Spectrum 91.3 is a special event broadcaster set up to cover the Red Bull Music Academy and granted a licence to broadcast to the larger Cape Town metropole for one month only. In order to get the licence a voluntary association was established and ran a petition of over 1800 signatures in order to prove that the granting of a radio licence to cover the music academy fell within the ICASA special events broadcast application criteria. Then the impossible happened and ICASA granted the licence. Globecom rolled in and set up the transmitter, Red Bull bankrolled the studio equipment and the computers and the Academy provided the content, drawn from around the world in the form of music, lectures, live gigs, live sets and over 60 record boxes imported for the event (with their DJs in tow) from around the world.
It was like a loophole in the airwaves. No risk radio. And more importantly there was no advertising, with no commercial agenda driving the playlists. For a month the station's mandate was simply to play the music, interview the celebrity lecturers (like Prince Paul, Bob Moog, Hugh Masekela et al) and broadcast edited selections from their lecture sessions to keep Cape Town in the loop with what the participants of the music academy were learning from these stalwarts of the global music industry. On top of all this add live feeds from the city's clubs, installed to broadcast live the participant and lecturer's gigs as they were taking place. And so Cape Town was tuned into the sounds of Metro Area's Darshan Jesrani, UK drum 'n bass legends Marcus Intalex and Tony Coleman, J Da Flex, Anthony 'Shake' Shakir from Detroit, Erlend Oye of Royksopp fame, Patrice singing live over African Dope rhythms, Amp Fiddler from Parliament and P-Funk fame, our own Ready D and Mira Calix amongst many others and surrounded on either side by the precocious talents of 54 international participants from 38 countries and 4 South African boys, keeping it locked down on a mid-tempo African house and kwaito flavour.
And while these broadcasts were beaming direct from the clubs to your radio, yours truly was sent in with a mic and radio transmitter to interview the punters and guage the mayhem live on air. There were many expletives, loads of deep cranium drawl about the use of 'logic' and 'reason' as platforms for creating music, a lot of spontaneous gushing about how amazing the academy is and, of course, a fair bit of obnoxious, drunken babble and amped up dance floor whooping. But throughout the radio's short-lived existence, one thing was blatantly clear: Cape Town needs better radio than is currently being offered. For a month Spectrum 91.3 otherwise known as 'RESPECTrum' stepped up to the plate and gave it a crack. Guaging from the glowing response monitored via sms and telephone calls during the three hour call-in session on the last day, the station and it's 100% pure content approach scored highly amongst Cape Town's radio starved audience. And now as I drive I flip ceaselessly between stations: from the non-descript commercial American hip pop and advertising blitzes on 5fm and Good Hope to the whine and moan of commercial American R&B on Metro and P4, to the overload of South African accented complaints on SAfm to the gospel, kwaito and weirdness of misunderstood Xhosa news broadcasts and discussions on Umhlobo, which is where I spend most of my time nowadays.Andy Davis was the Media Liaison for the RBMA and the live gig reporter for Spectrum 91.3