me and my radio

Me and My Radio (Updated 04/2002)

A quick word about this article, it was written as I remember in 1997. Quite a long time ago, but not that long ago, just enough for me to vaguely remember most of it. A few points - I still love the radio; I haven't listened to Mark Radcliffe for years; the favourite songs and artistes still stands but expanded by about tenfold in a multi-genre weird taste way; I still have a vinyl addiction I can't afford.

There has always been a certain mystique about the radio that I really enjoy. I really don't know what state I'd be in if I'd never got my first radio at the age of ten. Prior to that I had a regular dose of Piccadilly 1152 when in the car and whatever else my dad was into at the time, which usually meant some classic Carpenters and Simon and Garfunkel.

At nights I'd listen to James Stannage do his jokes hour before dosing off. My morning wake up call was at seven so I'd usually be knackered for school.

When Radio 5 started up around 1988/89 five nightly shows between the hours of ten and twelve were my first encounters with the best programmes on the wireless. 'Rave' from Wales, 'Earshot' from Scotland, 'Hit the North' in Manchester, Johnny Vaughan in Birmingham and another show meant the telly was taking second place in my life.

It was also around this time that my schoolmates started getting into Manchester Indie scene. Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and The Happy Mondays featuring in their lives, when I had a bunch of obscure DJ's. I have to say this period never crossed my path at all. I was more interested in the Girl at the Bus Stop.

It was while listening to Mark Radcliffe one night that I heard a song which got me into looking for records. 'Little Hands' by the BMX Bandits was so good that I knew I had to have it. So instead of buying the damm things I did some illegal home tapings instead. Sadly, these archives of nasty pop tunes and obscure indie bands have been lost. Lack of financial support around this time and the fact I couldn't be arsed getting a paper round like everyone else, meant I just re-recorded over my tapes again and again. What did survive was an interview with Mark E. Smith by Scrawn.

When Radio 5 added the 'Live' bit to it's name, I listened to some bloke on Virgin Radio who used to get his arse kicked for swearing and phoning tinpot local radio stations telling them they were shit. It was not until I rediscovered Mark on Radio 1, that I got back to listening to some decent music. It was 1994 and and College was the worst pile of toss that I'd encountered. Having opted to go to college rather than staying on at the Sixth Form meant that I'd lose half my friends and my education was a shambles from then on. I must have spent more hours down Manchester looking at records, games and at the cinema than in lessons.

Grabbing onto the Costly Disc revolution after it had been going in full swing for years, armed with my concessionary bus pass and a cash card, the Vinyl and Corn Exchange turned into a heaven for me. All those rejected records by the BMX Bandits and other Glaswegian bands. Doing miniscual amounts of revision revision in the arts section of Manchester Library just about got me through my A-Level years.

Your mates gathering off big style to University meant only one thing, blowing my entire Computing Degree grant on records. Seems stupid now, and it was then. I had to get a part-time job selling fags and booze to survive. Anyway the music was a therapy to the crap Uni life I was experiencing. Lets face it, when your new found friends quit the course after a few months it's less than encouraging for you to continue. So Mark and Lard at nights was the perfect cure to it all.

I entered the second year of University in a different frame of mind. Basically I'd rather leave now than experience the kind of bollocks I had to endure in the first year. This was when I became a live music addict. Gigs that were crap, some not too bad, and some bordering on the okay. Going to a small underground tavern watching slock on a Friday night used to be a daunting prospect but became a fun way to welcome in the weekend.

Mark and Lard moving to shifts meant less new musical encounters for me, Actually I did get into Spacemaid and Rialto from the show. John Peel never was the same as Scrawn and so it was more gigs and less pub visits. Easy on the ears but less than kind to the pocket. The afternoon slot announced Spearmint and Showgirls to me but you know it's been a bad year when you're Costly disc machine breaks and the records stylus wears out. Back to good old tapes.

What next? After another year of listening to the afternoon show whilst working on my placement year, I'll be back for more Uni life. It's going to be tough, as I can't decide on whether to go back or to sack the course right off and then listen to the wireless, as I owe my life to it.

