An appreciation, hopefully not belated, of Lush 99.5

Looks like the existence of one of my go-to radio stations, the Singaporean indie beacon Lush 99.5, is under threat again. Yesterday they launched a social media campaign encouraging its listeners to tell the world why they listen – a campaign I’m glad to be part of, despite the geographical differences I outlined. Yes, I understand that supporting the arts and music community in your locality is at odds with any commercial radio station’s raison d’être, which is to earn money. In the Philippines, the radio landscape is littered with carcasses of dead alternative stations. NU 107 closed down despite being able to sustain itself for over two decades, because a more profitable broadcasting opportunity came along. And Jam 88.3, the only one left in the country, sustains itself by being a parallel universe pop station exclusively for cool kids and cool kid wannabes. Yes, I also understand that there will always be an element of cooler-than-thou when you tune in to alternative radio, but the format has the unique obligation to do something that, ironically, could kill itself in the long run: support local artists, no matter the genre, persuasion or perception. (Like pandas: carnivores who exclusively eat bamboo, to the point that it’s likely affecting their survival.) The closest this region has to that is a scrappy radio station from Singapore. I will continue to listen (and maybe write about the songs I hear and particularly like, many of which are littered across this blog) as long as it lives. [NB]


Beats 1 badly wants to be a radio station, but…

Beats 1 is Apples new "global" radio station, a major tentpole in its Apple Music streaming service.

With iTunes Radio not bothering anyone (at all), Apple had to find itself a new place in a post-downloading world. So it bought the guys that make those expensive Beats headphones, and with it their streaming service. They hired a bunch of people. They talked to a bunch more people. And then they announced their new answer: a streaming service, Apple Music, which does pretty much everything that Spotify and Deezer and Tidal already do, only it’s more cuddled up with your iPhone. But then, interestingly, to convince people to use that service, they also decided to launch a radio station.

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Decoding the music of Monocle 24

The Mamamoo track I wrote earlier is on relatively high rotation on Monocle 24. Yep, I’m finally writing about that radio station, three and a half years after its launch, and four months after I discovered its stream no longer drops out every five minutes, and it slowly became one of my defaults. Say what you want about the worldview of Monocle the magazine, but the radio station’s actually an interesting mix: while it’s a shame they recently dropped the hourly newscasts, their speech programs somehow sound more accessible than their print counterparts. This is a music blog, though, so focus on the music: Monocle 24’s the closest I have to an international jazz-pop station. (The bias is on the cool stuff: the jazzy, the folky and the funky, with a bunch of pop remixes thrown in. This YouTube playlist is a pretty handy reference.) Catch is, like the magazine, it tends to emphasize on a few regions. The magazine likes the Nordic countries, Germany and Japan; the radio station likes the Nordic countries, South Korea and Kylie Minogue. I sometimes wish the station would cast a wider net on the world: I’m thinking of the good pop I’m hearing from Malaysia lately, or maybe some Afropop, or (inevitably) the good stuff from Filipino artists like Up Dharma Down and Spazzkid. And maybe more old stuff too. But maybe that’s me projecting my tastes on a radio station that isn’t ought to cater to me. [NB]

After Serial, you are most definitely not alone with your podcast

I was waiting at a mall to meet someone I’ve been talking to online for a few weeks before. We were to have lunch at this chicken place she wanted to try, and see where the conversation would bring us. But there was the first few hurdles, of me going to the mall, parking my car, and setting a meeting place. All that time I was by myself, I was listening to the first two episodes of Serial, which was just released the day before.

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Slut-shaming on your late night advice shows

I didn’t hear this myself, since I was at a Christmas party last night, but I’m taking my friend Issa’s word for this. She heard this on last night’s Heartbeats on MOR 101.9. I quote her Facebook post: “Girl opens up about her boyfriend’s best friend forcing himself on her. And the DJs, one is female, says the girl is ‘malandi,’ among other things (lying about her virginity, etc.), clearly missing the obvious: she was raped. And the girl is fucking oblivious about what happened to her. The DJs then suggest she ‘face the consequences,’ have her boyfriend break up with her and hurt her because she ‘deserves it.’ Because she is “selfish” for even hiding it from her boyfriend. This is the society we live in.” Now, I’ll take the benefit of the doubt and wonder what the context of this snippet is about: is there something she didn’t hear? That said, this is beyond cringeworthy: this is victim-blaming, this is slut-shaming, and this is not good for radio. In a market where advice shows dominate late nights, aren’t we ought to have these people taught to be a bit more sensitive? Must be pointed out, though, that DJ Chacha, who usually holds the slot, was not on board that show: instead there were two Star Magic talents. [NB]