Chill is a digital radio station playing pure chillout music on air, joined by a growing community of listeners who love sharing what helps them chill online.
For the latest news about Chill, that's our official site. It links to all our shows, playlists, blogs, and now podcasts.
I'm going to put a bit more information on my site here on what we're about, and why I'm so passionate about it, starting with a story I'm often asked about...
How did Chill start?
Several years ago, as DAB digital radio was starting, it became clear that new ideas were needed to make new digital radios worth having. I was asked to chip in suggestions, and thought about the kind of music friends and I would listen to on CDs because we could not hear it on the radio. Making compilations of chillout music has been one of my favourite hobbies for years, ever since I first had a tape recorder. I would spend hours making a mix for a friend for them to enjoy, and love getting more from other people. We hoarded these mixes and brought them out to play when friends came round, or when we just needed to chill on our own.
So I wondered how many other people did the same, or how many would just like to share our chillout mixes and enjoy relaxing with them. The suggestion went in to turn this idea into a radio station, and start to build up a big stack of tunes we enjoy chilling with. I made a demo late one night in my bedroom, burned five copies (four for my company, and one for my wife) and labelled them "chill - do not listen before midnight". It struck me afterwards that the words "do not listen" might not be the best pitch for a new radio station, but thankfully radio is full of eccentric people who don't like to do what they are told.
It turns out they did listen, and after several years of quiet campaigning and a few test surveys, GWR Group decided to give it a go. It hadn't been decided whether or not to make this a "proper" radio station, so the first brief was to pick a bunch of tunes to play over Christmas 2004 on a test channel in Bristol, on random shuffle. We didn't agree a name. Nobody knew who we were. The music played, and it sounded alright, we liked it, but we didn't love it. We came back from holiday and agreed that we needed to do better if we wanted people to enjoy chilling with us. The only problem was having virtually no money to do it.
So we came to a compromise, of sorts - the company would get me the tools I needed to do the music properly, and we would agree a name to identify the station, but we had no budget, no logo, no web site, and GWR didn't want to be identified with it. This was so simple, the only thing which could possibly be contentious was the name. So we ended up taking a month to decide between "Chiller" (to tie in with the company's existing chillout show, "Chiller Cabinet", established on the massive national station Classic FM) or the original idea from the "do not listen" home made demo, which only half a dozen people had ever seen. On 26 January 2005, "Chill" was born.
Usually radio stations will go out and spend a stack of money when they launch. You would see posters everywhere advertising "Ballsy and Perky's Breakfast Show" and competitions to win a car for guessing the secret sound. We had none of that. All we could do was put a message in the little scrolly text bar you get on digital radios, and we simply offered the chance to get in touch with an email address we had set up in our anonymous sounding webmail system, so people would not know the company connection. firstname.lastname@example.org is the address we still use. I laughed and jumped up and down when we had the first email through - someone liked the station and wanted to know who we were. I replied. More came, asking what track we had played at such and such time, and whether we sold CDs, and with lots of nice words of encouragement. Keeping in touch with these listeners who had stumbled across Chill by accident was starting to keep me busy.
The station was growing by word of mouth, and in a London boardroom two friends started to get excited. Gregory Watson and Matt Deegan were in charge of what stations went where on our new digital transmitters, and they became champions of Chill.
Over the next year, listeners' emails started to flood in, along with ideas and requests for all sorts of things we could do to help people chill. Since then, we added a simple website which now draws over 20,000 listeners a week, and to get around our budget restrictions we based all our regular updates, blogs and playlists on social networks. We were the first UK station on Myspace. We're now on others like Facebook and Last.fm too, and nearly 200,000 people a week listen in total. Along the way, some really amazing DJs and producers joined in - people like Pete Lawrence, Ben Mynott, Bruce "Alucidnation" Bickerton, Paul "Deep End" Noble (who also runs the Big Chill festival radio station) and Ben "Chiller Cabinet" Eshmade, our company's original chiller.
Most importantly, we're still doing simply what we always wanted to do - get together with friends, swap mixes and enjoy chilling together.