[WATCH] ‘Maltese radio is just crap, the music’s a mess’ – Toni Sant

Radio historian, musical archivist, academic and Spazju Kreattiv director Toni Sant lets rip on the state of the airwaves

Toni Sant said that there is no crisis in the local music industry and that if anything, Maltese music has flourished and improved
Toni Sant said that there is no crisis in the local music industry and that if anything, Maltese music has flourished and improved

Maltese radio is "crap" and the music that is played on local stations is likewise terrible, Toni Sant said.

Sant, a Maltese academic, former radio and television presenter, producer and current musical archivist, held nothing back when he criticised local radio stations on their quality and the standard of the contemporary music they play.

"Maltese radio is crap, the music they play is a mess. The problem isn't the lack of Maltese music because it has flourished in recent years if anything," Sant said.

Speaking on Xtra Sajf on TVM, Sant said that he doesn't believe that there is a crisis in Maltese music. On a previous segment of Xtra, veteran musicians Philip Vella and Freddie Portelli criticised Maltese radios for not playing enough Maltese music and said, ostensibly, that this was part of a crisis in the Maltese music industry. 

"Freddie Portelli and Philip Vella are not as well connected with the music scene perhaps. It's reasonable that they are insisting on their side of the story, but there is no crisis in Maltese music, not even on radios as these are playing contemporary Maltese music. The amount of Maltese music that is played today is far more significant than the amount played five years ago," Sant said. 

He added that the problem wasn't radios even though these were "crap" and played "crap" music. After all, he argued, radio is only listened to when people are stuck in traffic; audiences could easily access local music on the internet and on social media. The problem, he claimed, lies in the fact that there is no systemic archiving and proper cataloguing of local music. 

"Our problem is that we don't appreciate what is Maltese and this is mostly because we don't have access to it," he said, arguing radios might not play as much local music as they could because they do not have access to it. 

"How many Maltese songs came out last year for example? People don't know. I'd say around 200 albums. There were 100 music videos of Maltese musicians uploaded on the internet just last year. How are we embracing this creative output if we are not altogether conscious of these products?" Sant asked.

Sant is the Director of Digital Media & Film Production at Salford University and was formerly Reader in Digital Curation at the University of Hull's School of Arts & New Media on the Scarborough campus in England.

He was the leading founder of M3P, the Malta Media Memory Preservation project. Supported by the Malta Arts Fund, the project aims to archive and catalogue Maltese music and is run by volunteers.

"The electoral manifesto of the current government proposed a wide archiving of Maltese audio-visual products. The political will is there. It's the action that is missing, though I understand that there are other priorities," Sant said, adding that due to this lack of accessibility, the Maltese couldn't appreciate Malta's cultural heritage enough.

The M3P project is a digital archive that contains more than 700 digital CDs of local music. Whoever wants to access it can do so via the M3P website. Any piece of music in the archive can be requested.