Read this: Media Masters - Jeff Smith
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Media Masters with Paul Blanchard
welcome to media Masters series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game to down here in the studio's of BBC 6 music and joined by Jeff Smith the man who was chosen attracts the we've been listening to on the radio for years now head of music for BBC Radio 2 and 6 just spent most of his career in music previously as head of music for Radio 1 in the late 90s and has since worked at Capital FM and that's to his current role is Task with shipping music policy for to the BBC's most popular radio stations as the technology of how we listen to music is transforming Jeff thank you be joining me pleasure Jeff Radio 2 has a phenomenal 15 million listeners.
How do you ensure that the music selection appeals to such a vast audience? It's a challenge obviously to keep that to appeal across the board at with those listeners, but it appears to be working as you say were attracting that 15.41 million listeners every week, and I think it's because I try to keep a balance of the best of the best new music with classic tracks from.
A whole range of errors way back to the to the 60s and 70s so I think it's that challenge you just making that mix work and making it work in terms of daytime and not only just keeping a kind of cool audience happy, but appealing to a new audience.
He would find that exciting and fun to listen to do you do your job then? What's the typical week so typical of the week for me is very much the relationship with the music industry, so I'm kind of both inward and outward facing for the BBC in terms of music so can of managing the music that comes into the radio station and then managing how that music appears on the station and with each station.
It's a very different process from Radio 2 and how 6 Music work, so we could get to that in detail later, but my specific week is Monday Tuesday 10th to be a very busy partly because at that point.
We just Gathering in all the information for new releases and its tracks coming to the radio stations and actually can working at what we're going to be doing Tuesday Monday
3 meeting with a record industry people plugins etc and talking about the new musicals coming with Wednesday being the kind of the key point for Radio 2 when we have our music playlist meeting and Tuesday when we have our 6 music playlist meeting and that's the point when Radio 2 age, are the meeting 12 people round the table.
That's one hour 1/2 hours of debate and discussion very enjoyable to about music because it's a great job to be able to just talk about music all the time and that gets to meet about Wednesday Thursday Friday get the chance to Canada maybe look at kind of our broader.
Why do projects that's the point when I'm doing things like recently.
We've had biggest weekend.
We have Hyde Park every year at Radio 2.
We have 6 Music Live at six music a lot of those extra events that leads to a Beauty Supply to the blue sky thinking and a bit of thought Thursdays and Fridays seem to move towards that incredible sense of responsibility deciding these playlist when you've got you've got to balance lots of competing interests that over there.
People that by virtue of choosing what goes on the playlist you having to choose what doesn't go on it? Yeah, I'm very were there in after years of doing this because he's already a worn and capital as well.
It's up and the responsibility of it is huge, but it also very enjoyable because you are shaping the taste of the nation and that's really a pleasure because if you come from a background like I do what I was totally brought up with music and listening to radio stations like this the fact that I could be leading the music decisions on those stations is fantastic.
So I think the enjoyment outweighs.
There's been scared of the responsibility and also I've been doing it for 2530 years this way to domain so I'm pretty confident in my own capabilities at it.
So it doesn't really scare me to address any friends questions you might have about it or the wider world hasn't got no people do have questions about what we doing the BBC and Radio 2 on 6 Music but I think I'm really confident in what we do and what we deliver and it's a great responsibility to have been doing this for 25 years.
The obviously the depth of your experience grows the more you been doing it but does also that mean that you're getting older you know you don't know what your blind spots are how to how do you cannot keep your eyes and ears on for new music as you can't listen to absolutely everything.
That's a really good point.
I mean that I said he found that when I was already a wine dine and I left Radio 1 and 2000 when I was 40 deliberately cause I don't think that I could still handle that when I got to 4 years old at the game controller Capital FM at which is a slightly older solar station Soho 57.
I'm feeling that where we are with our radio stations and quite well positioned to Cadillac manage that but agree you know there is an awful lot of areas, which may be I don't cover and so it's really important to have people within the teams who do have that awareness, so I'm very you know lucky to end an an an an an to be supported by people with in my team so great Team 6 Music Lauren Brendan and Lauren churchmen and a great team McGarry bones Michael Bambrick and Sarah Bowden Radio 2.
