Dear friends at SG101,
First of all I would like to thank you all for your very kind words in the previous thread and thank everybody who has been donating and supporting the station so far!
In this thread I will try to keep everybody up to speed on the latest developments on North Sea Surf Radio. But first let me take the time to explain the where, when, how, why and whatnot. So sit down, have a drink and if you have some spare time, let me take you through the whole process of setting up North Sea Surf Radio.
Why North Sea Surf Radio?
Sitting in the tram in April going to a gig of The Phantom Four in the heart of Amsterdam I was trying to find a surf music radiostation on my smartphone (Android) in the directory of TuneIn. All I found were radiostations with surf in the stationname playing some surf music but playing lots of other genres as well. Basically radiostations for surfers playing a wide selection of varied music. I could not imagine that there would be no full time non stop surf music station so I decided to look further at home. Tried the shoutcast directory and came to the same conclusion, lots of “surf” stations playing surf, hardrock, reggae, lounge, hiphop etc. Then came to Live 365 and found some surf stations that I already knew with either frequent advertising or behind a paid subscriber model, low to medium quality streams and as far as I could detect no format driven programs. I made a phonecall to a radiotechnician and asked him how difficult and expensive it would be to start an online radiostation. He mailed me some information about software, hosting and copyrights. I took my plans to the rest of the band. They were all enthusiastic about it and we decided to fund this project with our band.
What followed were nearly five months of intense preparation. A year ago I quit my last job to take a sabbatical after 22 years of extremely hectic overhours in the record industry and media so I had time to work on this, plenty of time. What I could not foresee is that this project would turn into a full time hobby taking up more time then a hectic job LOL. I had to figure out the software, rip and collect thousands of music tracks, program 22 shows, find people to do presented shows, set up a website, make a newsletter, think of a donation model, make jingles, sweepers and promo´s, make a playlists, design banners and buttons, claim url´s and a Facebook page etc. etc. I did not want this to be stream with just a couple of hundred MP3´s on shuffle, I wanted to set this up like a professional radiostation. Coming from radio I have knowledge about all important aspects like marketing, programming, program formats, listener behaviour etc.
I quickly realised that gathering all music for the station on my own would take far too much time and wanted to launch the station before the North Sea Surf Festival so I called Eddy Luca, one of the first guys on the internet with an online surf record store Surfin´s Back Again. Eddy is one of the biggest collectors and encyclopaedias when it comes to surf music and he was delighted to participate. We decided to split the music in half and came to the following division:
Eddy Luca: Music Director Classic Surf & 1st Surf Revival
Niels Jansen: Music Director 2nd Surf Revival
We both started fanatically ripping our collections and I started contacting people to send me music. DJ Erik Viking, another surf insider in The Netherlands helped me tremendously by ripping most of his entire collection. On top of that I started contacting artists to send me their music. All selections you hear have been made by Eddy and me personally. We have only added our favourite tracks from each record to the database and not just inserted full albums, something which would have saved us time but would have definitely had an impact on the quality of the overall sound.
For the database I set up a collection of folders. We have 14 different categories which are basically timeperiods and continents ranging from pre surf to 21st century Europe. These different categories are divided into 18 ”genres” like traditional, surfrock, tiki, spyfi, ska, horror etc. So the database consists of 14x18=252 different folders containing very specifically divided surf music tracks. We needed this precise division to be able to make different program formats, all with either a diffent feel to fit the time of day or a very specific genre to make specialized shows like Surf Nuggets and Cemetary Beach.
In order for North Sea Surf Radio to sound fresh, modern and ever changing I decided to add a playlist with current and freshly released tracks. This weekly changing playlist consists of a powerplay called The Wipeout!, A rotation tracks, B rotation tracks, a North Sea Surf Classic and the North Sea Exclusive. The playlist makes up for a big percentage of the music played during the day time shows (06:00 – 19:00) on weekdays and during the weekend (12:00 – 15: 00). I think very few surf listeners would like to hear Misirlou 5 times a day but will not mind hearing new and recently released music more often.
With the database and playlist tracks in place I could start programming the shows. Every show has its own flow. The software chooses tracks in a very specific order I have programmed.
For example the start of the morning show The Rising Surf looks like this:
1. TOTH (stands for Top Of The Hour, in this case the program jingle)
2. Western track from 21st Century Europe
3. B rotation track from playlist
4. Traditional surf track from Classic Surf period
5. Donation promo
6. Spyfi track from Classic Surf period
7. Traditional surf track from Pre Surf period
8. North Sea Exclusive from playlist
9. Random station jingle
10. Traditional surf track from 21st Century Europe
11. Traditional surf track from 21st Century USA
12. Traditional surf track from 2nd Revival USA
13. Random station jingle
14. A rotation track from playlist etc…
As you see the morning show has lots of traditional surf. As the day progresses the shows are slowly moving into surfrock and surfpunk, adding more up tempo Ska and Oriental tunes to compensate for the heaviness of some of the tracks. I have programmed 22 different shows, all with their own theme, feel and flow, something I will be finetuning daily for the months to come. The names of the programs have mostly been taken from existing surf music tracks, some are made up alliterations (Fender Fury) and some adapted from other music tracks (21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson i.e.).
