Sunday, 13 December 2015

Beeb big boys in Brum! For a bit anyway...

It's been a fun week

The BBC came to town; about time too. Well, yes, I know there is a much shrunken BBC here already, but this was important national network activity. So a load of network types swept in to be all networky and relevant at the BBC Music Awards on Thursday afternoon at the NEC, oops, sorry, Genting Arena. 

They made a big of a fuss about this. I'm glad they did, and glad they're coming back in 2016, but, really, this is a wannabe version of the Brits: international acts there to shift product in an identikit concrete hangar. Who gets most out of this? More on this whole process later. 

The upside of the week was a lot of local action. And as well as the music events, some old radio hands got gongs. Nice.

The Radio Academy Hall Of Fame

Just before Music Awards kicked off, the Radio Academy held its yearly Hall of Fame bash. The event was a lot of fun, with lots of old pals to catch up with. Five veterans were inducted, including an an old BRMB colleague, Tony Butler, now in his eighties. It was a real pleasure to see brilliant people like Victoria Derbyshire, who started in the newsroom at BRMB, Nihal and Frank Skinner get their due rewards. Pete Tong did too, but he was in LA. Of course. 

This all took place out at the NEC, so I wound up heading back to the station in the rain, passing damp pop fans on their way in. The Radio Academy event, with its Midlands focus, just would not have happened had the Music Awards not been in Birmingham, so I am grudgingly grateful.

Grudgingly? I'm afraid so. At this kind of media gathering there is always, always, ALWAYS some berk who stands up and cracks jokes about the local accent. Naturally, they always get it wrong. In Glasgow or Newcastle, he'd have been bottled off, and rightly so. But, hey, he was up from London, going back that night, so no worries. Too many London media types just love to do a bad version of a Birmingham accent when they're in town. It's tedious and smug. We're a bit too nice about this sort of thing.

The Introducing gigs

The rest of the week saw some cracking gigs themed to each of the main BBC pop networks. Artists were chosen mainly through the BBC Introducing filter, and the event did a lot of bands and solo acts a power of good.

Clear winners were God Damn, already mightily successful and on their way; Ekkah, who continue to very elegantly and funkily tear up trees; Call Me Unique, whose latest single has moved from airplay at 1Xtra to Radio 1 itself; Boat To Row, who not only acquitted themselves beautifully by all accounts, but even got a small interview slot on Midlands Today; Chris Tye, who played an exquisite set for Radio 2, and Hannah Brown, on the same bill and featured on this blog two weeks back, who simply knocked it out of the park fronting a string bass and percussion line-up.

I was at the Tye/Brown gig (Tom Aspaul headlined), and it was amusing to see how new tech has changed mobile recording. The Beeb had set up a decent set of mics in the main room at the Hare And Hounds, and ran lines through to the smaller upstairs venue, serving as a green room. 

At the table where you normally pay your way in, a beeb techie sat, headphones on, mixing live from a junction box, feeding a multi-track recorder running on a mac. The days of 48-channel mobile recording trucks are long gone.

For this, much thanks

All told there was a lot to be grateful for. All the acts got to play to decent crowds, mixes of fans and new converts. I've been at sweaty nights at the Hare before, but this was, literally, steaming – and it was for a Radio 2 gig. Jo Whiley, who I really like as a DJ, did the right thing as a compere. Well, apart from remarking on how much Brum has changed in amazed tones. We have shops now! Who knew? Come back up, Jo - we'll show you around. 

And yet, and yet, and yet. One small point. You knew there was going to be one, didn't you? 

I love the fact that local acts got a bit of recognition. It's wonderful that Call Me Unique is now on Radio 1; it's brilliant that Boat To Row got an interview on Midlands Today.

But all these acts were just as great last week, and they will be just as great next week, long after the Beeb have packed up and headed south. It's such a shame that it takes a once in a blue moon visit from the networks for these acts to get the recognition they deserve.

Midlands Network shows. No-brainer

I've said this before: the BBC needs network shows in the Midlands. That would be the conduit to pass recommendations on from local experts on the ground, up to the big boys at the network. Who knows, Radio 1 might even step back from splurging all its airtime on major record label product

On this, there's even a petition on Radios 1 and 2 going round. I'm not saying you should sign it, but it's definitely an interesting read

There's always been too cosy a relationship between mainstream radio and the record industry, and it definitely does not benefit new talent, especially in the regions. I've never understood this. I've always thought that music radio should place its listeners and the musicians who provide its content above the commercial needs of the music industry. Music radio's not here to make hits, even though it can do exactly that. 

This is a very complex area, and now thrown into sharper focus in the light of artists who completely bypass conventional record companies on their way to online audience success. Lady Leshurr is a perfect example. 

See more music and radio and broadcasting posts on Radio To Go


Radio To Go on Brum Radio 

Mon 14 at 10pm: In The Studio with David Campbell
Tues 15 at 5pm: Big Wheels: Adam Regan part 1
Wed 16 at 11pm: Live & Local: Chris Cleverley at Ort Cafe
Fri 18 at 4 pm: Muso Takeover with Vix (Fuzzbox)
Brum Radio is running test transmissions at present. After their first transmission, these will be available on listen-again.


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