Posts Tagged ‘radio’

Charlie Gillett and Damon Albarn

Posted 28 Mar 2010 — by Jonathan
Category Music


I remember quite clearly when I first had access to the internet; it was in my first year of university. I didn’t really know what it was for. I had an email address and subscribed to various mailing lists, and used the web itself infrequently – this was back in the day when it would never have occurred to me to get my news from anywhere except Radio 4 and newspapers. I’d fallen out of love with music, too, and think I mainly used it for that most prosaic of reasons – to look up essays about James Joyce that I could plagiarise. It had no role as a communication tool at all – I didn’t send an email to a friend ’til after I graduated.

But I remember quite clearly an incident one weekend in the late 90s, when I was back in London to stay with my parents and get a home-cooked meal. We had the radio on, and were listening to a show presented by Charlie Gillett, who I had listened to, occasionally, all my life. My loyalties at the time lay with John Peel, Mark Radcliffe and Gary Crowley, and I found Gillett – who, like Andy Kershaw, played a lot of strange, exotic world music – a bit too ‘grown up’ and sophisticated for my tastes. But my parents used to play African music a lot at home, and I was powerless to deny the immediate, propulsive thrill of the music he played.

That weekend, back at home and enjoying my mother’s cooking, and well into the second bottle of wine of the evening, Charlie Gillett played a song which sounded truly wonderful. If you’re at all interested in music or British radio, you’ll know that Charlie died last week, and I hope you know what an enormous loss that was. I’m going to dig into my blog archive now, and quote myself, telling this exact same story, back in 2006, when I first learned that Charlie’s health was poor.

When I was a student, home from university one week, I sat in my parent’s kitchen, eating dinner and talking to my mum and dad, when a song from the radio behind us stopped us all in our tracks; it was the kind of song which you only hear every few years, something dynamic and surprising and new, and though I can’t now remember what the song was, I remember how I came to hear it and who was playing it. It was a song played by Charlie Gillett, world music specialist on what was then called GLR and is now BBC London 94.9. I remember particularly because although I missed him saying what the track was, I did notice him reading out an email address towards the end of the show. So I wrote a quick and fairly hopeful email asking if the song could be identified. I suppose I imagined some producer or tea-boy receiving it and digging through the playlists to answer my question.

What I received, very shortly afterwards, was an exquisitely polite and helpful reply from Charlie Gillett himself, expressing – absurdly, really – pleasure that I had enjoyed the show and identifying, and providing information on, the song in question. This struck me then, and now, as a surprising and generous gesture, much more so for this was well before the time when it became the norm for a radio show to interact with their listeners via email. Although I have lived for much of the time between then and now away from London, and have thus not followed his show closely, I have always had a particularly high opinion of the man, and an opinion which has heightened with each and every encounter of his show. He is, plainly, a true radical, never compromising his passion for music nor resting on his laurels when there is new music to be explored. It is plainly absurd that a DJ of his incredible originality and passion never made the leap to national radio (apart from the World Service), especially as he is a real trail-blazer in his field.

On the other hand, I have a suspicion that his charm might actually be best observed in the spartan surroundings of local radio. Unlike other DJs of his calibre, Gillett has always worked alone, producing his shows as well as curating them. He is the only radio presenter I have ever heard who played more records at the wrong speed, or failed to turn the volume up more often, than the famously shambolic John Peel. Somehow it would hard be hard to imagine him in the plush surroundings of radios 2 or 3. Like Peel he trades not on his smooth delivery or consistency, but rather on his insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm. His ‘Radio Ping Pong’, where he and a weekly guest cheerfully bat records spontaneously back and forth between the two, is a typically vibrant feature. I particularly remember Damon Albarn guesting last year and flumoxing Gillett with a series of increasingly erratic and arcane choices.

“Oh, you’ve got me confused now”, he eventually conceded.

I never expected a reply from Charlie, and I was honoured to receive one. Years later – after I wrote the paragraphs above – me and Dan went to Womad, in Reading. Charlie’s health was still precarious, and it seemed to be on everyone’s mind. Every artist seemed to mention him on stage. Little wonder.

Regular readers of this blog will associate my musical tastes much more closely with Damon Albarn than they will Charlie Gillett. But his relentless love of music and tremendously catholic taste was one of the sweetest gifts I ever encountered. He was a genuine hero. Here, by way of tribute, is the edition of Radio Ping Pong he co-hosted with Damon. Right click and ‘save target as’ to download.

