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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Would any radio station in Britain allow me to play these ten records?

Music Selection (These can be of any genre as long as they mean something to you).
1. High Wide And Handsome by Loudon Wainwright III
2. Slow Train by Flanders and Swann 
3. If I Fell by The Beatles
4. Family Affair by Sly and the Family Stone
5. Vine Street by Harry Nilsson
6. Trenchtown Rock by Bob Marley (must be from Bob Marley live at the Lyceum)
7. You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry
8. My Foolish Heart by Bill Evans
9. Will You Love Me Tomorrow by Carole King (from Tapestry)
10. Hills Of The North Rejoice by the Huddersfield Choral Society
The above questionnaire I completed for Martin Kelner's "One On One" feature on BBC Radio Leeds asked me to come up with ten records. Those are the ones I named. 

I was due to do Martin's show in a couple of weeks. Then BBC Radio Leeds decided they could do without him. They asked me if I still wanted to go ahead. I said no. These down-the-line interviews are OK if you've got some rapport with the person you're talking to. They're difficult if you don't.

In his explanation of how he came to leave his job Martin mentioned that an affinity with popular music is dangerous in local radio. I know what he meant.  BBC Local Radio managers are easily frightened by any selection that isn't thuddingly obvious. 

So now Martin's got no programme, which is very bad for him, and I'm left to put one question - is there any radio station in Britain that is not yet so heavily formatted or ham-strung by the need to be seen as hip and edgy that it would a actually allow those records to go out on its airwaves?  I know Desert Island Discs, but apart from that where?

22 comments:

  1. There are radio "stations" which would play them, but the quotation marks show the problem - they're all or mostly Internet-enabled, and have audiences which I assume are fractions of the over-the-air stations. I'm very much enjoying Pete Paphides on Soho Radio and Tom Cox on Soundart Radio, but both of those are only available to me online. They'd play all those records in a heartbeat. But I don't know how they're surviving commercially.

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  2. We play stuff like this all the time at Bradford Community Broadcasting, but like the commenter mentioned above, outside of Bradford (and maybe our fm reaches some bits of Leeds) we'd only be available to online

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  3. I've played 5 out of 10..if that's any consolation, though I do regard myself as being extremely lucky to have freedom of choice on a 4 hour show. Having a listeners Top 10 feature where the listener picks the tunes is also rare. I think the main factor is trust in the Presenters, from PD'S, quite a rare thing these days, but in our case it has proved successful

    Jerry Lang
    U105

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  4. I've played 5 out of 10..if that's any consolation, though I do regard myself as being extremely lucky to have freedom of choice on a 4 hour show. Having a listeners Top 10 feature where the listener picks the tunes is also rare. I think the main factor is trust in the Presenters, from PD'S, quite a rare thing these days, but in our case it has proved successful

    Jerry Lang
    U105

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  5. BBC Tees has a similar afternoon feature. Yesterday they played a Fall record during the piece with Marc Riley, so if Radio Leeds okayed your list, you'd have got it onto Tees.

    Nonetheless your point about conservative instincts holding sway in mainstream music programming hold good. All BBC Local Radio share one playlist which, like its commercial counterparts, has been researched and focus grouped to buggery.

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  6. Robert Elms on BBC Radio London springs to mind. But he would never play the Beatles!

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  7. I would have thought 6music would play most of the tracks on that list, although Hills of the North Rejoice might be a bit much for them. Still, it's possible.

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  8. Hmmm... good points. Our local radio station in Sherborne (Dorset) is a community station - Abbey 104 - and plays all sorts of stuff, although I only tend to listen to a couple shows each week, as a mate has a rock show on Tuesday Nights 9-11 and Thursday is a love song orientated, also 9-11. The station is rather amateurish but one hears stuff no-one dare play on Mainstream. It's available on a reasonable radius from Sherborne on FM, although I tend to listen via the www.

    A friend was going to write to one of our so-called 'local' stations and make a request for his girl-friend, stating 'either record will do'.

    Point made, I feel...

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  9. Most will make it to 6Music over a year, but perhaps the Huddersfield Choral society is more for Mr Kellner's ex-listenership?

    Daytime 6Music is about 40% adventurous 0700-1900, a lot more after. As I write this, the last three tracks were New Order's "Singularity", Ben Folds Five, "Underground" and Black Uhuru's "Youth of Eglington".

