Launching on November 5th, Foundation FM is a new radio station led by women that will seek to provide a safe space for women, LGBTQI+ persons, and talented creatives. Placing women at the forefront (while, crucially, actually being founded by women), the London-based station hopes to nurture underground and emerging talent.
With a wealth of radio experience between them, founding members Becky Richardson, Ami Bennett, and Frankie Wells cite diverse programming as a crucial part of their mission statement. Their confirmed lineup so far includes Born N Bread, The Receipts Podcast, Concrete Jungyals, and our very own Natty Kasambala, assistant music editor at gal-dem (whose first show is 14 November, 7-9pm, FYI).
Ahead of the launch, I had a quick chat with Bennett about how Foundation came about, and what they’re aiming to do.
What were the reasons for deciding to set this up?
We had all had an idea about this separately because we all work in or around radio. Becky and Frankie had come up with the idea, and I had separately been thinking about it but not really knowing myself how to facilitate anything like that. I’d known Becky for years and I bumped into her at the tube one day, and she told me what they were doing – she said, ‘You should get involved’, and it just kind of went from there. It’s been around six months in the planning.
Obviously Frankie was at Radar – is part of Foundation’s creation a direct response to what went down there?
We would be lying if we said that the beginnings of the conversations weren’t born out of what happened at Radar – it started there, but then it sort of ended there. There were a lot of conversations in a lot of circles about women in radio following on from that, and that’s what sparked the idea – but from there there’s been no further association or thought towards it.
Looking at the list of DJs and presenters that you have lined-up, it seems intersectionality is an important part of what you’re doing?
Absolutely! The ethos of what we’re doing is that everyone is welcome, and the station is as diverse as possible – with a female-led angle. We’re covering all genres of music, all topics of conversation, and I feel like the line-up is quite diverse in terms of different types of women too. We’ve got a queer Desert Island Discs kind of show, fronted by Zooey, where he’s planning to interview queer icons. Also, this is not a ‘no boys zone’ – it’s female-led, rather than female-only. And of course we’re going to play music by men too.
But will there be an onus on playing womxn artists?
There will be a Foundation FM playlist which will appear twice in the day for an hour, and all of the DJs and presenters will be invited to help create the playlist – so that will be very much determined by everyone here. In general, it will depend entirely on the individual DJ – we want to give people a creative safe space, so whatever you want to play on your show, you can play.
Will there be space for developing new and emerging talent in radio?
Yes! For me personally that’s what’s especially important about what we’re doing. My early jobs at the BBC were developing new talent and bringing new talent through – it sounds selfish, but there’s something really rewarding about being part of that, and that’s a big part of what Foundation is setting out to do. I don’t think we should be shy about saying to people: ‘What is your end goal? What is your ultimate dream job?’, and then help people to get there. We understand that people aren’t going to stay at Foundation forever, but we want to be part of that trajectory. We want to give people the safe space to create and try stuff out, to really hone their skills and radio personality – to figure out who they want to be on the radio.
Is there anything else that you want people to know about Foundation?
We’re open to conversations – we’re going Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm, and that last hour everyday is open for people to send in an hour-long mix if they’re a DJ, an hour of whatever it is you might want to do as a radio show, and we’ll listen and feedback, and if we like it we’ll put it on air, and build those relationships. I’m hoping that we will always have a space for new people to come through. Our door is always open.