Sony Radio Academy Awards – Nominations Announced

Always an interesting event, the Sony Awards. When the winners match my own personal favourites, they’re spot on. When they give the prizes to programmes or presenters or radio stations I’m not that fond of, I have to wonder, what is the point?! But of course, that’s the nature of any awards ceremony.

The full list of nominations can be sound here:

Sony Radio Academy Awards | News | Sony Nominations Announced!!!.

And this is a list of those I’ll be rooting for:

Breakfast Show of the Year (10 million plus)
Heart Breakfast (London) – London’s Heart
KISS Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin and Charlie – KISS
I hear these at work sometimes, not impressed by either
The Chris Evans Breakfast Show – BBC Radio 2
I managed to put this on on my birthday, much to the consternation of my colleagues, but it was the best morning’s radio in the office for a very, very long time
The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show – Absolute Radio
This comes on sometimes, and I’ve always liked Christian O’Connell, whether on Xfm or Absolute.


Best Music Programme
Fearne Cotton – BBC Radio 1
In Tune – BBC Radio 3
In: Demand Scotland – Bauer Radio Scotland
Michael Bublé – Magic 105.4
I’ve not heard any of these, so by default…
Steve Lamacq – BBC Radio 6 Music
would be my choice, although I rarely hear a whole show.

Best Entertainment Programme
Adam & Joe – BBC Radio 6 Music
At its best, this is a very funny show, and even when it’s not, the music is great

Music Radio Personality of the Year
Chris Evans – BBC Radio 2
Christian O’Connell – Absolute Radio
I think it’s between these two
Gemma Cairney – BBC Radio 1Xtra
Never listened to her
Huey Morgan – Wise Buddah Creative for BBC Radio 6 Music
Lauren Laverne – BBC Radio 6 Music
Both play some good music (Lauren maybe a little heavy on the hip-hoppy side for my taste), but this is the ‘personality category

Music Broadcaster of the Year
Jools Holland – BBC Radio 2
Mark Radcliffe – Smooth Operations (Productions Ltd) for BBC 6 Music & BBC Radio 2
I enjoy both of these programmes
Mistajam – BBC Radio 1Xtra
Never heard him
Sean Rowley – BBC Radio Kent
Not heard him here, but enjoyed his shows on GLR and BBC London
Tom Service – BBC Radio 3 for BBC Radio 3, 4 & 6 Music
Probably heard him, but sorry, doesn’t ring a bell

Speech Radio Personality of the Year
Alan Brazil – TalkSPORT
Alan Robson – Metro Radio
Danny Baker – Campbell Davison Media for BBC Radio 5 live
Richard Bacon – BBC Radio 5 live
Toby Foster – BBC Radio Sheffield
I’d vote for Danny Baker, even though I usually miss his 5 Live show, while hearing his BBC London one most days, but I don’t hear any of the others at all, so I may be missing something

Best Comedy
Adam & Joe – BBC Radio 6 Music
My favourite from this list
Another Case of Milton Jones – Pozzitive Television for BBC Radio 4
I found this a bit hit and miss, to be honest
Down The Line – Down The Line Productions for BBC Radio 4
Mark Steel’s In Town – BBC Radio Comedy for BBC Radio 4
The National Theatre of Brent’s Iconic Icons – CPL Productions for BBC Radio 4


Best Drama

A Tale of Two Cities – BBC Radio Drama London for BBC Radio 4
Damn, missed it, but as it’s my favourite Dickens book, I’m sure I either would have loved it, or been terribly disappointed
A Time to Dance – Sweet Talk Productions for BBC Radio 4
North by Northamptonshire – BBC Radio Comedy for BBC Radio 4
On It – Woolyback Productions for BBC Radio 4
Use It or Lose It – Falling Tree Productions for BBC Radio 3

Station of the Year (1 Million plus)
BBC Radio 4 Extra
BBC World Service
Radio City 96.7
I enjoy both of the BBC stations but don’t get to hear Radio City in my neck of the woods

UK Station of the Year
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 6 Music
Kerrang! Radio
Again, both of these BBC stations are on my presets, and I’ve heard Kerrang a few times but, well, maybe I’m just getting too old for too much of what my wife calls the screaming meemies, that is, very loud, guitar-based rawk music

Pick of the Week

There’s not enough time to listen to everything I’d like to on the radio. So you’d think a programme like Pick of the Week would help fill in the gaps.

Well, it does of course, but equally, it just brings to light programmes I’ve missed and would like to listen to in full.

In other words. it increases the ‘want’ list rather than decreases it.

For example, the most recent edition whetted my appetite for Robert Winston’s Musical Analysis, this particular episode being about Tchaikowsky. Unfortunately, no iPlayer action.

