All movements begin underground.
The Toronto Radio Project began broadcasting from a basement below a vintage shop in Bloordale Village in late November of last year, with a diverse range of programming that showcases some of the most exciting music being made locally and abroad. Amassing a schedule of 40 different shows curated by some of the city’s most promising talents and tastemakers (Bwana, BEVSTMODE, Nautiluss, and many more), TRP has already found an enthusiastic audience after just two months of transmission.
Founder Frazer Lavender found inspiration for TRP by way of independent radio projects in his native UK, and sought to fill a glaring gap in Toronto’s radio market. TRP is purely a passion project—it features no advertising, no sponsors, and runs on zero budget, with all participants donating their time on a volunteer basis.
We sat down with Frazer to talk about how the station functions, building an audience, and where his vision for TRP is headed next.
How has the response been so far? Are people embracing TRP from the city and beyond?
There’s been a steadily increasing base of local regular listeners as well as waves of people for particular shows. We’re focused on regular slots and frequency of shows in order for hosts to build up an audience. While the growth is totally organic, it’s been a great start and the feedback has been really positive. It seems there’s an eager audience for this type of broadcasting who had been waiting and wondering why nothing existed before.
What do you look for in a show for TRP? Do you approach most of your DJs, or do they get in touch with you?
A total mixture to be honest. The whole project started with flyers around the city. From there we reached out to some DJs and then word of mouth really took off around the project.
How did the connect with BEVSTMODE come about?
With BEVSTMODE in particular, I had reached out to Drew (of BEVSTMODE) before the project had started as I really felt their collective would fit in well. Their 2-4pm Friday slot only has 2 broadcasts under its belt but there is already a solid buzz around it.
As I understand it, artists are compensated for airplay on TRP via SOCAN. Can you explain how that works? Assuming you’re tracking each song played, do you think you’d ever make “charts” available publicly, the way College radio functions?
Essentially yes, we inform SOCAN of what percentage of copyrighted audio material we intend to use and a calculation is made based on our figures, of which this fee is then distributed by SOCAN. Charts are not something we’d explore, as the sheer variety of music played is so wide it would be a nightmare! And that kind of ties in to what we think sets us apart from most radio stations. We aren’t playing the same small groups of songs, because—due to our set up—there is no obligation to.
Besides BEVSTMODE, what other shows do you recommend our readers check out?
All of them! But seriously, there’s a huge variety of shows and we can afford to be quite risky and granular with our programming due to no content regulations or sponsor stipulations. So whilst it won’t all be for everyone, there’s probably something of interest for most people—and it’s all local people volunteering their time to contribute. SISTERS, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS WORLD IS COMING TO explores gender issues around dance music, RESISTANCE VIBES is a social/political commentary show with regular guests from all over the world. Many of Toronto’s best DJs and Producers share their musical findings, such as Linus Booth, Nautiluss, Bwana, Jex Opolis and Basic Soul unit, to name just a few.
Do you foresee expanding into areas like event promotion, or is TRP destined to exist exclusively in the digital space?
We’re still working on the core product itself, but there’s lots of areas we envisage moving into—events, merchandise and partnerships are all solid side-projects to explore. However, we’re not rushing it and everything that is undertaken, we want to ensure stays true to the ethos of the station.
You can tune in to TRP any time via wearetrp.com. Check out the latest BEVSTMODE broadcast below, and catch new episodes airing every Friday from 2-4pm.