Fab Radio International, the station I do a bit of work for (if you can call playing the records I enjoy “work”) has just celebrated its first anniversary. Over the last year it has grown from a little website with a few niche programs stewarded by passionate amateurs to a modest empire incorporating two channels (soon to be three) broadcasting shows dealing with not just music but politics, literature, gardening, film, comedy, chat, sport, finance and a whole bunch of other things besides, drawing in established names from the media world grown disillusioned by their work at mainstream stations, now eager to embrace the alternative.
I hadn’t really noticed the progress and growth of the station until this week. Biff Roxby and I turn up when the building is all but empty, play songs for insomniacs and then slink away into the darkness when we’re done. So it was a great pleasure to attend Fab’s birthday party and witness the sheer number of people involved, from all manner of backgrounds, catering to all sorts of interests and tastes. It was only then that I realised I was part of something pretty big… and getting bigger all the time.
I’ve already written about how presenting a late-night radio show reinvigorated my faltering enthusiasm for music. It’s no secret that I have a personality worryingly open to getting jaded about things quickly. It was a huge relief when this new activity helped to rescue an old love. Then later, when the novelty showed signs of wearing off, that threat was happily thwarted by a contagious sense of optimism pervading the station as a whole, that we were achieving something, something small but, nevertheless, something real. Many of us (in Britain at least, but I suspect it’s true of the developed world as a whole) appear to be lamenting the onset of a profound cultural stagnancy. There is a tangible sense that things are not only getting more and more mediocre but that this mediocrity is an inevitable and unstoppable turn of events, that we are destined to end up sluicing about in the sludge of a willfully homogenized and creatively-compromised version of the arts (and the media that reflects it) in which everything has become a conceited shadow of the safe cynicism that went before. Of course, if you ferret about in the underground long enough you’ll find no shortage of inspirational practitioners building a compelling case for the opposite. Unfortunately not everyone has this aptitude for ferreting.
Making something on one’s own carries with it a great deal of satisfaction and pride; but making something in the context of many other people making many other things carries with it an invigorating and ever-replenishing optimism. Over the years I’ve learned that the latter sensation tends to fortify a person a lot more efficiently than the former.
I’m not suggesting that maintaining a successful internet radio station is a revolutionary act. It isn’t, not in itself. But anything created by passionate people outside the influence of indifferent money-guzzling corporations is a source of hope. And hope is always a good start.
We recently won an award (see photo of me looking pleased in my Sylvester McCoy tanktop) so we must be doing something right.
The latest show can be listened to here: