A New Wave
OVER the last few years, I have documented a few ambitions and desires…
across these pages. From albums to charities: I plan on achieving them all given enough time and passion. Whilst all of that will arrive in time, for now, I am looking at something very much needed at the moment: A radio station that reflects the needs of all music-loving listening. I feel radio is a form of entertainment that is declining- or less popular than it was years ago- and too many younger people are relying on the Internet and social media. How many of us listen to the radio day-to-day? I bet those who do listen to radio- in the majority at least- are going to be slightly ‘older’. Music is something that unites us all- every one of us has an interest in it at least- and the most logical medium for fueling that desire should be radio. It is the most efficient and disciplined way of ensuring a wide array of songs reaches a large listening audience. The problem is this: How many truly great radio stations exist?
I have always found local radio a rather depressing fare- I’m sure they are good local stations around- that play a very limited range of songs- with so many negatives and limitations. Aside from local radio, there are the mainstream boys. The B.B.C. stations- Radio 2, 1 and 6 Music- very much have a designated and particular audience. As such, those stations have a particular sound and look: Often those stations push away a large sector of listeners for some reason. I have always found Radio 1 great when it comes to mainstream’s new artists- those that are just starting to ascend to the big leagues- but lackluster when it comes to older music and legendary acts. Conversely, Radio 2 is great at proffering the existing order: Perhaps not quite as effective when it comes the best and brightest new acts. While Radio 2 showcases upcoming talent, I find the artists (they highlight and push) are Pop/Folk-based. 6 Music is perhaps the finest (of the B.B.C. stations) when it comes to covering the spread. Ensuring older music is kept very much alive: The guys and gals share their passion for music seven days a week. Quite good at showcasing some stunning new musicians; here is a station with a bit more edge and variation.
Away from the B.B.C. stations- and the downsides most of the stations possess- there are some great (London-based) possibilities. Away from the Pop-driven drivel (editiorialising a bit) of Magic F.M., Heart Radio and Capital F.M. - surely enough puerile crap for the teenage market- there are more reputable and impressive options. Whilst X.F.M. has bitten the dust- re-branded as X Radio- there are drawbacks to this station. I love the official website- eye-catching and informative; impressive and clear- there is some great music played, for sure. The guitar-driven songs have a lot of quality but, given the narrow confines, lack that diversity and variation. A lot of attention is given to its ‘star’ D.J., Chris Moyles. Having ‘left’ Radio 1- the controversy-seeking D.J. was playing on borrowed time- the acquired tones of Moyles have transferred to X Radio. I have always found him odious and obnoxiously loud: Do you want your banner D.J. having these ‘qualities’? Aside from the homogenised music, the roster of presenters on the station is not as appealing as they could be. That leaves one other option: The mighty and evergreen Absolute Radio.
There are negatives and issues with Absolute Radio. They are a commercial station, and as such, have to interrupt the music with adverts- the most nauseating and irritating adverts across all the land. The station dedicates too much time to the same kind of music. Whilst Absolute Radio plays some exceptional sounds- across various decades and genres- there is still an issue with regards predictability. They have a core/desired audience- the young listeners who want the edge of Radio 1 with the heart of Radio 2- and ensure the music played satisfies them. You get a lot of the same acts cropping up- Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Blur- that conform to public tastes and needs. The problem is, there is a whole world of music being overlooked. Absolute Radio has sister stations- Absolute ‘80s, ‘90s etc.- that makes sure various decades are given a thorough investigation. That is perhaps an issue: Why create so many sub-stations for particular decades/genres? There are enough hours in the day to give every decade and genre a good show- and ensure the playlists are not too samey and stilted.
Given my reticence, Absolute Radio boasts a huge amount of highs: It is my favourite stations for a very good reason. It is the music itself that impresses me: You get a lot of depth and variation; so many classic tunes mixed alongside some rare gems. Based in Soho- arguably the cultural centre of London- you can hear and feel the vibes of the city reflected in the presenters. Energetic, funny and engaging: Every day you tune in knowing you will smile and be entertained. Perhaps not boasting enough diversity- in terms of race and age- you get D.J.s that have a huge passion for music and connect with the listener. I love Frank Skinner’s show (Saturday mornings from 8) and find him peerless in terms of humour and surprise: An enormously talented human that is insanely funny and sharp. Andy Bush and Leona Graham are terrific D.J.s that gives me a good chuckle, too. My favourite D.J. is Christian O’Connell: Perhaps the station’s star hosting the flagship show (The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show). The team he has- Richey, Faye etc. - have a terrific bond and the banter is infectious. Playing great music and bringing the listeners in- there are various competitions and phone-ins- it is the perfect way to kick-start the morning. The way a radio show should sound: More D.J.s need to listen to Christian O’Connell. Absolute Radio has been the most influential radio station to me- long may their monarchy reign and inspire.
