The Independent Community Radio Network (ICRN) connects and supports like-minded community radios with the shared goal of establishing a more sustainable and long-term future for the field.
ICRN’s activity responds to common values that focus on building local and trans-local communities; maintaining independence and cooperation as an essential tool to empower our future(s).
ICRN make their activity public to break competitiveness in creative media practice; encourage cross-influencing and to support the professional development of others within independent media.
ICRN was co-founded by community radios from the Baltic-Nordic region Palanga Street Radio (LT), Tīrkultūra (LV), IDA Radio (ES) and IDA Radio (FI) in 2022. They have since collaborated with many independent media actors across Europe including Resonance FM (UK), NTS Manchester (UK), Cashmere Radio (DE) and Reset! Network (BE).
ICRN’s networking activity has been made possible through the generous support of Nordic Culture Point.
‘“We have no idea what’s gonna happen, but let’s see,” are the opening words of the Independent Community Radio Network broadcast from IDA Radio, Helsinki studio. With this phrase, the uncertainty that goes into maintaining a small-scale independent media practice finds its way into the content: even if the phrase describes the sometimes funny, sometimes poetic, and sometimes truly existential nature of independent radio practice, the leap of faith taken when going on air is real. More than just a doubt, it is also an invitation; a call for the listener to take that leap together. “Let’s see” – namely, let’s see what can be the alternative ways of working, playing, and hosting together.’
Network member and PhD researcher Ieva Gudaitytė summarises ICRNs activity from 2022, published on Europe and Me.
ICRN’s co-founders Palanga Street Radio join Reset! Network; a new European network initiated by Arty Farty, that aims to gather independent cultural, media and creative organisations.
Alongside this growing network of independent media actors, PSR will be in the good company of community radios Mutant Radio (Tbilisi) and Sphere Radio (Leipzig) and 20ft Radio (Kyiv). A full list of members can be explored here.
ICRN took part in EASTERNDAZE ON AIR: COMMUNITY RADIO SPECIAL; a durational broadcast that brought together community radios from Central and Eastern Europe through the Easterndaze x Berlin platform, in cooperation with Cashmere Radio, in an effort to encourage collaboration between these DIY mediums.
“…Since the first radio day in April 2021, which connected radios and listeners during the pandemic, the war in Ukraine has further heightened a state of political and social crisis.
These radios play a crucial role in their respective artistic and community milieus (being implicitly political, especially in Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Belarus and Hungary). The project’s participants are these community radios from Central or Eastern Europe: Radio Kapital from Warsaw, Lahmacun Radio from Budapest, 20ft Radio and Gasoline Radio from Kyiv, Mutant Radio from Tblissi, Radio Plato from Minsk along with the Independent Community Radio Network (ICRN) connecting radios in Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and Helsinki, hosted by Berlin’s Cashmere Radio.
The project will encompass collaborative programming, including joint shows and radiophonic contributions created by each radio especially for this live broadcast on FM and online. The session will culminate in a panel talk about the issue of community radios, hosted by musicologist and community radio expert Ieva Gudaiyte.”
In addition to ICRN’s broadcast, members Samantha Lippett and Linas Cekanavicius took part in a radio discussion on the idea of ‘network’ – and what it means to build, maintain, and belong to one. In this framework, the talk discussed how (our) independent community media/ radio responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine; how our Ukrainian colleagues, and how we can use our radio platforms to practice resistance, solidarity, and responsibility respectively.
In collaboration with Sphera Network, members of ICRN Samantha Lippett and Linas Cekanavicius took part in European Lab at Nuits sonores festival (12 – 16 October, 2022). They contributed towards the panel discussion ‘Connecting, exchanging, becoming stronger: the role of networks for independent media’ alongside Gunta Sloga (Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, LV) and Anastasia Vaitsopoulou (Popaganda, GR).
‘In a context of the strong concentration of national media landscapes, the need to establish links between independent media in Europe is more important than ever. This need can also be seen at the local level, where such connections are being established, for example Media.21 in Belgium. Other synergies between media can be seen at the European level, such as the Independent Community Radio Network union of web radios that brings together several organisations that share the same vision, and work through this new project to create shared dynamics of programming and exchanges, from Vilnius, Riga, Helsinki and Tallinn. In the East of the continent, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has accentuated the need for solidarity between media, as Gunta Sloga from the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, based in Riga, will testify at this meeting.’
The recording is available on Spotify, Mixcloud and Soundcloud.
An audio response to the exhibition ‘Twenty-Three Sculptures and a Painting’ by James Prevett at Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki (FI) that ‘began with domestic detritus and lead to the spiritual and magical.’ Members of ICRN co-broadcast live from the gallery space, creating a spontaneous soundscape combining field recordings, homemade instruments from the ‘Organic Sound Society’ by James and readings from commissioned text works by Luis Sagasti, Mikko Kuorinki and Hikari Nishida.
The audio piece was re-broadcast on 2202.09.16 on FM by Cashmere Radio (Berlin) as part of Gallery Weekend, Berlin.