Thanks, Charlie. In a small, important way, you changed my life.

Damon Albarn and Charlie Gillett, Radio Ping Pong, 2005.
1. Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim - Baai
2. Carol Fran - Tou' Les Jours C'Est Pas La Même / Coalishun - Thundah
3. Charlie and Damon
4. Assa'd Khoury - Ana Jar
5. Los Zafiros - Bossa Cubana
6. Oboto Sukuma - Nakatiye
7. K'naan - Hoobale
8. Miow People (field recording by Damon) / Arto Tuncboyaciyan - Dear My Friend Onno
9. Mehr Ali & Sher Ali Qawaali - Man Kunto Maula

With love.

Save 6 Music

Posted 17 Mar 2010 — by Jonathan
Category General

I can’t tell you how much I love this.

Adam Buxton, who is mounting an impressive one-man campaign to save the nation’s treasure, the wonderful 6 Music, continues badgering away at the periphery of the Castle, pointing out the vitality and uniqueness of the station, and providing some lovely laughs along the way. In his latest post over at his website, he speculates:

“I wonder if Thomo and the nabobs at the castle have ever bought something they love from a small outlet because they know that it’s likely to be more special than it would be from a department store? They Mastodon! I mean, I’m not much of a discerning shopper but at Christmas I go into Soho and buy my dad (who is a booze snob) a bottle of Cognac from Gerry’s because I know they will recommend me some phenomenal item that will keep my Pa delighted for a good few months. They’ve never failed me once. Sure, I could get a bottle of Courvoisier from Sainsburys or Oddbins and my dad would be very grateful but he wouldn’t roll his eyes and eulogise about it the way he does with the more offbeat stuff from Gerry’s because the supermarket bottle is always the same.

I don’t know how good an analogy that is for 6 Music, but I think you get what I mean. Breaking it up and farming off the popular bits is missing the point completely. It’s a little corner of the BBC that is prepared to take all kinds of chances because they know their listeners won’t immediately get frightened and confused they way they might if it was a more mainstream channel. Certainly, Joe and I wouldn’t have been hired let alone afforded the latitude we have been anywhere else in the Castle.

It seems that campaigning and complaining about these kinds of decisions seldom gets results but wouldn’t it be amazing if they did reconsidered? A truly modern corporation! The BBC Trust are reviewing the situation til May 25th and one would hope they will read every message they receive, either pro or anti the proposed closures so do get in touch.”

All sound, intelligent, stuff – but Adam’s not content with talking sense. He’s recorded – in the persona of the Goblin King himself, David Bowie – a song urging the Beeb to s-s-s-s-save 6 Music.

Magnificent:
Click here to listen

Simon Armitage

Posted 18 Jan 2010 — by Jonathan
Category Books

When I was a teenager I used to listen religiously to Mark Radcliffe’s Radio 1 show, and I remember being staggered and delighted that he regularly found time to include poetry in his format, and wish I still had all the tapes I used to make of Simon Armitage reading his own, and others’ poetry. I vividly remember an occasion where he read the poems of Charles Simic, and think it was a real turning point in my developing love of literature.

Here’s Simon Armitage reading ‘Snow Joke’ back in 1991. If anyone knows of an audio archive of his poetry, please do let me know.

no brand awareness

Posted 30 Oct 2008 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

Obviously this whole furore about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross is unbelievably overblown, and the news that the head of Radio 2 has now had to resign is just utterly ridiculous. The comments were in bad taste and an apology should have sufficed, and would have had it not been for the tabloid press and the large percentage of the 30,000 people who complained despite not even listening to the show. The eagerness of public figures to damn the two presenters is yet further evidence of Chris Morris’s ‘Brass Eye’ thesis; that celebrities and politicians are only too happy to speak up over issues of which they have zero knowledge. Gordon Brown’s latest comments demonstrate this ably; they are utterly fatuous. He said:

“I simply wanted to express the views of the general public that this was inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour on the part of leading personalities to whom many people look to as role models. I leave it at that.”

To whom many people look to as role models!!?! What the fuck is he talking about? Brand and Ross aren’t role models, they are comedians. This whole debacle has been massively disappointing.

