For music fans that feel at odds with the algorithmic nature of streaming platforms, online radio is delivering an alternative source of music discovery and community. In Ireland, Dublin Digital Radio is connecting experimental artists with new audiences. Run by volunteers, the station has over 175 residents — presenting shows focused on music, politics, and the arts — and despite having no commercial or state funding, the station is on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Dublin Digital Radio, known as DDR, came to life in 2016 after an edition of the Cork-based experimental music festival Open Ear. “The whole weekend, we were just blown away by how many people are making music and the community vibe that was there,” says DDR co-founder Brian McNamara. “We hadn’t really experienced it in Ireland like that before.”
After a “closet space” became available at the offices of now-defunct leftist publication Rabble, DDR began as a weekend-only online station before expanding to meet the demands of its growing listenership. From there, the station started hosting parties and developing resident DJs. Before long, it became a hangout for the local scene. “We wanted to build something that was like what a record shop used to be in Dublin,” says McNamara. “We aimed to make it a fun place that you could go to on a Friday or a Sunday night, even if you weren’t doing the radio; hang out, listen to music, and chat.”