Between us all we've got that and then a course within the playlist infrastructure as we took every week about music as input coming into that and adding to that not just within playlist, but externally are suppliers of the programs that we make about blues about to dance music about you know they bringing that expertise most recently.
We've had at the Rock Show on Radio 2 so great.
So little buddies is that has an amazing background from the station's like planet Rock and is able to input into as you know what's gonna happening and where it's all going in the in the world of rock music so it's having really good people in the team and supporting you and how these can affect committees work as you mentioned that often you'll get them your 12 year and a table at the image of that came to mine then was like over local council Mary sharing it but it's not that because you've got passionate knowledgeable people but you don't I love country music from number.
Will let you know my wife didn't like country music for years, but because I play it so much she now listen to herself as well.
Yeah it would you have can a violent passionate disagreements about know we are going to have some James Blunt on this.
Because it work.
I love that.
I love that when we have proper passionate something the table sort of stuff.
It doesn't mean that much to be honest cos boringly we do sometimes to with a quite a lot.
We tend to agree on things but I kind of think that's a bit of passion in a meeting is good and I would like to think of the more is meetings and discussions rather than committees ostensibly it is because I share it and it's a selection of the Producers but I think I'd like to think of it more as a as a as a discussion and a chat about stuff, but yeah, I think the idea that people can come in and sort of say we really believe in this record.
That's what I want to do when I first came into 6 Music when I can have like took over there.
I think what they got into the end.
They got into a kind of like a routine if you will are basically just going through a list of Records and playing through the more than kind of listen to them on wrote you know and I forget that just just to talk about the music you're excited about and leave the other stuff if it's not exciting to you and you're not passion about it.
What's the point in raising it and that's the way of filtering so we're not.
Talking forever about loads of a cause we don't really want to play Never Gonna play so I think it's really important that the passion comes into the room and we leave everything else pretty much of the door including data and other stuff.
It really is just about the passionate response of human beings to music but data must play a part of that because otherwise how do you know where the what you're doing is going down well absolutely and I've been a big fan of date.
I was the first day BBC music had to bring in research to the BBC 1997 Radio 1 some very much a believer in that from those days.
I think a lot of the goes back to what you're saying about understanding the audience is it you know you different ages when you are a 50 year old can a running station which is baby aimed at younger audience? It's really important to have that that researching information.
I think for my point of view at Radio 2 and 6 were very much not playing in that kind of like same market really pleased with the
Radio station is competing with us, but it's a bigger wider global world now.
You know that music existing and I think it's important that adding this unique approach to it which is human curation whether it be something that I and the music team put on the playlist or whether it's what Shaun Keaveny 6 Music Lauren Laverne at 6 or Ken Bruce Radio 2 on Steve Wright a particularly passionate about that's another thing and we really inject more of that into the mix of thing so the idea that data is going to effect that I don't think so but on the other hand as I say, I'm not I don't dislike the idea of data and certainly over the years.
I've embraced it and what I will.
Do is I will look at anything that labels or artists wanna tell me about the data that they are allowed to share with me and I will have that in the back of my head so come to a meeting I will have that were nice, but I'm not going to really inflict all that data and all those numbers on the music meeting.
I'll leave me to have at the back of my head and then if I
Feel it's worth sharing and it's a question of say do we had this record do we had this record the both equally as good the best base.
We may be new UK artists that we want to support which one do we choose? Let's look at kind of like how it's working or how we think it might work with the audience um what we know but I'll be honest with you at that very rarely happens in a playlist meeting at radiator or it's 6 Music it really is more often about the girl the feel at the support for the artist irrelevant the artist of the radio station and really ultimately the quality of the song you mention about choosing between two songs and I am thinking at innocent.
So you like her bounce chair nightclub.
That's Fourways like one in one hour.
I mean is the fix.
Is it a fixed playlist where there's 60 songs and if you're 61st you're out or is it a can of is it slightly more amorphous somewhere between an away I mean.
I think of you looking at the 25 songs with play every week in the playlist on Radio 2 the be about five isospaces every week that crop up and so52 ad and we kept it keep a fairly.