That Mitchell and Webb Conundrum

Posted 14 Mar 2008 — by Jonathan
Category Daft

I can’t be the only person who, as a massive fan of Peep Show, tuned in eagerly to the second series of ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ only to find it utterly unfunny. Admittedly series one was no belter either, but it was at least stronger than most BBC comedy fare of late.

I like Mitchell and Webb. I first became aware of them on Radio 4 in ‘That Mitchell and Webb Sound’, which worked well on the older medium. It just doesn’t on TV. Much of the sketches are lifted from the radio show and they have already become tiresome. The lazy script writers sketch, for example, might’ve have seemed a good idea but in series two it’s just too drawn out and badly written.

They were assisted in the writing of ‘Sound’, the radio show, by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, and, together, the four proved quite strong, although the list of writers at the end of ‘Sound’ was often very long. Later, with ‘Peep Show’, I have come to realise that they are more consistently at their strongest when they take a back seat with the writing duties. Perhaps Armstrong and Bain, who provide the majority of material for their C4 hit, have more of a talent for writing serialised comedy with strong established characters that the viewer cares for? I don’t know quite how much input Mitchell and Webb have in writing ‘Peep Show’, but it seems it’s limited to the nuances that the characters of Mark and Jez add to each scene.

So why is ‘Peep Show’ brilliant, but ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ rubbish?

Here’s my suggestion (using a simple equation);

[surprisingly mathematical guest blogging by Dan]

Speechification

Posted 20 Jul 2007 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

This is my favourite blog at the moment, although I have only just discovered it, via Pete Ashton.

Speechification is a blog about radio 4, and a great way of highlighting bits and bobs on the schedule worth listening to; it includes MP3s of stuff so it’s not about highlighting things you’ve already missed. Well worth a visit. Oh, and I should clarify… according to the blog’s descripion, it isn’t a blog about Radio 4 at all. It is, instead…

“A blog of Radio 4. Not about Radio 4 but of it. We point to the bits we like, the bits you might have missed, the bits that someone might have sneakily recorded. And other bits of speech radio might find their way here too.

Of course, one day this might turn into something else, maybe a new skin for Radio 4, maybe a new way of curating radio, or maybe it won’t.”

Right, go see, it’s ace.

pricks on the radio

Posted 24 Mar 2007 — by Jonathan
Category Politics

Listening to debates on talk radio about whether or not we should apologise for slavery always makes for brilliant entertainment – it brings the idiots out. I don’t actually think it’s enormously important whether we do apologise or not, but it’s always interesting when people get tremendously worked up about the idea that we certainly must not. There’s some fuckwit on BBC 5 Live at the moment putting forward the indignant “it ain’t nuffink to do with me, mate” line. He’s arguing with a Nigerian woman who is angry that the average Brit is so invested in denying that, as she puts it, ‘this country is built on the blood of Africans’. At one point she asks him, “do you know what it’s like to be a slave?”.

He puts on his best dismissive voice.

“Not particularly, nah”, he replies.

Well, not at all, really, thinking about it.

UPDATE: A woman has just pointed out “It was a terrible thing but it was in the past, it’s finished, why should we apologise? I mean, should we demand an apology from every ancestor of a cannibal who…”.

The presenter cuts the call silent. I think I must be listening to a spoof radio show.

son of peel / lindsay west

Posted 06 Sep 2006 — by Jonathan
Category Music

I’ve just finished listening to the first of the two podcasts which Tom Ravenscroft – John Peel’s son – has completed for 4Radio, the new podcast radio station from Channel 4. Far from being a novelty item, I was tremendously impressed with the 30 minute show, which draws tracks exclusively from Channel 4′s Slash Music service, meaning that all of the artists are either unsigned or operating outside of the conventional music industry. Tom’s debut as a DJ – he has worked previously as a music journalist – might very well have been one of two things; a naked attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps (which I’ve contrived to make sound rather offensive, where in fact he has every right to that ambition if he holds it) or an unfortunate reminder of just how good Peel was, as – inevitably – his son is unable to match his astoundingly high standards.

