Ten years ago, if you switched on a mainstream radio station, you knew what to expect. You could practically guarantee the perky male presenter, the inane ramble, and the tedious rotation of the same 20 songs currently in the charts. By and large, it was a pretty predictable media landscape. And for someone like Femi Adeyemi, the co-founder of NTS Radio, it didn’t represent the diverse stories, music and people that London had to offer.
“We were surrounded by so many different, talented people in music, art and fashion that weren’t getting the recognition I felt they deserved,” he tells CR. “These platforms didn’t highlight the diversity of what was happening, or what London was about.”
At the time, Adeyemi was experiencing this himself directly, working as a DJ and trying to break into radio but feeling like he somehow didn’t fit into that world. After meeting business partner Sean McAuliffe, and bonding over a love of the capital’s underground scene, the pair decided to launch NTS Radio in 2011 as an alternative to the mainstream. “I asked myself why no one else had ever tried to play everything at once,” he explains of the station’s early days. “You can have a jazz show with a rap show and a metal show all linked together, and that’s what we tried to achieve with NTS.
“What we did with our programming from day one was take our listeners on a musical journey. You can listen to all these things that feel different, but have a narrative that runs through them – almost like a mood or a feeling that’s similar to a story. It’s like different chapters with a running thread that’s consistent. And that’s what made us stand out.”