review 17 Jan 12

Online Media Revival

Rising from the ashes of Belgrade’s first ever Internet radio station, NOFM looks set to continue providing the same services to the people of Belgrade and beyond.

David Galic
Belgrade Insight

The original incarnation, NRBG, New Radio Belgrade, had over 20 different shows featuring a plethora of musical styles. NRBG was on the air for a little less than two years, but the idea has been resurrected with NOFM, which started working in early 2012. You won’t find these radio programmes on AM or FM frequencies, however. NOFM, like NRBG before, operates completely online.

What makes the programming of this online radio station great is that all of them come from straight the heart. All those responsible for the programmes work on the radio station on a voluntary basis. Everyone broadcasting a show on NOFM is doing it for love, not financial gain.

Many of the best shows that ran on NRBG over the last two years will continue on NOFM, such as Patkazec (Duckrabbit), an alternative entertainment show for children that definitely deviates from the norm. You will also be able to listen to Noisecasts, which is led by long-time members of the Belgrade Noise Society. This provides programmes focused on alternative, abstract and experimental music. You can also get your fix of alternative and independent music from scene stalwarts Pop Depresija and Kontra-Bass, and from newer groups like SuperSize She Scum, who will provide an in-depth look at what is happening in a variety of scenes rarely covered by mainstream radio stations.

It’s not a strictly music-oriented station, either. For example, Radio Galaksija is a show focusing on science, cosmology, astronomy and other related scientific fields.

As Belgrade has a real problem with cultural politics and the space given to cultural projects generally, taking such a project to the internet was one way to avoid all the convoluted red tape that would probably be involved in starting such a project on a regular radio station in the capital.

That’s not all. The radio’s philosophy of being open to anyone who has a good idea and wants to participate has been expanded in a more palpable way; people are now invited to the station. Namely, the apartment that houses NOFM also moonlights as a form of underground café.

If you know how to find your way to the headquarters within the old and faded buildings lining Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra, you can visit NOFM during the evening and have some drinks.

Entering the run-down courtyard and following the stairs into the radio station’s headquarters leads you into a slightly dilapidated apartment that the radio station calls home. Here you can come at any time, but preferably at night, and get drinks served at reasonable prices by volunteer waiting staff. The apartment has three rooms with the makeshift bar in the first and the equipment that runs the online radio station placed at the back of the apartment with a view of the boulevard beyond its window.

The café has dubbed itself the Vega youth centre and it is meant to be a place promoting discussion activism and generally promoting societal and cultural projects aimed at increasing awareness and activism among young people.

NOFM and the Vega café/youth centre that houses the radio station are together a prime example of young Belgraders taking the initiative and manifesting ideas and projects on their own without the support of the mainstream media and the government.

The look of the apartment that houses these things may not be inherently impressive, but the idea that young people can come here to share ideas, learn from each other and at the same time have a drink and listen to great shows being broadcast in real time just metres from where they sit is more impressive than any gaudy Belgrade cafe could be.

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