Forward process on that that record will last a 3 or 4 weeks is a career on the on the playlist now in comparison with a commercial radio that would be a light for five times a time they stick and her place so we really move through the tracks fast and commercial radio that they would make no sense to them and I get it cos I went to Capital that would make no sense to me if I was that you want to stick with a big songs because you've tested them and you gonna claim 75 times a week.
They work because they were your listeners favourite song because you've asked them and they're telling you that and so he will play them again and again and again.
I think sometimes that can be tiring for the audience and very nothing that creates fatigue which doesn't mean that they deliver amazing hours of listening like you know 69 nearly 10 hours a week and Radio 2 does 1180 12 hours a week of listening because we don't have them so I music kind of throughput and usage and turnover is far faster than any other radio stations and I think that's a really good thing because I can still play our listeners favourite songs but I don't need to put them on the playlist I can play them in recurring or I can play with in gold categories a week in hand build put them into our Show
Not an issue, what is important is that I'm finding new music and new artist new songs for audience and for the BBC Two kind of bring them through and I think Radio 1 do the same so I think I'll stations are just geared to finding new music and running it through our systems and as a result were breaking lot of music for commercial radio and the broader music industry which is thing as a great service for the BBC office you'll come on in a moment to just how you go about actually go about the process of finding new music cos that's very interesting but how do you define but the car sound of what radio 2 sounds like an 6 Music because that you can kind of tell when you're listening to them how you know did it did it is Radio 2.
It sounds like something that at first blush could be easy to but actually must be incredibly difficult when you think about it.
Here me nothing at the core of all these things will the radio stations will be responsible for has been a music policy and that's obviously what I mean when I was already I want I was my job was titled head of music policy, but just had music it is now and music sounds better actually.
Centenary government continues No One Direction That's the policy and but with the with the policies of the side of things that is to say say, what is the tone of the radio station amongst them things we have to talk about as well as what are the key genre is what the core artists with the tone of the radio station is really important to the tone of Radio 2 has been since I came in time Melissa melodic music from a range of year is the town of six music has been x alternative spirited music you know when I defined it as alternative spirited rather.
Just be alternative because I didn't see it as XFM as it was the time already Alexa is now is not an alternative stations alternative spirited seems to be a more active love of music itself on 6m rid of two people enjoy the music but in a slightly more passageway, potentially leads to a mean.
I think we have to agree within the music team that clearly we're ready to comes from his very much and entertainment leadstation with personality and music is a key part of it of course, but it isn't the only part of it.
Kind of like music driven which is worse it is completely driven by the music great personalities book driven by the music hence the fact that it literally has music in the title at doing that with you know when you created 6 Music you've got a blank sheet of paper there how you do you do takes odoo create something and Angel people like it and then refined it or is it something where you you let people are actually define what they think it should be.
How did how did 6 Music come to be interesting question because I'm very much a part of history and the now of six music because I think was back in 1993 Mr with Mark Radcliffe and great broadcast.
There's a fantastic broadcast in a 94 years now with 993.
Why is the love Mark and lard on Radio 1 they will iTunes when I was chatting to Mark in 1993 was look after the evening session which was pleasing Mark Goodier was off and we were doing the show for the North West Ham of having a pint with him out of the show and we were chatting about stuff on my other things he started to talk about it was just about to do it out on blue six show which
That was starting on Radio 1 and I wish I was but he's already at 1 and we started talking about this idea of us more radio station for music.
You know that kind of like has a slightly didn't want to b22 smart and dino elitist but something which actually talked about, about music pop music and kinda like got excited about it and got into it and and and it wasn't quite ready 0343 was that sort of thing for music fans and we were both and we both are music fans so we talked about that then and I'm off to remind you about that when I see him now because he's obviously on 6 Music is that we kinda like came up with the idea of this smart music radio station to came up with the idea of six music listen we came up with an idea.
I won't say it because fast forward to 1999 when I was in the final days at Radio One is head of music they came from the BBC they wanted to start this with networks and network why I think they're why it went on to become Radio 4 Extra and networkx was forced to become 6 Music but it was Matthew banisters idea that I will.
