Heart Drivetime on Heart Devon

January 21st, 2014

UPDATE (1700, 22/1/14): This is an edited version of a review that originally appeared as part of coverage of the row over local content on Heart Cornwall. After publication, we received an email from Rich Spencer at Heart pointing out that we had been listening to output from Devon, not the Cornwall service – due to technical issues with the online feed. (Maybe Ofcom had the same problem, arf arf.) The former version was also carried in today’s edition of Radio Today’s e-radio newsletter. So we’ve filleted our original review to make it relevant to the service we were actually listening to. We will review Heart Cornwall at a later date.

Listened In is 2ZY’s regular air-check blog. We listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHO   “Olivia” who appears to not have a surname.

WHAT   Heart Devon

WHEN   1702, Tuesday 21 January 2014

Burn/Ellie Goulding

PROMO: “We just paid out £10,000! (clip) Who’s on Heart – back tomorrow morning from 9.”

Moves Like Jagger/Maroon 5

ID: This is Heart. Heart.

Let Me Go/Gary Barlow

Crunch & Roll: “Quarter past 5, Heart Drivetime, I’m Olivia. The guy who broke my heart last year by announcing he finally had a girlfriend, Olly Murs, after REM on Heart.”

Choosing my Religion/REM

ID: More music variety. This is Heart.

Army of Two/Olly Murs

“More music variety, This is Heart and I’m Olivia. 22 minutes past 5. I told you yesterday, I just moved down to Devon and had to find somewhere to live ..” before going into an anecdote about cooking her first proper meal in her new flat. Summed up by “Induction pans are expensive” but took a bit longer to make the point. “ … Jessie J and Daft Punk next.”

SUMMARY

Olivia’s personality link anchors her to Devon pretty clearly, even if rather than being a chance to cement some local credentials, she talks about being confused by her hob.

Nice voice, warm and slick.

(Oh and whoever posts local news online should have gone to Specsavers: “Police think a man who’s body was found at mine works is believed to have had a series cycling accident.” )

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

 

 

FIP

January 7th, 2014

So here’s an interesting one. I’m indebted to the Argus for bringing us the most bizarre radio story so far this year.

There’s a radio station in France, so far up its own derriere, that Brighton hipsters have been re-radiating it illegally. Ofcom raided the transmitter, not unreasonably, but it came back for a bit before falling silent a second time. We listened in to see what compelling mix inspired such brazen lawlessness.

FIP logo

Respirez, vous êtes sur FIP, as they say in France. That’s ‘Breathe, you’re on FIP.’ Or maybe Baise, l’Ofcom sont confisque votre émetteur.

WHO    FIP (France Inter Paris)

WHEN   1811 Local, Tuesday 7 January 2014

I’m the Man that Will Find You/Connan Mockasin

Crunch and Roll French link over Jazz Hands/Frootful

5 Minutes/Sound Provider

I’m Sittin’ on Top of the World/Les Paul and Mary Ford

French link over Paan Man Boogie/Kitty Daisy & Lewis. Something about news. Working with photographic collages tomorrow. Something something something .. aver FIP.

Show Biz Kids/Rickie Lee Jones

SUMMARY

The fact that this station commands such loyalty by chin-stroking Brightonians is to be commended I suppose. But it seems a lot of trouble to go to in order to be able to hear an uninterrupted stream of world, jazz, chanson and eclectic tunes in Kemp Town rather than, say, Toby Anstis playing Take That coming down a pipe from Leicester Square via Portslade.

And even if you don’t want to give it some Heart, there’s always Radio Reverb for the eclectic, and Juice for overgrown clubbers. Or as Nick Packham from Hove likes to describe them, “all ego driven DJs playing the same music and endless adverts. That’s the difference that FIP makes. There’s a wide mix of music from jazz to hiphop, to Latin to classical and minimal interruptions. The ‘Fipettes’ provide local information and traffic updates ad hoc and of course there’s also the news at ten minutes to the hour.”

“It’s just a cool station to listen to and very Brighton.”

How much post-modern irony can you load into the two words, ‘very Brighton’? I love that Nick admits to the paper he doesn’t even understand French. Buy a SONOS Nick and you can still hear the such glorious randomness that makes no sense to you!

Yet, there is something wonderfully Gallic about this thrown-together mix of largely English language music and mellifluous presentation. It sounds like chill‘s garlic-breathed French exchange pal, the radio equivalent of that shrug they do. Nous ferons actualite à dix pour jouer du jazz et aléatoire. Et alors?

Give it some FIP and see what the fuss is about.

Ireland’s Christmas station, Christmas FM

December 18th, 2013

Last Christmas I gave you my I got a little grief for likening listening to Smooth Christmas (RIP) to being ‘handcuffed to a radiator in Clinton’s Cards’. (Sorry Chris). Well this year, there’s a station so festive, it that said or sung the word ‘Christmas’ 72 times in 20 minutes.

