WORDS: Alex Caslano
PHOTO: Dasha Miller

Subcity Radio and their events throughout the years have given me some of my favourite gigs as a DJ, schooled me as a promoter and set me on my chosen career path developing independent artists who make music I love.” Speaking ahead of Subcity’s 20th anniversary, Ben Martin, one of the station’s past contributors and tireless promoter of Mixed Bizness for nearly ten years in Glasgow, is just one of many who have been inspired by Subcity. “I honestly can’t think of a more significant influence on so many areas of my social and professional life” he enthuses. Joining DJs past and present for the station’s birthday celebrations this Saturday at the Art School, the team that Ben once worked with may have changed, but the ethos remains the same.

Having made its first broadcast in 1995, Subcity Radio is now a pillar of Glasgow’s creative scene, supporting and nurturing new talent as well as providing countless hours of freeform entertainment. Some of the city’s most respected names have been involved at one point or another in the station's history, including everyone from Optimo to Hudson Mohawke. But it’s a culture of inclusiveness which bolsters Subcity’s appeal and importance, inviting anyone with an interest to get involved, whether it be as a presenter, producer or behind the scenes (we even hosted a show on the station for a few wonderful years).

And it’s not just broadcasting where Subcity excels, the station is also recognised for throwing some of the most ambitious events Glasgow has witnessed, with a production value which often pushes the boundaries. Nights like ‘Dimension B’ and the ‘Dark Party’ are the stuff of legend, and who can forget the ingenious ‘Who Da Best?’ soundclash in Stereo’s basement? All carried out by volunteers in their spare time, you get a real sense of the dedication which drives Subcity, and as the station approaches its 20th birthday, we’re sure one of Glasgow’s great institutions will celebrate in signature style.

Listen to Subcity’s recent soundclash by clicking on the image below; it features some of the DJs involved at the 20th Birthday party this Saturday. We also had a chance to chat with station manager, Michael Pellegrotti, talking more about the team effort involved with running the station and what the future holds:

SG: It’s great to see that there’s a real buzz around Subcity’s 20th Birthday which you truly deserve; how important do you feel Subcity is for Glasgow’s creative scene and the talent it supports?

Michael: Because I'm on the inside looking out, I think I see it more the other way; without Glasgow's creative scene, Subcity probably wouldn't be anywhere near where it is today. I guess it's a mutually beneficial relationship, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The platform that has been built and sustained at Subcity helps stimulate fantastic radio content which helps sustain the station and its reputation.

SG: You’re the current manager at the station, but there’s a whole team who make it work; can you tell us a little about how you got involved and the dedication from people who contribute?

Michael: I first got involved through the SRC (our parent body) Media Week a little over two years ago. I had just started studying again at Glasgow Uni and had been an avid follower since I first moved to Glasgow years before, so I decided it was about time I tried to get involved. I now wish I had sooner! The people I get to work with are amazing; we're all volunteers so everyone is doing it for the love of the station. There's so much passion and creativity flying around, it's a really incredible thing to be a part of.

SG: There have been some quite high profile names at the station through the years, but crucially they all started at the same level; how has some of the Subcity alumni reflected on their time there?

Michael: From the interviews I see with the bigger names and the conversations with those I do know or have met, I think it's fair to say everyone hugely values the time they spent here. With the 20th celebrations alone, everyone we've got in touch with has been incredibly willing to help however they could, whether by helping fill gaps in the archives to being interviewed for a documentary we're doing. It's all really positive.

Photo by Sean Anderson

SG: The first broadcast on Subcity was in 1995 and there have of course been periods of change since that time; what do you think were some of most important moments to shape the station’s course and reputation?

Michael: I definitely think one of the big moments, if not he biggest, was the move to online all-year round broadcasting. It took the station from broadcasting for one or two months and throwing parties in between to a constant operation. It provided many more opportunities for people to get involved and innovate.

SG: We’re always amazed at the effort which goes into production at Subcity events and you’ve promised something pretty special for the 20th Birthday. Can you tell us a little about who is involved and what you have planned for the party at the Art School?

Michael: So the production for Subcity parties is generally a team effort. It will start with ideas thrown around for the theme of a party by the events team. Eventually this will get brought to the whole team where people are allowed the opportunity to question it, suggest alternatives and just generally try and improve it. After that we pull all our resources and it's all hands on deck to put it all together. I'm afraid I can't give away too much about the Birthday production, but there will be a cake and I can assure you that you will be blown away.

SG: We’re certainly proud to have hosted a show on the station and will be celebrating from the dancefloor this Saturday. Looking to the future though, what are your ambitions for Subcity moving forward?

Michael: I feel it (the 20th anniversary) has helped provide a real focus that we've maybe been missing since we last broadcast on FM. I'd really love for it to continue to thrive and strengthen its ties within the local creative scene. We'll be looking to rebuild our website and get ourselves ahead of the curve once more. After all, we did have our listen again feature before iPlayer existed!

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