What do we do with a definition different from Radio 1 and we'll sort will an album rock station of course and we could play all those records.
We weren't playing anymore on Radio 1 like the Eagles and so actually it was a little bit like where are you two went to another time Radio 2 was quite define Italy different.
It was a lot more easy listening for instance than it is now so there was a space worm network execute actually kind of going so we started to talk about it and then actually I left and the theatre thing developed up with a guy called John sugar.
Who is there to be 6 Music as we sort of know it now although at the time of the woods full Jupiter's breakfast in the number of the great broadcasters across the network, but they were very much doing a eclectic station were they just kinda.
Did their own thing? I thought it was really important that when I came in to try and define we were doing rather just thought I'd say it's aeclectic which is great and it is but it kinda doesn't say what it is nice, Newbridge LE2 wall exactly but the alternative spirit and I saw defined as you know when the White Album came out in 1960.
That's when pop became alternative I think and you know I'll say that I could argue with it, but they won't do it.
There is a lot of things around that time that happened including big festivals in Woodstock can I sort of thing they actually did change things so take it through that take it through the alternative through Lou Reed Velvet Underground the alternative that black conscious music a little bit by Marvin Gaye and you know it's Stevie Wonder where they went to in the 70s right to to dance music in the 80s Punk in the rave generation all that sort of stuff that's an alternative which inform the mainstream so we kind of like decided that way so I guess six started off as this idea that it was a smart music station and it develops into the idea that is alternative spirited across a range of genres and even now.
I still developing that concert particularly through station Nike 6.
Is there how is that sitting with a younger audience as younger people become a little bit disenchanted with traditional radio actually we see that as a real opportunity for 6 because
We think that smart kids who want to listen to the radio and I know more about music might want to send Paul 6 Music so will broaden your selection of music by now one of the big things that happened in terms of music that radio officers that sense of curation.
Yeah, we nano Spotify do do that as well.
Yeah, but you know if you've got the personality of the broadcasting the music created around a certain theme or whatever it might be here, but I was actually on Spotify couple of weeks ago and I was thinking listening to six music and one of the a playlists was 6 musics current play listen and that actually struck me for the first time ever that either choice of listening to the actual 6 Music in real life or just the playlist on Spotify yeah, and then out.
What do I want a human being speaking between the records and also bit of the weather in a bit of chatty real person.
That's fascinating get in a century competing against one was the essence of the playlist itself down is the real challenge isn't it for radio at the moment and the music industry probably as well, but specifically with radio and one of the reason why BBC sounds.
Coming into the 4th.
I don't have the chance to play with BBC sounds yet, but it's exactly there to do that so now you can look at a playlist of music from a radio station like six musical ready to whatever but you can also listen to a podcast from one of broadcasters or you can listen to a live radio show and you can create your own radio station if you want to have it because I think we have to be realistic is that particularly on the selling my generation our generation? I think it's of the younger generation.
They are not so wedded to the idea of a Network radio station Once Upon a Time ready wondering if you were the only places you can get a lot of music from and find out where the new music was we know wise enough to realise that's not the case for a new generation not for everybody but I think that people will find things in BBC sounds were they can do exactly what you say that you can choose to do either but at least you're still doing it within a BBC framework to the BBC still is a part of the younger generation to this idea that weren't you know what were Britain venting this Next Generation radio.
I think it's really true thought we're trying to do with BBC
What do you think radios going in in the long-term? I'm a night out when I was a teenager.
I used to have a listen to the charts show on Radio 1 on a Sunday night Mark Goodyear Bruno Brookes and I will be there with my butterfinger hovering over the pause button Society shut up and releasing need to pay me now.
You're not I have nieces of the edge of that used to be that wouldn't even consider listening to the chat.
Show that they get their music from YouTube they might get a listen to a BBC curated list on Spotify YouTube but with they're not necessarily tuning into certain radio station is Radio going to conserve to reinvent itself as a long-term decline.
What what how is it going? I think we speak often of this decline but actually you know it's still 90% of people listening to the radio in the UK and overseas patients are ready to go out of here one in three of those listeners as well.
