DJ culture

Chris is a DJ.  God, Annie is a superstar DJ.  Both are on the radio.  James on the other hand is a podcast presenter (although he is on the radio too).  Krishnan is a podcast presenter (and on the telly).

Whatever the difference is between radio DJs and podcast presenters, podcasts provide an excellent long-form format to slow things down, and really get under the skin of a different set of issues, at a different pace.

Hence, I thought it well worth sharing these two excellent episodes of particular podcast series, which provide an environment, free of time pressures for two very different radio DJs to explore and reflect on their craft, their motivations, and on how they, their professional spaces, and the world around them have changed/developed in recent years.

The first is “Full Disclosure With James O’Brien” – in this particular episode, featuring Chris Moyles, who does the breakfast show on Radio X.

You can listen to the podcast via this link here:

The second is “Ways To Change The World With Krishnan Guru-Murthy” – in this particular episode featuring an interview with Annie Mac, who can be heard on BBC Radio 1.

You can listen/watch the podcast interview here:

I love radio – have been fascinated with it ever since I was a child.  Everything about it.  Jingles.  Voices.  Music policy.  The intimate bond the medium  can create with the listener.  The big moments radio can cover fast, whether news or popular culture.  The weird and wonderful things it can capture in a spirit of sheer delight and fascination, often in more detail than TV can hope to.   The ability for DJs to signpost new music with a verve that algorithms simply can’t compete with.  And the sheer scale and simplicity of the creative potential of the medium.

I managed to get work experience at my local radio station, Radio 210 in Reading, when I was still a student.  Like some of my mates at university, I spent hours presenting shows on the university radio station.  When I grew up, I never got to be a DJ (Ha! The very idea!), but I ended up working in PR, for much of that time, in the radio industry.

I was privileged to work closely with Chris Moyles for around four years as his PR when he first came to BBC Radio 1 back in 1997, before he got to the dizzy heights of breakfast, still very much in the pre- social media age.  In this podcast interview, he discusses at length that love of the radio craft which I got to see at close quarters.

He also discusses his attitude towards some of the more aggressive or intrusive sections of the tabloid press.  His frustration is clear.  We are all embarked on professional and personal journeys – and Chris is very open about his.  I was able to chart my own journey while listening, and reflect about a lot of the lessons, and directions taken.

Me in younger days, as Radio 1 PR, on the Roadshow stage.

It was a high pressure, high stakes environment when it came to PR and BBC Radio 1, which was going through a period of huge change.  It was always a little easier for me to stand back, and see this as a job, but listening to Chris in this podcast, it underlines how, in any situation which comes under media or public scrutiny, real people’s lives and relationships are at stake, not just academic scenarios.  While we worked together, Chris wasn’t on the breakfast show, so not under the main radar target of those tabloids, but those frustrations with what could be seen as ‘lazy’ or intrusive journalism were already there.  James O’Brien is able to demonstrate some empathy, having been on the showbiz desk at the Daily Express around the same time.  And what a professional journey he has had!

It’s easy to forget that we are all always growing – and for me, this was a joy to listen to the podcast in this respect.  Personally and professionally reflective.  I learnt a lot about Chris – but also about myself.

DJ culture:

The same was true for Annie Mac‘s interview.  I never got to work with Annie Mac – she joined BBC Radio 1 as a broadcast assistant after I had left, but soon rose up the ranks, and crossed over from the production floor, to become a DJ.  Both of the podcasts are great for demonstrating the power of reflection in opening up lessons from the tracks across our lifelines.  Annie touches on the power of ‘place‘ and ‘space’, and how it has diminished in fostering culture, for example, when it comes to clubbing.  There’s also much to think about around bigger questions to do with gender, and power too.

Whether you are a regular radio listener or not, I thoroughly recommend you give these two podcast episodes a listen.

I loved having that opportunity to work with Chris Moyles.  That obsession with the medium of radio has never left me, and I cherished being able to promote someone who I knew shared that obsession.

Today, my obsession expresses itself is so many different ways throughout the week, listening, for example to:- Janice Long on BBC Radio Wales (Mon-Thurs, 7.00-10.00pm); Late Junction‘ on BBC Radio 3 (Tues-Thurs, 11.00pm-12.30am); Phil Taggart on BBC Radio 1 (Sun, 7.00-9.00pm); Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2 (Mon-Thurs, 7.00-9.00pm); Rachel Burden & Nicky Campbell; and Emma Barnett on BBC 5Live (Mon-Fri, 6.00-10.00am, & 10.00am-1.00pm respectively); James O’Brien, Shelagh Fogarty, Eddie Mair, Iain Dale and Nick Abbot on LBC; Lynn Parsons on Magic Radio (weeknights, 8.00pm-midnight); so much of what’s on BBC Radio 4 (but especially Ritula Shah!) and BBC 6Music; and some of what is left of local radio, although that is increasingly difficult (where I live, that means Eagle Radio, and BBC Sussex & Surrey – which covers my part of NE Hampshire).  I just wish I could shake off a lot of the jingles, voiceovers and awful adverts still trapped inside my head from my childhood! (“You could win a holiday for two!”).

Podcasts – sound?

It’s no surprise I struggle to find enough time to listen to podcasts because of the amount of radio I am already listening to – although it’s great there is so much content out there, and it’s never been easier to make yourself heard.  Back in 2017, I spent 18 months pulling together a community podcast network locally, Sound Vault.  There are so many formats – we had an 11 year old who managed to bag an interview with Jeremy Hunt MP; a children’s storyteller producing a podcast who had never used a computer before – and then there was sound design too.

One of the strongest ‘shows’ we delivered was a surreal comedy with ambient soundtrack, called “An Audio Listener’s Guide to Adequate Hearing” by Tom Garrett.  I will leave with a link below, so you can listen to an episode.  As well as reflecting more, it has to be about listening a little more.


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