But the show never feels contrived or driven by the market, and the fact that Tom’s delivery, like his father’s, is even, genial and enthusiastic suggests that had he chosen to take his show to Radio 1 he would surely have been given a warm welcome. There’s no replacing Peel, but, just as the loss of Charlie Gillett from BBC London Live creates a huge chap which can never be totally filled, we do need an eclectic, accessible music programme which does at least some of the things which Peel did so well. To this end, Ravenscroft’s debut presses all the right buttons; he’s calm, likeable and doesn’t talk over the records, and in thirty minutes he plays indie rock, tech-house, dub reggae, some odd, gleeful glitchy indie which might have been my first exposure to ‘new rave’ and a particularly beautiful bit of folk music by Lyndsay West which featured the lyrics:

“Day began getting dimmer
And we began to talk
about getting dinner.

We talked about how clothes
were getting thinner and thinner
on the people that were passing in the lamplight’s glimmer.

Oh-o, we held our coats closer.
We held our coats closer.”

She’s great, and so’s Tom’s show; both come highly recommended. You can tune in here.

In praise of Charlie Gillett

Posted 02 Aug 2006 — by Jonathan
Category Music

When I was a student, home from university one week, I sat in my parent’s kitchen, eating dinner and talking to my mum and dad, when a song from the radio behind us stopped us all in our tracks; it was the kind of song which you only hear every few years, something dynamic and surprising and new, and though I can’t now remember what the song was, I remember how I came to hear it and who was playing it. It was a song played by Charlie Gillett, world music specialist on what was then called GLR and is now BBC London 94.9. I remember particularly because although I missed him saying what the track was, I did notice him reading out an email address towards the end of the show. So I wrote a quick and fairly hopeful email asking if the song could be identified. I suppose I imagined some producer or tea-boy receiving it and digging through the playlists to answer my question.

What I received, very shortly afterwards, was an exquisitely polite and helpful reply from Charlie Gillett himself, expressing – absurdly, really – pleasure that I had enjoyed the show and identifying, and providing information on, the song in question. This struck me then, and now, as a surprising and generous gesture, much more so for this was well before the time when it became the norm for a radio shows to interact with their listeners via email. Although I have lived for much of the time between then and now away from London, and have thus not followed his show closely, I have always had a particularly high opinion of the man, and an opinion which has heightened with each and every encounter of his show. He is, plainly, a true radical, never compromising his passion for music nor resting on his laurels when there is new music to be explored. It is plainly absurd that a DJ of his incredible originality and passion never made the leap to national radio (apart from the World Service), especially as he is a real trail-blazer in his field.

On the other hand, I have a suspicion that his charm might actually be best observed in the spartan surroundings of local radio; unlike other DJs of his calibre, Gillett has always worked alone, producing his shows as well as curating them; he is the only radio presenter I have ever heard who played more records at the wrong speed, or failed to turn the volume up more often, than the famously shambolic John Peel. Somehow it would hard be hard to imagine him in the plush surroundings of radios 2 or 3. Like Peel he trades not on his smooth delivery or consistency, but rather on his insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm. His ‘Radio Ping Pong’, where he and a weekly guest cheerfully bat records spontaneously back and forth between the two, is a typically vibrant feature. I particularly remember Damon Albarn guesting last year and flumoxing Gillett with a series of increasingly erratic and arcane choices. “Oh, you’ve got me confused now”, he eventually conceded.

Sadly, however, his health has deteriorated in recent months and after a two month absence from BBC London he recently announced that he would be broadcasting his last Saturday show at Womad last weekend, and the show itself, a 2 hour presentation from the Radio 3 stage, was a typically chaotic and rich show, and one that I witnessed from both angles, as I was there at the time and have listened back online, too. Of course it featured some great music – live sets from Titi Robin, Daby Balde and the exhilerating K’naan – and some unexpected silences and moments of confusion. The best moment of the night might have been watching the man singing along to Little Richard as he came out from the news, or just the big grin on his face evident throughout as he sat, centre stage, marvelling at the performances around him. Or the reaction of the crowd, who gave him a heartening reception on his final night.

But I think the best moment was the final, irrepressible performance of K’naan, the Somali-born Canadian rapper who Charlie Gillett pretty much single-handedly brought to the attention of the world-music community. K’naan, an impossibly coherent and dextrous rapper, delivered a four song salvo to close the show and demonstrated real affection for Gillett throughout. The photo below, flecked with rain drops, shows Gillett raising a thumbs up gesture to the young rapper, who ended the show with a heartfelt dedication to the DJ, which was warmly reciprocated by Charlie, who told the crowd how much he enjoyed the set, “What can I say, I’m passing on the baton”.