Some of my favourite songs and Artistes.

  • BMX Bandits - Serious Drugs, Little Hands, It hasn't Ended
  • Madder Rose - The Love You Save
  • Out Of My Hair - In The Groove Again
  • Martin Rev - I Heard Your Name
  • Divine Comedy - Songs Of Love
  • Rialto - Monday 5:19
  • Kinks - Waterloo Sunset
  • Teenage Fanclub - Hang On, Verisimilitude, Four Strong Winds
  • Kathy McCarthy - Living Life
  • Jonathan Richmond - Ice Cream Man
  • Radiohead - Creep, No Surprises
  • St Etienne - You're In A Bad Way
  • Belle & Sebastian - Lazy Line Painter Jane
  • Inspiral Carpets - This Is How It Feels
  • Melons - Eskimo
  • Nick Cave - Into My Arms
  • Frank and Walters - After All
  • Eels - Fucker
  • Luna - Hedgehog
  • Drugstore - Injection
  • Frente - Accidentally Kelly Street
  • Speedboat - Satellite Girl, Luv
  • Oasis - Masterplan
  • Mazzy Star - Flowers In December
  • Superstar - Breathing Space
  • Helen Love
  • Arab Strap
  • Catchers - Beauty No.3, Cotton Dress
Actually I like all of the records I buy so I just can't be bothered to list them all here. However I think the above songs have some sort of special significance to me.

Update to this 04/2002

It's been a fair number of years since I updated this page and only recently enjoyed reading it again. It reads like I'm a different person yet I know it was me who wrote it. I still love the radio and what it offers so let's continue as far as I can recall.

Okay I did stick with the course, it was silly not too. The radio was still a big part in my life for the final year with regular doses of Mark Radcliffe. Although his afternoon slot was becoming a pain as I was either in lessons or had plenty of typical studenty things to do like go down the pub. In the end I was taping the best bits of the show excluding nearly all the music. Listening to alternative programmes like John Peel and Steve Lamacq kept me up to date with latest goings on in the alternative music world. It wasn't adequate, and I became addicted to buying records that looked liked they would be great. I discovered a lot of quality music that way.

I had a lot of other things on my mind with the end of Univerisity coming quick. I made up my mind and got myself a job in the US for the summer. Life in the US was great, lots of hard work, great weather (even though when I went to Aspen, they said it was the wettest summer ever), plenty of fun inbetween. However the music was dire and absolutely tripe, more specifically my once life saver - the radio became something I hated. I now know why Americans watch more TV, as the radio is dreadful. There were no decent radio stations at all, only odd good songs would pop up but there was no character to the whole thing. Maybe I was expecting too much and wanted to broaden my listening horizons. In the end I survived on my 5 compilation tapes I'd made for the journey. Good job too. Although I did discover cooking and contemplation of life.

Travelling around the States after my work placement was over the radio was that much more inspiring although a lot of 'oldies' stations were welcomed, as were the weird problem shows. It was not until I reached New York and discovered WFMU that my faith in the wireless was restored. Full of weird shows throughout the day and an eclectic music selection. I came back to the England with renewed optimism. By now though the radio was becoming less and less part of my life as work duties took over and I had an early mid-life crisis breaking down. I've gradually got back into the radio after I started my record label and waited in anticipation that he would play some of the releases I've sent him. He did a few times and I was happy. Listening to the Festive 50 in 2001 on Christmas Day and hearing one of my releases getting in at no 50 made me almost have a heart attack.

I recently brought myself a Digital Radio, to get everything in crystal clearness. It was a special limited offer to get more people to listen to the radio and get the benefits of digital everything. I had to rewire the damn thing as they didn't bothered to put any outputs on it, but it was worth the effort. There are a lot of new stations for whatever mood you are in, a bit gimmicky but still available. My new favourite is spoken word station 'Oneword'. DAB is not quite a new listening experience but a step forward for the humble radio to reclaim the stage. Maybe I shall get a picture of a radio tattooed on my arse someday.