Here in the UK we have an embarrassment of stellar radio stations, from Balamii to Reprezent to Worldwide. With ex-pirate Rinse as their godfather and auntie NTS as their template, they offer the chance for culturally curious musical minds to play their weird and wonderful audio discoveries with playlist-free abandon.
But they’re not the only ones – these organic scenes happen in cities across the world. We may well have enough home time on our hands in the coming months to rinse every station in the UK and be ready to go global. So, let’s take this opportunity to discover some new audio friends for morning wake-ups, afternoon exasperation and late-night listens.
Recent years have seen Barcelona battered by intense tourism and a political identity struggle. But with adversity there has come a surge of creativity. RPS is Primavera festival in radio form, precisely what we need when the real deal is thoroughly on the backburner. Choose between the English and Spanish language channels (marvel at the soothing joy of chat in a language you do not understand at all!). Start with my show London Scenery (of course), and then find those shows that are the online equivalent of the tiny stages at the edge of the festival at 3am, offering everything from dispatches from the ever-expanding digital Latinx universe to hour-long explorations of the Sleng Teng riddim.
London Scenery, LATINXTRANSFER, Weird Flex, GIRLS MONSTER!
Producer, label head and Balamii/Know Wave resident, Jon Phonics (aka Slim Papi), guests on this Brooklyn station when he’s in town. “They represent what internet radio should be all about: independent, non-profit and based on a truck in a lot,” he says. “It reminds me of the heady days of internet radio in London before everybody was clambering for brand money.” Operating daily from morning to midnight, the proudly independent station is an important hub for the city’s underground dance scene. “They’ve been super fun during lockdown because everyone has been streaming from their homes,” says DJ Jubilee, NYC stalwart and station resident.
Justin Strauss, Jubilee, Human Pitch, Love Injection
Launched in 2016, Hong Kong Community Radio exists against all odds. They pride themselves on representing “the energy of the city and the other side of the club scene”, existing as a counter to the ex-pats and bottle service vibe that threatens the underground.
“I think the community around that place is incredible,” says Gaika, who plays on the station when he is in Hong Kong. Broadcasts from a leather jacket store are internationally focussed, but the station also prides itself on providing a platform for home-grown sounds.
Chippy Nonstop, Lumi, LC & Beau
Based in Medellin and broadcasting from their own tiny and oft-packed bar, this station prides itself on supporting local talent. Colombia’s second city has found itself emerging from the strangle-hold of gang-rule in recent years and an underground club scene is taking shape. Mad Radio is its hub, throwing free parties every weekend. There’s a focus on house and disco sounds on the station, acting as a counter to the city’s usual all-reggaeton all-the-time feel. Listen via live sessions on their Insta or on their regularly-updated Mixcloud.
Mig and Melov, Ortega Sonido Fabricado
So much more than just a radio station, this collective are perhaps best known for their incredibly sweaty monthly parties celebrating all things outlier and Latin American. Their goal, according to co-founder Lucia Anaya, is to “change the global perception of Latino culture.” It’s easiest to find shows through their Facebook Live page, where there’s a focus on live DJ sets and performances. But the YouTube page is a great wormhole of past shows.
La Hora Romantica, any DJ set that takes your fancy
“This station really stuck out to me in my recent travels,” says DJ Jubilee. “The whole crew that runs that operation is lovely and I just felt so at home there.” They are India’s first-ever community radio station, also boasting live streams, a weekly residency in Delhi and a zine. There’s a general love of all things grime, techno and DnB that permeates much of the programming, but there’s also massive love for the local, so educate yourself to India’s electronica scene.
Juggernaut, Two Chickpeas in a Podcast
Established by New York’s all-female, all-disruptive Brujas skater crew at the start of this year, they promise programming “in the tradition of Latin American anti-imperial radio and DIY audio labs”, from “legendary DJ sets to radio interviews with the underground literati and New York artists”. “If you want to know what the kids are up to these days in NYC this is it,” says DJ Jubilee.
No Intimate Classical Hour, Rude Movements, TALIA GODDESS
Once you’ve taken a trip around the world, come back home. London’s radio landscape is proving that there’s room enough for everyone – and the more niche the better. Special shouts go to Foundation FM, the Peckham station putting “women at the forefront at every turn. Then there’s Threads, operating out of Tottenham sweatbox, The Cause. Alongside a variety box of musical offerings they’re all about ““socially and politically focussed talk-based content”. “Threads is run by those who care about music as much as they care about people,” says Francis Redman, a resident at the station. They also have a sister station, Threads*, in Berlin.
Listen to: We Have Sound, Aphra’s Sunday Session, Big Dyke Energy