No more bobbing about in “pirate” boats on the North Sea or shimmying up urban tower blocks to fix an FM aerial: today’s radio rebels broadcast from coffee bars, record shops and restaurants, commanding global online audiences – and working within the law.
Online stations are now transforming Britain’s radio sector with their specialist knowledge and unique choice of location.
A prime example of the movement is MEATtransMISSION, which operates from the upstairs of a burger restaurant in Hoxton, east London. The station not only broadcasts to diners across the MEATliquor restaurant chain but attracts online listeners from 130 countries and follows rules which might not be recognisable to Ofcom, including: “no bongos”, “no hippies” and “no Coldplay”.
Across London, Soho Radio represents the capital’s most enduring bohemian quarter by broadcasting from a café along the street from the once notorious strip club, Raymond Revue Bar, where the presenters compete with the sound of sirens and whirring coffee grinders.
KMAH is a new station that broadcasts from high above a beauty salon in the centre of Leeds and champions the city’s electronic music scene. Manchester has Fly High Radio, Brighton has totallyradio and, deep in the sticks of Somerset, Folk Radio UK has built a devoted following that includes Tom Robinson and Bob Harris.
The common denominator for the successful online stations is specialist knowledge of music. Gregor Muir, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, said the “curated” output of online stations was filling a void left by commercial radio’s embrace of computer-generated playlists. “What we have seen in mainstream radio is a clearing out of the need to engage – it has become so mechanical.”
It is almost 25 years to the day since tens of thousands gathered in Highbury Fields, London, to celebrate the new legal status of Kiss 100, then Britain’s most famous pirate station and now part of the large Bauer Media group.
‘World in Action’ making a programme about the pirate radio ship ‘Caroline’ in 1967 (Getty)
Among the crowd in 1990 was a member of the Kiss team, Daniel Nathan. A generation later he runs the Brighton-based online station totallyradio. Clearly, it’s a liberating experience. He talks of being able to broadcast “on-the-fly”, live from record shops, bars, coffee shops, music venues or “anywhere with an internet connection”.
Having a global audience means the multi-genre station can experiment with marginal sounds, and promote its relationship with a city known for the arts and liberal politics. One show, Totally Brighton, showcases local artists and bands.
The growth of cheap-to-run and flexible online stations poses a potential threat to the growth of DAB radio, which is being actively backed by Government as the sector moves towards digital switchover.
Their distinct appeal has been especially beneficial to the British-based audio platform Mixcloud, which gives online stations a showcase beyond their own home pages. Mixcloud runs annual online radio awards. The founder Nikhil Shah said the British stations mirror a movement happening in many cities with creative credentials, citing Brooklyn Radio in New York, Berlin Community Radio and Red Light Radio in Amsterdam. “They carry the local brand as a badge of honour but have an aspiration to reach a global audience, ” he said.
NTS Radio, which has a following of more than 28, 000 on Mixcloud, offers shows from recognised artists and DJs such as Four Tet, Andrew Weatherall and Henry Rollins. It operates from a location in Dalston, east London, and audiences can hear the background bustle of the neighbourhood. “We’re not that concerned about having clean, smooth radio – to us that sounds boring. It’s nice to have that low-fi background element going on, ” said Sean McAuliffe, NTS managing director.
MeatTransMission radio broadcasts from a raised cubicle accessible via a ladder inside MeatMission restaurant in Hoxton
In four years, NTS has grown to a roster of over 200 “hosts” contributing shows from around the world.
“We can stream from someone’s house next to the beach in LA or from a little island off the coast of Italy, ” said McAuliffe.
Online stations often make little in advertising money but some attract sponsorship from brands anxious to reach young tastemakers. They also derive revenue from hosting events and can take subscriptions from their own DJs, who benefit from the profile the station brings.
Soho Radio co-founder Adrian Meehan is not untypical when he points out that he comes “from a love of radio, rather than the business of radio”. His station embodies its locality, carrying shows from DJs with Soho connections, such as Norman Jay and Gary Crowley, and features theatre and interviews with local “working girls”. When Public Enemy passed by as tourists they ended up as on-air guests.
The FM pirates haven’t gone completely, and their spirit lives on in the BBC3 comedy People Just Do Nothing. But MEATtransMission’s studio manager, David Minns, is in no doubt where the future lies. “Just as YouTube channels are taking audiences away from mainstream television, so internet radio is doing the same to mainstream radio.”ivf success rate by age john wooden success quote l5 s1 surgery success rate lake success lake success new york lake success zip code lasik success rate late ovulation pregnancy success letrozole success stories 2020 lexapro success rate march 2 success meniscus root repair success rate metformin weight loss success stories 2019 morning routine for success poems about success quotes about hard work and success quotes about success and achievement ralph waldo emerson success real estate success sales success quotes secret of my success cast secret of my success soundtrack skin success fade milk slap tear surgery success rate strategies for success student success coach success boil in bag rice success com success criteria examples success insider success nutrients success partners llc success qoutes success rice boil in bag success short motivational quotes success solution success vision conway ar suffering from success meme suited for success the road to success is always under construction tips for success vaccine success rate weight watcher success what is the definition of success success rate success rate 5 dpo symptoms success stories allergy immunotherapy success rate bcm success factors bcm success factors blighted ovum success stories business success quotes c6 c7 surgery success rate center for success and independence client success manager salary cpr success rate crystals for luck and success customer success manager jobs customer success manager resumes customer success manager salary daily affirmations for success dental success network differential reproductive success drake quotes about success drake success dress for success cincinnati dress for success houston entrepreneurs success stories fresh success smoothie mix herbalife success story how to pronounce success inspirational quotes for success inspiring quotes about success isaac success iud success rate iui success iui success rates iui success stories 2020 keto success keto success stories kitchen nightmares success lake success golf club lake success shopping center mirtazapine success stories mission success motivational quotes for success motivational quotes for work success mustang success center noom success stories ovulation pain and pregnancy success ovulation pain and pregnancy success stories plan for success probability of success quotes on success in life quotes success road to success quotes scentsy success shark tank success stories skin success fade milk songs about success success crossword clue success for all success good morning quotes success in life success is not final success kid memes success meaning success plan success rates of ivf success schools success story success tms success vision express tarkov key to success texas success academy the 10x rule: the only difference between success and failure the secret to my success the sweet smell of success vbac success rate vet success was the new deal a success was the new deal a success way of the wolf: straight line selling: master the art of persuasion, influence, and success weight loss success what does success mean what is success to you what is the success rate of heart valve replacement surgery success stories 4 success realty achieves success bariatric surgery success rates before we can evaluate the success of a drug treatment program, we have to understand the program's best quotation about success best revenge is success challenge success client success manager connections to success driving to success embryo transfer success rates empty sac at 8 weeks success stories failure is the mother of success femara success first cycle first relationship after divorce success rate give and take a revolutionary approach to success give and take: a revolutionary approach to success goal to success quotes great success gif home depot success sharing how do you define success how do you measure success how do you say success in spanish inspirational quotes about success jay z success keytruda success rate kidney transplant success rate lake success shopping center magnet of success measures of success measuring success midwives brew success rate motivational success quotes northwell health lake success palmer skin success probability of success calculator progesterone weight loss success stories quotes on success and hard work roads to success quotes shark tank success spell for success stones for success struggling from success dress for success locations laws of success aes success bachelor success rate customer success jobs pictures of success poems about success success image