Documentation of an ICRN workshop that took place during the second meet up in Helsinki. Members created a clay monument in artist James Prevett’s studio while asking themselves the question: why radio?
For this workshop, ICRN were joined by partners Matteo Spano and Shelley Tootell (Cashmere Radio, DE) and Ieva Gudaitytė (University of Oslo, NO).
The first of three recordings documenting a workshop session from ICRN’s networking trip in Tallinn. This discussion was hosted by Reset! Network (BE) to create proposals for the sustainable futures of community radio.
This recording features members of IDA Helsinki (FI), IDA Tallinn (ES), Tīrkultūra (LV), Palanga Street Radio (LT) and Cashmere Radio (DE).
Documentation of a sound drawings workshop coordinated by Michael Holland as part of ICRN’s first networking trip. The workshop experimented with sound and physicality, connecting what we hear with how we move. This activity formed part of Tīrkultūra’s summer residency at Smilga Gallery, Riga (LV) that acted as a host venue for ICRN’s visit to Latvia in July 2022.
Recordings featured Samantha Lippett, Linas Cekanavicius, Ieva Černiauskaitė, Mávros Skylos, Reinis Semēvics, Michael Holland, Heikki Vaht, Sammeli Kuisma and Finn McCorry.
For the Easterndaze On Air: Community Radio Special, the Independent Community Radio Network (ICRN) met for a hybrid broadcast akin to the goal of the network; to connect like-minded community radios from across Europe. Co-founders from Palanga Street Radio (LT), Tirkultura (LV) and IDA Radio (EST/ FI) shared experiences from our summer of activity across the Baltic-Nordic region that evidenced the important role of working together to support, inspire and sustain one another, as well as the wider field of independent community radio. We accompanied our conversation with recordings from our travels.
Featuring Samantha Lippett, Linas Cekanavicius, Reinis Semēvics and Sammeli Kuisma.
An experimental edit of the round-table discussions recorded in Tallinn during the second networking trip by Reinis Semēvics. Two voices are simultaneously heard in amongst an ambient backdrop, offering the listener the a choice of where to direct their attention. Headphones are recommended for the best experience.
First broadcast on Tīrkultūra.
Mix by ICRN, first broadcast at IDA Radio, Helsinki during the second networking trip.
Mix by Cashmere Radio (DE) members Matteo Spano and Shelley Tootell, broadcast from IDA Radio, Helsinki during the second ICRN networking trip.
Mix by Tīrkultūra members Reinis Semēvics and Michael Holland, first broadcast at IDA Radio, Helsinki during the second networking trip.
This episode of KILLJOYS took place during the second ICRN networking trip, in the Tallinn studio of IDA Radio. The episode took the theme of unpacking the ‘radio voice’. Regular hosts Samantha and Ieva were joined by radio practitioners Shelly Tootell, Bitsy Knox and HASHIA from Cashmere Radio, Berlin. In their discussion on whether radio is always inviting, they discover the need of – in Woolf’s terms – ‘a space of one’s own’ to learn and broadcast from. As such, they explore how (female) voice has situated itself across critical histories and related societal perceptions.
KILLJOYS is a monthly talk show on Palanga Street Radio made by ICRN members Samantha Lippett and Ieva Gudaitytė.
Bitsy Knox – Something Like on Cashmere Radio:
HASHIA – D3vination on Cashmere Radio:
Anne Carson, ‘The Gender of Sound’, 1995:
Things We (Can) Do Together: Independent Community Radio & its Fuzzy Networks
Ieva Gudaitytė, Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Oslo
“We have no idea what’s gonna happen, but let’s see”, starts the Independent Community Radio Network broadcast from IDA Radio, Helsinki studio. With this phrase, the uncertainty that goes into maintaining a small-scale independent media practice finds its way into the content: even if sometimes embedded in funny, sometimes poetic, and sometimes truly existential, the leap of faith it signals is real. But more than just a doubt, it is also an invitation; a call for the listener to take that leap together. “Let’s see” – what can be the alternative ways of working, playing, and hosting together.
Independent Community Radio Network (later, ICRN) is turning one year this January – and there is a lot to celebrate. Founded by Palanga Street Radio (Vilnius), Tīrkultūra (Riga), IDA Radio (Tallinn), and IDA Radio (Helsinki), the initiative has brought these small autonomous radio stations in the Nordic-Baltic region together: by programming shared broadcasts, visiting each other in their respective cities, and in other ways discussing joys and losses, hopes and systematic challenges. The goal is to build a ‘know-how’ for other do-it-yourself types of radio practices and learn from one another. This makes the network comparable to a small-scale self-sustained labour union, with members working together to increase resilience, promote alternative ways to create and share knowledge, and support others to start an (online) radio.
With help from the Nordic Culture Point mobility fund for networking, ICRN so far has organised two working trips together: one to Vilnius, Švenčionėliai and Riga, and another to Tallinn and Helsinki, where they were joined by like-minded colleagues from Cashmere Radio (Berlin), Resonance FM (London), and NTS (Manchester). Learning from each other during round table discussions, live music broadcasts, sonic and interdisciplinary experiments, walks and studio hangouts has brought up some core questions around what is the independent, community, or autonomous radio practice; how its success can be measured; and what is needed for realising its full potential – both in terms of the everyday working strategies and broader legal or financial support systems.
