The Ridiculous History of Skraidantis Radijas (Flying Radio)
Long-running fully independent non-profit nonsensical Skraidantis Radijas (Flying Radio) has been a mainstay of Vilnius station Start FM for years - We present the full untold story as told by the main man Garo.

Hello Garo. I know you. You were one of the first Lithuanians I met. How's it going, more than six years later?

All good, still hustlin'.

Tell us a bit about each of your projects throughout your musical career, one by one, for the record:

Currently, besides hosting Skraidantis Radijas (Flying Radio), I am mostly working on my solo music as Garo in Green Carpet Studios. I play with a live hip-hop band Messiah Goes Mad Orchestra. And I run a record label called Bembis Bembio Motina. Not long ago, I was also performing in a live rocky-trip-hop band MIR Project and also was one half of military something-hop duo called New Airplanes. These are the main projects that I was involved in recently.

For this interview I want to introduce people to Skraidantis Radijas (Flying Radio), one of the very few long-running radio shows playing alternative music in Lithuania. So tell the people how it all started...

My friend, beatboxer Def One, once came to me with one of his million plans and said there's a new radio station opening and there's a possibility to get a slot there and make a rap show. I said that it would take quite some time to properly prepare the show every week, and that I didn't have that time available. Then you (Mark Splinter) came to me and said the same thing, and I said fuck it, let's just try to make a show or two. I think we even had a meeting to make a plan for the first show, but in the end we just showed up in the studio with a bunch of good music, no knowledge about how to use the equipment, no idea what to talk about, and a few beers. This freaked out the station manager as this was the first ever live show to air on StartFM 94.2. After the first show we went to "Kamchatka" [legendary convenience store] to buy a few more beers, and in process of utilising them we decided that we are definitely doing a second show. That day the idea of actually being able to host a show where you literally just come with a nice selection of music - and a few ideas that are funny or interesting - was born.

Tell us about Kalashas

Kalashas is the wisest punk alive! The first version of StartFM died in 2006. The team dropped it as an unsucessful project and after a few attempts to reform it and bring it back they left it playing a song by Turboreanimacija called "Aš Nekenčiu Radijo Stočių" (I Hate Radio Stations) on repeat for like half a year. Then Allanas from Fresh Rice Crew told me that one guy he knew was planning to bring back StartFM as an independent/non-commercial radio station, and that we should bring Skraidantis Radijas back also. So we met Kalashas and told him that we want to do a hip-hop show. He was quite skeptical at first as the the station was very non-commercial and more punk orientated, but said he would take a listen to the recordings of our previous shows. Then I met him in a party a few weeks later, and he said he had listened to a recording of our show, and he laughed a lot. Then said that we definitely should be on air. And after a few months Skraidantis Radijas aired again as the first live show on the newly reborn StartFM, now run by Kalashas and his team of other like-minded people. He has been the director of the station ever since, and managed to keep the whole station together and running without any commercial support and under crude legal restrictions. And he always comes up with ideas that even I consider to be crazy.

What music do you like to play most?

I mostly like to play the music that I like. Selection is really quite personal and largely depends on my mood and the tracks that i found recently. Sometimes it can be golden age hip-hop or nineties electronic stuff, sometimes it's some new beats or dubstep and sometimes I even play some rock, heavy metal or just solo piano tracks. And I like to mix all these styles boldly. I try to reflect a broad spectrum of music as i don't really believe in styles any more.

What do you like to talk about most?

Rubbish. That's the best topic. Actually the talking side of the show evolved during the time. It all started with us trying to talk some sense about the music we were playing, being informative and semi-serious. When Tattva joined the show, we shifted towards the nonsense side quite a bit, and talks about biographies of musicians were replaced by us talking about stupid shit we saw the other day on the bus or how some friend of ours was caught stealing a rooster. Then we were joined by lithuanian jungle grandfather Nuits (who called himself Shalikas or Plazmatikas) and the craziest period of Flying Radio talk segments started. Me, Tatva, Nuits, Andrelis 18 & Allanas in the studio was a very good combination. Sometimes, the theories we ended up developing during the show freaked out even ourselves. As we always said, the objective of the talks in our show is that if some eldery people (liet. pencai) would accidentally turn on our show while in their car, they wouldn't understand why anybody would talk about such things, how is it relevant, what's the meaning of all this, why are they allowed to talk like that on the radio and anyway, what exactly they are talking about? Now, since I'm the only host left, and stupid shit generates itself much easier with company, the talks shifted back a bit to the more serious side, but still with the twist of nonsense.

What are the restrictions on what you can broadcast? Who sets the rules?