Listened In is 2ZY’s regular air-check blog. We listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHO I don’t know. She never told me. And there are no presenters on the website.

WHAT Ireland’s Christmas station, Christmas FM.

WHEN 2210 (GMT), Tuesday 17 December 2013

.. if not the magic of typography.

.. if not the magic of typography.

Somewhere Only We Know/Lily Allen

PSA: Aware Life Skills programme.

PRODUCTION: FVO: What happens back at the North Pole when Santa’s travelling around the world? ELF: Well Hello Elves, Santa’s Gone! MVO: Irelands Christmas Station. (Elf punchline lost under intro of song.) FVO: Christmas FM.

Home for the Holidays/Barry Manilow

“And that’s Barry Manilow there, There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays. It’s Ireland’s Christmas Station, Christmas FM. And it’s nearly that time again. But again, I would love to hear from you, so please do get in touch, I’d love to hear what you’re up to, or if you want to make a dedication, or just say hello to somebody, all you have to do is text XMAS, that’s X, M, A, S followed by a space and then your message to 50300 and texts cost €2 but the full €2 goes towards the incredible work of AWARE.

And we would like to thank everyone who has been in touch with us from all across Ireland, sending text messages and every cent of that €2 as I said, goes directly towards the work of our charity partner for 2013 which of course, is AWARE. And from outside Ireland, you can send your Christmas message from our website, on ChristmasFM.com and if you’d like to donate from anywhere else in the world, and help to support AWARE, you’ll find the Donate button on the website too.

And it would be such a lovely thing to do. We’re Christmas. And here’s Darlene Love, All Alone on Christmas. On Ireland’s Christmas station, Christmas FM.”

All Alone for Christmas/Darlene Love

PRODUCTION: FVO: Christmas FM MVO: Ireland’s Christmas Station SUNG: Christmas FM VOX: How you doin’ my names (indecipherable against bed) an’ my favourite song is Jingle Bells. Hello, my name is Mary from Athlone and my favourite Christmas song is Fairytale of New York. Hi, my name’s Ken from Dublin and my favourite Christmas song is Jona Lewie, I Wish I Was at Home for Christmas (sic). MVO: This is Christmas FM, Ireland’s Christmas station. Brought to you by Vodaphone. For all the music you’ll ever want. Vodaphone. Joint Sponsor 2013.

I’ll be Home for Christmas/Tony Bennett & The Count Basie Big Band

“That’s Tony Bennett there, with Antonia Bennett and I’ll be home for Christmas. Another Christmas classic, oooh, getting us one step closer to Christmas, isn’t it amazing? Err, I just can’t get over how close it is, ‘cos it’s kind of just crept up on me I think.

Now we wanna get through some text messages. (Cheesy recorder bed) I want to say hello to Audrey’s sister who is listening in Denmark would you believe? So, a big, big Happy Christmas to you and thanks for listening in from over in Denmark. Also hello to Kian McEvoy who’s getting so excited and counting down the days to Christmas. He’s, arr, that’s from Mam, Nanna, Grandad and Jamie. She says love you so much Kian. Hello Christmas FM, we’re driving round Dublin delivering presents – like Santa – thanks for bringing my Xmas tunes fix. Yuletide – and yes it’s spelled Y, U, L, E, T, I, D, E me over til Stephen’s Day,  he said would love some Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses or the Spice Girls. Thank you, and that’s from John, David and Avis Marry.

Hello to Suzanne. She would like to say hello to herself and Dennis, (Cheesy bed runs out) and a big shout out to you Dennis, because you’re studying so hard for exams at the moment and fair play to you, cos it’s tough at this time to get in there and do Christmas exams and Suzanne says love Christmas FM, you’re all doing a fantastic job. Well thanks so much for that Suzanne and then finally, I would love to, can you please say Happy Birthday to my awesome wife, Liz – oh sorry, happy 2 year wedding anniversary, not happy birthday – a very very happy anniversary to you guys and that’s from Eggy. And that’s for Eggy and his wife Liz. Well thanks for those guys, do keep them coming in. I’m looking forward to reading out and finding out about you all. And err, yeah. Here he is, Bryan Adams. Merry Christmas. On Ireland’s Christmas station, Christmas FM.”

Merry Christmas/Bryan Adams

PRODUCTION: SANTA FX: Ho ho ho (drumroll) MVO The good news is .. It’s Christmas time. Celebrate Christmas with the Christmas station. Christmas FM.

Frosty the Snowman/Ray Connif & Singers

Ray Conniff and friend.

Ray Conniff and friend.

SUMMARY

Here’s a station with a purpose, at a special time of year. Christmas FM is back across Ireland’s main towns on FM to raise cash for the depression charity Aware, a terrific cause. It’s staffed by volunteer presenters, and cash is raised through text dedications.

Listening for twenty minutes is like eating a whole chocolate orange in one go. The odd slice, fine. But when all you hear is Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, all you’re dreaming of is .. Twelfth Night.

