In mid-August, Marcos D’Cruze and Adrian Goldberg were waiting for bundles of podcasts to come their way. The two men expected everything from rock star interviews to social justice stories to fill up their inboxes for the impending launch of Byline Radio.
“The phrase ‘herding cats’ comes to mind,” said Goldberg, referring to collecting loads of content from independent producers. “We’re always open to people sending us links or ideas for stuff that we haven’t got.”
Being open is key for a station with the tagline, “Unheard Voices, Undiscovered Sounds.” Byline Radio is committed to pursuing lesser known music and points of view. Goldberg compares the new station to the BBC, a place where he worked for a long time. “I’m quite ambivalent about it [the BBC],” he said. “You know, it does create brilliant programs, and you know, it’s a great cultural institution in Britain.” Goldberg added however that the BBC was so big and powerful that it could crowd out other voices. He likened it to the Japanese Knotweed of Broadcasting, a plant that doesn’t allow many flowers to bloom except for the ones it cultivates itself. “We want flowers to bloom,” he said. “We want to be the alternative gardeners.”
The Origin of Byline Radio
The radio station, like the news site of the same name, marks an equal collaboration built on passion. Byline Radio is the brainchild of the popular Byline Times, a publicly supported news breaking site in the UK. Both entities have a core interest in anti-corruption and anti-corporate political rule, with the radio station having an added interest in exploring underground and worldly music. D’Cruze works as the station manager and Goldberg is programming director.
D’Cruze and Goldberg are equal partners in the creation of Bylineradio.com. Both men began their young lives exploring the world through music. As they progressed in their careers, each developed a collaboration with original Byline Times co-founder, Peter Jukes.
When Marcos D’Cruze was a teenager, he played Flamenco guitar in a band. One day, the singer in his band asked if he would accompany him for a theater audition. D’Cruze agreed. During the audition, the producer/director asked if D’Cruze could sing. He could, and did. And the next thing he knew, D’Cruze was in a West End musical. It was a surprising debut for someone who had never acted on a stage before. He followed it up with some work in television and advertisements, but ultimately stayed true to his original calling towards music. “Music is where my heart lives,” he said.
D’Cruze developed his talents as a musical and film composer, and formed a collaborative relationship with playwright and TV dramatist, Peter Jukes. The pair wrote two musicals together. All the while D’Cruze kept a kept a flame burning for the medium of radio. He wanted to find a way to get new music out to the world.
Adrian Goldberg too had a musical awakening when he was younger, which led him to play in a punk band with multiple names, including “Pigs on Purpose.” While attending college, Goldberg worked as a copy runner for a local Sunday paper. He found himself both attracted to journalism and repelled by it. “I used to hate the journalists there because they were so bitter and cynical and engulfed in a big fog of smoke,” he said. He told himself that he didn’t want to be a part of that world, “but obviously underneath I did, and I started this fanzine when I left University…and that’s how I came to it [journalism] as an outsider.” The fanzine was for European football, Britain’s first on a national scale. The endeavor led to work in radio, political blogging, and 10 years of work in television at the BBC.
When a phone hacking scandal came to light in Great Britain around 2008, it was discovered that phones of celebrities and crime victims were compromised for juicy news headlines. Peter Jukes became concerned that newspapers couldn’t be trusted to cover the story, since a British tabloid, The News of the World, was at the center of the breach.
Jukes live-tweeted the hacking trials, while also producing a related story on the murder of a private detective. This is where he met Adrian Goldberg, who made a documentary about the podcast for the BBC. “And Peter basically fell in love with journalism,” said Goldberg. “[He] found out that he could successfully crowdfund and then had a series of live events, and festivals around the media and topics relating to the media…he then sets up the Byline Times.”
The Byline Times
The Byline Times officially launched in 2018. Jukes co-founded the independent news site with former CEO, writer, and film producer Stephen Colegrave, who is currently an executive editor of the Byline Times and Byline TV.
A clear mission statement on the website proclaims an organization that values accurate information to sustain democracy, is not beholden to commercial influence, is not partisan, but “is not neutral and stands against corruption, injustice and the erosion of truth and the rule of law.”
Being crowdfunded and subscriber supported, the Byline Times offers a monthly paper edition for £36 a year. There is also digital content, a weekly podcast produced by Goldberg, a yearly festival for fundraising, and a country-wide network of independent journalists to “produce fearless journalism not found in the mainstream media.”
In August, D’Cruze and Goldberg met with the Byline journalism network, and the partners are now looking forward to amplifying the voice of the Byline Times, although they make it clear they are not just a branch of the website. “We are separate entities,” said Goldberg. “We are not Peter and Stephen, but we are very closely aligned with them. Extremely.”
As an independent nonprofit radio station, Byline Radio shares the same values as the news site. The radio station is not aligned to any political party, they support good ideas from any perspective, though they assert that they are progressive, an organization that champions diversity in music and speech content.
D’Cruze is excited to have an internet platform for Byline Radio. “It felt like the perfect vehicle,” he said. “Technologically, the internet allows you to broadcast to so many people now and the technology is, essentially from your laptop. You can broadcast to the world!” In terms of music, D’Cruze has made it a priority to search out more rarified gems of sound, finding “music that culturally, has not really been given airtime. [We’re not] just a station that’s dedicated exclusively to a certain set genre, we’re going to try and open up working with a lot of very good DJ’s out in the states, as well as all around Europe at the moment.” One DJ being highlighted right now is Kiana Fitz. She has a weekly show called Hip Hop Friday.
In terms of news and perspectives, Byline Radio has affiliated with Pacifica Network to add strength to their independent programming. For starters, they have added Democracy Now! and content from the Women’s International Newsgathering Service (WINGS). They are always on the lookout for content with a global or social justice sensibility. “Also diverse voices, quirkiness, individuality,” said Goldberg, adding that they like to work with people who are driven by passion. And although sometimes people [who are driven by passion] “are fundamentally amateurs,” he said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But you know, that’s part of the struggle.” It’s a struggle that D’Cruze and Goldberg are very much signed up for.
Pacifica Network is happy to welcome Byline Radio as its newest affiliate.
Byline Radio is set to launch in October, 2021.