TV may have killed the radio star, but the digital artists behind Poolside.FM are trying to bring it back.
People may be familiar with Poolside.FM, a novel take on a classic radio station. Visitors can cycle through 70 different short video clips from the ‘80s and listen to a playlist of songs collected from SoundCloud. The original website launched in 2014, but creator Marty Bell wanted to give it a facelift, launching an entirely new version of the site today. The goal is to have around 500 different tracks for people to listen to (about 25 hours worth of songs), but the site currently boasts half of that, Bell told The Verge.
Although the songs are essentially pulled in from SoundCloud, Poolside.FM is more than just a playlist. It’s a vibe — one that makes you feel as though you’re lounging by the pool on a hot summer’s day in 1985, without a care in the world. If it leaves you bopping your head and smiling, Bell’s done his job. The idea behind Poolside.FM was to create a “kind of virtual vacation to lift my spirits,” he told The Verge in an email.
“This mix of music and care-free nostalgic visuals seems to put people in a really happy place, I love that,” Bell said.
“This mix of music and care-free nostalgic visuals seems to put people in a really happy place, I love that.”
Poolside.FM’s relaunch comes at an interesting time when similar virtual radio stations have taken over other sites like YouTube. Study sessions set to lo-fi hip-hop are just one example; other 24/7 channels run through different visuals to create a digital ambiance that makes it feel like more than just a Spotify or SoundCloud playlist. Bell’s site even incorporates a guestbook on its site, like old-school webpages, which creates a feeling of community.
That's intentional. Poolside.FM has about 32,000 followers on Instagram, and Bell says that the site has 4,000 monthly listeners. He wants to grow that number this year and continue building up the community. Part of that is welcoming new listeners, but he also wants to encourage other artists and musicians to submit their tracks. It’s a collaborative process.
For now, Poolside.FM exists as a digital oasis away from the day-to-day clutter of being online. The neon swimming trunks and cherry red convertibles make it feel like you hopped in a time machine and transport back to 1985.