On Saturday 1 February, from noon to 7pm, GNet Radio is opening its doors to the public. Based at St James – in the former office of executive director Jon Bisson – GNet is a non-profit community radio station.
It all began in 2006.
‘I had GNet up and running by then, but it was purely a dance station then,’ explained Sean Johnson.
‘I ran and funded it for two years but found that there wasn’t a great deal of interest. I think it was too early.’
Sean stopped broadcasting, but he retained the logo and domain name.
He got together with another radio station but that fell through.
Fast-forward to 2018, and now joined by Sam ‘Doddy’ Dodd, GNet Radio hit the digital airwaves again.
‘We were at Vinyl Vaughn’s record shop,’ said Sam. ‘Set up in his front window.’
‘Like in the film High Fidelity,’ said Sean.
‘Vaughn was massively supportive when we needed somewhere,’ said Sam.
But space was an issue.
‘Vaughn’s business was growing and he was getting in more vinyl,’ said Sean.
‘And also Fountain Street is a busy road and very noisy,’ said Sam.
‘And this came through when we were broadcasting,’ said Sean. ‘Especially scooters.’
They decided to apply for a Guernsey Arts Commission grant – and were successful. Jon Bisson was on the committee.
‘They needed an office and they needed broadband, so for us to have them here at St James makes sense,’ said Jon. ‘The opportunities are huge. They could talk about events that are happening here, interview people who have come over to perform, make videos, do podcasts.’
Based at St James since August last year, the priority now is to get GNet’s name out there.
‘We still get people who haven’t heard of us,’ said Sean. ‘So we thought we’d do an event, show people what we do, broadcast a show, get a bunch of acoustic acts, some poetry and we’ll Facebook live stream the whole event.’
And that’s when the idea for an open day was born.
‘It will be a bit like the Sound weekend we had in 2018 when we turned the Founders Room into the acoustic area,’ explained Jon. ‘GNet will set up in there and there’ll be a stage in the window, some seats for people to come in and watch or, if they want a beer and some food, the cafe will be open too.’
Acts who will be performing acoustically include Steve and Matt from Tantale, Vice, Kya Ashton, Fly Casual and Coastal Fire Department.
‘Graham Duerden will also be playing some Afrobeat and there’ll be some soul, gospel pop by Clara Banks and friends,’ said Jon.
Sean said that in the last quarter, GNet Radio attracted 3,000 listeners globally. This is probably down to the diversity – and quality – of the schedule and its presenters. Sean ran through a few examples.
‘We have Taff’s Tasty Tunes, which is all genres of music, and The Culture Tag with Winter Tyson and Sam Hearne. Friday nights, from 6 to 8pm, we have Matthew Gully with The Friday Night Kitchen Disco, which he does with his kids, Hamish and Iona. It’s a “just finished work, grab a pizza and a glass of wine” type of show and soon it will be broadcast from Matthew’s kitchen.
‘Keith Pengelley does his show Two Fish And An Elephant on Tuesday morning, Simon [Charlwood] has his Glorious Racket every Wednesday from 7 to 9pm and Marshall’s Most Marvellous Musical Meanderings - techno and club music – on Friday nights. Tim and Daisy host their ’80s and ’90s Mixtape every Saturday from 5 to 7pm and Tuesdays from 7pm there’s On The Fly, where me and Doddy do our best to make a two-hour show out of thin air. All the shows are played again in case you missed them.’
They’re also on the lookout for more presenters.
‘Anyone who wants to do a pre-recorded show podcasts, get local bands’ music out there or has any ideas, get in touch at email@example.com,’ said Sean.
The full schedule is on gnetradio.com. To get the app, just Google gnetradio.
‘We’re really looking forward to the open day,’ said Sean. ‘It will be quite a different thing for us. Please come down – and if you feel like giving us a donation, that would be great.’