On Charlie’s website, amongst many nice tributes, there’s a lovely email from K’naan, who writes,

“Dear Charlie

I want you to know that, though I have been absent from your inbox, you have not been absent from my thoughts. I’ve been wanting to respond to you but have been meaning to find the proper moments. Occasion has beaten the moments to the punch. In the middle of some new inspiration from the Ethiopiques collections, writing some new material through some sample ideas, I wanted to thank you. For introducing me to something very pulling.

I spoke to a friend one evening, who’s from the U.K.. and just in remembrance I mentioned that I was sad over your health situation, which I pray gets better, your soul purer for it and your patience endures… after some explanation she uttered the name of it.. which was what you had written on your email… her mother had just gone through it and is better after some time… I really do hope you get better…

I enjoyed my time in your studio… On your site, I read your reflections on that evening… which were filled with continents of compliments… most of which are not in my geographic comprehension… though i am a dreamer enough to appreciate them..

thank you again.

K’naan”

Yeah, thanks Charlie. Thank god we can still hear you on your (thankfully less demanding) World Service show. Which is here.

RIP Linda Smith

Posted 28 Feb 2006 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

Really shocked and saddened to just hear that Linda Smith, easily one of the funniest and cleverest English comics, died today. What awful news. There’s going to be a special episode of the News Quiz on Radio 4 dedicated to her on Friday. Jeremy Hardy, who appeared on a lot of R4 shows with her, noted that she was “the wittiest and brightest person working on TV or radio panel games”.

“Working with someone so funny always reminded me of what comedy is all about. Her banter and flights of fancy were amazing,” Hardy added. “In a second, she could summon up the perfect word, the daftest English expression, the most appropriate literary quotation or line of movie dialogue, or the most savage put-down of any fraud, bully or tyrant in the news.”

news quiz highlights

Posted 18 Nov 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Politics

A good observation by the wonderful Jeremy Hardy on the interminable Tory leadership contest:

“Don’t you think it’s rather funny that people now take longer becoming Tory Leader than they actually do being Tory leader?”

Very good. From tonight’s New Quiz on R4.

currently listening to…

Posted 13 Oct 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Currently Listening, Music

John Peel day on Radio 1. Despite how much I loved his shows, and how much I respected him, I didn’t get caught up in the idea of today, and even thought I probably wouldn’t bother listening in. I’m glad I did. I tuned in at 7pm and since then I’ve heard Status Quo, some frenzied happy hardcore, The Specials and The Smiths in session, a blinding live take on Blindness by The Fall, and am currently listening to some live stuff which New Order recorded for the BBC yesterday – all Joy Division songs. Transmission and Atmosphere were just spellbinding, Barney shouting “Move back, move back” between verses, so it’s clearly getting pretty hectic. After Atmosphere he said “We don’t want anyone getting hurt. Least of all me”. Hooky, who wouldn’t be in trouble if caught in a scrum, cut him short. “Let’s do this one for Ian, lads”. Gulp.

They’re playing yodelling now. Five more hours to go. Fantastic.

This Sceptred Isle

Posted 27 Sep 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

The new series of Radio 4′s stunningly ambitious This Sceptred Isle, which now turns it’s attention to Empire, began yesterday. With over 90 episodes, it should be a rare and uniquely detailed treat. But how wondeful it would have been if the BBC had taken the opportunity to make it available as podcasts! That would be great. I realise that the tapes and CDs of This Sceptred Isle represent BBC Audiobooks most successful cash-cow and they’re anxious not to upset that, but I’d gladly pay a subscription for podcasted episodes of this, or they could just issue low bitrate versions which would be less likely to impinge upon sales. Ah well – just an idea and sadly one they’ve chosen not to pursue.

You can at least listen back to previous episodes online if, like me, getting to a radio at 3.45pm is sadly impossible – click here to listen to yesterday’s episode.

a song for peel

Posted 23 Sep 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Music

A new version of the Buzzcocks’ lovely ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ is being recorded as a tribute single to the late and even lovelier John Peel: artists contributing include The Futureheads, Hooky, Pete Shelley, Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey. I guess it’ll be a kind of ‘Perfect Day’ style amalgamation, and while it does sound like a faintly silly idea, it’s been organised by John’s son, Tom, and all proceeds will go to Amnesty International. It’ll be released on November 21, so buy it, I guess. If you’ve stopped laughing after Mark E Smith’s performance on Final Score a few days earlier, that is.

westway

Posted 25 May 2005 — by Dan
Category General

I feel a brief introduction is needed before I start. I’m Dan, a friend of Jonathan’s who has been charged to help keep this popular and entertaining blog running while Jonathan suns himself in the Eastern Mediterranean. I have a tough task master in Jonathan as his observations and criticisms as any seasoned Assistant blog reader will know are always sharp and accurate.