It's it's it's still a massive thing for people in Greece like people still buy CDs shockingly but clearly it be crazy to sort of saying that wasn't changing cause of course it is in the USA right with your niece.
My daughter in my son, they don't listen to the radio and so that real challenge is to bring them into a kind of contexts were buying a platform where they can feel comfortable and feel that its modern and it's kind of accessible and that's why the BBC sound thing.
I think is going to be a really keep out of that but I do think that you know there is also in my head this idea that I think you get to a certain point your life and it might be in your mid 20s or something like that one maybe you're starting to Welling to first job or get into a first job settling down maybe even first apartment flat house whatever you do in getting settled in your life little bit.
I think you're moving to a kind of like we will cover the kind of day parts radio on mood records about you get into a mood in your life.
Whereby I think radio fits in it starts to fit into Potter you might have a heart radio listen when people get to that age and they get to that part of their life that it's a point when they cause we're seeing that over 25s isn't so much of a problem as these tend to 24 and Eva
what station is heart radio 12 still hate and 30% at audience which is still pretty good so I kind of think they think maybe we obvious take that and I think maybe people will still find radio but back in the day when we were young like with your cassette machine in the top 40 We Were we had to do that because there was no other way to get it was there and then and now there's so many other ways actually people consuming don't think is important the radio kind of can help work within that context stations like sick several interesting examples because being on digital only and all the life of digital station 6s had two can coexist within the digital world and we made a real big play years ago by saying that you know 6 Music sits along things like blogs like quietest and people like that also alongside Napster or Deezer or Spotify or whenever where you sit in a can of digital world so a lot of our consumers the sex of a very digitally savvy and so we find a lot of that that audience is coming and going in and out of
Spotify and down and iTunes and into 6 Music and back and forth like you've just said you know you were looking Spotify you play six music playlist, but you're still listen to six music and I think and hope that's an audience we can kind of build upon and how people change the way they listen to the devastation that you what are the touchpoints I mean for example.
I used the iPlayer Radio app on my phone in the old days.
I would have had an actual wireless in the kitchen and I'll tell it on and I listen to what I was giving you now.
I'll you know if I don't have to get up at 9 on a Sunday morning to listen to Steve Wright Sunday morning.
Love songs chammak huge fan of and listen to it for a nearly 10 years because I can't I'm shift it 11:00 and then and then play it.
What are the touch? What's how are people listening? I think think the only time I really just put the radio on and get one given his when I'm in the car.
I mean it's growing certainly the amount of digital usage clearly stations like sex as I said before I DAB entirely so they're entirely 100% digital but the amount of people listening on PCs and clearly smartphones like we just said smartphones.
Adidas I listen to iPlayer radio through my smartphone rather than the traditional radio.
Yes, it's a bit annoying because you're not always getting the 4G you want a real life.
You're not in her in a Wi-Fi area something like that, but I kind of think that that's got it does only going to grow and Anna but I think that's also another good way to kind of like define yourself for the future to source a radio is Radio it's not podcast it's not audio on demand.
It's a part of all that but it is still radio and radio can still exist within this digital world and thrive because of smartphones voice activated speakers all those sort out things you know that actually are really probably going to assist us with the job rather than get in the way however the downside is that within those walls of smartphones and voice activated speakers.
It's it's very populated was an awful lot of competition now and we just have to be aware of that hence great the we got these amazing radio stations, but also great we got something like BBC sounds to work alongside with you mentioned BBC sounds a few times.
Can you go to the body?
Tell about it.
Yeah, it's our ambition Turner create a platform.
Whereby people can consume BBC content and across a broad range of just music whenever and wherever they want to do and as we kind of like construct a future whereby we know they're under 45 listing is really important to us.
We touched upon their we think finding that audience through BBC sounds will be the way because of that integration of playlists and podcast on demand audio and the idea that you can create your own radio station if you want to but I think it actually because of the brands existing in there like Radio 2 on Radio 1 6 music it can only really kind of help our basic Cause 2 solar say the BBC is here and now but it's also Here and Now for the future and to future listeners and I challenge you said about you.
Don't people we know young people we know not listening to Radio we need to try and give them something that will bring them into a kind of BBC experience.
