Our friends at DDR have been working relentlessly on less than a shoestring to establish themselves as the new institution in alternative radio.
They’ve recruited some of the most discerning voices in Irish culture, making it “a home for all those with a passion for music, politics, people, community, stories and debate”. They’re now starting a new subscription service called Patreon, which allows the public to donate in return for rewards.
We caught up with Sean Finnan from DDR for a brief chat about the last few year and what they need to make the next steps.
Click here to check out the Patreon page.
Compared to the vision of DDR when you first started, is the current state of affairs similar to what you expected?
I think it’s gone well beyond what we expected at the start. We knew there was always scope for something like this to get off the ground here, and it was just a matter of creating the space for it to happen.
Once you get something running you never know how it’s going to grow, so yeah it’s definitely exceeded in some ways my expectations, but also there was a feeling that it had more potential too. Hopefully it can keep growing.
What do you think has been the main reason DJs, presenters and artists have been drawn to DDR in such big numbers?
I think it’s because there aren’t so many outlets in Ireland, there are blogs and people have their own online profiles on Soundcloud or whatever, but there’s no real point of focalisation. I think DDR has that attraction of being a point where go to listen to music but also, a station/site/studio whatever that people want to contribute to.
You want to embed yourselves as an essential part of Dublin life. In a short time, I think it’s interesting how far you’ve come to achieve that. How do you want to further solidify yourself?
Yeah, it’s really great to see how much it’s grown. For me anyway, I think further solidifying ourselves would involve constantly improving the station, more diverse programming, more focus on debates that are going on in the city and beyond and also throwing more events maybe.
Also, by really getting into what’s happening in Ireland musically and showing all the good stuff that’s happening here, we’d hopefully be embedding ourselves quite naturally into the cultural side of Dublin life. I think there’s a need also for more journalism on the station as well as music, and if that can happen then I’d see it finding a more diverse audience than just music fans.
Do you want to expand outside of Dublin?
I think we have been doing that from the start. We’ve a range of shows from Cork, Galway, Belfast, London, Berlin, etc. and also we played a great festival in Cork earlier this year called Quarter Block Party with a discussion hosted by Mike McGrath Bryan on the state of the Cork music scene. So despite the name we’re very much interested in what’s happening nationally.
If you had an unlimited budget, describe how DDR would be?
Even a limited budget would be great… But anyway, maybe we’d go full on media mogul and oust Denis O’Brien from his throne. Or more likely we’d at the very least be on DAB and FM. There’d definitely be a top quality studio and all that entails. Also having the means of nurturing upcoming artists would keep us healthily involved in all that’s going on.
Be great to have something like Jigsaw where we’re based now but with long term security and the ability to plan long term. Having money too to fund great documentaries and investigative journalism. It’d be the dream really.
Why did you start using Patreon?
Well we feel that DDR has massive potential but that can’t be realised without funds. It’d be great to get financial assistance from DCC or wherever, but until that happens we’ve to get money from somewhere and building a relationship with listeners is the best way to achieve that.
Everyone then has some investment in how the station is run and what it is for a community at large. We are so grateful already for everyone that has subscribed and without them the station really wouldn’t have any long term prospects. It’d be difficult really to survive day-to-day. But now that people are getting behind the Patreon, we are seeing the possibilities of an interesting future. And the more we are funded also by our listeners, the greater the independence the station will have in the future. Which is important considering what happened to other ‘alternative’ radio stations like Phantom and later TXFM when it is purely run on a commercial agenda.
I read that it was your Off Air piece on our site that sparked the idea. When you’re our national broadcaster that’ll be our claim to fame…
Haha yeah, well it sparked the idea in me at least. It was definitely floating around in other’s heads for a while before.
Dublin Digital Radio are hosting a summer party this Saturday in their home at Jigsaw. They’ve got a stellar line up of Irish artists including New Jackson, Noid The Droid, Kate Butler, The Other Witch Show (Feat. Grevs and Gib), plus a BBQ.