I didn’t plan it this way, but it seems that the close of my 60th year on Planet Earth sees me embracing a combination of old and new technology, broadcasting old-fashioned radio over the new-fangled internet airwaves.
It’s something I’ve been contemplating ever since our weekly Facebook Live shows which kept us (and hopefully a few listeners) sane during the long months of lockdown, and there was at least one of our regulars urging us to give radio a try. I’d held off, though, partly as I wanted to get back to playing in local venues but mainly as the prospect of committing to a weekly show was quite daunting and I didn’t want to turn something that should be fun into something that had to be slotted in amongst work and domestic life with a looming weekly deadline. Things changed, though, when the manager at my friendly regular local venue was abruptly informed by the pub management company that they’d be booking all her entertainment through a single agency, which brought an instant end to my monthly spin-ups, and just as I was starting to build a regular clientele. Fortunately, the following weekend we were in Bristol for one of Rusty Rookes’ Jewels in the Crown gigs and chatting to one of our fellow DJs about his introduction to DJing on Rockabilly Radio. He not only mentioned in passing that the station were quite happy to have fortnightly contributors but also confirmed that the technology was quite straightforward and didn’t need an investment in new kit. Suddenly, radio broadcasting looked like something I could really get my teeth into and make finding a new regular local venue the only way to indulge my passion for sharing music.
Getting started has been much easier than I’d expected, but then a year of weekly Facebook shows had got us used to setting the decks out at home and thinking of a playlist. The only real difference is that, rather than feeding a phone, the lead at the back of the mixer goes into a laptop running Audacity software. Unlike the Facebook shows, the Damoclesian sword of the dreaded red banner isn’t hanging over me, threatening to cut me off at any moment, and nor do I have to worry about how it looks on camera. The team at Rockabilly Radio have made it easy, too, with the minimum of tech speak, some commonsense guidance on content and format, but the overall aim of giving their DJs the space to fill in their own style.
Having listened to a lot of internet rock’n’roll radio over the past couple of years, I’ve determined to do more than just play a succession of records with no introduction; on the other hand, nor do I want to witter on about the scene of the 80s and 90s, and sadly (despite having devoured boxloads of back numbers of Now Dig This) I don’t have the recall to tell the detailed story behind each track. So the aim is to pick out an hour’s worth of great music, including tracks you wouldn’t get to hear in clubs, do a bit of research to be able to drop in some background, introduce the occasional themed show, and generally deliver the kind of show that anyone from lifelong rock’n’roll devotee to chance listener might enjoy – but only the listener will be the judge of that!
At the same time, we’ll be playing out whenever the chance arises. We’ve been doing stuff on the rhythm and blues scene down in Bristol quite regularly, and grabbing the opportunity to spin wild rock’n’roll and rockabilly for those that like their sounds original and untamed. Looking forward to a return to the Phoenix in central London at the end of the month; it’s an amazing feeling to be spinning records in the club we both frequented on Friday nights back in the early 80s, and this time it’s Mrs M’s turn on the decks.
I’ll drop advance notice of the radio shows onto my King of the Rocket Men Facebook page, where you’ll also find news of upcoming gigs, and you can always catch up with them afterwards on my MixCloud page.
See you on the flip side…