Global Breakfast Radio - the brainchild of British writer Seb Emina and sound and systems artist Daniel Jones - aggregates radio stations from across the world, streaming only shows from wherever it’s breakfast time.
The station, which draws from over 250 stations in more than 120 countries with over 50 different languages, began broadcasting this month and we caught up with co-founder Seb Emina to find out about the inspiration behind the unique concept.
Best Fit: Where did the idea for Global Breakfast Radio come from?
Seb Emina: I met up with Daniel while I was writing The Breakfast Bible, and we got to talking about how it’d be possible to use “breakfast-time” as a way of travelling around the world using the medium of radio. We’ve both always been interested in how radio offers a direct and intimate window on different places across the world and wanted to explore that in a really simple way.
What are the similarities or association between the “breakfast” and the “radio” experience?
Well breakfast is a huge time of day, audience-wise, as people like to listen before they set off to work – and each culture, each station has its own brand of dawn optimism. It’s strange as breakfast radio in your own country can seem cheesy and annoying but when you listen to it from anywhere else it can be suddenly fascinating.
How did you research and decide what would make up the final list of stations?
First of all, we had to have stations in every single timezone, so for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans we didn’t have much choice – whatever stream we could find from places like Cape Verde and Tonga went in. For more crowded timezones it was a matter of listening to a lot of radio and trying to get a huge range of different kinds of station, from crackly old Spanish music to high-speed JPop through indie, bluegrass, classical, community chat and so on.
Did the stories of any particular stations strike you in the conditions/methods through which they broadcasted?
The remote island stations always blow my mind. For instance I had never really considered the impossibly remote crescent of islands that links Alaska with Russia. And those American protectorates with strange sovereign statuses in the Pacific: the idea of ads for local businesses on those volcanic promontories somehow reaching me here in my kitchen is just really wonderful.
Was there any universal spirit behind breakfast radio around the world?
There’s often an optimism and often a dash of religion. It’s a time when a lot of stations set out the days agenda for their flock in terms of news, traffic and weather. But then, sometimes, no concession is made to the morning whatsoever. An art station will just go right ahead and play some difficult white noise and to hell with your breakfast.
You’ve worked previously as part of art organisations - would you describe GBR as an art piece? If so - would you say it had a meaning or message?
I think ‘art’ is a big, heavy word, and we’ve never described GBR that way, but one thing I did learn from working at an art organisation is that it’s much more fun when you don’t offer fixed definitions or meanings. Anyway, we certainly didn’t set out with anything like that in mind. That said, I’m keen to write at some point about all the thoughts that this project has provoked.
Some of the stations chosen stand out as being representative of a minority voice - from Caroline operating as a pirate station to Kingston’s Power FM, where “all views can contend”. Was this a conscious choice?
We never really thought about ‘minority voices’ as such but were often struck by stations that seemed to come from very distinct communities, whether that’s about being from Saskatchewan, or being a right-wing Christian, or an art student. But the most important thing was that it would actually be nice to listen to, not and just a good idea, and that people might go and seek out the stations we featured.
Which station is your personal early-morning favourite?
I’m really into Radio Clarin, a Uruguayan station that has been broadcasting traditional music in AM since 1958.
Global Breakfast Radio is currently broadcasting at globalbreakfastradio.com.