How many people are involved with Oldies Project and can you tell us
who they are?
At present there are some 40 people in various capacities involved in
the project. They can be divided up into three groups. First of all
there is the actual team, who are in overall charge of Oldies Project.
Secondly there is the engineering crew, who provide us with technical
and logistical support and thirdly there is a rather large (and still
expanding) group of oldies collectors and music specialists from all
over the world who regularly make all sorts of contributions to the
As Oldies Project is exclusively about music and absolutely
not about personalities, there isnt much I can tell you about
the individual team members, except that most of them have some sort
of broadcasting background. As far as the team is concerned, Oldies
Project is and will continue to be a fun project, devoid of all pretence.
For this reason the team members have decided early on that they would
prefer to stay in the background. They simply feel it doesnt serve
any useful purpose to come forward as they only want to devote their
time to the project itself without having to deal with all sorts of
To provide you with some more insight about the philosophy
behind the Oldies Project, let me just refer you to the
information about us on the Radio London website.
Are they all English?
No. Although some of the people involved in the project are indeed English,
most of the team members are from other countries.
How did it all start for you?
Well, what can I say; it just happened as a natural progression to what
we had been doing privately for some time. Initially the audio stream
was only used by a small group of collectors around the world. In fact
and not many people know this Oldies Project had been
around on the internet for roughly a year before we finally launched
the Beta version of the audio stream in December 2004. In the beginning
we just played around with it without giving much thought to the possibility
of going public. This all changed in the summer of 2004, when the group
of collectors quickly expanded to such extend that we simply couldnt
facilitate them anymore on the original set up. Once we reached that
point we started to discuss the possibility of making the music available
to the general public in the set-up that exists today. It took some
time and a lot of work to formalize the current set-up, but even now,
at least in our own minds, we still are just playing around with it.
The audio stream is still running in Beta mode and on private servers
and we have never aggressively promoted Oldies Project in any way. I
guess you could say all we basically did was create the facility, only
to be left extremely amazed about the response it continues to generate.
Please understand that, contrary to popular belief, Oldies Project was
never intended to be a conventional radio station. To this day we still
dont think of ourselves in that way either. Of course, like regular
stations we play music, but thats where the similarity ends. In
our opinion, nowadays, radio stations in general are way too much about
personalities, egos, listener peaks and money, to give the music the
attention it really deserves. At most mainstream outlets the music is
merely used as a tool to attract as many listeners as possible and thus
generate advertising revenue. By itself theres nothing wrong with
that, but in our mind the fear of potentially losing listeners and the
somewhat paranoid play it safe mentality of the program
controllers that goes along with it, deprives the public of the possibility
to listen to much of the wonderful music that has been produced in past
decades. One of the main reasons why most, if not all, mainstream oldies
stations sound alike, is simply because they are all playing only those
safe songs that they believe will attract the most listeners.
The Oldies Project output is a lot less restricted as we do not have
to abide by a playlist imposed on the listener by a programme controller
who (very often) is clearly too young for his job.
To illustrate my point, here are some figures; At Xmas 2005 we played
over 1,000 songs released in Britain in 1965. In theory, we could have
played far more, as in 1965 a total of some 2,700 singles were actually
released in England alone. Out of all these records perhaps only some
300 made the charts, and most UK radio stations nowadays will at best
play only the chart records and ignore the rest. Obviously the same
happens in other countries as well. As Oldies Project is privately funded,
we do not worry about listener figures and are therefore, completely
free to play the music we want. As a consequence, our playlist is far
greater than at most outlets. Rather telling in this regard is the fact
that some stations even go so far that they try to get more listeners
by advertising that they will only play a particular song once a day.
Whenever I hear or read something like that, I cant help but laugh,
as at Oldies Project a song will not be repeated for at least six days.
In other words, you can listen to Oldies Project non-stop, 24 hours
a day, for nearly a week and still not hear the same song twice! In
fact, if we played all the songs currently on the playlist without any
repeats, you would have to listen 24 hours a day for several weeks to
hear them all and the list still continues to grow. This goes to the
heart of our philosophy, as Oldies Project was more or less born out
of frustration about the repetitive and thus boring output of the regular
The music you play is mostly from the pirate radio days. Are you all
pirate radio fans?
If you are asking whether the team members are so-called Anoraks, the
answer is no. Of course, having listened to a lot of recorded output
from stations like London and Caroline as part of our research, we like
what the offshore stations were all about, but most team members just
arent old enough to remember the pirate stations from firsthand
experience. We do indeed concentrate on music from the sixties and seventies
and obviously the offshore stations are closely linked to that same
era. Therefore, it is somewhat unavoidable that our output is similar
to what the offshore stations were playing, but as far as we are concerned
there is no deliberate attempt to recreate or revive such a station.
