Saturday 10 November 2018

The Saturday List #194 - My top ten radio shows of all time

Todays list is no 194. People of a certain age will know that 194 metres medium wave is the frequency on which Capital Radio was broadcast. This got me thinking about radio shows. I've always been a lover of the radio. It has been where I've first heard around 80% of the music I love (maybe 10% from friends recommendations and 10% from seeing bands live supporting other bands etc). It has informed me and entertained me. I guess that I'd be a very different person without radio. So here are my favourite shows in a sort of chronological order.

1.Big L - Radio London (Pirate Station). The first radio I remember was Radio London and the Pirate Stations. I don't remember much about it, other than it was always on our radio when I was a kid. It was the station that played Pop music and the idea of Pirates broadcasting music thrilled me. I always imagined that they were on a sailship drinking rum, whilst spinning The Hollies and Gerry and The Pacemakers. When the pirates closed down, my sisters were not keen on Radio 1, so we didn't listen to much radio for a while. Although people usually mention Radio Caroline when talking about Pirates, in our house it was "The Big L".

2. The Crisis Program - Radio London. Back in the heady days of Ted Heath, we had the three day week, power cuts and the country was literally falling to bits. To "Save Energy" the TV channels all stopped broadcasting at 10pm. I responded by spending my pocket money on a little blue Philips  radio. At bedtime I'd put this on and search for things to listen to. I came across The Crisis Program, hosted by Robbie Vincent. It was London's first phone in. Regular callers had names like Slippery Sid and Porky George. It was mildly anarchic and highly entertaining. When the crisis abated, it morphed into Robbie Vincents Late Night London. There wasn't much music played on the show, but as it was pre punk days, I wasn't especially bothered.

3. The Kenny Everett Show - Capital Radio. Kenny Everett was the high anarchist of Radio in the 1970s. His show on Capital radio was hilarious. He invented weird and wonderful characters such as Captain Kremmen. I religiously listened to Everett, until one day he played "Oh Bondage Up Yours" by X-Ray Specs and made some highly disparaging comments about the band and punk in general. I concluded that he wasn't really an anarchist and never listened again. I'd assumed that he'd been prevented from playing Punk and when I found out he hated it, I simply felt no kinship at all anymore.

4. John Peel - Radio 1. There is probably no more important figure in UK radio than John Peel. Without him, I dread to think what the UK music scene would have been like. He introduced me to The Fall, Wire, Reggae music and even Country Joe and The Fish! I can remember him playing "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" by the Fish after a Buzzcocks track. I menioned this to my eldest brother Laurie, who said "Yeah it's on Electric Music for the Mind and Body, great album, I'll lend it to you". Thats how we did music in the 1970's. By 1980, Peel had moved on from Punk and I'd moved on from his show. I didn't feel that he was a traitor, as many punks did. I just didn't enjoy his post punk selections quite as much.

5. Dave Rodigan. Radio London Roots Rockers/Capital Radio. Dave Rodigan was the voice of London Reggae.  Rodigan was the only reason I ever tuned into Capital Radio after I fell out of love with Kenny Everett.

6. Garry Crowley - BBC Radio London/GLR etc. Garry Crowley took over the Peel mantle of being the voice of new music. In the early 1990's I was managing a band called The Sway. Garry Crowley was the first DJ to play them. He introduced me to the likes of Suede, Oasis and Blur. His show is still brilliant, with BBC Introducing.

7. Danny Baker - BBC Radio London/GLR. The Danny Baker show was in many ways what I thought Kenny Everett was in the 70's. A complete anarchist. When it was announced that his show was being chopped, he spent a whole show slagging off the BBC Radio London management. It was the most memorable show I've ever heard. However, I remember shows such as his hour long interview with Steve Miller with more affection. Unlike most shows where guests were simply wheeled in for five minutes, a whole hour just chatting with a true music legend about left field stuff was fascinating. I didn't know Steve Miller was an architect or that his godfather was the legendary Les Paul before. Baker also developed some great personalities as side kicks, notably Amy Lame who is now the London Nightime Tsar.

8. Robert Elms - BBC Radio London. Elms is probably my all time favourite presenter. His show is intelligent and covers all manner of aspects of London life. Wheras Danny Baker plays it for laughs, Elms  plays for grown ups. Subjects such as architecture, transport, food, drink are covered. Every week there is a listed Londoner, who gets a long slot. I think that there are few aspects of London life he's not covered in the time I've listened to the show. He also plays an interesting selection of music. if you want an intelligent radio show, Elms is the man.

9. Jo Good - BBC Radio London. I love Jo Good. Her show is truly bonkers. She invented the genre of Radio about dogs. She is gossipy and indescrete. Sometimes her interviews go horribly wrong, but that simply enhances her legend.

10. Five Live Football. I can't leave the list without a mention of Five Live Football. For anyone such as me who loves football and drives a lot of the time, this is essential. My view is that Five Live Football is the best coverage. Football on the Radio is a must. I especially love the post match phone in. One of my fondest memories was a Leicester fan ringing in when it became clear Leicester may actually win the league. I was driving back with my son from a Watford match and he was so emotional. I think it was the first time my son actually appreciated why I love live radio.

Don't forget to make a date in your diary for The Barnet Eye Xmas party and Community awards at Mill Hill Rugby Club on Fri 14th December at Mill Hill Rugby Club at 8pm. We really hope you can come down and say Hi. Admission is Free.


Chris the Voice said...

Kenny Everett was my #1. I wasn't into the punk movement so his dislike of that genre didn't worry me ... in fact, he was a huge Beach Boys fan.

Could I also mention Graham Dene? He was the Breakfast Show host on Capital for a few years. He was a Millhillian ... we used to meet at the (long gone) record shop at the top of the Broadway every Saturday morning to check out the new '45 releases. He still has an "oldies" show on Saturday afternoons on BBC Surrey and BBC Sussex.

Rog T said...

Great memories Chris, Was that the record shop on the site of what is now The Bridge. I used to be friends with Neil, the manager. He was a big soul music nut, but he was good at his job and always got the weird and wonderful punk vinyl in for me. I didn't know Grahame Dene was a Mill Hillian. Thanks for sharing