What kind of radio stations are there in Iceland?

Radios

We might get most of our talk shows and music through podcasts and streaming services these days, but for foreign residents, travellers, and Icelandic language learners, listening to the radio is still a great way to get immersed in Icelandic culture.

Here are some of the top radio programmes in Iceland. Note that in addition to broadcasting on the air, many of these programmes also have a presence on digital streaming platforms as well.

National Broadcaster: Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV) is Iceland’s public service broadcaster and operates several radio channels. It offers news, cultural programming, music, and more.

Commercial Radio: Various commercial radio stations operate in Iceland, playing a range of music genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, electronic, and more. Some of the popular commercial stations include FM957, X-ið 977, and Bylgjan.

Music Radio: Several radio stations in Iceland focus on specific music genres such as classical, jazz, alternative, and indie music. Examples include Rás 2, which offers alternative and indie music, and Rás 1, which plays a mix of popular music and other programs.

Talk and News Radio: Stations like Bylgjan FM provide news updates, current affairs discussions, and talk shows covering various topics, including politics, sports, and entertainment.

Regional and Community Radio: Iceland also has regional and community radio stations that serve specific areas or communities. These stations often focus on local news, events, and community-related content.

 

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Are You Listening?

It’s been more than 40 years since the Bugles sang about the death of the radio star at the hands of video. At the time, people believed that the golden age of radio was ending, and that television would overtake it. Yet radio hung on, not least with the help of music programming. Then the internet came along and changed how we consume music, and people were sure that it was the final nail in radio’s coffin. For decades, we’ve been saying it’s only a matter of time before the last radio listener starts pushing up daisies. To this day, rumours of the radio’s death have proven greatly exagger­ated. Radio isn’t dead, even though there’s a new kid on the block: the podcast. Though it isn’t a new form of media threatening to take over, it is radio in new clothes. Yet the question remains – when one tap of a touchscreen gives us access to all the news, music, and TV we could ever need, why would we still listen to the radio?

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90-Year Anniversary of Iceland’s First Radio News Broadcast

Radios

Yesterday evening marked 90 years since the first radio news broadcast in Iceland, RÚV reports. Today marks the 90-year anniversary of the first full day of radio programming in Iceland, broadcast by Iceland’s national broadcaster RÚV. The first news story ever broadcast, on December 20, 1930, covered the global depression. The following day was a Sunday, and the radio programming featured two church services, as well as music, children’s stories, more news, and – of course – weather.

The arrival of radio in 1930 was revolutionary for Iceland’s small, dispersed population. Today the medium remains important in Icelandic culture and daily life. For example, many Icelanders consider the official start of Christmas to be the sound of bells ringing on the radio at 6.00pm on December 24.

To learn more about the radio’s history and significance in Iceland, read our story A Window to the World: How the Radio Led Iceland Into Nationhood.

Moment of (Radio) Silence for Self-Employed Musicians

The country’s biggest radio stations took a collective moment of silence during the morning commute on Friday to raise awareness about the contributions that self-employed musicians make to Icelandic society, Vísir reports.

Self-employed musicians have been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic. Gathering ban restrictions have necessitated the cancellation of numerous events and concerts, meaning that self-employed artists can’t depend on live shows for income. Unemployment for these artists has, predictably, been high and there are few, if any, state resources they can turn to for relief.

Radio stations Bylgjan, FM957, X977, Rás 1, Rás 2, K100, and Suðurland FM paused their regularly scheduled programming at 8:45am on Friday in a demonstration coordinated by the Association of Self-Employed Musicians (FSST). FSST was founded in August primarily to address the challenges currently faced by self-employed musicians; its inaugural board includes chairman Helgi Björnsson, Selma Björnsdóttir, Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð (DRN), Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson, and Bubbi Morthens. Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson and Sigríður Thorlacius serve as alternate board members.

The association welcomed the broad participation in the moment of silence, issuing a statement that said self-employed Icelandic musicians “will continue to stand with their nation, lighten its mood, and do their part.”

“Musicians who make their living from live performances have suffered terrible financial losses and the future is uncertain where events and other gatherings are concerned,” continued the FSST statement. “Self-employed musicians in the Icelandic music industry work in variable and seasonal markets, pay taxes and other fees, but by the very nature of their work, fall outside of the mutual insurance safety net when crises like this occur. As such, self-employed musicians have not been able to take advantage of the government’s temporary resources or any of the economic relief measures that have been introduced.”

The association is calling for relief measures to mitigate the economic losses suffered by its members. “FSST members do not work in a vacuum,” it noted, pointing out that these artists have symbiotic relationships with “music venues and cultural houses, both public and private, equipment rentals, stagehands, lighting and sound technicians, hairdressers and makeup artists, photographers, designers, advertisers, and countless others. Self-employed musicians are an important link in the value chain in many areas of society. The profession is in a grievous situation, our members are fighting the banks and can’t wait any longer.”

Without immediate aid, says the FSST, the Icelandic music industry could be facing “serious and maybe irreversible consequences,” running the risk that a significant number of its musicians will leave the profession and that it will be harder to convince new artists to enter the industry in the future.

A Window to the World

Radios

It’s Christmas Eve in Iceland. Snow is gently falling. The tree is up, the table is set, and the family gathers together. But there’s one event that truly marks the arrival of Christmas in households across the country: the ringing of church bells on the radio. “Right before the bells ring at 6.00 pm, there’s […]

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