Had that been our intention, we would never have chosen the name Oldies
The main purpose of our project is to demonstrate that there
was a lot more excellent music in the sixties and seventies than is
currently being played by other outlets and it seems that we are succeeding.
We regularly receive e-mails and messages in our guest book from listeners
who tell us that they thought they knew all the music of the sixties
and seventies until they listened to Oldies Project. I guess the biggest
similarity between the offshore stations and our project is that we
share the same unrestricted freedom of choice to select the music we
want to play and we therefore end up with the same overall feel.
When I listen to O.P. I hear a lot of records I havent heard for
ages, can you tell me something about the way you choose the records?
First of all, thank you for confirming that we are indeed achieving
our main objective which is to revive the songs no longer played by
other outlets. The selection process isnt all that complicated.
Although it does involve a fair amount of research, the songs are basically
selected in much the same way as the offshore radio DJs did when
the records were first released. Each song is judged on its own merits.
If it was released as a single, either in Europe or the United States,
if it sounds good and fits into the overall sound profile of the stream,
it will be played, regardless of whether it made the charts or not.
Its really as simple as that.
Are all the songs from cd or do you use vinyl as well?
Most tracks currently played on the normal Oldies Project rotation are
indeed from CD, although we sometimes do use vinyl recordings as well.
Unfortunately there still are a lot more songs we would love to add
to the playlist, if we could find better-quality copies. Although far
more tracks are available on CD than most people think, there also are
a lot of songs that cant, or wont be released on CD, because
of copyright restrictions or simply because the masters are missing.
This becomes most obvious on our weekly Big L Fab 40 show for which
we frequently have to use vinyl tracks.
Sometimes I hear very rare records, are they coming from private collectors?
We have a large library ourselves, but we also do depend on private
collectors to help us obtain some of the really hard to find
songs. In some cases, we also receive rare songs from the artists themselves.
Do you have to clean up some of the rare tracks yourself?
The Big L Fab 40 frequently contains songs that simply cannot be found
on any other format but vinyl. Whenever we need to use vinyl tracks
we try to clean them up as best we can. Not all our efforts are equally
successful though, as some vinyl tracks are of very poor quality indeed,
but most of them we can restore to an acceptable level.
One of the first things people notice is the very good quality of the
stream, it never drops out, can you tell us something about the server
and the equipment you use?
Perhaps the main reason for the lack of drop-outs is that, unlike most
audio streams, we use our own servers and do not depend on a third-party
provider. The credit for the quality of the stream goes entirely to
our main engineer, Jelle, and to Alex, who runs his own web hosting
company and is responsible for the server output. Without those guys
there would never have been an Oldies Project to begin with and they
continue to do a vital and amazing job to this date. Unfortunately,
asking them for technical details is just as unlikely to be successful
as asking a master-chef for his recipes. All I can really say is that
they use the latest technologies to ensure the best possible output.
They are constantly looking for ways to improve the signal, and in fact
have only recently renewed all the equipment needed to deliver the signal
to the main server.
For me, and a lot of other oldies music lovers too, this project would
be the most perfect radio station. Have you ever thought about setting
it up as a real radio station on the air?
This is a question which is frequently asked, and the answer to it is:
no, but were not ruling anything out. If an opportunity would
somehow present itself, and somebody made us an offer to relay the streams
output over the airwaves, we most certainly would give it due consideration,
but I dont think we will ever embark on such a venture ourselves
as it simply wouldnt be practical and also wouldnt tie in
well with the basic philosophy behind Oldies Project. Besides, new technology
is introduced every day, and we are convinced its only a matter
of time before remote access to the internet will be just as common
place and widely spread as using mobile phones is today. When this happens
people will also be able to receive the audio stream on some sort of
mobile device wherever they like, making the need for an on-air facility
How many listeners do you think you have?
We dont really pay a great deal of attention to what happens on
the server from day to day. For us, it is sufficient to know that there
never is a moment (day or night) when nobody is listening. Having said
this, I can tell you that every week several thousand different IP numbers,
originating from some 60 countries, are registered by the server log
and the numbers continue to grow, as do the hits on our website. Some
listeners stay logged on for only half an hour or so, whilst others
stay tuned in all day. The average listen time of all listeners combined
normally lies between 2 and 5 hours a day.
Well, last question. What are the plans for the near future with Oldies
No idea! We never anticipated the response we are getting, nor were
we prepared for it. We never really gave it much thought either. We
will continue to add more obscure tracks to the playlist. Beyond matters
relating to content, there are no immediate plans to expand our operation,
but as I explained earlier were open to suggestions.
de Lang, 2006. Reproduced by kind permission of Hans Knot, and the author.