Melbourne’s online radio stations providing a platform for underground artists
By Tom Williams
The history of online radio stations striving to build online music communities.
Everyone has lost a bit of belonging after the 111 days of lockdown last year. Connection and community became precious commodities as the world we knew faded away. Left without gathering places for fans, Melbourne’s music industry has turned to radio to provide a forum for coming together.
Bedroom shows during the pandemic became the primary means of connecting with the music community, and the glaring lack of expression forums became the catalyst for a number of local online station programming.
FROCKUP and Area 3000 are two stations that have been carved out of lockdown solitude, both aiming to enlighten local artists and provide a forum for expression and connection when conventional means have proven to be impossible. Hope St Radio, on the other hand, was an established online station that was forced out of its live programming by lockdown restrictions.
As last year’s extended lockdown slowly becomes a distant memory, people are spending less time locked inside looking for ways to connect with each other. So what’s the next step for these online radio stations in a world where punters are out there and physically communicate once again?
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Original idea from local DJ Sindy and aptly named after the city’s area code, Area 3000 aims to introduce aspiring local selectors and give voice to the most unique parts of Melbourne’s metro.
Sindy had been considering running an online radio station since reporting on East Side Radio in Portugal almost three years ago. The lockdown introduced extra time and emboldened the need for a station like the 3000 zone.
âDuring the lockdown, I noticed that there wasn’t a great place to discover and listen to local artists without having to sift through various social media and streaming sites,â she says. âWhile the future of live music and nightclubs was uncertain, I felt the need to [for Area 3000] was bigger than ever.
Many star DJs from Area 3000 educate future generations of Melbourne’s club scene. Sindy’s main focus from the start has been to foster the growth of young artists in Melbourne.
âThe music industry can often be intimidating, especially the world of DJs,â she says. “I want to break down that barrier and that feeling of distance and give everyone the chance to participate in the creation and sharing of music.”
Along with this focus on young artists, Sindy intends to make Area 3000 home to niche genre mixes that receive less listening time over traditional radio formats.
However, the city of Melbourne is vital for all of these purposes. For Sindy, the focus will always be on local artists and provide fans with the opportunity to engage with these artists. With the launch of their concert guide, Area 3000 has reaffirmed its commitment to encourage participation in the Melbourne scene.
By featuring live mixes from local gigs and continuing to stream eclectic mixes, Sindy hopes to keep Area 3000 participating on the stage even as Melbourne emerges from lockdown.
âWe want listeners who love the music they hear on the radio to engage with the artists,â she says. âMelbourne is our whole identity and we are working hard to amplify the voice of artists in this city. “
Tune in to the sounds of Zone 3000 here.
FROCKUP radio station and online magazine pride themselves on being led by its contributors and fostering a community of inspired creators coming together. Founders and close friends Sean Ruse, James Morgan, Ivy Rose and Josh Pryor found that their sense of disconnection during the lockdown reverberated not only in their own community but around the world.
Although they had to navigate Zoom meetings and social distancing, the team wanted to make sure no one was left out of their online community.
âWe wanted to be as broad, accessible and diverse as possible, a platform that would allow anyone to get involved and do whatever they want,â says Ruse. But when it comes to balancing the many forms the online community takes, FROCKUP is driven by its environment. âWe naturally let FROCKUP drift in the direction our people and our interests lead them. “
While FROCKUP was born to build communities in Melbourne when disconnection was rampant, the station and magazine continue to adapt to the changing local landscape. Take your project New neighbors, which gives voice to artists relocated from Melbourne by presenting their work on the FROCKUP site.
Even as they continue to adapt, Ruse maintains that the community will be the driving force behind FROCKUP.
âOur goal is to bring people together and collaborate as we can, instead of trying to compete with other magazines and similar teams,â said Ruse.
Live events will also be part of the FROCKUP repertoire as dance floors become less regulated. In January, they hosted a day at The Gasometer hotel which gave the organizers the opportunity to finally meet the people who had supported them online throughout the year.
Being able to deliver what seemed impossible not too long ago was incredibly special for the entire FROCKUP team, and for Ruse, âhitting capacity at 7 p.m. and seeing a huge Alexandra Parade line was an experience. to say the least surreal! “
Discover FROCKUP home online here.
Hope Street Radio
Born in December 2017, Hope St Radio was well established as one of Melbourne’s most popular local online stations before the pandemic struck. Inspired by a visit to New York City, founder Pete Baxter wanted to create something similar to Lot Radio, a live radio show where listeners could have a drink and hang out at the broadcast desk.
Baxter wanted to move away from the conventions of DJ shows and radio broadcasting, creating a relaxed place in between where DJs and fans could relax, whether listening live or online. While it took a while for Baxter to figure out which cordon went where, the radio station didn’t take things too seriously at first, immediately fostering an inclusive and relaxed vibe from the get-go.
Rather than hosting an ongoing resident program, Hope St rotates both hosts and venue during each seasonal game. The station has now aired six seasonal programs, broadcasting everywhere from the Rooftop Bar in the CBD to the Gardens of the Melbourne Zoo.
Throughout all of the seasonal programs, the shining light for Baxter has been the growth of the Hope St.
âThe community is so nice and I think we’ve played a cool role in bringing people together,â Baxter said. âIt’s also great to see artists grow and gain opportunities through their shows and the popularity of the station. “
During the lockdown, Hope St released a number of pre-recorded iso mixes after canceling its scheduled winter programming. Circumstances removed the live element from the station, creating a community very different from Hope St.
Yet despite the disruption, Hope St saw a huge audience leap during the lockdown. And with the promising development of a new Collingwood Yards space currently underway, Hope St is expected to be bigger and better in 2021.
Explore all I hope St here.
Fancy another fun read? Discover our article on ten cult heroes of Melbourne’s underground music.