So not wanting to rock this reliable old boat too much I’ve opted to draw your attentions to an article in…. wait for it… today’s Guardian.

Oxford stage type Dominic Dromgoole today opted to draw the readers attention to the plight of the BBC’s most listened to Radio soap. No, not the polite and rurally informative Archers but the GP surgery based multicultural touch all bases drama Westway. Not familiar to most radio listeners in this country unless they happen to have a digital set, as it is played on the World Service (in the middle of the night on Radio 4). Insomniacs may well be familiar with it however. I include myself in the number that are. It’s clunky Shadows-esque theme music has woken me from near sleep on a number of occasions. Followed by the annoyance I feel at the cheery hammy acting (a tough feat to pull off on radio) which keeps me awake for the next 25 minutes as I seriously consider turning over to BBC Southern Counties Radio in the hope of some sleep inducing stale conversation and hoping that I don’t get Phil Collins. So I’m not a fan and admit to feeling pleased when first I heard of its demise. I thought the World Service would be the better for it.

I was however wrong. Not because Westways good. Dromgoole seems to think that just by the virtue of it being Multicultural and being written by ‘bright young talent’ a great radio show is made. It isn’t (think very internationalist daytime soap set in a London GP’s surgery and you’re someway there). In my opinion its awful but apparently according to Mr Dromgoole 35 Million people around the world disagree and I see no cause to argue.

He also raises concerns about the gradual creep of the World Service turning into a 24 Hour News service. I share his worries, there’s no need for another, even with the reach that the WS has. The BBC’s bland and unloved News 24 service shows the pointlessness of a public broadcaster going down this avenue. The World Service is strong when it is varied in output and more loved around the world for it. It is a hugely important source of not just news but information and entertainment to people of all backgrounds, languages and nations. Please BBC don’t cave into the latest trend statistics of the Islington media set on this one, oh and please keep Westway.

[blogging by Dan]

podcast post number one

Posted 17 May 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

I woke up this morning to the sound of a clearly embarrased Today presenter trying to explain to the Radio 4 audience what a podcast was, seeing as they are now offering the 8.10am Today Interview as a daily podcast. One sensed brows furrowing across the home counties.

Nonetheless, the BBC are slowly, though enthusiastically, extending their online service into the world of podcasting, although they seem to be a bit confused about whether the service just consists of making mp3s available to download or not. For those who aren’t yet up to speed, it’s more complicated than that. If you want to get the best of podcasting you’ll need to download a piece of software which will seek out (via RSS feeds) and download programmes for you. I use iPodder, although there’s an exhaustive list of alternatives here. Then you subscribe to the programmes which interest you by loading in the relavent URL. For the Today interview, the address is:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/downloadtrial/radio4/today/rss.xml

There are plenty of other shows worth a try, obviously not just restricted to the BBC, but for more by the beeb there’s a list of programmes currently available here – not all have full RSS access so aren’t strictly podcasts, but those that are offer a really valuable service; content when and where you want it. And iPodder interacts directly with iTunes and my iPod, so the next time I plug it in to my computer the new programmes will be transferred over automatically.

If you’ve not tried podcasting yet, I recommend you give it a go – and I also recommend you consider producing your own shows. It’s incredibly easy, and very exciting. Peter Day, the BBC presenter, writes that “anyone can internet-cast, anyone can distribute their words or their movies”. He goes on to say that “all the assumptions I have made in 30 years of being a radio practitioner are suddenly up for grabs.”

old peel shows

Posted 07 May 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Music

Ah, link of the year so far courtesy of Pete Ashton’s linklog – he’s spotted that there is, somewhat unexpectedly, a whole arena of folk sharing mp3s of old John Peel radio shows, which is a lovely idea. I had it vaguely in mind that I might have some old cassettes of his programmes lying around somewhere which I ought to rescue and copy, but I never found any (or didn’t look hard enough, perhaps). Far easier, then, to download some of the shows available here, on Teenage Kicks 3000, and remind myself how good his programmes were.

