Rob Ittmann
Written by Rob Ittmann

The most extraordinary expression of community feeling and confidence by local businesses in RCD has to be the creation of Operator Radio. What started four years ago as Rotterdam’s first online radio, rapidly blossomed into a cultural platform. Jorn de Vries, co-founder and a designer at Almost Modern, is proud to call the Central District ‘his garden’. He talked to us about the importance of supporting art and culture.

Het was in 2017 dat het 'magische vijftal' samenkwam om een project te lanceren om de havenstad het onafhankelijke radiostation te geven dat het niet had. Jorn de Vries en zijn vier medeoprichters Osman Bas (DJ Mr. Nice Guy), Jeff van Hoek (DJ Jeff Solo), Patrick Marsman (eigenaar van het Pinkman label) en Ofra Beenen (popmuziek programmeur) brachten ieder hun eigen talenten aan het project. Nu streamen ze samen het geluid van Rotterdam.

Jorn: “We zijn een plek voor gelijkgestemden die op zoek zijn naar een alternatief geluid. Inmiddels hebben we zoveel dj's voor het eerst uitgezonden en dat heeft een showcase gecreëerd voor veel van het talent in deze stad.”

It was in 2017 that the ‘magic fivesome’ got together to launch a project to give the port city the independent radio station it didn’t have. Jorn de Vries and his four fellow co-founders Osman Bas (DJ Mr. Nice Guy), Jeff van Hoek (DJ Jeff Solo), Patrick Marsman (owner of the Pinkman label) and Ofra Beenen (pop music programmer) each brought their own talents to the project. Now, together, they stream the sound of Rotterdam.

Jorn: “We’re a place for like-minded people who are looking for an alternative sound. By now, we’ve given so many DJs their first air time and that’s created a showcase for a lot of the talent in this city.”

‘We’re a place for like-minded people who are looking for an alternative sound.’
Jorn de Vries


For Jorn, it was a natural and logical choice to locate the station in RCD. He’d already been based in the Schieblock for years and worked closely with Biergarten. “Having an office above Biergarten and the confidence both they and the We Are You digital agency had in us gave us the stability to set up Operator Radio. From there, we also had a launching pad to build up a good programme and community. We’re a genre-free platform, so a real mix of everything.” These days, Operator Radio isn’t only about music but also does co-productions with art and knowledge institutions. A successful crowdfunding campaign in 2018 plus subsequent city funding testified to the support for and impact of this live streaming service.

Exploring and connecting

What Jorn loves about art and culture is that you can pass on things you’ve seen and heard. “In our collaborations, we want to go deep. Coming up, we’re going to be doing in-depth interviews with the makers of the Gender For World exhibition opening at the Tropenmuseum shortly. That’s a way we can reach more people.”

The platform also launched a flexible space for co-productions, podcasts and talk radio shows this year, called Time Is The New Space. This, too, promises to explore a wide diversity of topics in-depth.

Header photo by Ruben Stam.

Rob Ittmann
Written by Rob Ittmann