Subcity: The Next Generation

Subcity Radio, the student-run station based in Glasgow University, has been broadcasting for close to 20 years. We caught up with newly-appointed Station Manager Niall Morris to ask about his plans for this cultural landmark...

Feature by Bram E. Gieben | 07 Dec 2012

Subcity Radio has been manning the airwaves since 1995, supplying high-quality music and arts coverage to Glasgow's student population. Showered with awards for its programming over the years – in 1997, hallowed Radio 1 tastemakers Steve Lamacq and John Peel even came in to do some guest broadcasts – the station has always reinvented itself every few years, to give a new crop of students, DJs and broadcasters a turn at the controls. This year, the station's logo has been redesigned, and a new Station Manager appointed – Niall Morris, also known on the Glasgow scene as an electronic music producer, and the brains behind an act touted in our own NETVERK column online, the stately and retro-futuristic CUR$ES. The Skinny caught up with Niall for a chat about his plans for the station, and what they've got up their sleeves for 2013.

“I'm an electronic musician with an interest in tech stuff, so when I left school about two and a half years ago it seemed appropriate to study electronic engineering and music,” Morris tells us. “During my fresher's week, the only event that really appealed to me was the Stay Fresh party Subcity was throwing at SWG3. The tech manager of Subcity at the time was on the same degree course as me, so I decided to spend a day of fresher's week lugging extremely heavy bass bins up a narrow staircase. I've never looked back.”

He's already stamping his identity on the station with the aforementioned new logo, which adds a dose of much-needed minimalism to the station's visual identity. “This is part of a much wider rebranding of the station that is currently underway, which will culminate in the launch of a new website some time in the new year,” Morris explains. “There had been a general feeling of unrest with the old logo; in 1995 it was probably pretty sweet, but it seemed to have cheesy hip-hop connotations that weren't really relevant to the freeform nature of Subcity. The new logo was designed by the incredibly talented Grampian Mountains, who also hosts a really great show on the station. The concept was based on Moiré patterns. We're also starting to expand the non-musical side of the station, with radio sitcoms, drama, documentaries and performance poetry under development.”

Asked to name some of his favourite shows currently on the station's schedule, Morris has praise for several shows run by local DJs and promoters: “Earthly Matters covers all kinds of interesting electronic music; a lot of new age cosmic stuff, but lots of other genres too. Codeine Drums are renowned for their love of hip-hop, R'n'B and electronic stuff. Kaleidoscope plays a lot of the same music I'm into as well.” There are some new shows on the schedule too: “Glasgow club heavyweight David Barbarossa has recently started doing Wild Combination every Tuesday, to go alongside his night of the same name at Nice 'n' Sleazy,” Morris tells us. “12th Isle Transmissions is a brand new show that boasted a live set from Svengalisghost (of L.I.E.S. Records) on their first episode. We received way more applications than we expected this semester, so there are plenty of new shows starting soon.”

Given that Subcity has been such an important part of Glasgow's cultural life, Morris has some pretty big expectations resting on his shoulders. How does he view the station, and its role in the city's culture? “Subcity provides a platform for creative people in Glasgow,” Morris says simply. “I'd like to think of Subcity as a community where each contributor can choose their level of involvement. I've already met so many interesting and creative people through being involved with the station. We're probably best known for our club-based shows; the percentage of respectable club promoters in Glasgow that are Subcity contributors or alumni is pretty incredible.”

What are Morris's ambitions for the station now that he's in charge? “At the start of the academic year, I said my two main goals were to establish a new visual identity and to redesign the website,” he tells us. “The logo was introduced pretty quickly, but the website is still a couple of months off completion. Once the new website is launched, I'd like Subcity to become more international, and host shows from people all around the world. The new website should also hopefully allow us to host content that isn't strictly radio.”

Subcity will be dipping its toe back into event promotion as well: “Our last event was at Chambre 69 during Fresher's Week, and saw us build a 6-foot cage for DJs to play in. We're throwing a sweatbox end-of-term night at Nice 'n' Sleazy on Thursday 13 December. The lineup for that night features a good mix of fresh faces and OGs. We're also really keen to develop more radio-appropriate events. We'll be inviting people down to see sessions being recorded, and to see sitcoms and dramas being performed.”

It promises to be an exciting year for the station, with many a change afoot, and the possibility of seeing fresh, groundbreaking ideas put into action. As Subcity close in on their 20th year of broadcasting, it seems that the institution is being well-served by its current leader, and things bode well for a resurgence in the station's popularity and relevance. The proof, as always, is in the pudding – tune in now, or get yourself down to Sleazy's on the 13th to check out what Subcity: The Next Generation are all about.

Subcity Radio Party, Nice 'N' Sleazy's, 13 Dec, £3. Tune in to Subcity at