A trip with Resonance104.4FM
As this years Mayday demonstrations in central London geared up for their usual standoff with police a little way up Charing Cross Road a very different radical action was taking place. Resonance104.4FM burst out live on air for the first time.
London sees many stations come and go on it's chaotic airwaves so what was so different about this station? Part of the radio authority's 'Access' scheme, Resonance104.4FM was part of a pilot project to determine the viability for a 3rd tier of radio which would be community based.
The station was one of 15 that have all started broadcasting within the last year all around the UK. Described as a 'Radio Art' station this was a new concept for UK broadcasting and something that is long overdue for a city like London which is considered the cultural capital of Europe.
'Radio Art' is not a common term in the landscape of broadcasting in this current. Access to radio for sound artists of all persuasions is limited by the distinctly non-open access approach of the BBC and the general disinterest from commercial broadcasters.
What Resonance104.4FM hoped to do was provide as wide a platform as possible for artists and interested broadcasters to take up the challenge of redfining radio for the 21st Century.
Europe, the US and Australia all have their own traditions of radical radio and so it was about time the UK caught up with a station willing to take risks and open the the wireless imagination.
Well this is all might sound very worthy but what exactly is on the schedule seven months down the road?
The station, setup by the London Musicians Collective, is obvioulsy awash with music of all kinds, rare 45s, world musics, screaming electronica, freely improvised live sessions, sound poetry, electroacoustic, turntabilism, krautrock and as much weirdness to satisfy even the toughest of listeners.
One of the most important functions of the station is to act as a gallery for radio works from round the world.
These are slotted in at various points during the week and are often repeated during our nightime loop when we're off-air. You'll know when you hit Resonance104.4FM on your dial, it won't sound like any other station.
As an example of how the station is unbounded by convention it devoted the entire 24hr period on Xmas day to all the Throbbing Gristle live recordings from the late '70s including introductions from band members.
The everyday presentation is at the discretion of the programme makers ranging from slick professionalism to easy going amateurish. Crucially there are no playlists, timechecks, news, constant ads or weather.
Talk shows are also prominent parts of the schedule with the likes of Billy Jenkins, Salena Saliva, The Foundry Collective, Indymedia and David Quantick.
Saturday afternoon sees Robert Simone's 'Headroom: Theatre of the Mind' a 2hr discussion on all kinds of anomalous phenomena from stone circles to UFOs.
Other oddities include a soap opera called 'Smackton Keynes,' Xollob Parc where everything runs backwards, PirateFlava with 15mins of mashed up pirate stations and 'Calling All Pensioners!' from Deptford Action Group for the Elderly (DAGE).
The station is not a closed shop as every weekday evening for 90mins we ask a different artist to take over the controls and do exactly what they want.
From simply turning up with records to live beard shaving on radio it's all happe ned on this regular show known as the 'Clearspot.' Last sunday of each month sees 'Wormworld' an open poetry night at the Foundry if you want to turn up and be on air.
The future is uncertain as the Communications Bill is debated in this parliament.
Although our official closing down date is 1st May 2003 this may well be extended.
For now you can tune in central London or on the web at http://www.resonancefm.com. Do contact us if you like what you're listening to by phoning 0207 836 3664 or emailing us on email@example.com.
We need to know who is listening for us to be able to carry on broadcasting. If you've got a big or small idea for a programme do get in contact
Resonance104.4FM - 'the art of listening' live on air 12noon till 1am everyday.
Tom Wallace January 2003
» 'Never mind the xollob' Guardian article 15th Jan 2003
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