Seoul Community Radio: shaping new genres and sub-cultures

August 2017 - Launched just over a year ago, Seoul Community Radio (SCR) is one of Korea's leading music channels supporting the country’s underground creative music and arts communities. Inspired by the power of radio to shape new genres and sub-cultures, as witnessed worldwide, the station operates a live studio based out of Seoul’s multicultural hotbed Itaewon, broadcasting 24/7 to a young, diverse, and influential audience. Matthew Fennell caught up with the station’s founder Richard Price to discuss the past year and his hopes for the future. 

What was the inspiration behind creating an online radio station here in Korea?
Curating interesting and original content is really the heart of what good radio should be. The fact that it is live and there are real human voices delivering it gives it even more of a personal touch. All commercial radio, not just in Korea, is guilty of dumbing down and selling out music to attract a more mainstream audience. Our viewpoint is the opposite – we are a platform to give artists here in Korea a chance to showcase alternative and creative output people may not get to hear anywhere else – even in clubs.

Seoul Community Radio recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in your first year?
We started with the idea back in early 2016, getting artists involved and having them contribute recorded mixes which we would post online. At the time, we didn’t even have a studio or recording facility so were asking people to record at home – it was quite a surreal scenario!  A lot of people hadn’t used a mic before, so persuading them to do a ‘proper radio’ show was quite a job. A big shout out to all the people that helped us in the early days. It must have seemed like a real leap of faith!

The radio station has developed quite a following since its inception. Are your listeners mainly foreigners or Korean?
There’s currently a mix of language on the air but it’s increasingly becoming more Korean as local artists begin to interact more with our listeners. With international guests, we encourage them to reach out in the way they feel most comfortable. We’ve also done some takeover shows with the established stations Radar Radio and Berlin Community Radio where we have used English to showcase Korean underground in the language they know. We see it as a two-way street really; showcasing the best of international artists coming into Korea, and exporting the best home-grown talent globally.

In terms of your operations, what are your plans for the future of the radio station?
More events, more travel, more spreading the word of all the good things happening in Korea internationally! We have a lot of listeners from all over the world, particularly in other major Asian cities. There are some notable, credible music festivals which have arrived in Asia in places like Hong Kong and Thailand and we’re looking to be a part of the next installment. In the short term, we’ve got pop-up shows and are also broadcasting festival-type events such as the dance stage at the Itaewon Global Village Festival coming up.

What advice would you give to other people wanting to start a small business or venture here in Korea?
Be prepared for less sleep and work basically becoming your life! Half-joking but I guess the moral is there. If you want to start a venture it might as well be something you are passionate about. At least then when you wonder why all the blood sweat and tears, you realize it’s to get away from that boring office job you didn’t really feel alive at in the first place.