At least there’s enthusiasm. Un-named girl presenter (with a beautiful voice) gets ever more excited in each link. I think she’s going to burst before the week’s out, but it’s strangely infectious.

John Myers is right on Christmas Music. Maximum one an hour a week before, two an hour from 21st, every other on Christmas Eve, fill your stocking on Christmas Day then off again at midnight for another year. Which clown programmes Driving Home for Christmas on Boxing Day?! But me and John are losing the battle.

There’s no shortage of Christmas songs. Look at the breadth of music in this 20 minutes. Ray Connif! There’s just a dearth of good ones. Which means you can either play-to-death the familiar (I’m looking at you, people who programme Wizzard from 1 December. OK in Asda. Not on actual radio.); spice things up with a few well-programmed unfamiliar (typically non-hit Christmas standards by familiar artists. And Freiheit.) – or take the Christmas FM route of just chucking everything on the air. Again. Ray Connif!

I wonder whether people leave their Christmassy-ed up regular station for the full-on saccharine rush of Christmas FM? Or whether it’s a P2/3 station for a quick hit of snowmen, world-feeding and Phil Spector? Either way it certainly has interaction, and for a good cause too. Bravo volunteers of Christmas FM, and I hope you raise zillions for Aware. I may even push your donate button myself. Just don’t expect me to listen any more. Just kidding.

1509663_10151893502324833_1758071267_n

Happy Christmas!

 

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

Alison Butterworth on BBC Radios Lancashire & Manchester

December 4th, 2013

An anorakky interview turns into a compelling bit of radio, in the middle of the night in the North West.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

Alison B

WHO   Alison Butterworth

WHAT  BBC Radio Lancashire (shared by Manchester)

WHEN  29 November 2013, 0009

Alison is asking us to look at some Radio Caroline North photos on Facebook that listener John Stone posted “for anyone like myself that likes to keep in touch with the DJs and the crew,” writes John. “There are lots and lots of radio anoraks”, says Alison, “whether you are one. You are, as you say, with your listening habits, erm, but there are photos and things for anyone who’s interested,” struggling to find the link.

In the studio is Mark Dean, who says he was on board Caroline North in the Irish Sea back in the day. “So are there likely to be photographs of you on here then, Mark?” “There will be somewhere. There will be somewhere,” says Mark, strangely resigned. Alison asks some detail about the boat, and Mark sounds weirdly vague. “It wasn’t a boat, it was a ship,” he adds, needlessly pedantic.

Alison name-checks some of the radio people in the photo and asks if he’s still in touch with them. “I would have to look at that,” he replies. Alison asks about Dave Cash and the southern DJs, Bob Stewart too. “Didn’t really meet him,” says Mark. A couple of texters say they remember Mark but when Alison asks who was on the schedule at the same time as Mike he says hesitantly, “Tom Lodge, Carl England …. D’you know I really can’t … Mike Aherne was there.” “Have you kept in contact with them since?” “Carl England occasionally. Tom Lodge we’re still trying to get hold of.” Mark says he’s a sheep farmer in Australia now.

Mark talks about the 50th anniversary he’s planning “and we’ll have our mobility scooters with the go faster stripes and the twin air horns … we’re all dodderers now”. Alison says he looks good for his age and he warms up, talking about how he’s teetotal, and how alcohol and drugs were forbidden on board. Mark’s stuttering delivery seems contagious though. As Alison asks him about the ’60s wild times, she sounds a little lost. Perhaps a penny is dropping. Mark slags off The Boat that Rocked. “I would like to meet those people and say ‘show me where that happened and I will show you that it didn’t,” says Mark with passion. “Alright,” from Alison. “More memories to come.”

Sweet Freedom/Michael MacDonald

There's nothing this man doesn't know about politics, Wigan FC … or pirate radio.

There’s nothing this man doesn’t know about politics, Wigan FC … or pirate radio.

“You’re tuned to the Late Show on the BBC in the North West. Alison with you through until 1 o’clock, Tony in Poulton’s Midnight Mix to come,” and reintroduces Mark Dean. Then brings in Paul Rowley. Paul is on the phone – a veteran politics correspondent and Wigan commentator. Alison explains he’s also “a living, walking history of Radio Caroline, aren’t you Paul?” Paul explains his credentials – he’s made award- winning documentaries about Caroline North, has been around 40 years “and I’m fascinated by Mark’s recollections. Or not, in certain respects, cos I have to tell you Mark, I know every disc jockey who was on Caroline North .. you mentioned Tom Lodge? I have to tell you, Tom Lodge died last year, you mentioned Mike Aherne and Mike Aherne died three years ago. I knew these people. And I have to tell you Mark, I’ve never heard of you.”

