Bandit is Back!

I love life despite having lost my mother as a boy and my arm as a young man. My world is one of exotic travel, high adventure, and challenging projects. Still, some events stand out more than others, like riding a motorcycle around the world in the 80s, starting Bandit 105.5, The Rock Home of Stockholm in the 90s, and driving a beach buggy through Africa just recently.

I think Radical may become a highlight as well.

I met my Swedish wife Ylva while on my motorcycle in Latin America. When I lost my left arm in a motorcycle accident a few years later she nick-named me The One-Armed Bandit. The title stuck in a shortened form and became the name of my first corporation. When Bandit Productions AB acquired a radio frequency covering greater Stockholm, Bandit Radio was born.

Bandit achieved cult status in Sweden and as CEO that made me something of a VIP. I worked too much to enjoy many of the free concerts and events I was invited to, but I still squeezed in a few beers occasionally. It happened several times at parties or bars that people would react strongly after realizing what I did for a living; even some prominent band members.

– Wow, you’re The Bandit himself, I absolutely LOVE that station, it’s all I listen to. There is only ONE thing you could possibly do to improve it… hire me; I could program the best radio station in the world!

Usually it was late and people were tipsy and I didn’t want to spoil the fun with serious explanations of the effort that went into programming Bandit. Instead I’d smile politely and think to myself, “Sure, YOU could do a better job of picking the music on Bandit than my walking-talking-music-encyclopedia-creative-genius of a program director.”

And these conversations continued even after I sold Bandit.

And it took me ages to realize that they were right – that every drunk I ever met really COULD program a better station than Bandit… For themselves.

Given the tools we had at Bandit, our massive music library and the software to mix songs just the way we wanted to, anyone could program their perfect radio station. It was a real light bulb moment and my mind started off on one of its uncontrollable wanderings, which fortunately led somewhere concrete, and in 1999 I contacted Iteam – a cutting edge Swedish software development company.

With Iteam’s help Right Arm Productions AB (my radio consulting firm) developed Tomsradio.com (humility is not one of my strong points). We were the first service in the world to offer both on-demand playlists and endless personalized music streams, redefining the notion of ‘radio’ forever. Tomsradio.com preceded Pandora and Spotify, and merged those two major service types in a single site at a time when most people still connected to internet via dial-up modems. Our innovation earned some high praise in the press, and we had forty thousand users in Sweden when the I.T. bubble burst. Advertisers and investors alike shunned the internet for years, and I realized that Tomsradio.com was ahead of its time. So naturally I did what most people do to kill a few years… I drove a beach buggy across Africa with a hot Japanese woman.

The result of that insane adventure is an award-winning documentary film which I’m about to distribute for free; you can check it out at Adventuress Wanted. But while I was wandering around Africa, the world was catching up with Tomsradio. During my years living on the road Tim Westergren was growing Pandora in the US. At the same time a young Swedish Tomsradio.com listener named Daniel Ek started Spotify. And Pandora has dominated personalized radio and Spotify has dominated streaming playlists ever since, with little serious competition.

But I’m back.

And today my new service called Radical.FM is launching its full product into the Swedish market that I left for Africa ten years ago. A more mature market, and a hotbed of streaming activity, now with nearly 100% broadband penetration. And starting today Radical is also available worldwide as a ‘lite’ version (sans label music) for Indie artists and their fans to enjoy without restriction. Inspired by Tomsradio.com, Radical.FM also combines both major service types in one platform to compete directly with Spotify and Pandora. But Radical breaks new ground by adding powerful Personal Broadcasting (RadCasting and TALK) to provide every user with their own broadcast radio station, complete with licensed content. And Radical is architected by Iteam in Sweden, and built by a dedicated group of hand-picked developers in Romania, so once out of Beta our tech will take the Pepsi Challenge with anybody in the world.

Welcome to my world, Radical.FM – industry leading design on world-class tech. Welcome to a new generation of socially integrated world-wide audio streaming. Welcome to Radio Re-Defined.

Let the games begin.

1 Comment

  1. Cool story! I am waiting to get access — I’ve got an Android, and can’t spot any streaming links on the site. As a fellow radical who wants to hear REAL NEW MUSIC and escape the corporate mass marketing (although I really like Lorde, I admit) machinery, I’m eager for Radical FM to get into my ears!
    I also make music too, and it’s pretty radical. (People say it’s whack, but I’ll take that as a compliment.)
    PEACE
    rekzkarz.com

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