Radio Waves: London’s Hyper-Local Radio Scene, Kraina FM, Swedish Radio Reconsiders Digital, Japanese Mobile Radio Station, and Guinea-Bissau Station Threatened

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Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Eric Jon Magnuson for the following tips:

How the Capital Tuned in to Hyper-Local Radio (

The capital’s local radio scene is having a renaissance. From pub garden pop-ups to shipping container stations, Londoners are falling back in love with FM (and DAB/online/smart speaker/insert new mode of listening here). Tuning in has never been better, says Jessica Benjamin — antennae at the ready, it’s time to meet our favourite local stations

Westside — Hanwell 89.6 FM

Broadcasting from Hanwell’s Clocktower Mews to west London, Westside Radio was launched in 2007 by none other than Boris Johnson himself. ‘He promised to come back to Westside if he was elected mayor on the condition that we would play songs by The Clash,’ station manager Sone Palda tells me. ‘All of this while he was surrounded by Labour MPs and councillors in the studio.’ Big name politicians aside, Palda is both excited by and concerned for the future of local radio. ‘In this era community radio is one of the key mediums producing genuine local content and news,’ he says. ‘Most of the local independent commercial stations are being bought up by the big groups, then being rebranded and losing their identity. We want to remain being a platform for emerging radio presenting and production talent, and to continue entertaining our dedicated local audience.’

Soho Radio — Soho

Launched in 2014 and broadcasting live from Broadwick Street, Soho Radio has serious clout when it comes to big name presenters. Think Primal Scream’s Simone Marie Butler, Groove Armada’s Tom Findlay, Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Metronomy’s Anna Prior to name a few — and they don’t just stop at radio. ‘We won Event of the Decade [in Time Out magazine] for our 12-hour street party broadcast with R3 Soundsystem,’ station manager Rachael Bird says. ‘We had some amazing DJs join us live on air, with the likes of Seth Troxler, Norman Jay, Artwork, Eats Everything and Sink the Pink gracing the decks. The day culminated with our very own lorry sound system pulling up in the streets of Soho to finish the street party with a bang — it didn’t last long before it got shut down (whoops!) but was definitely a Soho Radio highlight and a day to remember.’ The grassroots online station has since expanded to the Big Apple, where it has been streaming from Lower Manhattan since late 2020 for a double dose of Soho listening. [Continue reading the full article…]

This Ukrainian radio station is staying on air for the war effort from a makeshift studio in the mountains (The Current – CBC)

Kraina FM CEO Bogdan Bolkhovetsky says station helps military, lifts people’s spirits

A Kyiv radio station is broadcasting from a makeshift studio to bring Ukrainians the latest news about the war, and music to lift their spirits during the hours spent sitting in air raid shelters.

“In Kyiv, air raid alerts are eight to nine times a day, lasting from 30 minutes to three hours,” said Bogdan Bolkhovetsky, CEO of Kraina FM, an independent Ukrainian music station.

“And while people sit in shelters, they sing … Ukrainian songs,” he told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Playing a variety of Ukrainian on the airwaves “is good for people … it brings back some normality to life, I guess,” he said.

Bolkhovetsky and his family fled Kyiv in the days after the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. Members of his team also fled, and they regrouped in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains on Feb. 27. The village lies south of Lviv in the west of Ukraine, where many refugees have fled to escape Russia’s advance from the east. Some find refuge in the west’s smaller towns and villages, but others press on to cross into neighbouring Poland or Slovakia.

Click here to read the full article and listen to the audio at The Current.

Swedish Radio reconsiders its digital strategy (Red Tech)

Cilla Benkö is the director general and CEO of Sveriges (Swedish) Radio. She started as an intern in the sports department when there were very few females in the industry. Benkö, who has worked at the organization for more than 30 years as a journalist and has held several managerial positions, provides insight into how Swedish Radio is navigating today’s evolving landscape.

RedTech: Is radio management a friendlier place for women than it was 10 years ago?

