I am beginning to rekindle my love with the radio again. For so many years I stayed away, from the disappointment of what I thought radio had become, from the stations that play a total of 10 songs, over and over and over again until you want to pound your head against a wall and kick something. But something happened this year, and I stopped feeling nostalgic about my past love of the radio, and am finding that it does still exist and that I can enjoy it again.
First radio hero was of course John Peel. Memories of his voice and the voices from The Archers on Sundays. John Peel is the synonym of a substitute father figure for me. That soft, deep voice, always calm and rich, playing some amazing, amazing music, late at night, during the day, whenever. He gave unknown artists a gateway to a wider audience, because if John Peel liked an artist or band, then he/she/they HAD to be good. All of my favourite artists have Peel Sessions (I used to tape them directly from the radio, and even still have some of the tapes). There were many a time that I used to finish work in the summer in England, and fall asleep to John Peel’s voice. I was living in London in 2004 when he died and was devastated. He was the most veneered and loved radio DJ of all time, especially where I come from, and I wish he hadn’t passed away so young. Can you believe he started broadcasting in 1967?! He went from the pirate radio station Radio London when it closed to BBC Radio 1 and pretty much stayed there for the rest of his life (with other broadcasts on Radio 4).
I think it goes without saying that the UK has the best radio set up, still to this day. But I didn’t really grow up in the UK, so my Radio 1 listenings were limited to before I turned 10, and the summers from my 16th birthday until I moved to New York in 2005. I grew up in France, where in early to mid 90’s there were both NRJ and Fun Radio, two radio stations that actually played GOOD music. I would listen to Fun Radio all day long, especially to Cauet and Miguel’s shows. They broadcast the very last Nirvana live show in full in 2004 (another one that I taped from the radio and listened to endlessly). I would sit on my windowsill by the little stream and listen to them play my favourites while discovering other bands along the way. Although never as good as British radio, they didn’t do a bad job for a few years… Until some internal radio rule decided that rock music was “out” and that it was time to only play the same 10 (bad) songs over and over again. Bye bye French radio…
I didn’t even bother with the radio much when I moved to the US. Every time I tried to tune into a radio station it was the same thing, so what was the point? I was better off making my own playlists and listening to them as opposed to forcing myself to listen to something else that I didn’t want to. Maybe I should have tried harder, but whatever, I didn’t miss the radio anyway.
Until I finally went back to England for a visit this year, and started listening to BBC 6 Music (yes, Marc Riley it’s all your bloody fault!). And I was hooked again. But now, I can actually listen to British radio here at home in New York, because you can stream the shows from your computer. Yes, you can listen to British radio from anywhere in the world. I also started listening to East Village Radio too, and discovered some cool shows, like Andy Rourke’s weekly show, where he pretty much plays whatever he feels like playing, and this often matches whatever I feel like hearing. I suppose that having more time at home now that I am not working insane hours at my old job helps to be able to actually sit down and enjoy the radio again. Suggestions are more than welcome!
Also. Did I mention how much I adore Marc Riley? Well I do. And I totally want to interview my mum about her Radio Caroline listening days...
Here are some links for your listening pleasure:
BBC 6 Music
East Village Radio (EVR)
Full list of Peel Sessions