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  10. You're welcome aboard our station (Ship Full of Bombs) and show (Podrophenia) - if you fancy a Southend run. Zoe Howe used to have an SFOB show and pops up as a guest from time to time

    planetmondo@gmail.com if you up for a trip down The Thames

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  11. Crocodile Jack:

    "Robert Elms on BBC Radio London springs to mind. But he would never play the Beatles!"

    Begs the question: How can you trust him with anything then?! Let alone a selection like this.

    Radio Playlists are useful. But they do allow the powers that be to play stuff without a thought. They shackle anybody with imagination.

    The "main" BBC channels drive me to distraction and the local stuff is execrable.

    Still mustn't grumble.

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  12. Bob Fischer on BBC Tees is pretty good. He usually does the Introducing slot, but he's first reserve on the afternoon show, and does some good interviews with a range of music.

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  13. Oh boy, have you ripped at a nerve! I may not live in the UK, but I grew up and studied there and am familiar with its radio offering, and even though it is more expansive than where I live (South Africa) it still borders on unimaginative. It is hyper-formatted, which, given the dramatic shift in media is tantamount suicidal. It reeks of panic. I believe the media consumer is shopping around for - and this is critical - an experience with music, and one that is authentic (witness the explosion in sales of vinyl), and unless radio stations can offer that, they risk redundancy. Your selection of music, and the story you would have told on Martin's show would have been the narrative that provided an authentic experience. If I were still on-air I would have loved to have played your songs. OK, perhaps not the Huddersfield Choral Society...

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  14. What's that old Bob Dylan song where he says "I'm liberal but to a degree..."?

    I fear the people who wouldn't play the Huddersfield Choral Society would be right in Dylan's cross hairs. That's my whole point with this list. Broadcasting a load of records of which you broadly approve doesn't make you broadminded if you then say "but obviously I couldn't play that" (presumably without having heard "that" or thought about the context.)

    Playing "challenging" indie records used to be provocative and exciting. It's now predictable. It's how people advertise their supposed edginess and the position they would like to occupy on the broadcasting spectrum.

    When I wor a lad (and that's a long time ago) there were hardly any radio stations and therefore the ones that were there would play anything. Now we have millions of radio stations who mainly define themselves by what they won't play. It's bogus progress.

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  15. Good point. I was too quick to judge the Huddersfield Choral Society. In the trailer to the upcoming documentary 'I Am What I Play' - about four ambassadors for freeform radio - Charles Laquidara of Boston's WBCN, boasts of playing Peggy Lee back-to-back with Dmitri Shostakovich. You can see the trailer here: http://www.distractioninc.com/projects/. It looks good. I doubt it'll come to the U.K. or SA, but perhaps they'll upload it to iTunes. Here's hoping.

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  16. Looks like a playlist from Cerys Matthew's 6Music show on Sunday morning.

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  17. Robert Elms did play the Beatles last week to be fair. He seems to be able to play pretty much anything he wants to. I find his show a good companion to 6music because he's strong in the areas that 6music is weak - country, folk, soul, reggae, jazz.

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  18. David wrote:
    "When I wor a lad (and that's a long time ago) there were hardly any radio stations and therefore the ones that were there would play anything. Now we have millions of radio stations who mainly define themselves by what they won't play. It's bogus progress."

    Me too, but I don't recall them playing "anything at all". I didn't get to hear The Beatles on the BBC until "Please Please Me" got to Number One---Yes it did, No it didn't, Yes it did etcetera.

    Alan Freeman on Sunday was some sort of exception, but most of that was dictated by the chart. Which was fine, because it was a chart show. but the rest just seemed to me to be an endless loop of Sing Something Sinful (groan).

    Seemingly "Love Me Do" managed to sneak a couple of minutes on "Two Way Family Favourites" but I must have been putting some coal on the fire while that was on.

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  19. FiP in France would play all of these (except, possibly, for the Huddersfield Choristers- but that's a jingoistic thing, not a taste thing). And a lot of other stuff as well.

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  20. The value for areas with community radio is that all of these songs could be played in any hour of the day.

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  21. Ralph McLean at BBC Radio Ulster - a two hour 'Rock and Soul' show two or three nights a week (plus a country show and a local artists show) - is EXACTLY the guy for this David. He has guests on regularly - authors, magazine editors, musicians - and his show can be listened to worldwide online for 30 days. I would be astounded if you dropped him an email and offered your availability to promote 1971 and/or play those records to which any response other than 'when are you free?' would result. ralph -at-ralphmclean.com

    He very kindly had me on for 45 minutes playing tracks and discussing my books and recent album 'Sunset Cavaliers'.

    His show:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b038c4sb

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