“Right .. ” says Mark. Lost. “You weren’t on Caroline North, were you?,” says Paul, circling. “Yes I was.” “From when to when?” “’65 to ’67.” “And what happened in ’67 that you left?” “How do you mean?” “Why did you leave in 1967?” Paul is going in for the kill. He’s asking questions around exact closedown dates, the Marine Offences Act, more dates. “You see, I’ve written the definitive history of Radio Caroline North …   a friend of mine John Hind has written the most definitive history of pirate radio. Keith Skues who I was talking to only yesterday has written the best book about pirate radio, Pop Goes the Pirates and none of us have ever heard of you. I think you’re a phoney, I think you’re a fake, I don’t think you were ever on Radio Caroline.”

“Wow,” says Alison. Quite. She offers Mark the right to come back. She’s back on form, processing this U turn in her own show, referencing the earlier texts “looking for concrete evidence of your presence on Radio Caroline North, what would you say to Paul?” “I was there,” says Mark. Paul comes back with more questions. “There’s Carl England? There was a Steve England .. there was Carl Conway.” It carries on in the same excruciating but brilliant way, a cross-examination “You’ve not got a very good memory Mark, and I put it to you you were never on Radio Caroline North.” “I was. I was.”

SUMMARY

I’m not a massive fan of radio about radio. And I’m a ‘radio enthusiast’. I think it’s incestuous. This begins as a slightly formless pirates chat with a vague listener-turned-guest who’s organising a reunion. There are a couple of hints all is not well before Michael MacDonald, but it’s when the brilliant decision is made to put Rowley to air that this becomes both storming and uncomfortable. It becomes one of those un-turnoffable bits of radio, like the car crash you shouldn’t look at on the motorway but can’t help yourself.

There’s a serious question about whether Dean should have been on in the first place. If there’s no evidence online, or in the many books about the pirates, that he was at Caroline, then shouldn’t a research conversation have turned that up before he went live on air on two stations? Even a text to Rowley, a pirate expert and in the employ of stations where Dean was interviewed would have meant alarm bells would have rung in time to research the guest more effectively. But how often do we all take approaches from guests at face-value? We’ve got shows to fill, after all.

There’s a duty-of-care question to the guest when you intend to skewer them live on air. Here Alison goes from interrogator to barrister-for-the-defence when Paul’s on air, offering a shot at redemption to the hapless interviewee. There’s a sense that although the show is spiralling a little, she’s in control and cares about the man sitting opposite her.

I don’t know the facts about whether or not Mark Dean was playing records on a boat (ship!) before I was even born. This isn’t the place to discuss that. You can hear it for yourself on the iPlayer and make your own judgement. But there’s no doubt this was an extraordinary bit of radio.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

Ray Clark on BBC Essex Breakfast

November 20th, 2013

So Ray’s off, after six years of alarm clocks, down the schedule, and the search is on for a new BBC Essex breakfast voice. We listened in.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

ray 2

WHO  Ray Clark

WHAT  BBC Essex Breakfast

WHEN  0723 Wednesday 30 November

We’re in Bradwell-on-Sea for that BBC Local Radio perennial, a live about a power station waste site. One campaigner called Brian is raising concerns about nuclear waste being transported ‘down a tortuous route’. Another, also called Brian, is from a group called BANG whose beef is that the nuclear decommissioning authority appears to have changed its mind about the transport of this waste. He talks about a ‘geological depository’ which I’m guessing is a hole in the ground. “You don’t want other people’s rubbish stored in your back yard?” is the final, obvious – but slightly mocking – question.

There’s a great bit at the end where Ray comes back in and tells the reporter to look, behind where you’re standing, at a crane. It’s what they used to move the rods when the power station was active. Maybe it’s a good job they never dismantled it, thinks Ray. He throws ahead to the fact he’s talking to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority later in the programme.

0730 NEWS Basildon rape enquiry/Essex typhoon victim/Essex PCC on crime stats/Government army rebellion/Weather

Ray back announces Sonia with the news and gets into Paul Hawkins, which sounds like it’s going to be the sport, but it’s a sports interview instead.

Co-author of ‘the recently published Essential Wisden anthology’. And this is as interesting as only two men talking about cricket ever can be. “Finally John, as ‘we’re a bit squeezed for time’ “ is a nasty bit of on-air production. Glad to hear there’s still time to reference the ‘recently-published’ anthology again off the back.

Ray comes in, “And you’ll come back for sport in a bit.”

0735 Travel “Alice has the road and rail news for our county.”

0736 Sport! Paul’s back again, with the bulletin this time.

ID: This is BBC Essex

Basildon rape appeal, a year on, with powerful audio of the victim. “We’ve been speaking to her – her words are spoken by an actor.” “I won’t go out drinking like a normal person, like a normal girl my age will … I’m too scared.”

Cut to an interview with a cop littered with cop-speak. He’s been ‘progressing inquiries, house to house’. The attacker is  30-40, white, normal build with a ‘foreign accent so he may have come from a surrounding area or a surrounding country’. Keen to identify ‘that male’ to prevent him from offending again. The victim doesn’t ‘reside in that area any more’. There’s a bizarre last question, “Just for people listening, can you describe the e-fit?” I’m not sure anyone was ever identified by a description of an e-fit being read to a witness, but hey.

