In The Middle with Sable Radio

Amanda Boachie hopped on the bus to a converted nun convent to have a chat with the lovely people at Sable Radio, an independent online radio station based in Magbate, Leeds.

I got on the number 56 to LS9 and ended up at Sable Radio, a lovely group of people based that building that has one side painted yellow. Sable Radio lives on the first floor of this former nun convent. Yes, you heard right, their office and studio were literally where nuns used to live their holy lives and pray. I found it spooky. Still, I sat down with Baile for a chat in their studio, a space that used to be the Chapel, the hand basin on the wall a subtle reminder.

Sable Radio is an independent online radio station based in Magbate, Leeds. They’re primarily artist-led and largely self-funded. It all started with a small group that were interested in filling the gap in existing online radio platforms, like greater music diversity and broader art practices that reflected discussions already taking place in the city. Baile is interested in Radio because it can give a snapshot of the ins and outs of city life at a certain time. He mused how ‘an hour of music can be played anywhere at any time, but if people are talking about what’s going on then it’s really specific and archived at a certain time.’

And so, Sable is specific. It hosts a range of presenters, shows, and guests with its broad-programming. There are parody shows, and straight mockery with great music to soften the blow. Besides, there is even a show that explores the links between music memory and food. The host and guest talk about a memory, food and the music associated with them both. If variety is what you are searching for then look no further. 

Sable do workshops in the wider arts community too, the most recent podcasting and new media one was at Sight Gallery in Sheffield. This was with a group of 12-16-year-olds who argued over a bunch of things including Spider-Man, Billie Eilish and, more seriously, mental health (by their choosing). They are involved with conferences, talks and even have a monthly social at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen. 

Sable’s wide reach means that hundreds of people make their way in and out of the studio and organising this can be quite daunting. None of the team are sound engineers so establishing and maintaining their station has been a learning process. Despite having been presenters for online radio shows, this endeavour had meant learning the less exotic administrative or business side of it. 

When I questioned Baile about the five-year plan for Sable he responded ‘Yikes, come on Amanda’. Believe it when I say that they are taking each day as it comes. They won’t run themselves into the ground just for the sake of it. They started in December 2018 at a pop-up art space in Leeds City centre. This event hosted a range of people from artists to poets and even rappers. It’s been four months or so since settling into their current space with East Street Arts – an arts organisation that supports creatives in their process and self-development.

Looking forward, what’s on the horizon for Sable Radio? Well I was assured I can expect more content variety and collaboration with creatives, like photographers and videographers and bands. Other than that, Sable plan to improve the interior design of their office, so if you are more visually inclined then please contact them because Baile wants to build a pyramid bench.

Sable Radio will be in their current space till late next year. That said, if you feel like getting involved there’ll soon be a call out for shows. You can get in touch and keep updated via Instagram, or their website. Don’t forget to listen into their broadcasts on Thursdays and Fridays during October, and keep an eye out for their events in Leeds.

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