On launching The Word Radio, an online community radio for Belgium

With our Superheroes edition hitting streets across Belgium this week, a few words from our editor-in-chief Nicholas Lewis on the launch, next Friday 1st December, of The Word Radio.

I began doing radio about three years ago. My first show was a weekly Monday evening slot on local station Bruzz where I was given a space within which to make mistakes (and they were many) and learn the tricks of the trade. I wasn’t a natural, but something about the power of radio tickled my fancy, and I wanted more. In comes my second show, this time on streaming juggernaut NTS, a platform I’d pretty much been hooked to for the past few years and thanks to whom I had really come into my own as a host, foremost, but more importantly as a music fan. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to credit NTS with making a more engaged and obsessed listener out of me, the many shows I’d religiously listen to (Ruf Dug and his Full Beam! FM, LD’s LDLDN, Alex Ho’s Moony Habits, Apiento’s Test Pressing, Funkineven’s The Apron Show, Raji Rags, Ted’s Draws, Nonsense, Brassfot’s The NCA Show and Charlie Bones’ The Do!! You!!! Breakfast Show among many others) opening up a realm of new possibilities for me. Here I was, suddenly thrust into this world where all tastes were catered to, a world where rap, boogie, post-punk, new age, italo, techno and highlife all co-existed seemingly. For a fundamentally square music fiend such as myself that grew up in a pre-Beastie Boys era where if you wore baggie jeans and listened to the Wu there was no way in hell you’d admit to also liking, say, Joy Division and The Cure, this was nothing short of a revelation.

Something about the power of radio tickled my fancy, and I wanted more.

Then, in January of this year, the subject of launching an online community radio for Belgium came up in a discussion I was having with Koen Galle – which most of you will know as DJ Kong – and our first observation was a rather simple one: London had NTS, Amsterdam had Red Light Radio, Berlin had Berlin Community Radio, Lyon had Lyl but Brussels didn’t have an online platform where producers, artists, music directors, hosts, labels and collectives could really call their own. Sure, long-time broadcasters Radio Panik, Radio Campus, Radio Scorpio, Radio Centraal and, to some extent, Bruzz fulfilled a crucial role on the local underground landscape, but one, in our view, that remained rather local in its outlook and reach. More could be done, surely, to truly unite the country’s disparate scenes under one same banner and nurture creative dialogue and artistic exchange on a national scale. The idea being that the obscure synth wave reissue label from Antwerp must have something in common with, say, the little known jungle producer from Brussels, and that a radio could help bridge the gap. Connect the dots if you will. Fast forward to December – and countless brainstorms, business plans, budgets, government support application forms and mockups later, not to mention the odd setback or two – and the idea is now very much reality.

More could be done, surely, to truly unite the country’s disparate scenes under one same banner and nurture creative dialogue and artistic exchange on a national scale

The Word Radio, an online community radio for Belgium. Broadcasting 24/7 and streamed through its website as well as our Facebook page, The Word Radio counts over 90 monthly residents and counting, all Belgian or based in Belgium. Both big and small, emerging and established, all on the same pedestal, with the underlying ambition being to mirror as much as possible the country’s undeniable uniqueness musically. Never thought I’d actually get to say this for our own radio, but stay locked.

Nicholas Lewis

PS1: Q, we did it, and that’s very much thanks to your invaluable contribution, fonts and all.

PS2: Come through on Friday 1st December from 18h to midnight for the official launch party of The Word Radio.