A community internet radio founded with the goal of supporting independent music and cultural scene of Rijeka, Croatia; promoting underground music genres – mostly ex-yu funk music, disco and rock, occasionally reggae, dub (and more) – Radio Roža is a unique project that has grown from a pure love for vinyl records and their enthusiasm into one of the most exciting online radio projects in the region.
Radio Roža. On Indie.
Hey guys! Thanks for taking the time to answer these few questions! So, let’s start from the beginning… Where the idea for launching an alternative online radio station came from?
It started as a joke really. I finally got a record player and immediately put all the vinyl boxes in my car and rushed to my friend’s house. My parents had a decent collection of various jazz, fusion, rock, funk and ex-yu records, so we listened to some records that we didn’t know anything about. And they were great.
Instantly we got the idea that we should share this great music with the world, so we found a free streaming service and shared this with our friends. As a joke, we said to ourselves that we should be called Radio Roža since my friend lived near Teta Roža, a famous bar and neighborhood. The weekend was over, I packed my things and left home. By the time I got home, my friend already designed the logo, put up a Facebook page and said “hi” to the world.
I called him and asked: “Man, what did you do, what the hell’s going on?”. He said: “This is it, we’re having a radio.”
Soon after, we started getting invitations to play records in some unusual places: flea market, elderly home, exhibitions, and simultaneously put up a website and streamed our music from a broken laptop. Many initiatives and great projects were soon developed, such as working with children and youth from Benčić Youth Council organization by digitalizing and recording an audiobook from the youth magazine Brickzine.
During the pandemic and lockdown we continued our cooperation and produced Korona Kid – a four-epizode radio show made from home.
What do you say about the current state of music in Rijeka and the entire SE Europe (Balkan) region? There’s so many talented young artists and bands in the alternative music scene, and yet it seems just commercial stuff is out there on majority of radio and tv stations (and shows)… Is this where Roža jumps in to support quality music and artists from Rijeka, Croatia, but also the entire region?
This is also the one thing that was driving us to put up a radio. We’re coming from the cultural sector, I work in Ri Rock, a NGO that cherishes alternative culture. Basically, we were fed up with the existing radio stations in Rijeka and Croatia, it’s either 80s or 90s or modern commercial copy/paste stuff. Most of the time you cannot hear some new artists, maybe there’s a radio show here and there, but it’s very poor. And so you have stations that follow the same path, nobody wants to explore new music.
Not only new music, there is also a whole world of undiscovered gems from the past century in this region alone. It is fascinating that you can dig up some great tunes from 40 years ago that only a couple of folks heard of.
Recently our crew dug up a band from Rijeka that recorded a couple of songs on a tape recorder, and that was probably the first hip-hop record in this region. Nobody knew about it!
There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of great music that doesn’t get through to people. We’re trying to do justice with it
A couple of musicians/bands from Rijeka you would recommend?
It’s really hard to pick someone up and not to mention some others. Rijeka is not a big city and most of the musicians and bands know each other, it’s like a big family even if we don’t know it is. But from the top of my head here it goes: Flip Flop Fatality, Old Night, Uma, Japanski Premijeri, Jonathan, One Possible Option, Fanaa, Po Metra Crijeva, One Piece Puzzle, The Siids, Grapevine Babies, Stephany Stephan, Iz@Medošević & Borgie, and so on and so on
Plans for the future?
It all started as a joke by two friends, but today 2 people are employed, around 30 people involved in the program, bands, DJs and producers live on the radio, around 10 shows and podcasts, and it continues to grow. From heavy metal and world music to gaming podcasts and psytrance sets
It has become bigger than us, and I always say that my goal is to prove and show to people that they have a community radio, made for and by the community, a place to share what they do and express their work. One month ago we got another grant, a European project, which allows us to continue the work as a full or part-time job. To work what you love is the greatest thing to plan for the future.
Featured photo by Mara Prpić / Radio Roža