What do two reggae-loving, bike-riding, chairlift operators do with their free time in Austria? They run an internet radio station. And when they started selling t-shirts to promote their station, what did they do with the money they made? Well, they donated it to a charity of course! Meet the guys behind Mountain Reggae Radio and learn how to find them on the internet and at Bikepark Brandnertal.

Bikepark Brandnertal is located above the Austrian city of Bludenz
Bikepark Brandnertal is located above the Austrian city of Bludenz

Either by foot, pedal power, or chairlift, the solitude and the beauty of the mountains expands as you rise above the valley floor. Leave the bustling town of Bludenz, Austria behind you and your mind drifts among the evergreen forest and farms. Then the faintest of sounds emerge above you – but it is not the sounds of nature and it just starts out with a soft bouncing beat. You know its music, but it isn’t the bubble-gum pop you hear from the European radio stations. It also isn’t hip-hop, rap, metal, or any of the usual music you hear at a club or apres-ski party. For this environment, it’s better than that. You are up at 1420 meters and you are hearing the joyful sounds of Mountain Reggae Radio!

Marc and Manuel seem to have always a great attitude.
Marc and Manuel seem to have always a great attitude.

Marc Bachmann and Manuel Tschann are local guys from the valley below the bike park and are proud to point to their hometowns next to Bludenz. Marc’s deep love of reggae keeps him busy at home mixing tracks and playlists late into the night. When he and Manuel started working at the top station of the lift at Bikepark Brandnertal, they began playing music just for their own enjoyment. The guests of the mountain responded well to the music and vibe coming from their little shack on the mountain and begged them to turn it up! Management of the mountain supported the environment they created and soon coined this little music mecca the ”Magic Mountain.” Rain or shine, hot or cold, the beats kept coming and the guys started taking pictures of their happy guests.

Reggae beats get louder as you climb higher on the chairlift
Reggae beats get louder as you climb higher on the chairlift

The Brandnertal resort is located in the Vorarlberg region of western Austria and this year opened up several new freeride and downhill trails. There are enduro trails, hiking trails, a spa, and other assorted activities for families, but I came to Brandertal for the new bike park. With no traffic, I can make it to the mountain from Stuttgart, Germany in about 2.5 hours which makes it reasonable for a day trip. The difference between Brandnertal and the other bike parks closer to my home is that these mountains are BIG and you know you are in the Alps. The other draw is that the local community really makes bikers feel welcome.

Axel puts down some style on the Tschack Norris trail
Axel puts down some style on the Tschack Norris trail

I see people pedal and hike up the mountain all the time, but I’ve never done it. There is a perfectly comfortable chairlift ascending the slope and I prefer to take advantage of it. As you get closer to the top of the lift you can hear the soft beats of the music and see the glowing smiles of Marc and Manuel. Even though these guys work like dogs pulling bike after bike off of the chairlift all day, they still greet every rider with a shout and a wave. Somehow they make their job look fun and their energy is infectious. The response from the riders is nearly universal … happy and positive.


After a day of riding, I found their Mountain Reggae Radio page on Facebook and saw that they have a streaming radio station. Reggae loving lift operators don’t usually strike me as entrepreneurs, so I clicked my way to their page to see if it was real. Sure enough, there is a legit music stream and soon the beats were pumping through my speakers. Man, it is a good setlist too. But how? Who? Where? Why?


Manuel met a mountain biker one night at a bar in town and was asked for a copy of a picture taken earlier in the day. Without an immediate solution, Manuel told them to check out his Mountain Reggae Radio Facebook page the following day and send him a note – the only problem was that it didn’t yet exist so he had to run straight home and create it. So their love of music, bikes, and the mountains led to the first extension of their hobby: a Facebook page. Then he got hooked up with an online radio provider and start streaming worldwide over the internet. Mountain Reggae Radio was born!

There is some internet access at the Magic Mountain, but they don’t stream the show from there because Marc and Manuel have to prioritize their jobs and safety of the lift riders. Marc creates the playlists for the radio show and then plays the recorded sets through the stereo while they work. They smile, dance, and take pictures during the day. The pictures aren’t of dh gladiators shredding the trails or launching the jumpline, the pics are just people in the mountains having a good time. With a warm smile, Manuel says, “we want to give the people MORE than just a bikepark ticket.”


Who pays for this? “We do. We do it because we love it.” There are obvious costs beyond their time that go into producing the radio station. To recover some of their expenses they started making t-shirts and selling them to their fans from town and the mountain. But just as the money started to collect, there was a terrible accident in their town that left a local boy paralyzed. Luca Lombardi crashed his motor-scooter and was left in a wheelchair. Luca’s family had hospital bills to pay and a home that required modification to accommodate his new needs. Marc and Manuel decided to donate their profits to Luca via the charity “Stunde des Herzen.” I was surprised by the generosity and asked them why they give away the profits? With a kind smile, Marc explained, “we aren’t just wild bikers in the woods, man, we have everything we need.”


So what happens when the bikepark closed at the end of October? The guys work in the mountains year round so they will swap their t-shirts for hoodies and keep the reggae pumping. They operate the radio station with the blessing of the resort, but they are still independent and will look to expand their audience. Their listeners aren’t just mountain enthusiasts though. Musicians in Jamaica and the US have started sending emails and asking Marc and Manuel to play their songs. You can see the excitement on the guy’s faces when they describe the emails. “Man, we are just a couple of guys in Austria playing music in the mountains and now musicians are finding us and asking us to play their music! It’s crazy!”

I don’t think it is too crazy. Marc and Manuel are two of the nicest guys I’ve met and they are doing something they love. Even if nobody was listening, they would still do it. I wish them the best and I look forward to seeing them next year when the bike park re-opens. Their attitudes and energy make this outstanding resort even better because like they say – at Brandnertal you get more than just a bike park ticket.

For further information have a look at:
Mountain Reggae Radio | Bikepark Brandnertal | Stunde des Herzen

Words & Photos: Evan Phillips

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