The most extraordinary expression of community feeling and confidence by local businesses in RCD has to be the creation of Operator. What started four years ago as Rotterdam’s first online radio, rapidly blossomed into a cultural platform. Jorn de Vries, co-founder and a designer at Almost Modern, is proud to call the Central District ‘his garden’. He talked to us about the importance of supporting art and culture.
It was in 2017 that the ‘magic fivesome’ got together to launch a project to give the port city the independent radio station it didn’t have. Jorn de Vries and his four fellow co-founders Osman Bas (DJ Mr. Nice Guy), Jeff van Hoek (DJ Jeff Solo), Patrick Marsman (owner of the Pinkman label) and Ofra Beenen (pop music programmer) each brought their own talents to the project. Now, together, they stream the sound of Rotterdam. Jorn: “We’re a place for like-minded people who are looking for an alternative sound. By now, we’ve given so many DJs their first air time and that’s created a showcase for a lot of the talent in this city.”
For Jorn, it was a natural and logical choice to locate the station in RCD. He’d already had his base in the Schieblock for years and worked closely with Biergarten. “Having an office above Biergarten and the confidence both they and the We Are You digital agency had in us gave us the stability to set up Operator. From there, we also had a launching pad to build up a good programme and community. We’re a genre-free platform, a real mix of everything.” These days, Operator isn’t only about music but also does co-productions with art and knowledge institutions. A successful crowdfunding campaign in 2018 plus subsequent city funding testified to the support for and impact of this live streaming service.
Exploring and connecting
What Jorn loves about art and culture is that people can pass on things you’ve seen and heard. “In our collaborations, we want to go deep. Coming up, we’re going to be doing in-depth interviews with the makers of the Genderfull World exhibition at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam shortly. That’s a way to reach more people.” The platform also launched a flexible space for co-productions, podcasts and talk radio shows this year, called Time Is The New Space. This, too, promises to explore a wide diversity of topics in-depth. Time is the new Space is also in collaboration with Rob Ittmann from the RCD association and Mess van Biergarten.