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Belgian Stations Collaborate on Radio Esperanzah!

Several radio stations joined forces to host four days of the annual Radio Esperanzah! festival

FLOREFFE, Belgium — For the 16th edition of the Esperanzah! music festival, staged Aug. 4–6 in the 12th century abbey of Floreffe, radio-enthusiasts from several radio stations joined forces to host four days of Radio Esperanzah!

American singer Leyla McCalla is interviewed by Radio Esperanzah!
All © M Maes

During the lead up to the festival, radio staff from stations such as 48FM in Liège, RunFM in Namur, as well as Radio Campus and Radio Panik in Bruxelles, teamed up to prepare the festival broadcast.


“For the 13 past years, Radio Esperanzah! has been a meeting place for a number of radio stations,” said Fred Peters, technical coordinator of the five-member technical crew. “We have regular meetings with the partner stations in Brussels, Liège or Namur — you could say we are an ‘informal collective’ of independent broadcasters.”

The temporary station was located in three classrooms of the ancient abbey where Radio Esperanzah! had a newsroom, an on-air and production studio and a separate interview area. “We applied for a temporary licence with the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel, the French Community Audiovisual Council, for duration of the festival,” said Peters.

“We were quite lucky because the Floreffe region is still ‘available’ in terms of radio frequencies and we were allocated at 106.2 FM.” Peters explained that the station’s antenna and transmitter were placed on the balustrades of the abbey, looking out on and covering the entire valley, which included the festival grounds, access roads and camping. Radio Esperanzah! content was also partially relayed by the partner stations on their respective frequencies, and by Mons-based You-FM.

Radio Esperanzah! Remote broadcasts from a classroom.

For the temporary setup, RunFM supplied the transmitter and dipole antenna and installed a Mackie 1402 console with Behringer Multicom mic compressors in Studio 1, while Radio Panik put in place a Yamaha MG 10 console in Studio 2. “In total we had to install two radio studios, with a dozen mics and cables,” said Peters. “We carefully labeled each piece of equipment or cable because we all use the same gear in a way.”

The studios and interview rooms were decorated in the two days preceding the festival.

During the festival, Radio Esperanzah! aired interviews with artists and organizations attending the festival. In addition to the FM broadcast, the station’s signal was also aired over the festival grounds via loudspeakers in the Floreffe abbey area.

The 16th edition of the Esperanzah! festival presented a wide range of musical styles, from jazz (Gregory Porter) to pop (Ozark Henry) and Caribbean sounds (Puerto Candelaria).