The Vinyl Box
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Imagining a New Type of Radio Show
I have been thinking about, for a while, a radio show that would be...
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different to what is out there that allows a blend of music and conversation. There are broadcasts out there that combine interviews with great music but I feel there are few in the mainstream. I have always wanted my own show on BBC Radio 6 Music but, until that happens (optimistic, me!), I have been wondering whether there is a way of bringing music’s full spectrum to people. By that, I mean there is nothing out there right now that looks that broadly at music and unites documentary-type elements. As it would be called The Vinyl Box, there is an opportunity to dig deep into the crates and play music that a lot of stations would not. By that, I am referring to conventional and mainstream sounds – not venturing into BBC Radio 1-territory but broad so that little is left out – and including everything from film soundtrack/scores to tracks you do not often hear on the radio – including big acts but songs from them that are not usually heard. It is that sense of autonomy that appeals to me; being able to play pretty much anything without being confined to playlists. I have pitched a few features that explore podcasts and radio shows but that desire keeps on burning. I guess BBC Radio 6 Music does have this wide spread but I often find there are times when they could be bolder and, when playing certain acts, the same song keeps coming up – when playing The Beatles, more often than not (for some reason) they play Hey Bulldog.
Putting together a podcast/radio show is expensive business and this would be a once-weekly/monthly thing. The reason for this is the time it will take to compile the music and, where necessary, getting permission from artists. It would be a breakdown between older songs (the majority) and new tracks that work on the cooler side of the dial. I would also want to play new songs that do not usually make their way onto the radio. I am in a position where I get sent lots of music and there are some great tracks that do not often get radio attention. The show would be a great mix of the older and brand-new and, whilst the majority of songs would be classics or better-known, there would be some rare cuts and some new songs that would create this blend. The music is at the heart and I would not want to alienate anyone with the selections. You would get the same sort of songs one might hear on BBC Radio 6 Music or BBC Radio 2 but there would be room for live performances, interview snippets and, as mentioned, songs you do not usually hear on the radio. It would create an experience of shopping at a record shop and picking up classic albums and some of the more left-field and unusual moments. I would want a show that lasts three hours so that it provides enough time to play music.
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Two hours would be for the music alone and there would be that eclectic blend. The middle hour would alternate between interviews and documentaries. One edition might feature a well-known figure or artist talking about their favourite records. It would be similar to Desert Island Discs and there would be categories of songs – from the first record ever bought to your favourite Now That’s What I Call Music! The guests would also share their memories of music and upbringing and the music would be wrapped around that. It would be quite a loose discussion and there would be these categories that give the section a sense of structure. On other weeks there would be more of a documentary feel. Maybe we would talk about an album celebrating an anniversary. That would allow the chance for new contributions from fans, archive footage and songs from that record – talking about how it has changed music. Perhaps there would be a documentary about sampling in music or Hip-Hop’s golden age; maybe something about gender issues that would allow music and conversation to clash. In a sense, it is mixing BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 4; sprinkling in some independent radio and aspects of T.V. and film. There are a lot of podcasts and radio stations out there but very few that have the same identity and sound.
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I would want The Vinyl Box to have live performances and that could be the last ten minutes of the show – a brief chat with a band/new artist and a live song to end the show with. As the weeks go by, particular features would come in that give the show its identity and structure. Whether there is a classic vinyl or a section of the show that takes two songs from a particular year and plays them back-to-back; there would be this selection of great songs, features and rare recordings. Most of the tracks, as I say, would be well-known and, in some cases, lesser-heard tracks from big acts. It is exciting to imagine what could come of it and I know many people have their own ideas for shows. I do feel mainstream radio is great but you are often tied to playlists and having a very structured and routine feel. Maybe it is my own tastes coming through but I feel there are artists that get overlooked and songs you rarely hear. It is also important to mix music with a more serious feel. I do feel there are great radio stations that have this balance but you often have to flick between stations to get a complete experience. Every music-lover wants their own show and being able to create their own playlists.
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There is a lot of competition out there and choices but there is room for new players. For me, there is this gap that needs to be filled and a genuine call for something that would look and sound like The Vinyl Box. I would hope it’d parlay into something permanent and a move towards my dreams. To me, radio is the most important format around and still holds incredible influence. There are endless options you can choose regarding podcasts and stations so it does make pitching a new idea quite tricky. For me, I would want a professional sound that feels like a big radio station but there is the room for a bit of flexible thinking. I do love stations like BBC Radio 6 Music but yearn for the odd surprise to be thrown in. There are so many great acts that do not get an airing and songs you wish you could hear but rarely do. You get documentaries and features on radio stations but they are often freestanding and not integrated into regular shows. Radio provides this platform to bring incredible new and classic music to people who can have their eyes and minds opened. A radio show/podcast does take money and a lot of effort and it is the financial side of things that is the biggest obstacle. I could raise funds through crowd-sourcing and, for a pilot, that might be the best option. I see The Vinyl Box building and collecting support and, as a demo tape, it is a nice way of transitioning from music journalism to the bigger leagues. It may be a dream right now but, with a bit of time, finance and luck I hope it is something I can get off the ground...
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