For the community that enjoys cultural mischief and quirky experiments, definitions can be tricky. And although there are differences – for example, Tīrkultūra leans on the interdisciplinary arts world to create the Unexpected Sources Audio Gallery, IDA Radio sees itself as a platform for the niche local music scene, Palanga Street Radio stands out for its explicitly DIY approach – the mutual understandings are more obvious, even when hard to pin down. Sustainability, integrity, playfulness, independence, friendliness, openness, and diversity are keywords that ICRN radios relate to. Other common attributes are more tangible: the importance of having a physical studio, a place to be with other people; showcasing lesser-known voices; finding a fair way to share labour and maintain oneself financially. As observed by Shelley Tootell (Cashmere Radio) during a talk in Tallinn, “we can be helpful to each other and share experience, even if our paths are not 100% aligned at any one point in time”. If a radio is a shape to mobilise like-minded people and offer forms of sound culture that is felt missing, the real help is to look for the fleeting moments of contact, not the permanent identity markers.
While searching for self is much more rewarding than trying to keep it intact, ICRN dedicates a significant amount of time to ensure the safety and continuity of similar autonomous radio groups. Members agree that the radio network first has “to serve [them]”: that is, allow an enjoyable way to broadcast and share knowledge together. This can only be made possible by sustaining physical spaces, technical setups, and ways to access them, which requires looking for ethical financial sources and efficient digital tools. These processes examine the external and internal value of such grassroots community activities, and ways to balance their independence with sustainability: in other words, ask questions of “what’s our labour’ and “what are our working ethics”. Consequently, notions of ‘growth’, ‘success’ and/or ‘development’ of independent media come forward. Discussions around practical needs to “pay rent and buy toilet paper” are balanced with more ambitious structural changes – where and how to apply for funding or what kind of larger policy could help to have fun while ensuring such creative sounding laboratories keep on existing.
Amongst these many questions, there is a glimpse of answers. In terms of funding, ICRN members agree that the compromise most likely lies in diversifying support sources: using some crowdfunding platforms, working with several different project fundings, organising events, selling merchandise, and finding other forms of community support. While it takes more time to continuously keep looking for ideas and open calls, not to mention the precarity that goes into constantly representing radio as a “project”, alternating funding seems to best align with alternative media methods. There is anticipation for wider support, too. Working together with Reset! Network, a European-wide initiative aimed at “promoting independent cultural and media actors”, ICRN has been forming guidelines for a systemic change that could secure space for similar initiatives within wider policy-making processes. These are a few of many exciting prospects in ICRN’s future, and the future of like-minded independent new forms of media activity. At their core is the sentiment of acting together: trans-locally, uniquely, and in solidarity.
And with the glimpse of answers, there comes a glimpse of hope. The invitation referred to in the first paragraph of this text is a symptom of a broader philosophy behind what a community media network is and can do. To be a good host: to everyone, anyone, and each other; in studios, public forums, and hometowns. Michael Holland from Tīrkultūra has referred to the interconnectedness of people, dreams, and obstacles that makes up ICRN as a “fuzzy network”. It is indeed fuzzy: hard to grasp and constantly evolving. Based on more than a common goal, but a warm fuzzy feeling – one you get when tuning in to a community radio broadcast. One that you get from a support system, or when you find out there are some exciting cultural things happening in the independent media landscape in Europe. ICRN is surely one of them.
Article featuring ICRN members Matteo Spano (Cashmere Radio, DE) and Ieva Gudaitytė (University of Oslo, NO) in conversation with Lucia Udvardyova (Easterndaze, DE) on subjects of Resistance, Solidarity and Responsibility – the topic of the wider radio festival ‘EASTERNDAZE ON AIR: COMMUNITY RADIO SPECIAL’ (2022.12.08) that brought together 12 radios and initiatives from across Central and Eastern Europe.
“Matteo Spano: The radio network emerged from the previous edition of Easterndaze, and thus through Lucia’s contacts and willingness to put together similar projects across Central and Eastern Europe. Following the exchange in 2021, contacts were maintained and on several occasions more specific collaborations took place (such as solidarity broadcasts with Ukraine following the outbreak of war). With ICRN (which in turn is already a network of different radio stations, IDA in Tallinn/Helsinki, Palanga Street Radio in Vilnius, Tirkultura in Riga), there was also a recent meeting involving Cashmere, last September, in which the topic of international (and translocal) collaboration between different radio projects was addressed. It can therefore be said that, in different formations but with similar intentions, the different radios have continued to develop relations with each other. This edition of Easterndaze is a further example of this type of collaborative practice.”
Read the full article on Kaput-Mag (DE) here.
ICRN love to collaborate! If you are a community radio, have an idea for a project or just want to learn more, we’d love to hear from you:
We send a huge thank you to our supporters, including those who have financed our activity and those who have given ICRN opportunities to travel, develop and spread the message of our work.
ICRN’s networking activity has been generously supported by the Nordic Culture Point.