Benkö: I’m not sure that it’s friendlier, but it’s less lonesome. In Sweden, public service media has a long tradition of strong female CEOs, so that was nothing new. But when I started, I was one of the very few women in the international radio community. Thankfully, this is changing, and I believe the radio business is better having a multitude of different leaders in the sector.

RedTech: Would you characterize the radio market in Sweden as very competitive?

Benkö: I believe it’s competitive in a healthy way — the Swedish people are a listening population. For example, more than 50% in the ages 18–79 listen to podcasts regularly. The competition for “Swedish Ears” is enormous — print media is expanding into the field of audio, and we shouldn’t forget that Spotify’s headquarters are in Sweden. That said, I strongly believe in a robust dual system: A strong public service media side by side with a prosperous commercial market brings the best possible outcome for the audience. It’s also important to remember that the Swedish media market is not very Swedish anymore. We are all competitors in a global and digital market that is constantly growing and changing. We must all adjust and be aware of that.

RedTech: Is Swedish Radio entirely taxpayer-funded? How does that affect how you think about audiences versus the way private radio operators do?

Benkö: Swedish Radio is funded by a public service fee. Since Jan. 1, 2019, everyone over 18 pays this tax, which is earmarked for public service media only. So, the Swedish people essentially own Swedish Radio. I believe the best outcome for the audience and democracy is strong public service companies working alongside a healthy commercial market — research also shows this. [Continue reading…]

This multi-use camper is a mobile radio station that travels throughout japan to collect nature sounds (YD)

The Maku trailer is a lightweight, multi-use camper that’s currently being used as a mobile radio station to capture the sounds of nature throughout Japan.

Camping trailers can be used for a variety of purposes–from remote living to transporting goods. The potential for trailers begins and ends as far as your imagination takes you. Typically, trailers are mobile homes that keep a small size that designers maximize through minimalism and built-in multifunctional furniture. Finding promise in an array of different possibilities, Japanese designer Taichi Kuma constructed a lightweight mobile unit from aluminum that can be used as a house, remote workspace, and even a radio station. [Continue reading…]

Guinea-Bissau radio station owners threatened with jail for not paying licence fee (RSF)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the harsh criminal penalties that Guinea-Bissau’s government has threatened to impose on those operating privately-owned radio stations if they have not paid their annual licence fee. The immense majority of these cash-strapped radio stations have stopped broadcasting because of the threat.
In a decree issued yesterday, the communication ministry warned radio station owners they could face a sentence of up to three years in prison if they are not up to date with their licence fee payments of 250,000 CFA francs (380 euros) a year. Only 12 of the country’s privately-owned and community radio stations have been able to pay the fee.

The government already issued an order on 7 April to radio stations to stop broadcasting if they had not paid the fee. Bombolom FM, an opposition station, suspended broadcasting in response to this earlier warning. The cost of a licence if very high for Guinea-Bissau’s radio stations, which earn very little and are not subsidised by the state, unlike the print media.

“This measure is particularly outrageous given the very difficult economic environment in which the media operate and, above all, the government’s failure to implement sustainable support strategies for the media,” said Sadibou Marong, the director of RSF’s West Africa bureau. “In the current – very troubled – political context, it is hard not to regard these threats as being designed to keep the media under control. We ask the authorities to reconsider this decision and to favour dialogue if they don’t want it to be seen as nothing more than an attempt to silence critics.” [Continue reading at RSF…]

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3 thoughts on “Radio Waves: London’s Hyper-Local Radio Scene, Kraina FM, Swedish Radio Reconsiders Digital, Japanese Mobile Radio Station, and Guinea-Bissau Station Threatened

  1. Michael Black

    In 1971, Wayne Overbeck wrote about his camper in Qst for August 1971. One of those ones that fit over a pickup truck, he fit it for remote hamming, with a tower on the back. So he had to set up on location, but a lot easier than from scratch.


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