Nice fill from Ray. “Had to scrape ice of the car this morning. There’s rain coming – ooh, looking at the window it’s here, in Chelmsford.” Riffs off a newspaper pic of a cow “or is it a bull, not getting close enough to find out” standing in the snow in Seaton Sluice. “Because bulls can’t get on a plane and go to Torreleminos – actually, maybe it should stay in Seaton Sluice, probably safer there.”

Heads again over a thin, wet bed. Into a GNS two-way about JP Morgan.

SUMMARY

There’s some slightly bizarre production going on. The positioning of the Ashes two way between heads and traffic before a wodge of sports bulletin feels odd – and the DCI didn’t add much to the rape interview. I think the reporter could have gone harder on the fact that seemingly despite loads of evidence, they’d got no nearer to catching the rapist twelve months on.

And whilst the lack of Ray being front-and-centre of all three stories in our 20 minute listen could be an accident of timing, it feels like the show was under-seasoned with his presence. Simply throwing in a question or two for the nuclear Brians, or by making the rape cop a live with him would have been a better balance. Also, much as I’m well versed in the whole idea of stranding a story like the nukes, it does mean if you’re a light listener, you only hear one perspective on a controversial story.

Ray will be a tough act to follow. His local cheeky-chappy persona is bang on brand for BBC LR, and even in this listen where no story is owned by him, his personality and Essex credentials comes through in the link work and interactions with his team.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

Getting on Air: The Female Pioneers on BBC Radio 4

November 6th, 2013

The campaign around Sound Women was never mentioned in the last part of this short series on Radio 4, but the stories within it exemplified why their work is so important.

jane

WHO   Jane Garvey

WHAT   Getting on Air: The Female Pioneers (Part 5: A Level Playing Field), BBC Radio 4

WHEN   Friday 1 November 1345

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

“I’ll be finding out why there is still a strong bias towards the male voice when TV and radio programmes feature the opinions of experts,” promises the always-brilliant Jane Garvey at the top of this self-reflective programme. That’s a big ask.

The opening case study featured Jacqui Oatley, who in 2007 became the first female commentator on Match of the Day. “I woke up as I always did with my radio alarm with 5 live news on, and the first thing I heard was a debate about whether I should be allowed to do this.” She went on to describe newspaper coverage of her forthcoming gig, in which manager Dave Bassett said “she’s never kicked a ball in her life .. and everyone in football is against it.” Jacqui actually has a coaching qualification. And at that point no-one in football actually knew about it.

“Dealing with outright sexism and media intrusion were just part of what Jacqui had to put up with … she also had death threats and got abusive letters telling her to get out of football,” Jane tells us. She goes on to mention the similar experience of historian Mary Beard who had to endure similar hostility, “with criticism of their looks, on social media, comments that they’re too old to be on television. Threats, incredibly, that they’ll be raped.”

Historian Bettany Hughes says “it’s almost a good thing that this has happened because that kind of fermenting murk of anger about women is so close to the surface .. the fact that this stuff has been shared on Twitter has lanced the boil.” She also calls up Helen of Troy, Catherine the Great and Cleopatra as historical evidence of this cultural sexism. “When they have influence, they’re always sexualised … history just could not cope with the idea of a strong, powerful, brave, brainy woman. They had to sexualise her … and that still happens. You have Mary Beard as an expert talking about ancient Rome and the Twittersphere is full of sexual insults and sexual threats.”

Next up is Liz Howell from City University, and her Expert Women campaign that aims to get a better gender balance in programme contributors. It’s after her research showed men outnumbered women, six to one. There’s also a great clip of BBC historian Professor Jean Seaton. “There was a moment during the 2010 election when I threw my shoe at the Today Programme on Saturday morning because it had seven men about politics in a row .. I felt so excluded from the political voice. But then Radio 4 did listen and .. by taking a policy and by calling on a large number of female experts, and training them, now you do get a feminisation of expertise.” Liz Howell says women need to step up. “Outing the trolls, explaining what a hard time you have, not putting up with the banter, not pretending it’s all been a piece of cake … but it’s been worth it.”

Jane sums up the five-part series, with reference to the Hall plan for BBC Local Radio breakfasts, and a great montage including Annie Nightingale (“You do the job because you’re good at it or people who like what you do. It should not depend on some kind of gender quota”), Angela Rippon (“They ought to be out there looking for them, frankly they need a kick up the rear to go out and find them and put them on air, but only put them on the air if they can do the job.”) and Esther Rantzen “We need more (expert women) so that the men made nervous by clever women can get used to it!”

SUMMARY

This was a sensible, straightforward, important series. I’m not sure we ever discovered why there is still a bias against women as expert voices on the air, just more evidence that there is one.

