Meet Elliot Darby, new radio host at Luxembourg’s leading English indie station, ARA City. The recent Bournemouth university graduate spoke to Delano about his career so far, his show at ARA City, and his thoughts on the future of radio.
From a young age, Elliot was drawn to the world of broadcasting. Every week after school, he would hike up hill to volunteer at his community radio station. After several months, the station invited Elliot to host a weekly show of his own. Elliot fell in love with presenting, and went on to work at two more local stations in Totnes and Torquay before pursuing radiobroadcasting at Bournemouth university. “When I tell people that, they’re like, you can do a whole degree in radio?” Despite the questions he may have received, his time at university solidified his aspiration to continue presenting.
Finding a job as a presenter however, proved to be difficult. Despite radio’s enduring popularity in the UK, most stations have become extremely commercial in nature. “There used to be a big emphasis on community radio, but it’s kind of dying out, because a lot of those community stations were bought by the big companies like Global,” explained Elliot. “There’s no sort of creativity in it, because you’re playing the music, then you’re playing the adverts, and then you’ve just got to speak for a minute, introducing the next stuff. I wanted to do something that would let me be creative in radio.”
Luxembourg may have been just the place. Since finding the job online and starting at ARA City earlier this year, Elliot has been running a segment from 9am to 12pm on weekdays, where he entertains audiences with music, casual chats (currently world-cup related), and questions of the day. He has brought his own personality to the show while paying tribute to previous presenter, Ben Andrews. “Ben had a big emphasis on music, and I think the audience really enjoyed that, so I wanted to keep that aspect of the show,” he said. “But as well as that, I kind of like to include some typical British banter.”
So far, ARA City’s audience has welcomed Elliot with open arms. “What’s great about our audience is they’re not just fans of one show, they’re fans of the station as a whole, so they’ve really embraced me,” he says. Elliot thinks it is this connection – between ARA city’s 30,000 monthly listeners and the presenters – that sets radio apart from other media. “I think radio has this great gift that its very intimate. I think a lot of the audience at ARA city radio, they feel like they’re part of the station, and feel like the presenters are their family.”
Elliot also believes that ARA city has a lot to offer to younger audiences, despite many who view radio as a thing of the past. “For younger listeners, I would say it’s a really good way to be part of a community, particularly for new people coming here like myself. When I first got here, I would listen to Sam in the morning on ARA city radio, because it made me feel a little bit more at home.”
The Future of Radio
Where radio is headed, is a question that remains up in the air. “There’s a big debate about the future of radio at the moment, with things like Spotify coming up,” shared Elliot. “If people want music, they can quite easily get it. So, there’s the argument of, why is there a need for radio?” While writing his university theses on the future of radio, Elliot himself became skeptical. “There was part of me that thought, am I in the right career here?”
Even if radio does lose some of its live aspect however, Elliot has concluded that radio is not on its way out just yet. “I think if it was going to die out, it would’ve died out a few years ago when Spotify came in. I think actually, in a way it’s becoming stronger, because radio isn’t just about the sound, it’s sort of all the cross-platform stuff you do with it.” ARA city is a testament to this, as they have become far more than just a means for distributing music. An active Facebook page, a book club, and plenty of audience interaction has cemented the station as a local community.
The unique selection of music you find on the radio is also a driving factor in its survival. “I play some of the popular stuff, but as well, I play bands that have had less than a thousand listens on Spotify,” Elliot revealed. “We’ve had quite a few of the smaller bands come back to us and say thank you so much for playing us.” Hearing your song played for the first time on the radio is an irreplaceable feeling, one the internet offers no substitute for.
The rise of podcasts is also telling of the success of radio’s format. “I think podcasts are a thing of the future, and maybe how radio can survive,” said Elliot. He and two other ARA city presenters, Marina and Sam, have embraced this trend and recently begun a weekly pubcast where they sit down, drink beer, and just talk. “Every podcast is about 40 minutes long, and it can be about all sorts of different topics. For some reason at the moment it’s about my dating life, which I’m not too happy about…” laughed Elliot.
To listen to Elliot’s show, tune in to ARA city radio on weekday mornings from 9:00 – 12:00 on 102.9/105.2 FM or listen live online via TuneIn. For weekly highlights of the show, visit his SoundCloud.