Thanks to the ever reliable Pete for the link. Pete’s blog, can I just say, is pretty unambiguously the best thing going on the web right now. Take a look – here.

an asbo for slimzee

Posted 19 Apr 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Music

just seen this over on Chantelle Fiddy’s blog:

“A pirate DJ who ran an illegal radio station from the top of a tower block has been banned from every roof across an entire borough. Dean Fullman, 23, otherwise known as DJ Slimzee, has received what is thought to be the first antisocial behaviour order of its kind for his Rinse FM broadcasts. The garage station, among the most popular in the pirate scene, helped launch the career of Mercury Prizewinner Dizzee Rascal. But council officers and the broadcasting authorities say such stations steal electricity, damage buildings and interfere with other radio signals – including those of emergency services. After a year-long hunt by Ofcom and Tower Hamlets officers, Fullman was caught by surveillance cameras at Shearsmith House in Stepney. Fullman, of Gernon Road, Bow, received a three-year conditional discharge at Thames Magistrates Court after admitting operating a pirate radio station and causing £10,000 of damage by erecting broadcast equipment. The court agreed to Tower Hamlets council’s request for an Asbo prohibiting him for five years from entering any roof of any building over four storeys without permission.”

my big head

Posted 17 Jan 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Assistant, General, Music

The irrepressible Fuji Heavy made their radio debut on BBC Southern Counties last night where – as winners of last week’s demo review panel, garnering praise from no less than Tim Booth, who admired their un-self-conscious lack of choruses – they were entitled to ten minutes chaotic airtime being interviewed by Phil Jackson. Me and Vic tuned in at home.

Phil Jackson comes across as a nice enough chap – he’s enthusiastic and sincere and a little conventional, and I’m not sure he was quite sure what to expect from the band. On the one hand, they won last week’s show with their demo of ‘Sunburn’, which sounds especially raw on the radio, simmering with threatened malice. On the other, the band apparently turned up to the studio dressed in suits to a man; and I know Ali and Andy (who are the Assistant rhythm section, after all) to be exceptionally well-mannered young men, the kind you’d be more than happy to marry your daughter off to.

On air they veered between amiability and implied mischief. Jackson was audibly taken aback when Keith introduced himself as ‘The Brown Bomber’. The band gave quite a good account, painting themselves as spirited rather than intense, suggesting imminent success not because of their drive but because…. things looked like working out that way. Me and Vic craned in towards the radio waiting for Andy to speak but events conspired to keep him silent, meaning that Assistant are gonna have to enter this demo clash ourselves so that we can get that man back on air. It’s his destiny.

Vic suggested that if I got on the radio they’d have great difficulty ever getting me to shut up. For the rest of the evening, while I cooked and did chores, I interviewed myself excitedly, finding myself an engaging – if talkative – interviewee. Assistant, I remember saying, operate out of a sense of frustration that English guitar rock is so depressingly male. All our peers, I said, grandly, are excessively masculine or excessively cherubic.

I wiped dry a plate, feeling pleased.

links for a new year / jon ronson

Posted 04 Jan 2005 — by Jonathan
Category Technology

A couple of slightly interesting links courtesy of New Links:

New Apple Mac forthcoming: According to Think Secret, “With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Macworld Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499″. Outrageously cheap on the current exchange rates, obviously, although Apple will presumably screw UK buyers on prices like they did with the iPod. Ah well. Interesting anyway, kinda.

And Torrent Watcher looks useful for people who – unlike me – have figured out the whole bit torrent stuff. Sam, we talked about this a while back, this might help!

And a couple of tips from me: the marvellous Jon Ronson is now blogging happily away, and his thoughts can be accessed directly by clicking here. Great stuff.

“I’m excited about 2005. 2005 is the year they’ll invent floating cars and walkways in the sky. I think we should call them SkyWalks.”

And if you’ve missed his radio show recently and want to catch up, you can download previous episodes as MP3 files from this public-spirited individual. The one on being invisible is particularly good. The most recent episode is always available on the radio 4 ‘listen again’ page for a week after broadcast, of course.

And if you like that, my last link of the day is to the homepage for ‘This American Life’, a US radio show which combines Ronson’s gently humourous journalistic style with the community feel which John Peel fostered on his Home Truths. The shows are lovely, and well worth an hour of your time, if you’ve got it to spare.