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KMAH Radio: Luring talent to Leeds

27 November 2015
KMAH Radio: Luring talent to Leeds
Anyone who knows the music scene in Leeds will know there are a lot of up-and-coming DJs out there. Conversations quickly turn to vinyl collections, or the latest record they’ve produced, before looking to a future career in European music capitals London or Berlin. Music journalist Kristan J Caryl and Wire Club promotions manager Hamish Cole were tired of this cycle. With all the talent in Leeds they thought there must be an alternative to watching it migrate out of the City. Thus, KMAH Radio was born. Broadcasting between 12pm-12am from a studio in central Leeds, the online independent radio station seeks to nurture local talent, giving Leeds the chance to claim its crown as the music nerve centre of the north.

KMAH Radio: Luring talent to Leeds - Article 1

With established DJs like Maurice Fulton, PBR Streetgang and Happa already onboard, the station has piqued the interest of DJs and producers around the City. We spoke to KMAH radio founder Kristan about how they got things off the ground, and how others can get involved.

Tell us a little bit about KMAH radio. How did you guys get started?

I was tired of all the talented music makers, DJs, promoters and party people getting into the underground scene then upping and leaving for London or Berlin soon as they could. I also wanted a way of bringing together all the many different sounds, niches, parties, people and characters and shout about them to the wider world.

Who’s your target audience and who would you say are your current listeners?

Our target audience is anyone who wants to explore a world of music away from the same 1000 songs that get piped into their lives via commercial radio each day. My grandfather’s 96 and listens in to our classical shows, whilst I have friends with teenage kids who love the grimy, bass heavy selections, so there really is something for everyone (apart from maybe indie and metal fans!)

What you say it is that makes KMAH different from other radio stations?

We’re not just a house music station that plays mixes 24 hours a day. We pride ourselves on the breadth and depth of our musical output and also encourage hosts to chat about why they play the music they do, tell stories about it, link it to local labels and collectives and shout about what’s going on in the north of England. People get tired of most media being London centric.

How do you find your DJs and get them onboard?

I’m a music journalist so have always known lots of people in the music industry, both locally and nationally, so that was great for getting us hosts from the off. The other co-founders are also involved in the biz, as DJs, label bosses, promoters and events managers, so amongst us we have a pretty broad handle on what goes on, who we want on board and so on. We sign people up who have great collections and good chat, but we also have to like them and what they represent as people. Essentially it’s all about taste - you either like what we like and therefore what we have on KMAH, or you don’t. There is no way round that fact.

What do you look for in a KMAH DJ and can budding DJs contact you to get involved?

Details are all on the site. All we want is passion and knowledge, but also key to us is variation. You might be amazing, but if we have a show or two covering similar ground you might just have to wait a while until some space comes free.

Why did you decide to start KMAH up in Leeds?

All the founders are Leeds-based and have been for years, even if none of us actually hail from the city originally. We started the station here as it was crying out for it with all the many labels, parties, producers, DJs, collectors and music fanatics both old and new who operate in the City.

Do you think Leeds is a prime city to start a radio station like KMAH?

Hells yeah. Outside of London it’s surely the richest place to party (and live, eat, drink, shop, play, work and create!).

What advice can you offer others who may want to follow in your footsteps?

Be prepared to lose every single spare second you have trouble shooting, emailing, messaging on Facebook, uploading archived shows, paying bills, organising people, being in the studio, putting together schedules in Excel, and lots more I am too tired to remember! That said, it’s all totally worth it for that five minutes you get in the bath once a month when you can actually tune in to your own station.

Tune in and listen to KMAH live on their website.

Sophie’s a jack of all writing trades. A freelance journalist and copywriter, writing culture features and opinion pieces makes her world go round.