Aside from the two genuinely great- my view; others may disagree- stations, Absolute Radio and B.B.C. 6 Music, what else is there? If you want to find a station that addresses the negatives of the aforementioned- Absolute’s lack of true range; B.B.C. 6 Music’s limitations- then you have a hard time. Internet radio is a massive and busy jungle that offers enough choice. What I find- when it comes to finding a broad station- is the narrowness and niche nature of the stations. There are very few stations that incorporate the best elements of ‘mainstream’ radio- whilst stretching it out and bringing more listeners into the fold. I love stations like Channel Radio- www.channelradio.co.uk- who seem to be leading the way for the underground. The presenters here have a shared love for great music and diversity- covering genres like Jazz and Rock- and gave me the impetus for my own station: Radio Adage.
Aside from some Absolute Radio similarities- a station beginning with the letter ‘a’ for one- there will be a lot of differences. I love Radio X’s website- seems like a strange point- but is so detailed and informative- easy on the eye and great to navigate. That will be the building block for Radio Adage: Ensuring the homepage is equally impressive and brilliant. The aim of the station is to have that mainstream/long-term appeal: Not just confine itself to digital/underground realms. Whilst it is important to have a core following- and broadcasting is its own reward- I want the station to have the chance to nestle alongside Absolute Radio and X Radio. Here’s how I want it to look:
This is one of the most important foundations and considerations. The voices (and faces) of radio: It is crucial to get the mix right and have some likable and popular presenters. The reason I love stations like Absolute Radio and Channel Radio is the inimitable mix of humour, passion and personality. Absolute’ pillars like Christian O’Connell, Frank Skinner and Leona Graham have their own qualities and highs- the comedy and wonderfully rich voices (Leona on this one) - and this is something I want to capture (read: steal). If the presenters for a station are not entertaining/warm; then you will not have a wide listenership and appeal. One of the reasons I dislike so many stations (local radio particularly) the lack of good D.J.s. Even X Radio has some great presenters- Absolute Radio and 6 Music are the finest- and it is paramount the people you hear on the station get the listeners hooked and keep coming back. It is vital- when it comes to Adage Radio- to have diversity and quality there. Probably starting out with a few D.J.s- I am trying to go for 10; it may be a little unrealistic- it is hoped more will join in time. I want to find D.J.s that is funny, witty and passionate. If I can find my own Frank Skinner and Christian O’Connell, then that would be ideal. Essentially, I do not want D.J.s that is too young and inexperienced: Personality is more important than age/youthfulness.
One of the things I want to do is have a better spread of races and gender. Not positively discriminating- and trying to rebel against the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry- but modern radio is too white and ageist. In addition to younger D.J.s- early-20s to mid-30s- I want to have some older shoulders. Given the recent passing of Terry Wogan- a stalwart of radio and legend- it would be terrific to have an experienced D.J. on board. I also want more women on the station. There are stations that have a few female D.J.s, although not enough. In that respect, more black and Asian faces need to be heard: Not doing it for the sake of equality; it would give the station more depth and appeal. The station will broadcast 24-hours a day, and as such, would probably (in the earliest days) sees some international D.J.s join. Between the hours of 11pm and 6am (the last evening show and breakfast show) I want Australian and American D.J.s take over and broadcast. Starting in Brisbane (and throughout Australia) I have a guy in mind: By the same token, there are a couple of American options. I want warmth and wit to sit alongside a genuine passion and flair for music. D.J.s that has their ear to the ground of new music- those unsigned and on social media- would meet with presenters that know music’s history- willing to spin songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
This is the centerpiece of any radio station: The music you play on a daily basis. The reason I dislike some stations- and love others- is what they play. The reason for getting this station going- aside from the need to fill a gap- is ensuring the best new music is featured- in addition to playing a better range of older material. Aside from local radio and Internet brands: Few radio stations feature music by brand-new artists. I do not mean the acts that are coming through the mainstream- although they will feature too- but those without a record deal or trying to crack their way in. Throughout the world, there are a wealth of terrific bands and acts that make waves across social media- they have to struggle to get radio play and attention. It is not fair they have to rely on local radio- and its narrow listener-ship and potential- and there should be a platform for them to get their voices heard.
