Celebrating David Bowie

Lots of David Bowie around at the moment. A new album, ‘The Next Day’, and exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, ‘David Bowie Is’ and to cap it all, a big celebration over the Easter weekend on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2.

Already during the last week, I’ve heard two Bowie tracks that I don’t think I’ve heard played on radio before, despite one being 40 years old: Lady Grinning Soul and Repitition.

I don’t know if this list is complete so please let me know if I’ve missed anything big, important, major, unmissable.

Celebrating Bowie.

David Bowie on 6 Music.

From the Media Centre: 6 Music.

From the Media Centre: BBC 2 (in May).

Sunday is a brilliant day for radio

I realised that Sunday is quite probably the single best day of the week on BBC radio. Here is a list of what I listened to yesterday ‘live’ and what I’ve recorded for future enjoyment.

12.00 midnight Radio 2 – Bob Harris

9.00am Radio 4 – Broadcasting House

A topical news-based magazine programme with a competition that I enetr once in a blue moon, when i know the answer. It would be wrong to say that I only listen, waiting for the return of Fi Glover.

10.00am 6 Music – Cerys Matthews

11.15am Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs

This week, the guest was Jonathan Agnew. For a 70-year old programme, it’s doing very well, going form strength to strength. Dare I say it: I think Kirsty Young is the best ever presenter.

1.00pm Radio 2 – Elaine Paige

Much of the programme is predictable, Lloyd-Webber, Les Mis, common or garden songs from musicals, but now and then, a great tune turns up. But if not, hearing Elaine’s unique chuckle/chortle brightens up even the dullest, greyest Sunday.

1.30pm Radio 4 – Lyrical Journey

This week, the subject was Eddi Reader’s song ‘Patience of Angels’, written by Boo Hewerdine. I remember when the record first came out in 1994(?): I’m sure Eddi Reader appeared on GLR many times to promite the record, though sadly, I have no such recordings.

3.00pm Radio 4 – The Real George Orwell

‘A journey exploring the man Eric Blair and the writer George Orwell’ – drama and stories written by and about George Orwell.

3.00pm Radio 2 – Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the ’70s

4.00pm 6 Music – Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service

6.15pm Radio 4 – Pick of the Week

A good way of finnding some interesting programmes that I would have missed otherwise. I usually hear it in time to get something off the iPlayer, but there have been several misses over the years. They have played one of my suggestions, once. Although I suspect many listeners nominated the same item.

8.00pm Radio 4 – Feedback

Though I usually try to catch this programme on its first outing on friday evening. It’s the radio version of ‘Points of View’ only much better. Ancompliants about (or indeed praise for) the BBC and its output is welcome here.

10.00pm 6 Music – Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour

He read out one of my emails once and so immediately became my number one topmost favourite radio presenter DJ of all time, ever. But apart from that, this, along with all the other 6 Music shows today, quite easily ticks the box that says ‘they place the music you don’t know you want to listen to’.

11.00pm Radio 2 – The David Jacobs Collection

Old time records, most of the songs predate even my parents’ era, but every now and then there’s a real gem, and the fact that it’s 60 years old really doesn’t matter. I met hime once, at Kingston Readers’ Festival. He asked for directions to the lav.

I also caught bits of Paul O’Grady, Clare Balding, Michael Ball, Russell Davis, Mary Anne Hobbs and 1.5 seconds of the Archers theme tune, that being how long it takes to jump across the room the switch to 6 Music.

Please Please Me

It was fifty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play… Oh hang on, that’s not right. No, it was fifty years ago today that The Beatles recorded their first album, ‘Please Please Me’ at the Abbey Road studios. The whole album, recorded in one day.

To commemorate this historic day, BBC Radio 2 are re-recording the album during the day, with artistes such as Gabriella Aplin, Stereophonics, Joss Stone, Difford and Tilbrook and others.

I arrived home from work in time to hear Stereophonics singing I Saw Her Staning There, during the Jeremy Vine Show. Steve Wright’s on as I type and at about 3.30, we’ll hear Joss Stone sing A Taste of Honey.

There’ll be more during Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show and especially during Jo Whiley’s programme later on.

Here’s the official page which is being updated continually during the day, with photos as well.

Read The Independent article. And the BBC’s own news.

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.

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.

 

Happy 90th Birthday, BBC.

Well, yes, let’s celebrate the BBC, the good bits, the radio, the entertainment, the information and the education. Never mind the recent shambles, Savile, Newsnight, pin-headed weasels that pass for middle management, DG’s working for a couple of months for a full year’s pay.

BBC Radio 4 Extra have put together 90 short programmes, funnily enough. just 90 seconds each,all memorable moments.

