what if your system administrator has ensured you don't have access even to the Windows Media Player that is built into Windows? That's OK, we're one step ahead there too.

You can listen to Mushroom FM without any external software at all, right from our website. And unlike many online players, ours is totally accessible. You can play, pause, and adjust the volume with any screen reader. Indeed, the controls are simple links, so you can bring up a list of links in your screen reader to quickly get to where you need to be.

We've taken plenty of time to minimise dead air. The transition from one fun guy to another will be seamless, and won't result in temporary dropping of the stream that can sometimes cause problems for players.

Sometimes, the Internet will do what it will, despite our best efforts. If a fun guy has connectivity or computer issues, there'll always be a back-up that kicks right in.

And we've minimised the chances of server issues by investing in the best possible streaming bandwidth, with 99.9% up-time.

Our Website

As you'll see, Mushroom FM is proud to offer a website that's accessible, visually attractive and well laid out, dynamic, functional, and fast.

The site makes good use of heading levels, so you can get to where you need to be. Links are all clearly labelled.
Rather than a long list of fun guys on our main page, fun guy pages are behind a link, causing the home page to be less cluttered, and leaving more room for dynamic content. This includes recent blog posts, songs we've played, and social media feedback updated in real time.

Our aim is that you'll want to come back to regularly, because there will be new things to see.

Right from day one, there is nothing on our website that will give you an "under construction", or "coming soon" message.

Respect on Social Media

This manifests itself in two ways.

First, we are honoured that people might give us a listen and see what they think. If you contact us on social media, you can be sure we'll welcome you, make you feel included, and treat you respectfully as the valued listener you are.

Second, we understand that while we may wish it were different, you may follow some of us on Twitter, but not want to have your timeline cluttered with Mushroom FM-related tweets. It is station policy that all our fun guys use the #MushroomFM hashtag. It allows people interested in the station to see all tweets relating to it in one place, and it allows you to mute the hashtag if you'd really rather not see it.

We were not consistent in our use of the hashtag last time, we will be this time. It's a matter of Twitter etiquette.

The Schedule

It is important, as a listener, that you know what's on when. Our schedule, which will always be up-to-date because we have a very cool system for easily maintaining it, can be displayed in your local time zone, so you never miss a show you want to hear.

Why Broadcast with Us

If you're thinking about coming on-board with Mushroom FM, there's still time to be able to say that you were one of the fun guys when we relaunched. There is something very special, and bonding, about being in on the ground floor with a project like this.

The Internet is a big place, and there's room for everyone. Our style of operation is not going to be everyone's cup of soup. Luckily, there are heaps of choices out there, and you can even get your own server if you want.

What we offer is a place for people who share our values, and I've already covered many of those in this post. We know how good radio should sound, and we're pretty obsessive about achieving that sound.

As a broadcaster, I find that when working with our Jam jingle package, it just gives me that extra lift. It encourages me to do a better show. And by the way, we've added to the jingle package since we were last on-air.

I also find that working with a great team encourages me to do my best work. It's not so much a competitive thing, it's more that I hear someone and I think, "wow. That was good. I don't want to let the side down". So in essence, we feed off each other.

We know there are many people out there who have had radio broadcasting experience, or who know how good radio should sound, but who may not have the technical experience to broadcast. Many of us have had experience training people, and of course Brian and I put an 11-hour tutorial together on StationPlaylist Studio. Brian has also done outstanding work on the JAWS scripts for studio. So by working with us, you know you have a team who can give you the support you need to do your best work.

It's always nice when you go to a new workplace and find that you have a really cool office, right? Well, in this case, the workplace is of course both voluntary, and virtual. But I think fun guys are exceptionally well-served by our new infrastructure. When you log in to your account on our internal system, there are a series of tools available to you, including for promoting your show on social media, requesting cover, being able to create your own blog content and have that material republished widely.

Our system for requesting and accepting cover requests is all web-based, so you can see at a glance what shows might need covering, and submit an offer.

We've taken the time to get these building blocks right, because they're the kind of things that can be easily shunted down the priority list, once you have a station to run. So we're getting them done now, before launch, and our internal systems are really slick and professional.

Our exclusivity policy, which remains in place, solidifies the team. No divided loyalties here. You're not going to be in a situation where a colleague one day is competing with listeners for you the next. You're not required to try and walk the tight-rope of promoting a bunch of shows on different stations. It just doesn't work, and it messes with team dynamics.

Since we're not interested in seeing how many people we can add to the team rapidly, we are very focussed not just on the on-air experience, but also on the team interactions. Managing a team via the Internet definitely has unique challenges, and I think requires certain kinds of communication skills. It's easy to fire off an email in anger, saying things that one would never dream of saying if you were meeting with that person face-to-face. So when we recruit, we're very much mindful of not just how good someone is on-air, but how well they will jell with the team we already have. We probably won't always get it right, but between us, our management team has plenty of experience at this now, and we are quick learners.

So our aim is that if you're accepted onto the team, parameters are clear, you'll fit in well, and we'll have a heck of a lot of fun.


It's funny how life works out, and sometimes, things are I think just meant to happen. The return of Mushroom FM with this team, at this moment, feels really good.

We look forward to entertaining you starting 22 August, and I hope that through our efforts, you'll deem us worthy of a place as one of your regular listening choices.