But to hear Jacqui Oatley’s testimony from just six years ago, shows how things can change. Already, the way she was treated sounds hopelessly outdated (and a radio debate about whether she can do the job, trite and trolling.) Which means things are already, thankfully, changing for the better.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

 

 

Frank Sidebottom on Radio Timperley

October 23rd, 2013

As Timperley salutes its local hero with a statue, Listened In this week tunes into Frank Sidebottom. Oh yes it does. It really does.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

Pic: BBC

Pic: BBC

WHO  Frank Sidebottom

WHAT  Radio Timperley

WHEN  On demand radiotimperley.com

ID: Radio Timperley, it goes all around the world. Radio Timperley. And I am a material girl .. boy. Eh? Thank You.

Let’s start with a bit of punk rock.

Anarchy in Timperley/Frank Sidebottom (“I use the NME” becomes “I read the Manchester Evening News Classified advertisements ‘cos I’m saving up to buy my Mum a washing machine.”)

“I’m here to bring you a fantastic Radio Timperley show .. with all sorts of music … and here’s some from my mates the Smiths.”

Panic/Frank Sidebottom (rails against the council for cutting a tree down outside Timperley’s Nat West Bank “and the jukebox that constantly plays ..played absolutely nothing ‘cos its bust.”

“From the Eastway shops to Baguely Brook, you’ll never see a poster of our favourite discy jock. Anne the DJ, Oh Anne Nightingale, what’s your blinking game? I waited for your roadshow, but your roadshow never came.”

“If you’ve not heard of me before”, says Frank, “I’ve got a fantastic gimmick that I wear all the time, you might recognise me when I walk down the street. I have a great big fantastic pink tie. When I take that off nobody recognises me!”

A competition next. “How many of the Smiths live in Timperely? It’s a proper question. None, cos they’ve all moved out now. But Andy Rourke used to live just round the corner from me. And Johnny Marr.”

Timperley Sunset/Frank Sidebottom

“Their Mums are still there”, he says, returning to the Smiths. “Morissey lives in Barcelona, Los Angeles, anywhere he can throw his arms round, basically as long as it’s not Stretford.”

Hey You Riot Policeman/Frank Sidebottom “I need to to get a bus, to Wythenshawe Hospital.”

Chats with Little Frank about cutting out a picture of a rhino for his scrapbook.

Great Big Zoo Scrapbook/Frank Sidebottom

“Don’t think it’s all gonna be about me me me me me”, reassures Frank, “‘cos it won’t be …” before going on to tell us a long story about how many times he’s been on Match of the Day, “you know on the telly, where you press the top button.”

Guess Who’s Been on Match of the Day/Frank Sidebottom

“Brilliant. Who fancies some Beatles?”

It Was Twenty Years Today/Frank Sidebottom

“Yes, it’s time for adverts, take it away.”

ADS: (a song in which Frank sings all the jingles) Frankfurters, Do It All, Shake n Vac “Stale smells from here come from down there, in your house and your dog or something.”

SUMMARY

If Frank Sidebottom is little more than a passing reference in pop culture to you, you might like to read this to understand creator Chris Sievey’s byzantine route to fame. Chris was a one-off, and his alter-ego was “family friendly, if a little bizarre for some.” But like The Wire, or coriander, the more you consume, the better it gets. And his radio work, popularised by the then-mighty Piccadilly is a good primer.

Radio people love creative people, and Frank/Chris had lots of fans in radio. He died in 2010, and his statue – funded by fans – has just been unveiled in his home town.

The Radio Academy NW is working on a Frank Sidebottom event, live in Timperley. Dates will be announced soon. You can follow Radio Academy NW here.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

LBC at 40

October 8th, 2013

Happy Birthday then, 417 London Broadcasting, the news and information voice of independent radio. And with it, four decades of modern commercial radio in the UK.

LBC was celebrating on the night of its birthday and we listened in.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

WHAT  LBC at 40

WHEN  8 October 2013

 

ID: “LBC 97.3 – Proud to serve London for 40 years,” over one of the best news jingles of all time. Nice work, IQBeats.

NEWS

“And LBC 97.3 is celebrating its 40th birthday. Today LBC has its biggest audience ever …” Nice clip of Angela Rippon.

Strong open with disjointed, crackly engineering test transmissions voiced by an anonymous Northerner, weird whooping tones, and out of the static, something called the London Broadcasting Company.

Stalwart Clive Bull is the narrator.

ID: Rewind FX. 1973. LBC at 40.

… “The story of LBC Radio and some of the news events we covered .. LBC has proved we can compete and win a substantial audience for commercial radio. The playing field might be uneven, but we have over the years become a credible and award winning radio station, now with over 1.2 million listeners and our dedicated team of presenters, producers and editors make us very much the voice of London.” Did Ashley write this?

Clive then introduces the first moments, presented by David Jessell.

Talks about scurrilous rumour he was physically sick a few seconds before going on. “You just knew disaster was looming.” He doesn’t deny it! With no producers or reporters, he said bosses told him to ‘talk about interesting things that have happened that day’. Being 6am on an October day, not much had happened. “There hasn’t even been a day.”

