What Is Peak Radio?

Peak Radio - the ultimate retreat from hype

Hype! Not many people realise that the word "hype" actually comes from the Greek word "hyperbole", meaning exaggeration. Hype generally refers to boosting products that aren't quite the Real McCoy, hence the need to exaggerate their greatness. Genuinely good products require less hype (if any) because, even without someone shouting in a megaphone about their brilliance, they naturally "just are".

So commonplace is the use of hype in the music industry that there are now whole generations of people who mistakenly believe that hype is in itself a valid measure of musical quality, as opposed to the more important (but less marketable) values of emotional honesty, originality, musicianship and production quality...which, when added together, form the overall "vibe" of the music itself.

Peak Radio's first and foremost aim is to be the ultimate retreat from hype, preferring to concentrate instead on the true, honest vibe of the music we play. It's not for us to exaggerate the greatness of the sounds we showcase - we prefer to let them speak for themselves.

Peak Radio - the high altitude alternative

When it came to creating a radio station that could pool our respective musical talents, tastes, dreams and fantasies, we were faced with a choice: play the hype game (like virtually every other radio station in existence)...or find a better alternative!

It was against this backdrop that we found a better alternative, the Peak. We only found it, however, because we were looking for it. At no point did it advertise or promote itself to us. But here it was...a musical place waaaaay above the artificial hype level. A quiet, still, unpopulated spot high above the city, looking down on the music industry with a gently amused detachment. A place from which you could sit "watching the wheels go round and round". John Lennon had certainly been here!

The music you will hear on Peak Radio derives mostly from the cities of the world, predominantly from musical scenes each with their own internal, tribal, ego-based politics...but the context in which you can enjoy the music on Peak Radio is from that higher vantage point, that lofty place in the clouds elevated above the hurly-burly of the hype, where the very best from all genres is lifted far, far beyond the political level into that transcendental, barely-visited airy stratosphere variously described as "pure", "artistic" or "spiritual". You won't hear a piece of music on Peak Radio that doesn't, in some way, have that peak quality. All we do is take the music out of the cities and up into the mountaintops, where hype don't mean a thing. And if a piece of music can't withstand its trip into the uplands, then we just throw it off the mountainside!

We firmly believe that over-hyping our radio station will ruin the experience without really benefitting anybody. If we relied on audience figures or advertising revenue for our survival, then we could well end up having to target our playlists demographically rather than just following our own musical instincts. If we were subject to the dictates of sales-orientated promoters or non-artistic record company jobsworths, then we could end up dealing with silly requests to "play less of this" or "play more of that", rather than the unspoilt freedom to play exactly what we want, when we want, how we want.

Peak Radio - art accessible to everyone

Let's be honest: we have spent hours atop mountains contemplating the meaning of life, the nature of reality and, most relevantly to Peak Radio, the defining characteristics of art as opposed to entertainment. Once you've had these profound "peak experiences", it becomes increasingly difficult to respect the opinions of anyone in the music business who hasn't, and furthermore it becomes increasingly meaningless trying to pander to the irrational whims of anyone who hasn't, unless you're trying to extract money from them (which we're not).

We realised that the difference between art and entertainment lies in the motivation of the creator. We realised that any creation is a kind of three-dimensional, living, breathing validation of a creator's ideas. If a creation requires validation from other people in order to be successful we call it entertainment, whereas if it only requires the validation of its creator we call it art. Peak Radio falls into the art category because it simply doesn't require anybody else's approval for its validity. It "just is"!

Now don't get us wrong, we're absolutely not criticising entertainment, because it undoubtedly takes great skill to provide people with something entertaining on their own level, whatever that may be (in some ways it takes more effort and discipline than creating pure art...we know because we've been involved in loads of entertainment projects!). But entertainment is not art, and a trained mind can spot the difference pretty quickly. Art is basically an attitude that says "I don't care what you think". It might be selfish, it might be stupid, it might alienate people, it might kill your career overnight, but an artist's devotion to truth and honesty at any cost will override all other considerations. If an artist is about to go down the pan, at least he'll go down singing "I did it my way"!

Peak Radio is our very own artistic endeavour, although technology allows us to make it acessible to absolutely everyone. The difference between us and most other radio stations is simply that we base our playlists on what we ourselves want to hear and then share it with everyone rather than specifically trying to play what we think other people want to hear.

