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CMU@TGE: Nats Spada on Platform B

By | Published on Wednesday 1 June 2016

Nats Spada

Look out for insights, advice and viewpoints dished out at this year’s CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference here in the CMU Daily throughout June. This week, a series of interviews conducted by CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke as part of this year’s CMU:DIY programme, where the spotlight was on the grass root live scene. And today Nats Spada from Platform B, a project that integrates radio with the live experience.

It’s no secret that the radio industry faces a big challenge in the years ahead as young listeners increasingly shun traditional radio services in favour of more interactive online platforms, mashing together music from SoundCloud and Spotify with chat, interviews and sessions off of YouTube, where – in addition to all the YouTubers’ channels – conventional radio stations also increasingly post their stand-out editorial content.

In recent years the radio sector has assumed it can pull in at least some of the YouTube generation once they start driving, the assumption being they’ll have pretty cheap and rubbish vehicles with limited in-car entertainment options. But the mobile internet is ruining that plan.

For old timers who always loved the immediacy and intimacy of live radio, this trend is distressing. Though perhaps the medium does have a future, it just needs to be reinvented for and possibly by younger listeners. Which is where Brighton-based Platform B comes in, led by Nats Spada, Senior Producer at online radio station Totallyradio.

“I think, for many fifteen to 25 year olds, radio today can sound rather staid, lacking the vibrancy and interactivity of the online platforms they are used to, especially YouTube. So I think it’s time to reimagine what radio can be, and only people in that age range can do that. Which is what Platform B is all about”.

The starting point is to combine the radio show with the live experience – not in the old fashioned roadshow sense, where the live side is just tagged on, or in the live-stream-from-a-club sense, where the broadcast is secondary, but an attempt to truly combine both elements, so it works as both a live event and a radio show.

“Platform B is a new radio station that we’ve just launched”, explains Spada. “It’s a youth-led station that will broadcast from locations all around Brighton – we did our first broadcast at the Green Door Store recently. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, because although in Brighton we have some great online and commercial radio stations, there is nothing specifically aimed at the fifteen to 25 age range”.

Totallyradio experimented with the pop-up radio format in Brighton last year, but Platform B will make the pop-up studio the norm. “It’s about taking the traditional radio model out of the studio, to make it more accessible, so anyone can come along, hang out, and ultimately get involved in what we are broadcasting”.

That broadcast is currently live online – with listen again via MixCloud – though the plan is to relatively quickly expand into a full-on radio operation. “We are initially online, with a new broadcast each Sunday afternoon” says Spada, “but while we are starting small, we will expand. The ambition is to be on air 24/7, and as well as the online broadcast, we have applied for a full-time community FM licence and will broadcast on small scale DAB”.

The current Sunday shows are all about playing with the format. “We are broadcasting from the Green Door Store every Sunday from midday to 4pm. It’s a bit like a social, people can come down, hang out, listen to the DJs playing some tunes and talking. And if they want to get involved, they just need to come and find us at the venue”.

The current shows are themed around genres. “The first was focused on hip hop and grime, and we had lots of local producers, MCs and music makers come down, most of whom had never done any radio before. They played records, discussed the Brighton hip hop scene, and towards the end, one of the MCs took the mic to do some improvised rapping. It was a great show”.

As the project grows, more shows will take place at more venues, with the aim to ultimately have a 24/7 service, totally led by the young creators who participate. Along the way, they might just find the radio format that appeals to their generation. It’s a not-for-profit venture, and Spada says that she is currently seeking arts funding, though down the line brand partnerships and paid-for events may provide revenue, if that’s what the young creators driving the editorial think might work.

“The programming will be led by the young creators” she adds. “And will begin with a music bias, but I hope we can bring in spoken word, poetry, other art forms, and some political debate down the line”. A real mix that appeals to the Platform B’s audience, and might just be an insight into what radio will become.

Find out more about Platform B at