The 3 day week that winter helped LBC – as the telly went off at 10.30.

There was a wonderful clip of “Bel Mooney’s At Home” – promising “a delicious recipe from my own private recipe book,’we review a new magazine on your bookshelves and the problems of trying to have a sex when you’re disabled”.

The first presenters came from newspapers and were all at sea when it came to broadcasting. The late Adrian Love recalls how he was brought in and offered an 8 hour phone-in.

Harry Corbett brought the mute Sooty in to be interviewed. And Bel actually says Hello to him. Thankfully Soo was there too.

LBC famously had some issues in its early days, so it’s laudable that it’s ten minutes into this doc before you hear the words ‘shaky start’.

In programming terms, we learn, it starts turning round when the BBC Today Programme’s Marshall Stuart comes in to corrall the newspaper people – and brings in Douglas Cameron, who presented AM with Bob Holness.

It was great to hear Brian Hayes tearing it up again. “If it’s worth thinking about it’s worth talking about. 353 81 11”. The memories! Big TV names appeared on air.

David Frost, briefly, and longer, Jon Snow who recalls the Balcombe Street seige of 1975. He was the only reporter able to report the end of the seige live. Other broadcasters had rented flats. LBC didn’t have the cash. “They were all living the life of Reilly drinking themselves stupid, but we were in the street, watching the balcony of the flat.” Then the archive audio, showing what a pro Snow was, even then.

SUMMARY

This didn’t really know whether it was a news review, or a fuzzy ‘didn’t we do well?’ retrospective. No matter. It was still good to hear a bit of both.

I was 5 in 1973, so it was a few years until I discovered Dougie, Bob and Brian. Alongside the still-remarkable Sarah Ward ‘with Anna Raeburn and the Capital Doctor’, the early Ways It Is, and CFM’s Sunday splits on Capital. These were the full-service stations that sparked my interest in radio. I remember visiting LBC’s Gough Square studios as a precocious 15 year old, clutching a Marantz to interview Brian Hayes. Soon after, I signed my first contract at another pioneer of the first phase, Radio 210.

So thanks, and Happy Birthday, LBC.

 

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

 

Alex Stevens on Lincs FM

October 1st, 2013

So after Radio Today told us about Lisa Stansfield and her intimate gig in Boston … Lincolnshire, we had to snoop Lincs FM to find out how it went.

WHO  Alex Stevens

WHAT  Lincs FM

WHEN  2047,  1 October 2013

Lisa blooming Stansfield is back!

Lisa blooming Stansfield is back!

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

ADS: Fiat 500 from Stoneacre. Nice 1997 sung client name jingle. And 12” of credit Ts&Cs. / Terrible ASDA Pharmacy flu jab ad.

ID: Random 9” empty ramp .. Lincs FM

Love Me Again/John Newman

“The brilliant John Newman with Love Me Again. The voice of an angel, in my eyes. A voice like velvet. This is Alex. Hello, good evening. Now loads of you on Twitter right now @lincsfm on the way home from the Blackfriars Arts Centre in Boston after another one of our Up Close and Personal gigs all thanks to our friends at Boston College.

Tonight it was with Lisa Stansfield. And yet again, I’m back in the situation where I’m always on the evening show when we do these gigs and I kind of wonder if there’s maybe some sort of conspiracy against me. Anyway! John Marshall caught up with Lisa Stansfield after the gig.

“It’s all over Lisa. We are backstage, the gig has just finished in Boston,” opens John. “It’s all over bar the shouting,” replies Lisa. “Isn’nit? Let’s shout!,” says John and cries out. Yes, really. The interview covers the intimacy of the gig (John responds to the word ‘intimate’ like a horny 15 year old Nuts reader. “We love intimate things, don’t we Lisa?” and chortles.)

Lisa says she’s scared about her forthcoming album. “Do you like keeping busy?” asks John of an artist who’s been away for ten years. Lisa reveals her husband’s auntie used to have a ‘clothing emporium’ in Grantham, called Hills. Which is the kind of gem you always get when you listen to Lincs FM.

Can’t Dance/Lisa Stansfield

“She played Boston this evening as part of one of our Up Close and Personal gigs with Boston College, there’s Lisa Stansfield with her brilliant new single, love that, it’s called Can’t Dance from Lincs FM. Lots of people on Twitter, and emails and texts and all sorts of stuff this evening saying they loved it.”

“Evening, this is Alex. The Mystery Voice returns with Sam Kirk in the morning when you wake up and it will be worth £410 tomorrow. Who do you think this is? (clip) Now I know a lot of people have been calling up and giving answers that have already been guessed. Remember to check out the website for the wrong answers at lincsfm.co.uk. The Mystery Voice with Mondays Estate Agents, back tomorrow morning at twenty to nine, we play it three times a day.

