Is there anybody out there?
My BBC training and radio head tells me that as a presenter you should talk to one person - imagine them in their house or car with just you for company. It is a conversation and a one-to-one relationship. This is very different from being onstage and talking to hundreds or more at once. Quite a lot of people post FaceBook comment or comments on Mixcloud about the show, but now and then at a gig somebody will come up to me and say how much they enjoy the show. I’m not sure why, but this always takes me aback a little - maybe they were not the person I was imagining when talking to the microphone!
It is gratifying to know that so many people do listen though, as it would be entirely narcissistic for a broadcaster to just talk and play music to themselves. Since its inception the figures for Blues And Roots Radio have become very impressive and it’s possible for my programme to have a worldwide audience, something that before Internet radio would never have been possible. I guess the BBC World Service would have the same global reach, but it is amazing that we are now able to broadcast around the world and be received wherever there is an Internet or 4G signal. I know there is a small collective in Calcutta that sit on their balcony with tea having a listen, in Australia I am the overnight host, whilst in Canada I am a breakfast DJ. I always think of it as being late night, as I do the show under the dim light of an angle poise lamp, and the brighter iMac display.
One of the joys of doing the show, and indeed of it being broadcast on BRR Essential is that nobody tells me what to play, no sponsors to mention, no commercial breaks - just make the show exactly an hour. This is almost unheard of nowadays where terrestrial radio is tightly formatted as never before. There are exceptions of course, and for 7 years I was the producer of the Paul Jones Blues Show on BBC Radio 2; anything I know about presenting and curating the music I have learnt from him and he has been most encouraging to me since starting my show in 2014.
This month he bows out from the BBC after over 30 years and it feels truly like the end of
an era. Paul wanted to ‘simplify his life’ and will now concentrate on his live appearances - touring with The Blues Band, The Mannfreds, his duo with Dave Kelly, and his Christian work with his wife, Fiona. The new Radio 2 show (with Cerys Matthews) will no doubt be good as she is an excellent broadcaster and roots music enthusiast, but it will not be quite the same. Paul Jones and I have both been nominated as Broadcaster of the Year in the UK Blues Awards - the voting is all done and at the ceremony on 19th May I look forward to saluting Paul Jones for winning this category: this is my prediction and indeed
it would be a fitting tribute from the blues and roots music fans of Britain.