Fiercely independent digital broadcaster Bondi Beach Radio (BBR) is celebrating its 4th birthday!
In late 2012 reeling from the collapse of a local narrowcast FM station, later to be discovered to have been illegally operating for a number of years, a collective of remnant radio show hosts circled up and realised streaming was the future for radio broadcasting. They also realised creative control and collective ownership of the stations future was the best way to sustainably showcase the quality eastside Sydney independent music scene and culture curators.
Forming Bondi Association of Arts and Music to help collectively run the station, and kindly offered a rundown cleaning cupboard as a first studio home in the local Bondi Golf and Diggers club, word began to get out. The initial group of 6 shows soon grew to 10, then 20, and after a trial run bedding down technical issues Bondi Beach Radio was launched formally into the world. Over four years later and the station has more than 120 members across 60 diverse and quality radio shows, broadcasting live 7am to midnight 7 days a week.
The station’s Monday to Friday breakfast show anchor Boston Rodriguez joined the station almost two years ago soon after landing in Sydney from Auckland where he held down a show on the award winning George FM, building on a career that includes music and film production and stints on BBC radio in London. “It’s interesting to me that BBC Radio 1 has lost over 1 million listeners the past year, while BBC Radio 6 goes from strength to strength. Bondi Beach Radio with a close alignment to BBC 6 and NTS Radio in London is certainly on the right path, and we’ve got an incredible bunch of passionate people with us on this journey. We are leaving FM well and truly behind in the move into the mobile content age.”
Drawing inspiration from pre internet pirate radio in London in the 90’s, and the likes of Red Light Radio in Amsterdam, Berlin Community Radio, and NTS Radio in London, BBR has always recognised the level of new and original music being generated is as prolific today in the digital age as it was in the golden age of pirate radio, and has found the true underground audience today is just as real and passionate.
As BBR Director of Culture Tom Studdy, founder of local label Midnight Swim, points out “music still brings together people from a range of different backgrounds and circumstances in a unique way, and socially, creatively, and culturally remains the basis for inspiration for many in food, art, fashion, and design.”
Emerging broadcasters like BBR have now become a conduit for collaboration and the expression of new and reformed boundaries in music, with the formulaic blandness of global computer algorithm based streaming platforms or the shock jock crassness of local commercial FM stations being shunned for a raw and authentic live show grid instead. With the background of technology disrupting media channels around them, BBR recognizes genuine radio remains on solid ground.
“This is not a new battle of radio against Spotify, Pandora, or Mixcloud. This remains independent radio versus the commercial radio majors, in an age old battle fought out on a new medium. Streaming is the new and improved medium of delivery over the old AM and FM and on this medium it is the unique personality and curatorial flavor of our radio show hosts, and the nature of radio being background content rather than requiring the full focus of a video image, that ensures our quality radio content is here to stay” says one of the current station directors Chris Williams
The original cassette players in the 1950 motor vehicles providing pre-set playlists competed with the radio hosts on AM radio at the time, and todays computer generated or consumer constructed playlists compete with the unique human curatorial flavour of radio show host selectors. BBR believe they have some of the best human selectors in town, and back these people to beat computers any day of the week!
Station General Manager Christopher ‘Caraz’ Rosario is looking forward to the stations future. “Online radio is a weekly habit for 50% of Australians, and we are proud to be a part of that. Being collectively run by show hosts pushing their respective creative boundaries we are very closely integrated with the local scene, and this past year has seen a big step up for BBR. Complementing our Bondi operations, we opened our second studio in the City of Sydney supported Eastside Music Hub in Kings Cross with the help of the awesome like minded music heads at World Bar, Audio Technica, and The Record Store. We were recognised in the top handful of online radio stations globally at Mixclouds annual awards. We re-established the almost 40 year strong Latin American Festival at Bondi as part of our World Music program, and we have been instrumental in raising the profile of a number of exciting and interesting young DJ collectives at the larger summer electronic music festivals. On top of this we are lobbying hard behind the scenes to pull back a lot of this misguided oppression of our night time culture.”
You can find the BBR signal any time via www.bondibeachradio.com.au
BBR is hosting its birthday party at The World Bar Saturday 1st April from 6pm highlighting the quality and diversity of the local music scene found on the stations ever evolving showgrid. Check it out if you can