The #Tweetcore Radio Hour, Episode 1

Just realized that I can embed the #Tweetcore Radio Hour right here on my blog! In this inaugural episode, I play music by Phil Yates and the Affiliates, Bees!, Jr Moz Collective, Won’t Say Rabbit, Triangle Rain Club, The Star Crumbles, Brian Lambert, Eric Linden, Todd and Karen, the La La Lettes, Scoopski, Dino DiMuro, and the Dukenfields.

Music Is the Winner: An Interview with the Founder of Sunshine Music iRadio

According to their website, Sunshine Music iRadio is “a new internet radio station that has a love of all types of music!” Dedicated to giving bands, singers, DJ’s and independent artists more exposure and airplay, they also aim to give listeners more of a say in how the station is run and the content it puts it out. Though they have yet to begin broadcasting, the wheels are in motion. 

Let’s start with some basics. I’ve seen the term “iRadio” around for a little while now, but I’ve never been exactly sure of what it means. Is the “i” for “internet”? “Interactive”? A bit of both?  Would you mind explaining it to me?

Sure. For our station it means both. We want people to be able to recognize it’s an internet radio station and with internet radio stations growing by over 400% in the last couple years we felt it was important to have that distinction. 

We also want the station to be interactive with our listeners, that’s one thing that is really important to us. We recently added a new feature “Have Your Say” to the website for listeners to use when we finally go live. This feature is for listeners to rate us on how well we’re doing, but also to send us suggestions on how the station operates. We want our listeners to feel this is their station as well as ours, Having said that though, we won’t act on every suggestion that may end up on our desk! The one thing we can promise people, is that we will look at every suggestion and if it’s a viable suggestion and it improves the station then we will implement it. As far as we’re concerned, many minds are far better than just ours!

Got it! Thanks for the clarification! Where did the idea for Sunshine Music iRadio come from? Who are its founders? What’s their background? 

With Covid being such a big disruptive part of everyone’s lives over the last couple of years, I wanted to pursue something that was Covid-proof, so to speak. After seeing and hearing all the amazing music that was about, I decided that this was a path I was going to pursue.

Jessica and I are the initial founders, With Em & Nik coming on board further on in the process. Jessica works full time and helps out in her spare time, I work full time on this, with Em and Nik helping out where and when needed.

As for backgrounds, we’re not radio people, we just love the music! Jessica is involved in the iGaming sector, I have transport and security background, working in places like, London, Iraq and Libya. I also used to make dance music over 20 years ago, which is how I met Em! 

Em and Nik have jobs, but are also DJ’s with Em also being a tutor to young people who want to be a DJ! So we’re all completely green when it comes to running a radio station, but we made that clear right from the start! We are learning everyday and having fun while we’re setting it up too!

Is the station a moneymaking endeavor, or is it largely philanthropic in terms of gaining exposure for new artists and providing listeners with good music?

Both! At the moment I’m the only one who works full time, the rest of the team chip in where they can. We want to get it to a point where we don’t have volunteers so to speak, we want to be able to pay people, so their focus can be 100% full time on the station, on the artists & music, plus we have other bigger plans for the future too. 

With all the great music that is around today, we want to give these guys a platform to be heard and attract new fans/followers.

I like the idea of helping independent artists, but I also know that there are a lot of us out there. How do you decide whose music to play? Do your DJs get a say?

Helping unsigned/independent artists is the whole point of this station. I deal with all the music submissions personally, with the standard of music in general being exceptional! First thing we look at whatever the type of submission, is the quality of the recording. We have set our submission requirements high, not because we’re being difficult, but because we want the listener to be so impressed with the music that they hear! We understand not everyone can record at Abbey Road studios, but with the amazing software around a high quality recording can still be achieved.

There have been a few submissions that we have felt not a good fit for the station. When we get that type of submission, it will get put forward to the team and a team decision is taken. In general though we’ve accepted I’d say about 95% of music submitted.

We’re not accepting explicit submissions at the moment, but we are looking into creating a show for MixCloud or a similar platform where this can be hosted. We’ve taken that decision with two things in mind: being internet radio we have no watershed time as it’s global, plus these days there are just far too many Karens out there who get triggered by the slightest thing and, being perfectly honest, we don’t have the time to give the Karens of this world the time. That just takes away time from the music!

Speaking of DJs, I see you have a strong roster and that your DJs have a wide range of musical tastes. It reminds me a bit of my college radio days! Do you feel like diversity, defined broadly, is missing from “traditional” radio? Does bringing musical diversity to your station pose any challenges or present any opportunities?

I see a lot of stations out there playing it safe and fair play to them, if it works for them, then music is the winner! I see lot’s of stations just playing Indie or Rock for example and again, music is the winner, which is what it’s all about! We’d like to play as many different genres as we can and have a bit of variety, introducing new music to people that may not normally listen to a certain type of music. 

Our selection of presenters is vary varied and that in my humble opinion can only be a good thing for music! We don’t see that posing any challenges, for me, that just brings opportunities!

Will your DJs broadcast live or will their shows be prerecorded? 

We’re not the BBC, we’re not paying people (at the moment), so obviously we don’t have a full quota of presenters. So to start with, it will be a mixture of Live, Pre-Recorded & Automation. Our aim is to get it presented fully live as soon as we can, that’s the plan!

In addition to being an iRadio station, Sunshine Music also offers podcasts. How do you see the two endeavors complementing each other?

We have podcasts that are for both artists and listeners to participate in, all with one goal in mind …. Music! We feel there are people who don’t listen to radio normally, but are avid podcast listeners and vice versa, people who don’t listen to podcasts, but listen to radio! So we are hoping to possibly convert both types into listening to the other medium. Either way, it’s about promoting the great music that’s out there.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in terms of getting the station going?

As I stated earlier, we’re not radio people and we are learning every day! Unfortunately we’ve taken some poor advice from so-called radio professionals, which has had a big impact on us at times! I take full responsibility for that, as I ultimately make the final decisions, but it is what it is! 

We changed our station supplier a week before the first launch date, due to several issues that arose. We now have an amazing station software supplier that does everything it says it will enable us to function as a proper station, rather than a music curation station!

This comes with its own drawbacks. It is requiring a much heavier financial investment along with the complexities of the software. The new system we are using is far more complex, so we’re all having to learn how to use & operate it etc.

The main challenge with the new system, is building the library! We are having to catalogue everything with far more care and detail than our previous suppliers library. Also, the system has rules for each individual track which is massively time consuming, but once this is set up properly, it will ensure all artists get equal airplay and not favour or allow a presenter to favour one artist more than the rest. 

So this is the critical thing really, building that foundation is vital, but also very time consuming too. It will all be worth it in the end, that I’m certain of and I’m far more positive about the future now with our new software supplier!

Do you have a launch date in mind? 

I would say April some time, I’m not going to give a concrete date like we did before and look stupid again, definitely a lesson learned there! We are taking our time with the new system and working hard with some long hours being put in to make sure it’s right and not rush like we did before. What I will say, I think it will be worth the wait (hopefully!).

What about long-term plans? How do you envision Sunshine Music iRadio growing over time?

We have major plans for the future with there being some seriously exciting off shoots to the station! I’m not going to go into detail, as our main priority is to get the station up and running first and the podcasts rolling out, iron out all the little issues I am sure will arise after launch, then we can talk more. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!