I loved listening to radio on my AM/FM car stereo, through boom box and even before that on a handheld transistor radio as child. There was something mysterious about turning dials and having no idea what tunes would blare back in response.
Now we have personal music libraries and cling to CDs (and maybe a few cassette tapes if you’re of that era) that we’ve painstakingly compiled to shout “This is MY music!” Or, at least reflect a late night of bad choices in bargain bins. I think there will always be something more magical about hearing a song you love – or even better, a song you thought you had forgotten – pop up on the radio unexpectedly.
The good news is that technology hasn’t taken this away. It has enhanced it. The internet and the numerous ways to listen online have brought thousands of radio stations from all over the world to us in a click.
I’m not a music snob – er – expert and don’t necessarily scour the internet seeking new stations, but sometimes you come across something unexpectedly by luck or accident. Finding a website unexpectedly is synonymous with saying “I was on the internet when…”
I was following an Asperger’s hashtag, researching my daughter’s possible diagnosis, which led me to a blog site called David Snape and Friends. David’s site welcomes writers and bloggers to submit posts in a spirit of sharing and helping others. I decided to submit a blurb, that he graciously accepted, which then became a “post of the week” on his radio show.
The David Snape Radio Show airs on a station in the UK called SouthWaves Radio that experience turned into an interview and discussion with David on the air about a book I have in the works.
But, that’s just the backstory.
The real discovery is this young man’s show and all the people behind SouthWaves Radio. The station’s vision is to support the local West Sussex area on the south coast of England, hence the station’s name. The local focus is evident in their content that includes support of local businesses and music and the “South Gig and Event Guide” page on their website. In March of this year the station expanded its internet reach and continues to spotlight international interest in their “out of town Tuesdays and Thursdays”, thankfully for me.
Much of the media attention surrounding the not for profit internet radio station, however, has focused on another unique aspect: The station is run by people with autism.
I had the opportunity to speak and correspond with the mastermind and founder of the station, Jamie Dyer. With ten plus years of internet radio already on his resume, Jamie decided to start his own station in the spring of 2014 with the goal of doing what he felt many others in radio weren’t doing – providing local support with a focus on content.
Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Jamie has provided opportunities and brought on several others with Autism to help him with his artful vision under his title of Station Manager and editor.
You would be hard-pressed to determine who at the station is on the Autism spectrum and who isn’t. The vast experience and variety of talent, however, is evident. Even before even clicking on the triangular “play” button on the site, you can see the diversity in the list of personnel on “The Team” page that currently includes: several seasoned radio veterans and personalities, a psychotherapist, a husband and wife team of conversationalists, a voice over artist and actor, at least one PhD, and a pair of women described as “a teaching assistant who likes fairies and all things magical” and “a software tester who likes all things fluffy.”
The station prides itself on providing interesting content and variety rather than the typical commercial and boxed feel of larger stations. Eclectic blend is probably an understatement to describe the content – and it’s what makes listening so enjoyable. The station’s mix of personalities have mastered a vibrant, upbeat mashing of music, news, interviews, and event coverage for the West Sussex area and for those of us in living rooms more than five thousand miles away.
I cannot count the number of times a smile formed when I heard a song from years past. Or, the times I found my foot tapping underneath my desk with songs I’d never heard by artists I didn’t know existed or hadn’t previously paid much attention to.
This station is an obvious gem for their south coast community, but you don’t need to be in the area to appreciate the flavor. I found a set of interviews with artists who attended a local area music festival completely engaging as they hashed with the DJ about American blues and “Southern” (country) music, British pop influences, or regaled their favorite experiences on stage.
I’ve listened to movie talk, theatre hours, convention coverage, current world event discussions, sporting news, and an interview with a Disney actor… and I can’t wait to see what comes up next. Since tuning in I have been lost in British accents, insights, and countless hours of diverse music.
I’m glad that we no longer need to carry a clunky box around or perform wrist contortions to try and get an antennae in the right angle to avoid static for our radio fix. With just a click you can hear an unexpected song and be engaged in programming from anywhere in the world.
And you can tune in to right here both of those: SouthWavesRadio.co.uk.
P.S. The David Snape Show is currently on Tuesdays 12pm PST / 3pm EST and repeats on Thursdays same time. *UPDATE* David Snape is now on Tuesday 8pm, Thursday 1pm and Saturday 8am GMT. You can always check their site for the latest dates/times for all their wonderful programming!