There are several restrictions about broadcasting. First of all, there is a stupid law in Lithuania that limits the signal strength of any non-commercial radio station. So despite the fact that we have quite a powerful transmitter, we can only use it at one fifth of it's power. I have no idea what the official "purpose" of this law is, but what it effectively does is ban non-commercial radio stations from properly competing with commercial ones as there's no way you can get good coverage with a low power level.
The other thing is that we don't play any music that is protected by LATGA-A (collection agency) as we don't pay them any royality fees. In practice that evaluates to not playing anything that is protected by five major label conglomerate soundly called Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), crappy lithuanian pop music and some good officially released lithuanian music for which we don't have written permission. So in reality the bad thing is that we can't play some of the nice music released by good labels that at some point were bought by majors, and we have to cut down on playing good lithuanian music as it's too much hassle to get the permissions from every author that is registered with LATGA... and finally of course from time to time there's a craving for playing some 20 year old hit but we can't. That is stupid as the radio station doesn't get any profit, maintenence costs are funded by Vilnius University and all people working there are volunteers who love music and spend their time promoting and spreading it, so asking us to pay for royalities is a bit ridiculous. But again, these are the current laws and as we all know laws are unchangable unless you have good connections and lots of money, and we have neither. But the nice side effect of this restriction is that it just forces you explore the less known side of music and dig deeper. So frankly in most cases i quite like it.

Can you remember a legendary old show? Is there an early recording?

Well this is a hard one. There are many "legendary" shows. Mostly from the era of Nuits & Tatva. There was one show where we had Tadas Vidmantas in, and we invented a whole new theory about how human beings evolved from plastic after the explosion of the first volcano. I remember that one very well. There was one where we encouraged people to sniff glue with their families on Christmas instead of using alcohol, and...well there really was too many good stories to remember. Sounds speak louder then words, so I did a mashup from shows broadcasted in 2007-2009 with some legendary crazy talks, freestyles and scientific theories, and uploaded it to Skraidantis Radijas mixcloud page specially for this interview. It's for lithuanian speakers only as most of it is talks. There's also a recent show that was recorded in the kitchen when we were on a trip to London for a gig with Messiah Goes Mad Orchestra. That also was mental. And I remember very well the show where we had like ten drunk finnish dj's and mc's in the studio including Hank Holiday, Frankly Irrational and the now famous beatboxer Felix Zenger. We made a proper station-wide freestyle hip-hop jam. And you can also listen to the best ever call that we recieved from our listener named Amaras.

Skraidantis Radijas Retardospective 2007-2009

What do you think about funding with advertising? For your show specifically, but also in principle.

Advertising is crap, that's what i think. I do understand all the economy behind it and how it can make some things happen, but generally advertisements are a litter designed to fuck with your subconcious mind and distract you from the emotional state you was in before hearing it. And I think it's really bad for a radio show. I know many people are used to hearing advertisements and it's considered to be quite "ok", still I believe it has detremental effect on an overall quality of the show. And the current trend of commercial radio stations to make radio hosts tell you the advertisement like it was the part of the show is even more pathetic.

Who is your statistcally average listener and what does he/she wear?

Our statistically average listener is Obolis. Two meters tall, wears green sweater and steamed jeans.

Is FM still important now that internet radio is so widely available?

Well contrary to what i thought some time ago, I think it is still important. FM will die when cars will have internet in them as cars are a place where most of your FM listeners are i think, some still use FM on older mobile phones and eldery people are still using their old VEF's and Chaikas(but they don't count as they only listen to national radio). So it's definitely not the future. There are also plans for a digital radio where they will just try to use same FM technology to squeeze like ten times the amount of stations into the same range, but personally i doubt that it will work, as the internet is much more versatile for these purposes.

How does Flying Radio and Start FM help new Lithuanian music?

We play a lot of production made in Lithuania, by Lithuanians or with Lithuanian influences. Recently we started playing even more unreleased tracks from young Lithuanian producers, even if they are not mixed down or mastered properly and therefore "not ready for radio". It's the idea that's most important, and we want to spread it. StartFM as a whole also tries to put newly released lithuanian albums from various scenes into playlists, promote events for free, they even help Lithuanian poets by putting their poems in between the songs, where in any commercial radio station you would hear an advertisement for a new kind of tampon with which you feel light like a kite.

You have also asked some questions of people in the street, making recordings for your show. Can you translate a couple of good anecdotes for english speakers? ;)

Unfortunately I can't. The jokes are very specific to the language and it's usually the sequence of words that is funny in people's answers. We don't think of some clever questions to get a funny answer, we just ask them some nonsense and hope they will fuck up. And they do. More than you would expect. We call that "microphone syndrome". Lithuanian speakers can listen to a few episodes from our interviews with crazy drunk woman and rasta bum here:

What does Start FM need?

We needs lots of AK-47s, powerful radio frequency jammer devices, hummers (army ones, not the cheap popstar ones) equipped with broadcasting equipment, anti-riot sound bombs, apache helicopters, some land with embassy status, access to properly corrupt politicians and lots of cheap ass whiskey.