Lots of entertainment, cultural merging, live music and dj set thanks to John Richards from KEXP, Federico Russo from Radio Deejay, the Bud Spencer Blues Explosion band and Demonology. Moreover, on occasion of Out of the Box 2015, on Saturday Oct. 24th, Rolling Stone Italia came to join us and to meet John Richards, soon before the event’s party finale, to exchange thoughts on the history of KEXP, cult radio from Seattle, and the rise of streaming.
Do not miss the following article which appeared on RollingStone.it:
John Richards is a key figure at KEXP, one of the most important radio stations in the United States, a voice that is essential to understanding the changes that radio has undergone in recent years. There are several reasons for this. To start with, KEXP is from Seattle, a city that occupies a crucial place in music history. What’s more, it’s one of the pioneers of online radio, thanks to the support of the University of Washington. KEXP is a cult radio station that, over time, has gained unparalleled credibility in every sphere. First rock, then grunge, then indie, then hip-hop. KEXP has never been afraid of changing the music, of following new styles. That has been, contrary to what one might imagine, their strength. The arrival of technology and the Internet, however, changed the rules of the game. The explosion of streaming turned everything upside down. At the Out of the box event, organised by La Marzocco, we asked Richards what he thought about it. He’s confident that radio will once again come out on top.
What was the key moment in KEXP’s technological growth?
For years the University of Washington has provided our technological support. Do you know what the most important thing they’ve given us is? They put us online. I know that sounds super basic now, but when we started out, for us it was like going to the Moon! We decided to place all our bets on that, to broadcast not only to the people of Seattle, but to the whole world as well. Now I can tell you that sure, of course we have podcasts, we have live-in-studio sessions, we have a ton of views, of contacts. People follow us because of our streaming, because of the excellent quality that we offer.
So you’re not worried about getting crushed by streaming, then?
Have you heard that people are concerned about this? They shouldn’t worry. KEXP won’t die. The only radio stations that die will be the ones that deserve to die. The ones that don’t make art any more. The ones that have become super-commercial, that big companies have made into money machines, advertising spaces. The ones without art will die. And you know what I say? Streaming is creating radio stations on its own. Look at Apple Music. They’ve put in hosts, human voices.
So streaming is okay in the end?
The ones with a human voice are perfect, because they recreate that world. People are used to having a guide. They have to feel comfortable. The continuous streaming stations are okay, too. They don’t help you to discover music, because for that you need someone you trust. There’s so much stuff out there right now. I think more music is coming out now than in the first 5 years I worked in radio. You have no idea of the filter that we have to use, but we do it for the people, for the ones who still need a guide.
What’s the secret to being such an important guide?
We put passion into what we do, and we always change. We never sit still. I manage all the DJs on KEXP, and they know how I feel about it. You’re not passionate about this anymore? Fine, you can go.