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Startup radio station aims to shake up SA’s music industry


An Adelaide radio host frustrated by the lack of local music on commercial radio says his new start-up radio station could be a game changer for South Australia’s music scene.

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Luke Penman launched internet radio station – called “play /pause / play” – two weeks ago with the intention of playing Australian-only music focussed on new releases from local and touring artists.

The station functions through an internet app and features a 24/7 live music stream, artist interviews and an audio gig guide.

Penman, who formerly hosted Radio Adelaide’s daytime music program Local Noise, said South Australia’s commercial radio stations weren’t playing enough Australian music.

Music stations such as Nova, Hit107, Triple M and Mix 102.3 are required by the Commercial Radio Code of Practice to play at least 25 per cent Australian music between 6am and midnight, but Penman isn’t satisfied with the local content available.

“After thinking about that and wondering why the commercial stations weren’t choosing to play Australian music, I was just like, ‘fuck it, I’ll just do it myself,’” he said.

Penman was assisted by a $5000 Live Music Enterprise Grant from the City of Adelaide and a crowdfunding campaign that has already raised more than $12,000 to cover music licensing and associated fees.

“People know that commercial stations in Adelaide don’t play Australian music, and don’t play South Australian music and don’t play alternative music,” Penman said.

“There are enough people who are fans of any of those things and see this and go, ‘yes this is a good idea, let’s jump on.’”

The radio host said about 250 people had already pledged their support to the radio station via the crowdfunding campaign, including local musicians and music lovers jaded by commercial offerings.

He has estimated he would need to generate about $100,000 a year to cover music and software licencing, marketing and his full-time wage.

“There are people that are buying tickets, buying music that they weren’t before this thing,” he said.

“If I can run it over 12 months and completely dedicate myself to do it fulltime then it can be a game changer for the South Australian music scene.”

Despite the surge in popularity for music streaming applications such as Spotify and Apple Music, Penman said there was still value in radio’s ability to control listener content.

He said the intention for the station would be to remove his voice as much as possible to allow musicians and bands to introduce their music on their own terms.

“The big thing for me is just making it easy for people to get exposed to local and touring artists so that if you’re doing the dishes and you’ve got 10 minutes to listen to some music, you don’t have to sit there and open Spotify and stare at it going, ‘fuck I don’t know what I want to listen to,’” he said.

“For this, you just press play – you get to hear music from locals or an artist that’s playing in Adelaide soon and from there you can save the music to your favourites to refer back to it later.”

The app also features what Penman described as “South Australia’s only audio gig guide”.

“I’ve always hated gig guides just in how they work,” he said.

“In the days of Rip it Up and dB Magazine you’d open to the gig guide and there would be hundreds if not thousands of listings in the middle which didn’t really say anything – it would just say something like, ‘Thursday night’ and then under that, ‘Thursdays at the Archer’ or something like that – it’s kind of like why even bother.

“With the app it’s an audio thing and I’ll play a bit of the artist as I mention them and where they’re playing.”

Penman said with time and money, play / pause / play could be used as a promotional tool for South Australia.

“It can extend as far as tourists coming to Adelaide who can download the app and experience what local music means to this area,” he said.

“The Lord Mayor of the Premier of South Australia, when they’re visiting somewhere overseas they can bust out the app and go, ‘Here’s what South Australia sounds like.’”

He said the app also had the potential to be profitable interstate or overseas.

“It could be something that I build a development team around me to create custom apps and then roll it out worldwide,” he said.

“I think that’s a pipe dream and it’s very far down the line but if someone wants to throw one million dollars at me then sure, I’ll make that happen.”

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