'The Independent Music Show Magazine' April 2019 - Page 9

Community Radio Rawks


Regular readers, and followers of me and the Medicine Show (and thank you all) on social media and actual radio will be aware my Independent music mantra of hope for maintaining and growing a career in music is the holy trinity “Community Venues” (including

House Concerts) “Community Festivals” and “Community Radio”. This month I would like to focus on the latter and its influence in all modern media as a rout to get an artist music heard by more people.

In this time of post John Peel gross homogenising of main stream music media (all hail the fallen warriors), the pirate radio solo presenter/producer generation are sadly all b e it gone. Passed on like John and the great Dave Cash, retired or semi retired (sometimes deafened) from the Battle Field of,  trying to present new music first and foremost as the most interesting facet of their programming, succumbed to the seemingly inevitable Simon Cowell talent show instant fame Blitzkrieg that has consumed the current generation of taste influencer’s.

The white flags are not exactly being waved vigorously by all of main stream radio, there still are valiant pockets of resistance, those folks are still maintaining their loyal listeners. However even their core fan base are abandoning those valiant presenters host stations in droves looking for other  interesting programming in a constant obsessive search for what’s either new or what’s more interesting among the classic back catalogue. IE Yes Ed Shearing is obviously talented and yes Fulsom Prison Blues is a great song sure but just how many times is it entertaining to be reminded of that? Those like myself always looking for the next big Ed and the core and roots of our hero’s genius, are now sadly feeling increasingly abandoned in the main by the main stream media, and my fellow disenfranchised are moving on mass to other media outlets and smaller radio franchise’s looking more locally and internationally in equal measure for new presenters and outlets, those new presenters are the people that always found themselves nearest the record collection and stereo at parties and gatherings and are now finding they have a whole radio station at their disposal and a possible world wide audience to display their tastes and musical knowledge to.

Enter the community radio movement, and movement it is! Born of the abandonment of BBC Local stations and commercial radio of local issues and fulled out the grouping of flag ship celebratory presenter shows across regional stations blocks That coupled with the general afore mentioned homogenization trend of music programming in the mainstream media. Community Radio has on mass picked up the

slack for the discerning listener. The new Community Stations want to be seen supporting their community who are funding their output in the main. They send their dee jays to fetes and local fund raising events and their shows publicise those for free and they make sure they support local issues and in some cases expose wrong doing and corrosive actions inside their communities when other media won’t. All programmes on those stations, because of financial constraints, are manned presented and produced by in the main, volunteers and music show in particular presented by music fans with the spreading of good music being the only incentive to all music broadcasts.

Those presenters are gathering and actively growing a community of listeners around them, broadcasting and interacting increasingly in real time on social media with their community of listeners and also their featured artists, so everyone, artists, presenters and listeners, are all now socialising with each other and being part of the broadcasting experience. Everyone is contributing with music, ideas and suggestions  to their favourite shows. Fellow Dee Jays are listening to each other’s shows to pick up on new music they might have missed, there just are so many musical microcosms and mini eddies of creativity these days it’s impossible to keep

up without doing that. It’s no longer all going to come from Jools Holland, Bob Harris or Johnny Walker, and what happened to Mike Harding and Mark lamar (just my personal grips showing up there in the last two)  .

Arguably the advent of the importance of social media is taking up some of the slack too (I include streaming and playlist media like Spotify and Youtube in that group) we now follow each other, we now are all broadcasters with listeners  and we all have the opportunity to share great content with growing numbers of people as and when we come across it from other friends and family posts and playlists and yes radio shows.

However personally I’m an old school radio man!  I found my thrill (Blueberry Hill and others) listening covertly to pirate radio undercover of my bed sheets when I was supposed to be asleep. The thrill of hearing my favourite tracks forced through a radio speaker will never leave me, and hearing a friend or local band I love being broadcast on a favourite show is still the holy grail of listening to this pilgrim. I would argue even now that Radio is still very important to building and maintaining a career in music and still essential in all aspects at every level of that old fashion concept of “breaking an artist” although other media can be more successful now providing the spark that starts the fire that sets the heather on fire radio remains the oxygen that fans the flames!

So many community radios are coming on line now it’s a full time job for a publicist just keeping up. Most aren’t even considering going to FM with all its red tape, expense and outrageous regulation and why do they need to as everything now is accessibility via phone and media aps on any form of radio appliance via blue tooth?  

The biggest positive sign of this revolution and its collective successful, is that main stream radio are making lip service at least to getting back to local community driven radio, with even The BBC’s high heed yin Lord Hall promising the corporation would reinvest in BBC Local Radio to make it in his own words  ‘even more local and more creative’. The glad upshot being some of the old guard presenters are getting their shows and autonomy over them back.

It remains to be seen if this is too little too late and just an effort to close the gate after the stampeding heard have bolted. If it results in more new music being played and more fan driven radio reaching more discerning ears then it’s all to the good.

Basically, to conclude, my advice remains, support your local venue (organise the occasional house concert for your favourite artists) buy CD’s at gigs and get your Christmas presents from the merch desk, buy a ticket for your local festival, come out meet your friends and find new artists live together with a nice locally brewed beer in hand and tune into your local dee jay for info on all of that and who is performing locally.  Oh and please do send us the music and the information we all need to keep us all current and real.

Furthermore don’t forget to enjoy your music humans, it’s so important in these dangerous disenfranchise times and is and will remain the social glue and our best antidote to the poisons infecting society in these dark times. It’s that important people!

Oh and be kind to each other doing it!

Fraternally yours, thanks for listening.

Rob Ellen

Rob Ellen