Aside from the brand-new music- they will get a big market-share of the playlists- it is vital to keep existing music in the forefront. Whilst a lot of stations have to fit into a mould/target audience; I feel there is a lot of compartmentalisation and limitations. The big boys of radio focus on guitar-driven music and Alternative sounds. While you get a lot of great music played: I find too few stations do not go far enough and negate certain genres. There are plenty of great Jazz artists and terrific tracks from the ‘90s that are never played. Why can you not put these on one station? Some great stations do have sections dedicated to various genres/decades: This can often mean listeners avoiding certain times. It would be much wiser incorporating music together to get a more variegated and diverse playlist.
Each section/D.J. would have their own brand/sound. I want each segment to have a very distinct feel and not all sound the same. From the morning show to late-night shows: The station will have originality and familiarity bonded together. It is important new bands and artists are allowed to play/perform live- like local radio stations and Internet radio- in addition to existing artists. While it may take time for Radio Adage to get clique and a name- thus meaning mainstay acts want to perform- there is no reason why international acts cannot feature. You never hear many acts outside the U.K. performing on our radio stations. Whether in the studio- or from their home locations- there needs to be more attention given to non-British artists.
Completions, phone-ins and listener interaction are vital, and because of this, the station will bring them in and involve people in the day-to-day processes. Whilst 'Adage will start as an Internet-only station- hopefully, it can become digital in time- the listeners will be able to call and join in the fun. Some stations are slipshod when it comes to range and interesting features. Radio Adage will go onto the street and highlight great local bars, attractions and things to watch. I hope Radio Adage will find itself in London have quite a London-centric feel. Vibing from the cosmopolitanism and diversity of the city: There would be a good deal of features that brings the city and music together. I want an annual concert- raising money for charity- to feature the best new acts coming through. On the charity front, the station- and website particularly- would have charity initiatives and events happening regularly. I want Radio Adage to be more about music.
With no studio booked/found yet, the early days of the station will be wherever is feasible and economical. In time, I want to be based in London: Preferably around Soho/Piccadilly; it would be in the beating heart of the city- not just confined to London. The hope it to get the brand known across the U.S. and Australia- as far around the globe as possible. It would be great to have a very modern and large-ish studio to give the station the breath and space it needs. I understand a reality check and sense of confinement needs to happen in the fledgling days/weeks etc. In time- and when the reputation is built- it would be great to have an established base in London.
GETTING IT STARTED
To get the station started, there are going to be logistical challenges and a lot of planning. Of course, things like broadcasting equipment, D.J.s and royalties- ensuring the music played has permission and is all legal- will be essential. I am hoping a Kickstarter campaign can be launched to get the foundations built: Meaning we can recruit some talent and make sure all the equipment/website/cores required are there and safe. This year, I am confident we can get the station created- a rudimentary website built- and get broadcasting. Naturally, it will take years to build that reputation and get among the big leagues- if it happens at all! Just, for now, it is important to get feedback and see if the idea has legs. I know so many people are turning away from radio- whether there is not enough range- and either listening to their own music or using social media (to find the best in new music). Radio is still the logical way to hear all music and keep that passion going. With digital music starting to be overtaken by physical release- the buying trends are starting to shift- perhaps there is dissatisfaction with the way music is broadcast/available. I am not sure, but what I do know is too few radio stations have all the necessary boxes ticked- the spread of music and appeal of their D.J.s.
Knowing a bit about business- and the realities you must accept- Radio Adage will not ignite and be a big-time hitter this year- in fact, it may take many years in order for the station to transcend beyond the Internet. The most important thing (in the early stages) is to get the stations going and get a loyal core cemented. In time- and with the way radio is at the moment- the hope is Radio Adage will be a mainstream/above-the-parapet station that can keep growing and getting better. I want a lot of D.J.s- more than 9 or 10 in time- that will reflect various audience sectors and tastes. Forming into a cohesive and gilded station: The aim is to create something that fills gaps and keeps music’s passion alive. Whilst there are some phenomenal stations out there; few go deep enough when it comes to the music itself. I feel there is room for Radio Adage due to the fact so many people- myself included in the list- for another participant in the pack. We will have a 'voice' for the station- like Matt Berry for Absolute Radio- and create something both familiar and new.
It would be great to get people views, support and feedback: See when this can become a reality and ideas the public have. Of course, getting the bricks-and-mortar stages sorted- the soft/hardware sourced; getting everything in place- will take a long time (and quite a bit of money) so these early days are going to be rather unexciting (if essential). Let me know your thoughts and help welcome in…
A new face for radio.