Also, There is Business like Show Business – about musicals which we’ll never see perfomed but which served a purpose, promoting certain products, for instance. It’s not every day you hear a song where the lyrics include ‘appendectomy’ rhyming with ‘hysterectomy’. This one never appeared on the iPlayer either.

Dudley Moore’s World of Jazz was a Radio 2 show that I meant to record for future enjoyment but I forgot – even though I must have heard it railed on Radio 2 at least a couple of dozen times over the last few weeks. And now, it’s no longer on the iPlayer.

It’s a nice mix, Pick of the Week, but there is definitely a bias towards Radio 4, which is, I suppose, fair enough.

My claim to fame is suggesting a clip from BBC London from many years ago: Danny Baker talking to (the late, great) Ken Campbell about the art of ventriloquism. Obviously, this is one that I wish I’d recorded for posterity. Oh well.

Pick of the Week, Radio 4, Sunday 6.15pm.

The Listening Project

Walking along the road, or travelling on a bus or train, you sometimes hear the most bizarre conversations taking place. You’re interested but don’t want them to see you’re eavesdropping. Well, that’s all about to change, as this fascinating new project begins any day now.

‘The Listening Project’ is a joint enterprise between the BBC and the British Library. they want our conversations recorded. BBC local radio is involved and the various local radio stations will broadcast some of these items. BBC Radio 4 will, presumably, broadcast the best and most interesting from all over the country.

The Listening Project website gives more details, including some tips on how to record your conversation, should you want to participate. Personally, I’d probably clam up as soon as you turn the microphone on, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I hope it’s not just extroverts and those with a great level of self confidence who take part.

The first programme will be on Radio 4 on Friday 30th March at 12:52.

The wonderful Fi Glover spoke about the project on Lauren Laverne’s 6 Music show last week, and will be introducing the Radio 4 programmes.

Ooh, look, here’s Fi.

The Listening Project

Jools Holland on Radio 2

Broadly speaking, this weekly programme is in two halves. The first half hour is usually old records, jazz, boogie-woogie, music from the 1920s up to the 1950s. And in the second half, there’s usually a guest talking about their music and playing a couple of tunes.

Last week’s guest was Judie Tzuke whose voice is as delicious as it was when we first heard her all those years ago. If you’re quick, you can catch this show on the iPlayer.

Jools performs with his rhythm Section, I guess a few members of his Big Band. I can only imagine how crowded the studio is.

I also like Later with Jools on BBC2 TV I think there are two series each year plus a special Hootenanny show for new years eve. This is, I think, the only ‘live’ music show on TV at the moment, not a bad replacement for The Old Grey Whistle Test, but it would be nice it it were on every week!

Meanwhile, the radio show is very entertaining and informative, exactly what the BBC should be doing.

Actually, I’m a little cross with Jools. Back in 1999, he said he would chain himself to the piano in the basement to protest against the demise of GLR. He didn’t do so … and look where we are now.

So that’s Jools Holland on Radio 2 Monday nights at 11pm.

So farewell, then, Mark Thompson

Yes, Mark Thompson has announced that he is stepping down as Director General of the BBC.

That news is a fantastic birthday present.

Just a few weeks ago, he admitted that the BBC had got it wrong on women, “that the broadcaster does not have enough older female newsreaders and presenters“.

No. I’d say he‘s got it wrong. After all, who’s in charge?

And I’d say he’s got it wrong in so many other ways too.

He totally underestimated the popularity of BBC local radio. The BBC Trust has forced you to reconsider making huge cuts to local radio which would result in a much less local service. Making us wonder, what’s the point of having local radio at all?

Before that, he wanted to shut down BBC 6 Music. He thought it was just another pop station. But the great British public stood up and told the BBC Trust what the pioneer DAB digital radio station means to them. So (until the next useless out of touch DG comes along) 6 Music has been saved.

Great to see Broadcasting House being refurbished of course, but why was it so over-budget? Who’s in charge? That’s my licence money he’s been wasting.

This big move to Salford: I don’t know but I suspect the BBC will live to regret that decision. London is the nation’s capital, an eighth of the population lives within striking distance. It’s the cultural centre of the nation, whether you like it or not.

Selling off the iconic Television Centre. I don’t know but I suspect the BBC will live to regret that decision too. In the same way they now regret erasing all those Doctor Who tapes. Because we need more empty office blocks in London. If this building is no longer needed for producing programmes, surely it can be turned into a money-making tourist attraction? Decades of history available, radio,  TV, film, documentaries, technology, props: it would appeal to everyone.