The influence of a kind of record company executives and aspiring musicians that want to be on the playlist cos innocentia a bit like a politician where you knock a public affairs lobby is 1 something from the minister will Rob stringer at Sony might want you to play my Manic Street Preachers how does that robbed take you for dinner and say that if you more than you I don't see any brown envelopes phone calls about conversations.
I've had lunch with various managing directors chairman, whatever and I know them all over the years but because of Nottingham all over the years they know that I will only respond to what I think is great music and so are these radio stations so I'm not saying that im pluggable, but yeah, I'm saying employable in the proper sense of the word incentive open and amenable to suggestions.
That's the thing and I think it's really important to be like that.
You've got to have the dialogue you got to have the two-way conversation but both sides of got2b.
Do you say no and walk away from that and I know it's challenging sometimes.
When is a priority from a record label in a lot of money is being spent all that artist.
They really believe in it, but that got an album which really isn't kind of coming together this track after track which was struggling to get on the playlist they have to understand and I will be on this with them about that and I think I've always what's the best way to think of you.
Speak to anybody about me.
I'm sure they would say that the other I've always been pretty straight and honest with them about it with a get it wrong.
I made a lot of people in fact long careers in any sector can look back on mistakes, but it does it.
Do you ever thought of watch Britain's Got Talent and think One Direction they will never amount to anything yeah all the time.
I get wrong all the time and I think it's really important to admit that because the problem you can make sometimes in this role is saying please.
Could we play with safe and since we missed the records so we didn't preneur place then we're not playing it now on a station at Radio 2 1 record in gonna make a massive difference, but I'm more than happy to sometimes go back on a record that I think we've missed and add it later even know where the radio stations might be playing it because if I think that's really important for our audience to here.
Record and I think it's record that maybe I didn't get it and sometimes things.
I love about the playlist meeting so we have is their most producers and their often convince me about a record that I didn't get first but I'll come out of that room kind of thinking that's brilliant.
I'll give you an example one of our producers in the Radio 2 team is Gary bones and very inspirational kind of came across the greatest showman original soundtrack on musicals fan.
I didn't tell her to get them.
He played me this is me and a number of tracks in our thoughts that something there anyway, but I didn't totally get it.
He was convinced about that committed to it when we tried out as how the week we then went with this is me the keala settle track through his you know passion for it and he proved it totally right you look at the album the pulley the biggest selling album of the year.
I think probably and there's an example of something that I didn't disturb you get at the start, but it's important that im able to as the rest of the station is to embrace something that I got wrong.
What do you listen to it? So difficult love live.
Revolver on vs.
Slovakia yeah, definitely no problem listen to a home without problems listen to albums but the differences were all time and I've been involved in dunsop with the yellow hair which is been a great privilege for me but doing you know what the blue in that sort of thing front-to-back.
I'll play the home button saying you know concerto for a rainy day.
So yeah, I still do the often do it for nostalgic reasons and maybe this has been a bit of an all-black now.
I don't know but it just for me to get a bit of just peace and just listen to something which means something to me which brings back memories which is very much for our audiences do as well.
You know I mean it's great new music.
Can we talk about musical? It's really important we doing news.bbc but it's so important also to the radiator connector people's memories and what drove them not to the window young but keep moments in their lives.
So yeah something like that but also I spend a bit of time.
And the great thing about I do think digital streaming services and I was working for them myself now after a few years ago.
Is that you can build yourself even more now can't you so you can dig deeper and I enjoy doing describe what we do here and we we have a we have a job to do but I think what those services can do as utility is allow you to dig really deep into your music and remember stuff.
You don't listen to any more.
I've got loads of Records at home and I've got a whole room of CDs and albums by often sit in front of my computer and I'll play something from Spotify or apple music and I could just turn around I could get it out of the hook with shelf and put it in a CD player in summer or on the record player but I rather just put it is the easiest need to pay to stream some time and it's an instant memory and its instruction, so that's what I do.
I will often indulge yourself and also because I go back with it III do geek on Radio as well.
Still around the world just suevres to do it.
Not just UK but in America what size 2.
Does anything really happening in music radio the moment there's not but you know but I'm looking around to find something which is doing something really excise are open in your ears pricked absolutely you already on Monty fingertips.