90 by 90. they will be broadcast but thank goodnes the iPlayer is working its butt off to bring us all this fascinating stuff.

I’m sure there will be plenty of memorable moments that won’t appear in this series: I would love to hear Andrew Sachs’s play, The Revenge, one more time, for example. I heard it at the London Hospital when it was first broadcast. No, I wasn’t ill, I was visiting my then girlfriend and wife-to-be, Sarah, who was training there. If I remember correctly, there was no dialogue, the story was told using sound effects only.

And I would love to hear my Mum singing along to Housewife’s Choice again.

At 17:33 GMT, every BBC radio station in the universe will be broadcasting a very special programme simultaneously. No getting away from it. The three-minute transmission will be based on recorded messages from listeners around the world on the theme of the future. Each of an estimated 60 BBC radio stations will choose one message and many of them will then be mixed together and set to a musical score specially composed by Damon Albarn, the Blur frontman. I suspect this is one to keep for the grandchildren and whoever else is around in another 90 years’ time.

Radio Reunited – a global simulcast.

Also tonight, the results of our donations will begin to come to light. Yes, all those old tapes and cassettes that the great British public found in the loft and down the back of the sofa and then taken to the BBC in a kind of ‘amnesty’ have been processed by a team of audio experts and the results will be aired in a series starting tonight, BBC Radio 2, 10pm.

The Listeners’ Archive.

In other news: Danny Baker was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame last night. I was hoping the Radio Academy might put up a recording of the speeches, but until they do, there’s this, which isn’t top quality, skip to 7m30 for Peter Kay, who presented the award to the Candyman.

(Later: ) Here is a better quality version on YouTube.

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.

I’m back

It’s been a while, but I’m back, and I am pleased to suggest a few things to look forward to on the radio next week.

A new series of Johnnie Walker’s Long-players. The first episode features Peter Gabriel’s album ‘So’. Everyone’s favourite track is, I’m sure, ‘Don’t give up’, a duet with Kate Bush. It’s on BBC Radio 2 next Tuesday, 2nd October at 10pm.

Here it is.

There are some clips from the first series here.

Over on BBC 4 Extra, there’s a mini fest featuring Kenny Everett.

On Monday 1st October, a Captain Kremmen serial – 25 episodes in all.

Tomorrow, Saturday 29th September, Here’s Kenny – Old friends help Mark Paytress delve into the life of a true radio pioneer, and unearth some surprises!

If you can tear yourself away from the radio to watch some TV, on Wednesday,  3rd October, there’s Best Possible Taste – The Kenny Everett Story on BBC4.

Meet David Sedaris on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 30th September at 7.15pm. He is a very funny writer, very dry at times, and always tells a good story.

Meanwhile, I still have a backlog of The New Elizabethans to catch up on, and fortunately, all 60 episodes will remain on the iPlayer for a year.

I also have a few Proms to listen to plus several episodes of Rogue Male which was on 4 Extra during August and September.

It’s hard keeping up when there’s so much sport on TV – and I’m certainly not the biggest sports fan in the world. But what with the Tour de France, Olympics, Paralympics, Vuelta a España and the Tour of Britain, I reckon that’s my ration for the year.

 

Bob Harris Country

Despite the drizzle this morning, that threatened a more torrential downpour, I kept my spirits up by listening to the most recent editions of Bob Harris Country.

Last night’s guest was Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her set was really enjoyable and I wouldn’t expect anything else.

Bob’s guest last week was one Carrie Underwood who I’ve probably heard before, but this was the first time I’ve heard her being interviewed. And she came across as a really enthusiatic musician, yes, but she seems to have her head screwed on, and keen to enjoy ‘real life’ as well. She is university educated, recently married, looking forward to having children.

And I thought, what a great girl. Very real.

The big surprise is that she is the winner of the 2005 series of American Idol. Yes, really. Carrie and Bob mentioned it on the programme and Wikipedia confirms it.

Now I’m not a big fan of any of these ‘reality TV’ ‘Talent shows’. It annoys me that what happens in them becomes news items. If I were that interested, I’d watch the programmes.

And whenever I do happen to come across a participant or even a winner from one of these shows, X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Pop Idol, the Voice, there’s loads of them, I am invariably underwhelmed by their personality.

So is Carrie Underwood the exception who proves that such programmes can have real value? I suspect she’s a one-off. So, no, I still won’t be watching these programmes on TV. Thanks for asking.

But I will be acquiring some Carrie Underwood music to soothe my ears.

Bob Harris Country – Radio 2 every Thursday 7pm – unusually, this page isn’t being kept up to date. At the time of writing, July 6, it lists ‘sessions coming up’ in February and March.