But I can’t resist this opportunity to recall the first time I became aware of Thompson’s existence, back in 1999. The BBC radio station for London, GLR, was threatened with closure. The campaign to save the station ultimately failed but Mark Thompson’s true colours came to the fore:

IN THE light of the BBC’s recent “Train Week”,
viewers and listeners may be interested to hear the
unexpurgated opinions of Mark Thompson, the
corporation’s grandly titled director of nations
and regions, towards rail safety.
Thompson aired his views during a recent staff
meeting at Greater London Radio – which, unhappily
for him, was secretly recorded. The main topics on
the agenda were the proposed reduction of music on
GLR, and Thompson’s Guardian article criticising the
station for playing “pop” music on the day of the
Paddington train crash. Also on the panel was Jane
Mote, head of London and south-east regions…

GLR staff member: “If you turned on GLR in five
years’ time, what would you want to hear?”
Jane Mote: “Mark’s not going to give you a schedule
now because there isn’t a schedule.”
Mark Thompson: “I could do, I could do.”
JM: “No, please! [Thompson laughs.] Paddington
train crash!”
MT: “YES, lots of train crashes please!” (MT carries
an laughing.)

Later in the meeting, Thompson returned to the
JM: “I think music is an expression of cultural life in
London and therefore it has an important role to play
MT: “I just want to hear about train crashes.”
JM: “…and Mark just wants death and gloom.”

Thompson seemed to find this all vastly amusing,
apparently regarding the Paddington disaster as
nothing more than a way of jacking up the ratings for
extended news coverage. But he was rather less
amused when staff challenged him about the
Grauniad article in which he revealed that he had “hit
the roof” when he heard a pop song on GLR on the
morning of the crash.
The song in question, Mambo No 5, was played
on Kiss FM at 8.31 that morning and on Capital
Radio at 9.01am – but it wasn’t played on GLR at all
that day, not least because GLR was too busy
providing, er, extended coverage of the disaster. It
transpired that Thompson is so incompetent he hadn’t
even tuned his radio to the correct station!

That’s from Private Eye No 993 Friday 14 January 2000.

Mark Thompson will not be missed.

But on a more positive note, what else did I get for my birthday? Well, a couple of CDs related to radio shows that I like. What a lovely surprise!

The Old Grey Whistle Test 40th Anniversary Album


World Routes on the Road

World on 3

This is another weekly programme on Radio 3 that takes us all around the world to eavesdrop on some interesting and very different music.

The mostv recent sjhow featured a session by American singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell. I saw her in concert a couple of years ago and must admit, it took a while to get used to the quality of her voice. But the depth of her songs and the her performance of them is quite captivating.

The programme varies in length from one to two hours, so there’s almost certainly something every week that really stands out.

Recently, they broadcast a series of programmes from Celtic Connections, presented by Mary Ann Kennedy. Her fondness for her native Scottish music, as well as other Celtic traditions shines through the radio.

The other main presenter is Lopa Kothari, equally interesting and informative. You’d never guess that she was once an investment banker. But that’s enough name-calling.

For the last few years, there has been tremendous coverage from the Womad Festival too.

The programme often reminds me of Charlie Gillett – who presented it occasionally.

BBC – BBC Radio 3 Programmes – World on 3.

Mike Harding on Radio 2

Mike Harding plays my (almost) weekly dose of folk and acoustic music. As with Bob Harris, his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the music and the musicians is a wonder to behold.

Last week he spoke with Cathy Jordan, a lovely Irish singer who has taken a mere 20 years to complete the album All the Way Home. The fantastic Eddi Reader joins her on the track Eileen McMahon, just one of several traditional songs.

I was lucky enough to see Eddi Reader in concert last year at what has become my favourite venue, Union Chapel, Islington.

Mike’s next programme, tomorrow, Wednesday evening, features Seth Lakeman in concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra. I’m a big fan of his music too, and have also seen him in concert several times over the last few years.

Actually, I’m torn. I would like Mike Harding to play more tracks by my favourite singers; but then, it’s lovely hearing people, such as the aforementioned Cathy Jordan, who are new to me.

I think he introduced me to the Unthanks, who are currently on my List Of People To See In Concert.

So, big hat-tip to Mike Harding, Radio 2, every Wednesday at 7pm.

BBC – BBC Radio 2 Programmes – Mike Harding.

Weekend shuffle for BBC Radio 6 Music

First, I invite you to read this article.

Weekend shuffle for BBC Radio 6 Music : Radio Today.

I thought that was easier than me trying to regurgitate all that news!

But it all looks good to me. I remember listening to Gilles Peterson on the old, original Jazz FM, in the 1990s. When it played jazz, and when it was actually on FM! I think he and Jez Nelson had a late night show called Somethin’; Else – which is, of course, now the name of his production company. Taken form a Prince song, if I remember.

And it’s interesting that one of the commenters has mentioned that Gilles’s show is up against Peter Young playing the same kind of music on Jazz FM, which is no on DAB and online only.

And said Peter Young I remember listening to especially on the overnight show on mid to late 1970s Capital Radio, when I was a computer operator working nights. I think his must have been one of the first phone-ins. By heck, he got some strange people phoning up.

Later on, I caught up with Peter Young on my really local radio station, the one for Southwest London, radio Jackie – although come to think of it, it may have been called Thames Radio at the time.

But back to the schedule changes at 6 Music. I don’t listen to all of the shows mentioned, although I have heard them all from time to time. Obviously, I’d love to listen to 6 Music all day and all weekend, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. Plus, I don’t have DAB and internet installed everywhere I need to be!

I feel bad that Chris Hawkins is moving away from London after 15 years. I still owe him a pint from when we met several years ago, so the chances of me buying that pint are now even more remote. I first heard him on the old GLR early breakfast show, although he had previously worked as the DJ in the Capital Café in Leicester Square. This café no longer exists, although the radio station is still located in that building.

I hear some of ;’The Hawk’s’ 6 Music show in the mornings before work sometimes, so only about half an hour of it. Even though I can’t join in with his fun and games, I’m really pleased that so many other people do so.

But Saturday afternoons will be different. The humour of Jon Holmes has been a great accompaniment to messing about on the computer: emails, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, all the usual suspects, so it will be interesting to see how Gilles Peterson’s mix of music works at that time of day. Even though he’s been on Radio 1 for 13 years, I still have this mental image of him on the old Jazz FM, in a smoky room, playing some great jazz, late at night.

Some follow-ups

Well, I had a bit of a moan the other day about The Today Programme and why I don’t/can’t bear to listen to it any more. It seems I am not alone.

This week’s Feedback included a section in which my problems with Today were discussed by other listeners.

BBC Radio 4 Feedback

BBC Radio 6 Music, as they now seem to be calling it, has celebrated its tenth birthday (again) with a show on London’s Southbank Centre. Highlights are being broadcast this very evening on 6 Music, at 10pm. And highlights will be shown on the TV Red Button channle during the week.

6 Music at the Southbank

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players has come to an end, but I’m sure there’ll be another series soon.And I wouldn’t be surprised if the first series is repeated at some point, maybe overnight on 6 Music. The last programme featured Some Girls by the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story.

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players – sadly no longer on iPlayer.

It’s hard to keep up with all the good stuff on 4 Extra,even though I receive the newsletter every week

Garrison Keillor’s Radio Show is always entertaining, a couple of good stories and, unusually for 4 Extra, some good music content, mainly bluegrass.

Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men on the Bummel is very funny, and a 3-part radio serialisation has just begun. Well, I say ‘just’ You have a day to grab the first episode on iPlayer.

I’m not as big a fan of science fiction as I used to be, but I do enjoy some old favourites, so I’m looking forward to listening to JG Ballard’s The Drowned World which started a repeat run this week.

Bob Harris Country

Rosanne Cash is performing at Union Chapel on March 30th and I’ll be there. Ideally in or near the front row. She is without doubt my favourite country singer right now. I enjoy a lot of country music, but there’s a certain sub-species that I find hard to deal with, though it’s hard to work out why.

When I was growing up, my Mum was a big fan of country and western, as it was then called. Particular favourites of hers were Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash, both of whom I’ll still play from time to time.

Whispering Bob Harris has a one-hour long show each Thursday evening on Radio 2 in which he plays a nice mix of new country music and some old favourites. And ‘Americana’. Still not entirely sure what that is: maybe just a catch-all term for country music, bluegrass and other styles, some of which have evolved from our own Scottish and Irish traditions.

Obviously, I’m hoping that Rosanne will be invited to guest on the Country show while she’s here in the UK – but looking at the list of future guests, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Recent guests include Eric Church and The Band Perry.

The enthusiasm Whispering Bob has for the music is infectious. And his knowledge is encyclopedic. But unlike some parts of Wikipedia, I suspect most of the information he gives out is fairly accurate.

Sometimes he plays a record that, even if it’s totally different lyrically, reminds me of all those records played overnight on the old Country 1035, all the archetypal, my woman left me, my dog got run over and my truck got stolen (I may have made that up) songs that made me wish I’d never volunteered for nightshift.

On the other hand, sometimes he’ll play a record that you wouldn’t necessarily label ‘country’ but which is different, moving, or evocative, a recent example being Raul Malo’s version of ‘Let it be me’. Sublime.

So that’s Bob Harris Country, BBC Radio 2, Thursday evening, 7-8pm.

BBC: Bob Harris Country

Bob Harris’s own website which includes playlists from the last several years.

Rosanne Cash’s own website.