3rd Surf Revival?
As you see from my list I have divided the 2nd revival that is officially still going on into two different categories: 2nd Surf Revival (1989 – 1999) and 21st Century Surf Music (2000 – now). I had to do this because I wanted to have a separate 21st century program but I also feel that the 21st century is kind of a new era in surf music. Since 2000 lots of new bands have been launched that have an even less puristic approach to surf music then a lot of the bands in the 90´s. I can even hear the difference between my own band The Phantom Four and it´s predecessor The Treble Spankers (both with the same lead guitarist/composer Phantom Frank). The production values for lots of records have changed immensely and the amount of releases has increased. I think this has to do with more accessible and affordable recording software and the fact that anybody can release stuff without a label nowadays and have it played on Deezer and Spotify and sold on Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes. But on the other hand, since 1989 the 2nd revival hasn´t stopped so one cannot speak of a third revival. But I´m drifting off topic here, back to the station.
To make North Sea Surf Radio sound like a real radiostation I needed jingles, sweepers, promo´s etc. I have been thinking about the type of voice over for a long time. UK English or American English? Male or Female? After discussing it with some people (Jonpaul a.o.) I decided to go for a native American female from LA. After all the Westcoast is where it all started and I find a female voice more neutral and appealing to a wide audience than a male voice. The amazing voice is Janice Williams, a friend of mine I´ve known for years. She´s a singer, vocal coach and like everybody involved volunteered on this project recording about 60 different jingles, promo´s and sweepers. The soundbeds for 90% of the jingles were tailor made by Phantom Frank, my guitar player. The soundbeds for the promo´s of the presented shows are taken from a work by the artist presenting the show. Mathijs Heukeroth, a friend of mine and one of Hollands premier sound technicians, has recorded the voice over, mixed, compressed and mastered everything to make it radioproof.
To make North Sea Surf Radio sound even more like a real radiostation I needed presented show. I have gathered a team of surf veterans to make weekly shows on North Sea Surf Radio:
Caleb Franco from Lost Acapulco (Mexico)
Fernando Pardo from Los Coronas (Spain)
Jon Fagg from Hangnine (UK )
Jonpaul Balak from SurfGuitar 101 (US)
Lorenzo Valdambrini from Surfer Joe Sumer Festival (Italy)
Mike Papageorgiou from Green Cookie Records (Greece)
They are broadcasted in the late afternoon on Saturday and Sunday meaning people in North and South America have to get up early to check them out and Asians/Australians have to stay up late. In order to give those people a better chance of listening we are doing a re-run on weeknights in Europe. I will soon adapt the timetable and post it here including American and Pacific timezones. Our nighttime shows are now being played in the afternoon/evening in the US and when Americans go to sleep we are waking up with the morningshow. In an ideal situation I would like to have a second stream with a 6 to 9 hour delay so that people in the US will experience the same flow as in Europe, but that is not possible.
For a large part of the funding of the station we rely on The Phantom Four, all people presenting a show and Sundazed Records. The rest of the money is gathered with Listener Donations. Where other stations ask for plain money we give something in return. Every download is rewarded with free music that has been made available by surf music artists supporting the station. We have a 24 track compilation with some of the best surf artists around available from a € 5 download and several exclusive tracks available from a € 0,50 download. With these donations we can keep North Sea Surf Radio commercial free which is extremely important to us.
A proper radiostation needs a good website. Julien Pierre from Pirato Ketchup has volunteered on building that and I am very pleased with the result. Filling it with the proper content has taken me quite some time but I think it has all it needs without become too hectic.
We will have a monthly newsletter going out on the first day of every month. It will include additions to the playlist, the new Wipeout and the new North Sea Exclusive download.
The mission of North Sea Surf Radio is to make good quality surf music freely available worldwide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We want to present a wide variety of instrumental surf music, often touching boundaries that might be off limits for purists. As long as it´s instrumental and has a surf guitar in it I feel it should have a place on North Sea Surf Radio. The station should appeal to a wide audience of music lovers, not necessarily surf connoisseurs only. With the station we hope to help the surf music scene to grow, paving the way for bands to reach a wider audience.
We have started broadcasting but are not done yet. The database is far from complete. The coming weeks we will be filling in categories that not have been imported yet because there are not enough tracks in that category yet (with bands like The Treble Spankers, Laika & The Cosmonauts, The Aquamarines to name a few). So we will keep expanding. Maintaining the database is an ongoing project. Tracks that have received many plays will be put inactive for a while and new database tracks will be added weekly. With a weekly changing playlist on top of that it will ensure that North Sea Surf Radio will always be sounding different and fresh.
I hope we can continue to make North Sea Surf Radio for the years to come and feel it can only get better from here.
Founder / Station manager / PD / Music Director / Marketing / PR
North Sea Surf Radio
North Sea Surf Radio