One of the problems of playing records on the radio now is the realisation that we are no longer in the business of offering exclusives. There is now, almost, no such thing. I find a notification of a record coming through and I check the usual places…and yep..it’s out there. There is nothing we have access to that the listener can’t hear independently. TV too has gone in the same direction, as you are, no doubt, well aware. A show no longer drip feeds the series on a Sunday at 9…it’s all there from day one. We don’t ask each other, ‘Did you see it last night?’ so much as we enquire, ‘Which episode are you on?’
A good family friend caught the spirit of this on holiday when borrowing the Obama autobiography from my wife. Shouting after her she declared, ‘Now remember…please don’t tell me how it ends….’
So I realise that making radio programmes (with music) is less about what you play than how you play it. Putting one song in the place it works best is probably as good a job as we can do. We, like my father before me, are at best wholesalers….we don’t make the stuff but we help you find where to look for it. So why is it we still love …and reader, I do…. the radio? I think it’s because at its best it shines a warm light onto a piece of music that may have lingered long on the shelf or been crowded out by less worthy album selections. There on the wireless in a wilderness of words, weather and the woe of public voices…a song can stand alone and just be everything that you might well be needing at that point in your day.
I can remember radio moments even now…when Tony Blackburn first played Ain’t No Mountain High Enough on the breakfast show, when Johnnie Walker (second mention in as many weeks JW) came out of NewsBeat with Stevie Wonder’s ‘Misstra No It All,’ the DJ who played The Temptations ‘I Wish It Would Rain” as I drove a car into Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood in 1988 and the time Mr Murdoch and I were driving to Dale Bryant’s house in the sticks in Tennessee one Friday night and hearing Mark Chestnutt on WSM on the Eddie Stubbs show. I guess we could have discovered some of these things ourselves, but would they ever have seemed so good? Somehow the song, the radio moment and the place all combine in memory…and I never want to or can forget it.
And so we hope that each Tuesday night we surprise you with a little of what you know in interesting places and occasionally something you feel you really need to know better. This Tuesday night we’ll bring you plenty of that in the context of one of our very special gatherings live from Studio One at BBC Scotland where we’ll welcome King Of Birds in session. We’ve been playing KOB, featuring the voices and songwriting of Charlie and Stirling Gorman, for a good while and we’re excited to see their debut album ‘Eve of Destruction’ finally coming out. Catch them live in session this Tuesday evening.
On Sunday I’ll have more music on the Sunday Soundtrack as well as Jamie Lawson in session and conversation, poets Hannah Lavery and Lemm Sissay and the man who has brought a poem a day to Twitter, Kevin Williamson all on the programme. Sunday morning from 10 am. Both shows can be found on BBC Radio Scotland.