Looking back at Dour Festival: Radio United.

25 volunteers passionate about radio, 8 local radio stations/media labs, 8 stages to cover with more than 230 groups/acts in different genres. That was Radio United at Dour Festival. Never before has radio been so full of spirit, passion and endurance, because this year’s edition of Dour Festival was hot in every sense of the word.

The 26th edition of Dour festival meant more than 135 000 tickets sold, 60 000 km in travels and temperatures rising up to 33° Celsius. The festival saw the light in 1989 and has since then evolved into one of the best medium-sized European alternative festivals. Dour basically covers anything from death methal, slash, hip hop, rock, and a great deal of electronic acts. Besides its wide variety of genres, being in Belgium, its location is within driving distance from France, Germany, Holland and the UK.

Apart from a main stage, all other stages are fully decked tents with a capacity between 7000–9000 people. During the evening there are some gaps in the program here and there, which minimises those dreadful clashes. In all, a delicious recipe for a great festival. Still, it remains difficult to fully grasp this festival in just one visit. And if you’re not able to make it, there must be another way to enjoy it. This is where Radio United builds a bridge between the festival and the people. It dives into the vibrant pool of musical diversity and unique atmosphere and molds it into an audio-visual journey through radio, video and social media.

Radio United is a co-operation of independent radio stations and medialabs, launched in 2012. Since then, it has been a strong radio presence covering the whole festival, with 10 hours of non stop live radio and video streaming a day, interviews, audio and video documentaries. Moreover, Radio United has been the only Flemish radio represented at this Walloon festival. Knowing that Belgium is politically and culturally divided in two, this fact is considerably significant.

Hundreds of mails were sent to arrange interviews, material was gathered, meetings were held and a mobile studio was built. So after weeks of preparation, the Radio United crew arrived at Dour Festival. A cosy camp spot was created and the bonding over music could start, while sharing a bottle of water in moments with very high temperatures, or while putting on rubber boots and chatting under umbrellas during heavy rain fall.

Every day started with dividing the tasks equally, ranging from presenting, radio production, live audio captations, preparing interview questions, interviewing, editing and adding that content to the daily shows. A quick visit to the press room before each interview had to ensure nothing had changed in order to continuously respect the agreements made with every artist, artist manager or label.

Radio United covered a wide range of musical genres and interviewed a lot of local and international acts at any hour of the day and sometimes even exclusively. For one, Radio United got an exclusive interview with Claptone, spoke with Cid Rim at 1.30 AM, had a chat with Doctor P and stayed up until 4 AM for a session with Wilkinson.

All this was done by the joined forces of 25 volunteers who each brought their own skills, juice and personality to the table. The daily activities were organised meticulously, with great consideration of the individual requests of each act and with a high level of mutual cooperation. After sometimes suffering through long hours, making deadlines and battling the forces of nature, the crew found the time to relax, enjoy a meal and a drink together and join the party with the other thousands of visitors.

Inspiration comes when you least expect it, but when you put together 25 people who are all their for the same purpose and with the same passion, you see that inspiration being transformed into a admirable dedication, solidarity and inexhaustable drive for creating dazzling, sometimes unexpected results. It basically exhibits why the majority of people do anything: joy. In this case, it is joy times 25. And that was Radio United.

Originally published at www.djbroadcast.net on August 7 2014.

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