FEVERISHLY COOL: Arctic Outpost Radio AM1270 hosted by local man of mystery Cal Lockwood goes from three ‘followers’ to 40,000 in hours due to viral reaction from…Portugal?!

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So on April 1 there’s a news story at some Portuguese website who’s name in English means “toad” about some online music streaming thing called Arctic Outpost Radio AM1270 that’s “spinning the 78’s from 77° latitude” going from three followers to 40,000 in a matter of hours, all newcomers from Portugal thanks to some dude who’s last name is “Markl.”

Thanks for playing, but right now we’re kinda busy dealing with “virual” news of a serious kind. Next.

But just to humor you we’ll click on the DJ’s Instragram link and…um, wait – you were serious?!

Actually, it is “fake news” to report the station in Longyearbyen operated by somebody using the name Cal Lockwood suddenly has 40,000 Instagram followers. As of midday Monday it was about 62,000 – for a guy whose page has six photos that look like they were taken at some ragtag studio 60 years ago. The tunes being “spun” at the station during the past several years are even more archaic, with an adage that boasts about “playing great shellacs from 1902-1958. Big Band, Jazz, Vintage Country, and Blues broadcast from the top of the world.”

As for the man known as Lockwood, he’s something of both a local and international man of mystery since even in town few seem to have heard of or seen him (indeed, some suspected he might be too mysterious to be real – it turns out it’s a stage name to protect the privacy of himself and his studio). But the bandwidth anonymity is changing after Nuno Markl, a Portuguese comedian and TV/radio host, was a guest last Tuesday on a show hosted by Bruno Nogueira, another comedian and broadcaster, where Markl noticed the Svalbard station while scanning an app mapping online stations worldwide.

Markl shared his findings in an Instagram post that, pardon the phrase in these queazy times, quickly went viral in the country.

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The online portal for Arctic Outpost Radio AM1270 features a playlist of past/current/future songs, as well as an active listener count. But very little information about its mysterious DJ/host.

“In these times of isolation, this unexpected Portugal–North Pole bridge was a kind of fable that involved a lot of people and made solitude less lonely,” Markl wrote. “And he plays incredibly good music.”

Within about 12 hours Lockwood’s station was a sensation.

In a subsequent message to Markl, Lockwood called the response “unbelievable,” and he’s had little time to respond to his new flock of fans because “I’m so busy on air and trying to add server capacity to serve all the new listeners” after his existing server was overloaded.

“I have been running this small AM-MW station for several years in Longyearbyen,” Lockwood wrote. “It was more for myself as no one listens to AM radio anymore. I actually had no idea anyone cared about these old tunes. About a year ago a friend talked me into putting the broadcast on the internet. Yada yada, it’s gotten a bit crazy. Now the station has moved towards focusing on internet stream delivery.”

At noon on Monday – when “If I Had My Way” by The Harmonicats was playing –  there were 209 active listeners in Portugal, six in Spain and the United Kingdom, and two or less in six other countries.

Lockwood’s station does have listeners in Longyearbyen – some of whom may not realize it since, because it’s broadcast using AM signals, it’s the only thing a non-digital radio may pickup locally due to Norway eliminating FM broadcasts a couple of years ago. Among the local listeners is Nuno Cruz, a fellow Portuguese who moved here seven years ago and happened to find it about a year ago during a chance radio scan on the car belonging to the company he worked for at the time.

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Nuno Cruz, who moved from Portugal to Longyearbyen seven years ago, said he discovered Arctic Outpost Radio AM1270 by chance a year ago scanning his car radio. Now he says “everyone” in his homeland are talking about it after a famous comedian/broadcaster told listeners to seek it out . Photo by Sofia Serra.

“This guy’s a mystery to me and most of the community because he’s not on Facebook, he not anywhere,” Cruz said.

Not being able to find a hint of Lockwood in Norway’s population registry, online address/telephone directories and other resources raises obvious legitimacy questions since the idea somebody could remain so unknown in “everyone knows everyone” small town like Longyearbyen seems ludicrous. But a check by Icepeople of e-mails sent by Lockwood show a IP address that originates here and in one of the messages he explains he’s not using his real name for the station, “which in the old tradition of broadcasting is very common.”

“There are a lot of people now that want to come and meet me, and tour the station,” he wrote. “This is not why I do this. I never wanted any fame. I am a VERY private person. I have stated this on the air many times, that I only want to broadcast music for those that want to hear it, and that is my number one priority…I have had many requests to do live-streams or other interviews for almost a week now, but have not done any.”

Not knowing who Lockwood is doesn’t keep people like Cruz from appreciating the station or being wowed by the sudden response from his homeland.

“Of course there’s a very little percentage of people that listen to jazz,” Cruz said, referring to listeners in Portugal, although it’s certainly a statement that applies globally. “But the thing is so you hear so much noise and you hear so much about the virus that if you hear something like fresh news or sound it’s more than just a niche.”