Hear the voice as many times as you like at our website, lincsfm.co.uk and while you’re on there, click on the Win page. Lots of great prizes up for grabs to online viewers only. I mean this week we’ve teamed up with the Bailgate Wedding Fair. Check it out this week and every week in fact. Bookmark it, why don’t you? The latest news for nine is next. After then Ed Sheeran sings about Lego, and the new song from Lawson to play too.”

ADS: Breakfast One to Watch Music Sponsor Tag/Moncaster Wire Products Charity Open Day/Lincs FM dry ID/Diane Genders/John Darke Volvo “When you’re a Volvo owner, and you live in the Louth area, you know all is well …”/Evening Show sponsor ID

NEWS ID: Across Lincolnshire and Newark, on FM, mobile and online. The Difference is the Music. This is Lincs FM.

A breathless bulletin from Sky followed by a local tag. How wonderfully 1983. A little bed bubbles under the end of IRN. Well, drowns him out, actually. Before un-named female newsreader says ‘“In the Lincs FM region; a senior NE Lincolnshire councillor’s been found not guilty of committing a sex act. Former Conservative leader Keith Brooks was arrested for outraging public decency after sunbathing naked in his garden.” Onto a bookies robbery and the local teachers strike. “And that’s the latest.”

Alex reads the weather. There’s another weather sponsor tag off the back. And another nasty client jingle. Then a Lincs FM jingle. Then a sponsor tag for the show.

Believe/Cher

SUMMARY

There are certainly things to be applauded here. Adding value to the listening experience by offering a ‘money can’t buy’ gig. Even better, doing some content there. Local and live in the evening. Jeez, even local news at 2100. (Although just how ‘latest’ it is when it sounds like a pre-rec is slightly moot.) Alex is enthusiastic enough – although I know nothing about him after 20 minutes with him. Including his surname.

So 10/10 for effort. It’s just the whole thing felt so … artless?

First off, they fritter away a Lisa Stansfield interview with some sub-Partridge stuff, when actually, Lisa Stansfield is doing some really interesting interviews right now. Here’s one, third down when you Google her. And how good would it have been to do a tight phone call to one of the listeners who’d been to the gig?

There is SO. MUCH. CLUTTER! We go 7 minutes between Lisa Stansfield and Cher because there are so many mindless reads to squeeze in. Look at all that stuff around the Mystery Voice. (Yes, and no attempt to sex up radio’s least creative game with at least a jujjier title.) “Tomorrow morning when you wake up…” As long as you wake up at 8.40 presumably? Station sound’s not helped (once, depressingly, again) by paint-by-numbers com-prod.

And how bizarre to make your primary positioner about the least-protectable part of your activity. ‘The Difference is the Music’?  Lincs FM’s continuing magnificence – record reach right now – is its local connection with its audience.

Helped by great little events like the Lisa gig .. and the fact their FM signal is so strong it can probably be heard on the moon.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

Dinner Jazz with Helen Mayhew on Jazz FM

September 16th, 2013

I don’t think I like jazz. It feels like one of those things you have to grow up to enjoy. Like golf, or Quiet Coaches. But I think I like Jazz FM. Or specifically this show.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

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WHAT  Dinner Jazz on Jazz FM

WHO  Helen Mayhew

WHEN  Monday 16 September

1925 If You Never Come to Me/Kate Williams and Bobby Wellins

“Kate Williams at the piano, Bobby Wellins at the saxophone.” A read about a forthcoming live gig at the 606. “More details at the 606 club website – or our own, which is Jazz FM.com.”

1931  Some Other Time/Tony Bennett

1935  The Dreamer/Tim Lapthorn

Back announces, references the Tim Lapthorn album and the fact that he’s also at the 606 tomorrow night. “You’re listening to Jazz FM. St Regis Hotels and Resorts partner Jazz Travels with Sarah Ward ..,” begins a slightly clunky S&P script but the client’s wonderfully on brand and it’s perfectly delivered.

ADS: Jazz FM Eliane Elias gig/Honda Jazz/Mishcon de Raya/British Gas boilers

ID: Jazz FM. Discover the Music.

1943  Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen/George Adams and Don Pullen Quartet

SUMMARY

Call me a philistine, but lots of what I imagine proper jazz to be sounds to these ears like so much musical showing-off. And elsewhere in the day, Jazz FM appears to be Jazz-ish FM. Not so here.

Here at dinner time – often a radio desert (rather than a dessert) – there can be few other stations better programmed for the time of day. Purists and jazzophobes can both be sated by the mood, the feel of the music, and the distinctly background presentation. It’s a Jazz Trojan horse, ably steered by Helen Mayhew – throughout the station’s turbulent history.

This incarnation of the station is now quietly four years old, and like the best re-boots, cleverly ported the best bits of the original – Dinner Jazz, the following Late Lounge, and the exquisite David Arnold hook. Even that bloody chameleon.

Consistency of presentation, an understanding of why brevity matters, understated  passion for, and knowledge of, the music … Next time you’re home after a hell of a day, stick in on and hear what I mean.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio