The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe

Mark Radcliffe presented the first of his Folk Shows last night on Radio 2.

Listen to it here.

I don’t know if he was advised to or whether it was his own idea, but he spent a couple of minutes saying he’s still mates with Mike Harding, that he’s been in and played with folk bands and been to folk festivals and he’s played folk music on his other programmes. He acknowledged that not everyone was going to welcome him. His guests were Bellowhead, and it’s always good to hear them on the radio.

And to be fair, he played some good music. But the funniest thing was towards the end of the show when he ‘suddenly realised’ that an hour is just not long enough. Well, if he hadn’t read so many messages of support and adoration from the listeners, I reckon he could have squeezed in at least a couple more songs.

I’m sure a lot of people won’t listen to the show on principle. I don’t always like things changing in the radio world either. But I think in this case, it was the manner of Mike Harding’s departure which most people objected to. That, and the fact that anything Mark can do on a live show, well, so could Mike, if he’d been given the chance.

But now, we have two hours of folk music a week to listen to, Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2, Wednesday, 7pm and Mike Harding on his website.

Oh and don’t forget, Iain Anderson on BBC Radio Scotland each Monday to Wednesday at 10:05pm. I say ‘don’t forget’ because, sadly, I frequently do. And at two and a half hours, that’s quite a long show to fit in each week. there’s folk music but a wider range of music too.

End of year recommendations

Happy new year to you all, I hope your enjoyment of radio goes from strength to strength.

Here are just a few recommendations in case you’re at a loose end over the next day or two.

Erin McKeown has a new album out and it is terrific. It was crowd-funded and well worth the eight-month wait. She deals with some important isues of the day, but even apart from that, the songs just sound good.
NPR – First Listen – Erin McKeown – Manifestra

As mentioned previouly, Mike Harding has a new weekly Folk Music programme, now on the internet. Last night at 5pm, 27,000 of us logged into The Mike Harding Show – and promptly crashed the server! Apparently, it’s all fixed now, and his Podcast #1 is avaialble for your enjoyment, an hour of good music uninterrupted by news, weather, sport, traffic and trails.

On a totally different note, the Today programme on Radio 4 a couple of days ago included a fascinating discussion between presenters John Humphrys and Ed Stourton with guest editor Dame Ann Leslie about their religious beliefs and experience. It will be on the iPlayer until 5/1/2013. Skip to 42 minutes.

And on a lighter note, Danny Baker with Baylen Leonard presented a show of songs from Broadway and beyond. It was a fun listen, a one-off show on Radio 2 but, who knows, maybe there’ll be another show when the next holiday season encourages the regualr presenters to take a break 😉
Danny Baker on Radio 2 available until 4/1/2013.

New year’s resolutions are all the rage. Well, mine generally tend to be variations on “be more tidy” and “be more organised”. My “list of things to do” is quite long, so if it’s shorter by the end of the year, that’ll be a bonus. And I must try harder not to squeeze everything in. There really isn’t time to read all the newspaper articles I want to, there isn’t time to read all the books I want to, there isn’t time to listen to all the radio, watch all the TV and films I want to. So my resolution is to (at least try) not to feel guilty about the things that go by the wayside. Good luck to you with any changes to your lifestyle and besst wishes for 2013.

Mike Harding is off air. Long live Mike Harding.

First of all, apologies for the last minute message here.

But the good news is, that within 40 minutes of me writing these words, Mike Harding’s first on-line Folk, Roots and Acoustic show will be broadcast. Online. On the internet. He’s been working very hard over the last few weeks to set this thing up.

So, for now, here are the links:

The Mike Harding Folk Show. <listen to the show here.

Show your support by LIKEing the Mike Harding Folk Show Facebook Page.

PS The broadcast failed becaue the server couldn’t handle the 27,000 people who ‘tuned in’ at 5 o’clock. That is a terrific number of supporters for the first week, during what is still a holiday period for many of us. I suspect 27,000 is more than a number of BBC radio shows manage to attract…

The latest news

I’ll be going through the listings soon to plan my Christmas-time radio listening. I do know that Tour de France and Olympic Time Trial Champion (not to mention Sports Personality of 2012) Bradley Wiggins will be on 6 Music with Paul Weller.

Danny Baker is the new Elaine Paige. Yes, together with Baylen Leonard, the Candyman will be playing music from the shows on Radio 2, sometime over Christmas.

Mike Harding’s final show on Radio 2 will be broadcast on December 26. But then, just a few days later, he’ll be producing a weekly one-hour long podcast online – there’s not much information as I write, but I anticipate this will be very similar to his RAdio 2 show: music, chats and gig lists. But no trails. And no news. Might as well bookmark the site.

And finally for now, it was announced today that in the new year, Jon Holmes will be presenting the Breakfast Show on Xfm.

Here’s the full story.

That’s it for now: I thought I’d drop in and see how the old blog’s holding up, I’ve been away for a while.

 

Mike Harding ‘leaves’ Radio 2

Another day, another incomprehensible decision made by BBC bosses. It was announced two days ago that Mike Harding has been asked to leave his weekly folk programme on Radio 2, and that the slot will be taken over by Mark Radcliffe.

Well, I’ve got nothing against Mark Radcliffe, I quite like his presentation style and I appreciate his knowledge of and enthusiasm for music.

But I love Mike Harding’s show as it is, too. He has introduced me to so many musicians, singers, songwriters and other ‘folkies’ over the years. And it’s always a great feeling when he catches up with performers that I’d been following already, such as Seth Lakeman and Martha Tilston.

So why is he being moved on?

A Radio 2 spokeswoman said the change of presenter would bring a “fresh perspective” to folk and would allow more live broadcasts. I suppose the listeners were clamouring at the doors of Broadcasting House, just begging for a “fresh perspective” in the Folk and Roots programme. And why a different presenter would allow for more live broadcasts is such an obvious red herring, I suspect the spokeswoman in question will be sent away for re-training. I bet Mike would love the opportunity for more live broadcasts, if the production team, and the budgets, and the bureaucracy allow.

I first wrote about Mike is this blog back in March. That day’s blog posting has now received more responses than any other individual posting. Not scientific, I know, but I think it shows that there is a terrific amount of affection for and support for Mike and his show. Please go back, especially to read the comments from other readers.

I try not to be too negative in this corner of the internet, but I can’t hide my disappointment that the decision has been made. So here’s a positive thought: the replacement is Mark Radcliffe, a radio person. Bob Shennan could have chosen yet another boring ‘big name’, another turgid ‘celebrity’ from TV. Shennan (and his predecessor) certainly has form in that department.

So: Mike Harding’s Folk, Roots and Acoustic show has been on Radio 2 for 15 years. It is currently broadcast on Wednesday nights at 7pm. At present, his final show is set to be December 26. His listening audience is estimated to be about 750,000 – vastly increased over the 15 years.

On Facebook, Mike states that the Press Release makes it look as though he decided to go. Hundreds of messages of support were forthcoming there. Here is the offending Press Release from 17/10/12.

Naturally, we listeners want to do whatever we can to keep Mike’s show – and the campaign starts over there, on Facebook: Lighting the Landscape: save Mike Harding, he’s a national treasure. At the time of writing, there are 1093 members of this group. No: actually, I am number 1094. I’ve supported many campaigns and I like to think in my own small way, I helped save BBC 6 Music. So please do all you can to help spread the word! The Controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music is Bob Shennan. It was he who called Mike (apparently the first phone call made in all of 15 years) to break the news. Writing to him, to the BBC Trust, to Radio 4’s Feedback programme, who knows if we can force a re-think?

I suppose there’s a small chance that Radio 3 might take over Mike’s show… There is a precedent: they took one Andy Kershaw on board when his World Music show was finally squeezed out from Radio 1.

But whatever happens in the long term, let’s continue to enjoy Mike’s show on Radio 2. I’ll be keeping at least some of the programmes for posterity, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one!

How the news has been reported:

BBC News – Mike Harding ‘pushed’ from Radio 2 folk show.

The Guardian: Mike Harding hits out at Radio 2 boss.

The Independent: The Rochdale Cowboy bows out with guns blazing.

The Telegraph: Radio 2 axes Mike Harding from folk role.

And here are some other places of interest:

Mike’s Facebook page.

Mike Harding’s Radio 2 page.

Mike’s own website.

BBC Radio 2 – The Ballads of the Games

The Ballads of the Games is a six-part series for BBC Radio 2 exploring the agony and the ecstasy of the Olympics, in the words of people who were there and through songs inspired by their stories.

The format is adapted from one created by Ewan McColl and Charles Parker in the 1950s, broadcast on the BBC Home Service. So it seems that even then, the nation’s Speech station was responsible for the best Music documentaries!

The first episode of Ballads of the Games takes us from the original games in 776 BC Greece through the origin of the modern Olympics movement in… Much Wenlock, Shropshire. There are some funny and some moving stories from previous London Olympics in 1908 and 1948.

BBC Radio 2 – The Ballads of the Games.

And of course, a hat-tip to Mike Harding who alerted us to this series during his own fantastic show on Radio 2.

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.