Feature: East London airwaves


A version of this article appeared in Time Out London in April 2012.

East London’s new hyperlocal radio stations provide a home for the area’s best DJs

East London is awash with ‘micro radio stations’ showcasing the best new DJs. Kate Hutchinson finds a few of them lurking at NTS Live, which celebrates its first birthday in April.

Time was when you knew you’d made it as a successful dance DJ if you baggsied a rare late-night slot on a station like Kiss FM or Radio 1. But thanks to the recent surge in ‘hyperlocal’ internet radio stations in the east of the capital, there’s an emerging platform for authoritative music selections that don’t have to accomodate the mainstream.

The new wave of stations, such as London Fields Radio, Strongroom Alive and Hoxton FM, can operate free of the regulations that govern coventional broadcasting, a precedent set by internet arts station Resonance, which, coincidentally, celebrates its tenth birthday in May. But instead, these young stations are distinctly Hackney-centric, representing the local community and providing a much-needed mouthpiece for the sounds of London’s clubs.

Location is also key. NTS Live, which turns one in April, broadcasts from one of the empty shopfronts that line Gillett Square in Dalston. The station grew out of Femi Adeyemi’s Nuts to Soup blog (hence the name), because ‘there was a demand for something fresh’ on the internet airwaves. Adeyemi met radio producer Clair Urbahn, they cobbled together a rough-and-ready studio from whatever equipment they could blag, and NTS Live was born last year.

A year later and the station has amassed nearly 250 shows, ranging from hip hop and jazz to house and dancehall, tying together some of the freshest young DJs and club nights in the postcode (see pictures above for some of the station’s shows). Dan Beaumont, who runs Dalston Superstore, and Nadia Ksaiba team up on Rhythm Connection; rapper Ghostpoet and two of our tips for 2012, Thristian and Moxie, each host a show; and scenester names like Warm, Kutmah, Funkineven and Darksky have regular slots. The list goes on and on, and such is NTS Live’s reputation for cutting-edge content that it receives 100 pitches for new shows every week.

The internet allows for much greater freedom than an FM licence would. ‘We don’t run like traditional radio stations because we don’t have to follow any rules,’ says Adeyemi, who presents his own show, ‘It’s Nation Time’. ‘We say what we want and we play what we want.’

Adeyemi insists that, despite its obvious roots in cool, creative east London, NTS isn’t just hipsters who have been let loose on the mic. ‘I’d like to think that the diversity of our programming on the station reflects the diversity of people in east London,’ he says. ‘Certain shows are even hosted in the native language of the presenters, such as Turkish, German, Yoruba and Japanese.’ You don’t have to be the next Gilles Peterson to bag a slot – one of Adeyemi’s favourite broadcasts, ‘James’s Show’, recently featured recordings of storms on Saturn.

As with pirate radio, NTS Live represents the sound of the capital’s underground, but seasons it with a new-school approach. This nod to old and new is reflected in NTS’s first birthday celebrations on April 28 2012. The station is making the most of its location by throwing a huge outdoor block party during the day, which then moves around the corner to a secret location for a proper warehouse bash. There, acid house stalwart A Guy Called Gerald will headline alongside a plethora of NTS’s new DJ talents, all bridging the gap between classic and modern rave-hardy sounds. And, in true old-school style, you can even bring your own booze. So it’s no wonder that NTS is already being hailed as an east London institution.


More east London radio stations

London Fields Radio
The original east London radio station creates podcasts from the corner of The Wilton Way Café. www.londonfieldsradio.com.

The Hackney Podcast
Francesca Panetta’s award-winning podcast series. http://hackneypodcast.co.uk.

Reel Rebels Radio
Stoke Newington’s own micro station with an eclectic music policy. www.reelrebelsradio.com.

Shoreditch Radio
It bills itself as a community station but is a breeding ground for wannabe T4 presenters. http://shoreditchradio.co.uk.

Strongroom Alive
One of the best programmes in the east with shows from Wang, Clash and Secretsundaze. www.strongroomalive.com.

Hoxton FM
One of the newest stations on the east London block. www.hoxtonfm.co.uk.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *