Monday, 18 January 2010

A Happy, Healthy and Wealthy New Year to you all!

Hi there! Well here we are into another New Year already - I must just say what a great year 2009 turned out to be! After 30 years of wishing, hoping, lobbying and pirating we finally managed to make the dream a reality - our northern soul radio station was born! After the realisation that we were never ever going to get a licence to set up a legal terrestrial minority interest music radio station playing northern soul in England we decided that the only way in our lifetime was to set up an internet soul radio station.

I must admit that initially, this seemed a 'second best' option but as things turned out the internet definitely seems to be the way forward, not only because the future of radio is digital and not necessarily DAB, but potentially you have a world wide audience and the added advantage that we can run this exactly as we want to - we don't have to be dictated to by the likes of ofcom for instance. That is not to say that we are not legal; we are - as the Drifters say 'We pay our dues'. So, after 10 months of intensive work involving the setting up of the OKay fm website after first deciding on the name, our studio equipment, sorting through and logging thousands of 45s and LPs, commissioning our station id's, deciding on codecs, streaming service providers, testing, etc, etc, we went online 3 months early, June 1st 2009 to be exact, thanks to Caro our brilliant web designer.

Incidentally, we did find it difficult to select a suitable name - first of all we went back to our original station name of the 80s - Soul City fm, but somebody else had nicked it! That was originally inspired by Soul City Records, so we thought; right let's have a look in the old record box - and the first one that we pulled out was by the Vibrations on OKeh, so we thought great! That'll do but we'll change the spelling to avoid possible litigation! Everything went well for a couple of weeks and then - our first problem; the second weekend, Saturday, 70s weekend and all that, I booted up the laptop and we weren't online! Down to the station and on checking the streaming server - oh dear! The dreaded blue screen of death! Pressing the fast forward button at this stage and advancing a couple of weeks of testing, googling and deciding that we need a new server; we were finally back on line with a reliable stream thanks to CPC.

There are 9 music lovers involved at the moment deejaying (I hate the term - presenter!) and we have 6 hour slots - not unusual with music radio stations where the dj literally just plays the music without having to attend to phone calls, interviews and facilitating news feeds etc. We do work to a playlist - basically that consists of each dj having a Schweppes drinks crate of 45s for their slot and it's up to them to select the running order.

We do speak every now and again - but this is pre-ordained by El Presidente (Marge Tubb) and we have a card with things to say. This is pretty much descended from the format of American top 40 stations of the 80s (including Laser 558, the pirate ship off the English coast), plenty of music but not much speech, we don't even announce the records! I understand that in future we may change that slightly and run 30 minutes of music back to back and then back announce the tracks. One thing is certain, with all this fabulous music, there is no way we are going to talk all over it! Anyway, that'll do for the time being - just a mention that we are now 24hrs online with 6hrs of jazz from midnight to 6.00am our time - I wish I could stay up and listen 'cos I just love jazz - I'll have to find a way to record it! : -)

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