One of the best opportunities to explore hidden treasures in the Hungarian capital is the Budapest100. This series of programs is organized by Open Society Archives and Contemporary Architecture Centre; the volunteers lead the visitors around several buildings, which are exactly one hundred years old this year. The studio of the famous underground radio station – Tilos is located in one of these buildings in the VIII. district near Corvin negyed, so as a part of the Budapest100 program, the studio was opened to the public and Péter Homoki, DJ of the radio told the visitors the stations story.
The name of Tilos is well-known as a pirate-radio station. It began broadcasting in 1991, but in the first years it worked without permission. On a side note – the name Tilos means “forbidden” in case you didn’t know. Until now it has remained a communal radio, which works only with volunteers and broadcasts without advertisements. ‘No one of us is forced to serve mass-claims or to browse statistics about our popularity. That’s why we can deal with minority issues, even in the field of culture and music.’ – is what Péter summarized as their policy.
Another interesting thing about this station is how much they value their listeners. Their phone calls are connected into the live program without any prior straining. ‘Of course there are some tiring or obscene calls.’ – answered Péter to a question from the audience – ‘But I think we have to handle them in the right way instead of using stricter rules.’
But music is certainly as important as these conversation style programs, although Tilos is also unique in this aspect. They have tools in the studio that have been already dropped off from most of the other radio-studios: bakelite and CD players for example. ‘Every DJs take their own collection. That’s better database than any computer’ – said the DJ – ‘We try to broadcast as unknown, rare and good music, as possible.’ Their repertoire includes several genres from hard techno through folk-music to classical music.
About 150-200 volunteers work by Tilos and it’s might hard to imagine that people are happy to work for free in their leisure time. ‘Even if my colleagues come in the studio moody, there is always a smile on their face when they leave after their program. Because we have no editor in chief, in our own program-time we can do whatever we want, nobody cares how many people listen to it.’ – explained Péter.
This unstrained creativity appears also visually when you’re looking around in the studio. The walls and doors are covered with posters, vignettes, drawings and above a door you can even find a trophy of a boar. A smaller room is designed with two naked and “tattooed” manikins. It is also technically special, that the main studio is not divided by a glass-wall to technical and presenter-area as is the usual practice. The practical reason of that is, that usually the volunteer-teams have no professional technicians just one of them deals with the technology in between conversation. Technical amateurism and professional calling can sound quite well together…
by Beáta Bakó