Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Radio, Radio!

RA have just published a feature called "Community Radio." While the article in itself is an interesting appraisal of the non-commercial side of dance music on the airwaves, it doesn't come close to describing the community radio scene I was involved in for over six years, five and a half of them as a show presenter, engineer and selector. I'm aware of how pedantic this is beginning to sound, but I'm not about to let rip with negativity. You've got to have the right conditions though, and live in an environment receptive to such ventures. Sadly, despite the best efforts of all who participated in it, 209 Radio came to an untimely end just over a year ago. Maybe it was better that way.

In any case, the reason this blog was set up, initially at least, was to accompany the show and although the name has changed to Cacophonous Bling, the relics of the radio are evident in the url. I have nothing but wonderful memories of my time presenting but, if I'm honest, things could have been so much better. Apart from a few paid employees everyone was a volunteer and, as well as show organisation, presenting etc, we were expected to also duty manage other shows. This is something that myself and a relatively small number of other presenters complied with, but which the vast majority didn't. In short, it wasn't all about turning up with a bunch of tracks and playing them.

So while it's great to hear anything spontaneous, interesting, passionate and specialist on the radio, the situations described in the RA article are a million miles away from anything I experienced. We broadcast online from February 2003 up to February 2010, and on FM in Cambridge from October 2007. I fondly remember every moment, but I also can't forget what an uphill struggle it was to put shows on, (they had to be broadcast with a Duty Manager present, and it was often not until the last minute that one turned up, often the management as no one else would volunteer), as well as keep the station afloat. Radio is still my preferred medium of choice, but musically it's never been universally listenable; and while they are much appreciated, Anja Schnieder, Tim Sweeney, etc have got it easy.

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