Cruz said he’s been in touch with Markl, hoping they can find Lockwood and perhaps set up a live broadcast on the comedian’s program, and he’s been in touch with friends and family at home who say everyone there is now talking about the formerly obscure Arctic station.

“There’s some comment on (Markl’s) Instagram page that this is the best thing the virus has given to us,” Cruz said.

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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22 thoughts on “FEVERISHLY COOL: Arctic Outpost Radio AM1270 hosted by local man of mystery Cal Lockwood goes from three ‘followers’ to 40,000 in hours due to viral reaction from…Portugal?!

  1. I am on Cape Cod, MA, USA.
    I have been a fan of REAL radios long time, and did a few shows back in college. When I was on a submarine we use to search out Rock (AM/MW) stations, wherever we were !

    Love the show on AOR & all the old music.

    KEEP ON RADIATING !

  2. I’m in Delaware and I found it. It’s amazing to hear these gems coming from the top of the world. Whoever you are, thank you.
    Responses from like minded listeners welcomed.

    1. Aren’t these tunes marvelous? I was plugged into 1940s UK Radio(still am) but this station really hit all the right buttons. Jerry Vale is melting my speaker now as I type. lol!

  3. I found this fantastic station through my Alexa device on the Tunein app. I keep it on 24/7. I grew up on AM radio and the 100K watt blowtorches in the midwest(KOMA Oklahoma City as an example). I hail from Newberry FL.(Gator Country). Louis Prima is jammin’ as I speak. Love ya Cal.

  4. Listening in fly-over area of USA. Discovered you via recommendation by Tune-In as I was about to listen to suburban Chicago’s jazz station. So, are there any Norsk language shellacks in the stack of stuff? When listening to jazz does everyone automatically speak American? Norway is a land of surprises to some of us. We can take a famous train ride through the Norwegian countryside while listening to American jazz played on an Arctic radio station. life is good.

    1. There is occasional German language 78’s spinning, but it’s overwhelmingly American. And, of course, Maurice and Edith. I keep it on 24/7. Are you Navy?

      1. Aye! Danang Nam ’69.
        What gave it away? The eyepatch, knife in my teeth or parrot on my shoulder?

      2. The hook. I’m USN(Ret)1971-1992. Almost got assigned to COSRIVRON 1. Thank you for your service, shipmate.

  5. I’m a self-described radio geek – shortwave, streaming, trunked systems, digital…. The list goes on. I found this by accident using the Radio Garden app on my iPhone, and I was totally blown away. This station made it onto my favorites list pretty quick. I love it!

  6. I am listening to AOR from Genoa, Italy, since last March, from the very start of the pademic in Italy. I discovered It through Radio Garden app One year ago. No matter Who Cal Lockwood Is, I want to thak him since I discovered wonderful relaxing music.. with no advertising and no interruptions … It helps me cope with the isolation and with the Crazy situation I am living due to the pandemic every day since last march. Ink Spots – We three Is One of my favorite songs, It sounds like a spiritual! Please never stop broadcasting Cal. Hope this radio station Will become more and more famous, because in One Word it’s Great!

    1. Fabulous, isn’t it.? Another station on the Radio Garden is the British Homefront Radio Service. Same music and no adverts. Spent a lot of time in Italy while in the Navy. Awesome country. Stay well.

    2. The interesting thing (one of them, anyways) is apparently I know who “Cal” is…and yet I don’t know him, if you know what I mean. In other words, I’ve encountered him around town as Clark Kent in day-to-day life, but I haven’t figured out he has a secret identity.

  7. I’m from Bradford in the UK and just discovered this station today, via Radio Garden. At first I wasn’t sure it was for real: I had never really considered Svalbard as a human settlement before. But little did I know! The music is great, and it’s very pleasant to have it on in the background when I am pottering around on the PC as I’m a bit too old for Grime etc. lol.

    1. I have it on 24/7. It’s a great mix of swing, crooners, and everything in between. Love to visit there sometime.

  8. I just tried to connect to the stream, but it keeps buffering and an error message appears.
    I’m listening from the Netherlands, after I just by coincidence discovered this nice radio station.
    The music choice is excellent and listening to Arctic Outpost Radio also reminds me of my visit to Svalbard a little more than 3 years ago.

    1. I receive it through radio.garden. Really fun website. I also listen to 1940’s UK Radio and The British Home Front Radio from Doncaster, UK. Happy trails!

      1. Thank you Robert, this indeed is a fun website and it works!
        I also found the app RadioLine works for Arctic Post Radio.
        And I’ll try the station you suggested.
        Greetings from Almere, the Netherlands.

      2. Your are quite welcome, AEO! I am Gary Donner. Robert is my partner. Haven’t gotten around to change the name yet. Look me up on FB. Greetings from Newberry, Florida(Gator country). God Bless!

  9. I also found AOR through Radio Garden and love it! Been listening off and on since February. Even bought an AOR hoodie and can’t wait for the cooler weather to wear it! Live in the Washington DC area.

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