Founder of Anglicans Online gets own radio show

Published June 1, 2000

He’s broadcast three radio stations over the Internet from his Vancouver home; now CBC Radio has given technology futurist Tod Maffin – founder of Anglicans Online – a regular Tuesday night slot this summer.

Mr. Maffin, 30, will have 10 weeks beginning June 26 to run a fully interactive radio show exploring the effect of new technology on our lives. The show won’t focus on the technology itself, however. “It’s going to assume nothing, not even that you have a computer,” Mr. Maffin said in an interview.

“I’m not really a nerd. The area of technology I study is how technology impacts society. How is it changing the way we think and how is it changing the way we worship?” Faith in a Digital World is the subject for Tuesday, July 25.

The show will start at 8 p.m. in all five time zones in the country. Listeners will be invited to e-mail, fax, telephone and participate in live chat rooms. The show will “bicycle” across all time zones, picking up more content as it goes, meaning the one eventually broadcast in British Columbia could be substantially different from the one aired in the Atlantic provinces.

That kind of live broadcast relying on audience participation is a risky proposition, Mr. Maffin allowed. “That’s the fun of it really. One of the things I love about radio is its immediacy.”

Mr. Maffin is the son of Vancouver’s Rev. June Maffin. He was the electronic news co-ordinator of General Synod 1998 in Montreal. He’s also a former member of the Information Resources Committee. Mr. Maffin travelled to Cuba in 1996 to install computers and fax modems in five major cities to serve local Anglican congregations.

He launched Anglicans Online in 1994, the world’s largest Anglican Web site, and ran it for three years before the pressure of holding a full-time job and running the site overwhelmed him.

Mr. Maffin is amused CBC will keep the name for his show, as it’s one he’s used on the radio stations he broadcast 24 hours a day from his computer: TodRadio1 played Canadian music, TodRadio2 played Canadian comedy and TodRadio3 featured unsigned Canadian artists.

Mr. Maffin wasn’t sitting at his computer all day, picking music. The computer chose music from the playlists. No broadcast licence is required, he said, since it’s just one computer sending music to another.

Mr. Maffin’s first ever broadcast was a 30-minute sportscast on an eight-watt pirate radio station he built in Grade 4. He’s worked at a small B.C. radio network and a newspaper, then found his way into new media. He launched an Internet services firm, which grew to become western Canada’s largest interactive design firm.

Mr. Maffin addresses more than 50 conferences and groups a year about the future of broadcasting, business and technology. He’s been quoted by Wired Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and the Globe and Mail, which last year called him one of the country’s most influential futurists.

Mr. Maffin has now launched an artificial intelligence software firm, Linguists helped develop the software, which is designed to track the mood of any publicly traded company, by monitoring key chat rooms. Investment firms, corporations and individuals are expected to sign on in order to find out how people are feeling about various companies. Their “moods” will be plotted on graphs.

“You see it just like a stock chart. Instead of that line referring to what their share value is, that line refers to what their mood is. You can see when the mood of public sentiment takes a dip and when it goes up.”

It’s like running a focus group or a poll but the answers are immediate, Mr. Maffin said. The software can detect how a person is using a word such as “dive,” for instance, as in “The stock looks like it’s about to take a dive,” or “We ought to dive into this company.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Maffin is thrilled to have his own radio show. “I love the CBC. It’s been my lifelong dream to host a national radio show on CBC since I was eight years old.”


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