Peak Radio - our musical policy

Much of the music we play you will hear on other radio stations, but we present it differently and we have different standards of quality control. We judge each piece of music on its own merits, regardless of the personality of the performer, so for example we would happily play a Lady GaGa track like "Poker Face", which works on our mountaintop level because of its slick production, well-crafted melody, uplifting dynamics and interesting 80s/00s hybrid sound. But we would pass on, say, "Born This Way" which is just a dull and irritating rip-off of various naff old pop songs (in fact we'd more likely play Weird Al Yankovic's parody "Perform This Way"!). We don't really care whether Lady GaGa has a pussy or a penis, or what drugs she had for breakfast, or what colour her hair was yesterday afternoon. We've no interest whatsoever in anything she/he/it has to say in interviews, or what nightclub she/he/it got photographed in last weekend. But give us a good little pop song by the GaGa Corporation and yeah, we'll drop it. Why not?

So we're not totally up ourselves, and we're not above assimilating mass-appeal entertainment into our world of art if it's good enough and it adds an extra dimension to the patchwork quilt of music we weave daily. We just prefer to frame it in the more artistic surroundings of the mountaintops, and we invite everyone to share in their beauty. We want like-minded, eclectic people to feel they can join us in taking the bird's eye view of their own favourite music, because we firmly believe there is far too much hype in music and we want to provide people with a depoliticised, unhyped, artistic alternative if that's what they're seeking. We want to be able to enjoy punk, hippie, rave or reggae music without worrying whether these beats are hot this year or not. We want to sometimes play things that haven't quite caught on just yet, or alternatively are slightly out of fashion. We want to be able to showcase an hour of ridiculously uncompromising gabber, followed by a well-deserved chillout hour of dub. We want to be able to drop a 70s Sparks song into a hard trance set, without worrying about whether we're going to get booed off stage!

What we want more than anything else is to give you the freedom to check out the Peak as you please, navigating your way around our schedules and finding your own special musical space that uplifts you and gives you "a little bit of heaven". We don't even need to know if and when you're listening, so just do your thing here and enjoy what you hear.

You will never come across a radio station LESS bothered by ratings! We never monitor our listener figures because it doesn't matter in the slightest. We have absolutely no idea whether one or a million people are listening and we take great pride in not giving a monkeys about who's tuned in. Because, ultimately, it's not about our egos being flattered (we already know we're cool!), it's just about the purity and spirituality of the music we play. Yes, it's a balancing act, a learning curve and a work-in-progress, as we've never come across another radio station quite like this before, but one thing is for sure: there is no room for hype in Peak Radio because that's the opposite of what we're about. The only thing we're interested in is the actual sonic vibrations of music, its amazing acoustics and sexy soundwaves.

Peak Radio - broadcasting from The Peak

Finally...if all this seems abstract, strange and way-out, that's because, in comparison with the stereotypical, cliched ways of presenting music, it is. But The Peak is also a very real place that exists here and now, in 21st century Britain. Our home, The Peak District, with its yin-and-yang White Peak and Dark Peak zones, is an amazingly sparsely populated upland region in the centre of England, almost totally surrounded by low-lying cities and urban areas. From our base high up in the mountains and moorlands of The Peak, we can look down on Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Nottingham, Derby, Stoke and dozens of other major towns and cities, each with their own vibrant musical scenes and each with decades of musical heritage. We literally take music from these cities (and many other places slightly further afield) up to the mountains to see how good it sounds at a high altitude! It was once just an idea, a mad artistic vision...but that idea has now become our reality. And so, if nothing else, we hope to inspire you to follow your own intuition and have faith in your own dreams, especially if it involves doing something nobody else is doing.

Now the more astute amongst you may well have raised an eyebrow at the seemingly contradictory heading above ("Peak Radio: the ultimate retreat from hype"!), but in fact it's the truth. Just ask yourself how you came across this long statement of our intentions? Did we ever pester you to read this? Did we ever bombard you with boasts of our greatness while you were quietly going about your business? Did we ever ask you for money? Did we ever promise more than we could deliver? Or were you simply intrigued by our uniqueness and came here entirely by your own choice, because you were seeking something different from the norm?!

In fact, merely by reading this far, you just demonstrated your own intelligence, individuality and intellectual curiosity rather than ours, marking you out as someone not totally caught up in the hype of the music industry, and someone not intimidated by the cerebral, ethereal, esoteric nature of pure art...and for that we salute you and welcome you to The Peak!

Adam Peters - January 2012 (adampeters@peak-productions.co.uk)