Connecting local community with radio waves, GuerilLadio of Mapo FM
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Connecting local community with radio waves, GuerilLadio of Mapo FM
  • Lee Yoon-soo
  • 승인 2015.08.31 08:05
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GueriLadio's guests vary from composers, indie muiscians, guitarists to music critics. The spectrum of the guests reflect the openness of the program's identity, which is not being confined to indie music. On the left is Kim Oki, a composer and saxophonist. Photo provided by GuerilLadio.
When asked to choose a media program that was a big part of their campus life, people in their fifties and sixties will say “Starry Night.” First broadcasted in 1969, Starry Night is a radio program that has maintained its popularity as Korea's most popular nighttime music program. The shiny days of radio are going downhill with the advent of more competitive and visual media that has been rapidly dominating the industry. Nevertheless, a group of sailors are enjoying the last golden age of the previous generation’s voyage, hoping for a revival. Mapo FM is a local broadcasting station that sends out programs to the Mapo and Seodaemun districts.Launched in 2005, the station seeks to boost local culture and autonomy by fortifying media democracy. Mapo FM’s Retro Retro is a teuroteu (the oldest form of Korean pop music with its distinctive background rhythm) program that targets not only the elderly but also the young. There are also other programs that deal with book reviews, professional soccer teams in Korea, lesbians, single women, ordinary residents of the Mapo district, and university students. Among these programs, GuerilLadio has one of the highest ratings and audience participation among “podbbangs” (digital media that consists of a series of audio and digital radio) where listeners can write a comment to the DJ or producer. The program plays Indie music to maximize the local characteristic of Hongdae, a popular spot for live performances, music clubs and bars in the Mapo district. The name GuerilLadio means a sudden musical attack on people’s boring everyday routine. “I try to focus on intimate relationships between the listeners and the DJ,” said Lee Kun-hee, a program director for GuerilLadio. Lee owes this intimacy to the relatively small audience and station. Unlike nationwide broadcasting stations, it is common for the GuerilLadio DJs to remember each listener’s name, age and music preference. Every three months, the program reorganizes itself by changing DJs, as the characteristics of the program largely depends on the DJ who plays the leading role in communicating with the audience. The current DJ is Jeongmilla, a singer-songwriter and folk musician. Jeong recommends overlooked or unknown songs to the listeners, invites Indie musicians playing in Hongdae and discusses other fields of art such as drawing. She also reads hand-written letters sent in by listeners and excerpts from books that contain encouraging messages for the audience. As such, the program is not just confined to playing Indie music, it also encourages listeners’ participation in the Indie music scene. As it is a one-hour program starting from 10 p.m. every weekday, the responsibility and source of inspiration for scripts come as a stressful, but valuable learning process for the 26-year-old program director. Having dreamt of becoming a radio program director since he was young, Lee cherishes every moment of building up the program from casting DJs and guests to writing scripts. “Although it is a small station, Mapo FM is an official and authorized broadcasting system where significant responsibility and deliberation are required as of nationwide stations,” Lee remarked. With such responsibility, he wants to differentiate the program from other well-known programs by having intimate relationship between listeners and the DJ. “Every Thursday, we receive listeners’ hand-written letters where they have scribbled down their latest concerns for us to discuss,” Lee explained. “Since Jeong is a bit older and has had more experiences than the listeners who are mostly in their 20’s, she advises them just like an elderly sister.” Despite having to work with almost no free time every Monday to Friday night, members of GuerilLadio are all enjoying the analogue device’s most appealing trait: Talking with people beyond radio waves. They think such a trait will not easily be forgotten as the medium provides what media users are lacking nowadays: comfort in the middle of the night and true communication.

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