Don't You (Forget About Me)
On Christmas eve 1998, MaltaMedia made its production debut: midnight mass from the Ta' Pinu Sanctuary in Gozo was webcast through Radio Calypso's website. The concept of MaltaMedia had been around since the previous summer, when Ray Bajada and I came up with the general idea of a Maltese online media network while having a drink at Xlendi.
The 1998 Christmas webcast was a team effort. Aside from the Radio Calypso part, which broadcast the midnight mass just as it had in previous years over the national airwaves, there was significant technical input from two close associates of MaltaMedia in its early endevours. Jean Galea Souchet was a key player in getting the technical side together. At that time he was the head honcho with VOL and provided us with everything you could want from an ISP. Glasgow-based John J. Cassar, who had been webcasting Maltese għana for about a year before this, provided overseas hosting space and technical insights to ensure that our webcast could reach as wide an audience as possible.
Encoding and uploading an hour-long audio file for an on-demand webcast back in 1998 meant that I stayed up until about 4am into early Christmas morning; working with an Intel Pentium I on a 28.8 Kbps dial-up internet connection. It was exhilarating to receive emails from Maltese people around the world thanking us for making the webcast available for all to access at will online. It was as clear as day that this was the future of broadcasting.
I believe that Ray has a photo of me sitting at the bar in his old converted farmhouse living room in Xagħra at about 2am (still encoding/uploading), after he returned home at the end of the broadcast. I must ask him for it one of these days. I believe that it would be a good memento to share with the public as MaltaMedia moves into 2009 to celebrate its 10th anniversary properly. Perhaps we should also make the webcast available again in perpetuity for the sake of posterity.
Meanwhile, I'd like to wish all the readers (and casual visitors) of my blog a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!