Really did want to be in really tell us about the what was the new career on an early as the first day now 87 Towers like 67 years old while it was a Saturday morning like her it was Tony Blackburn who now works at the radar station in who I'm privileged to have conversations with the corridor.
He comes home office don't even listen to Tony Blackburn in 1967 as a very small gets starstruck then I do when I did Jeremy Vine actually come out and it's not the Ken Bruce coming out to your going on Steve Wright and I'm like you haven't even 25 years.
I don't say that though, because I don't like an idiot.
Every Saturday afternoon was there and I did actually cut him out.
Of course I listen to the whole show when I was recorded it and I loved what you had to say and tell me about the music was coming of America which we had no understanding of in this country and I discovered loads of artists be polite poco and people like that who didn't get Play which the UK Asia and stuff like that started out.
You know who are UK band started out with American here.
I discovered all this music of tickly black music.
I was mothers track cold air when it is by garnet Mimms and trucking company which I love because it got played at the end then Robbie Vincent did it show on Saturday afternoons.
I listen to that.
So that whole business of kind of like being you're able to kind of like yeah, but the people I was brought up with his a kid is fantastic, but I go back to that today where at Wykeham for making from Fleetwood in Lancashire so we just off the coast of the Irish sea, is there so when I was a kid my mum used to point out where Radio Caroline which uses some 2 kms from it was actually see the ship while we were and that.
Set me a radio ship with a smashed on it which could broadcaster people so that's how it really gonna be game for me and then I was like enough to get a few bracelets hospital really like everybody does but I didn't get a break am I watching the record shop mainly a lot of my life from being 1415 years old, can I thought that was the way in and it was it was obvious.
It's linked to the radio the guy first work with used to run it a mobile discos Hindu mobile discos and DJs I wanted to be a DJ I applied to be DJing Piccadilly Radio Manchester and Colin Walters is the programme controller they turn me down but was very very gentlemanly and having been the office and explain me why which is brilliant for a 17-year-old yeah, and then it wasn't really until I went to college got a degree did Mike communications degree and got a break as I did some shopping at Piccadilly Manchester and then got a job as a studio manager at the BBC in the 80s which is a great opportunity because I literally spent maybe two years bean stew.
All the technical stuff was brilliant and then I got a break to be a producer so I ended up producing some great shows on BBC World Service and then left and went up to the northeast to work for the Metro group TFM radio was pregnant many US listen to TFM only just get it in York when I'm from Stockton-on-Tees who's better than Minster FM as I was but it was a great little station.
I did that for a couple of Tibet 1990 and then I was approached back to come back to run a 1 and a 3 month contract be offered me iPhone in the desk and said you want to do a few projects with us.
Can a early days of independent production away but I got to know quite a few guys and I came back with the intention of doing an ac dc documentary a thing which I never met that have to do it in the end, because they actually persuaded me to produce this new show that were crying call the evening session for the first time that Mark Goodier and me and Mark sat in a cafe cafe of Ella's around the corner and we came up with.
Format for the show and we just broke all the rules really which was supposedly you know my wellies office at wise buddhas only a couple of supposed to end this magazine program for young people are in the evening prayer the great music show to a somewhere in between a daytime and John Peel and we found loads of great bands like suede and blurring Radiohead we put a pin session and it just seemed to work and we are the right time and it was like 1990 to 1992 relay cigarette and then I found Steve and Joe and a number of other presenters.
We tried there because Mark was going to daytime and I put Steven Jo together as an entity but they went off and even Sachin Khanna sailed on happily an hour to daytime radio news editor that I left work with Mark went to work with him at wisebuddah, and it said it up but I went to partner with him on the other doing all them Maconie pros and cons of a company and we brought in Trevor Nelson to do a series 4 Radio 1 listen to all those insanely catchy jingles.
What are they degrade with a material lots of integrating else, but I stayed with Mark for a while and then was asked to come back to Radio 1 is the first head of music policy as we discussed before Did That 2000 Capital FM approach to be controller Capital FM in 2018 Big Step of apology.
They seal thing is I think I'd always thought to myself all clammy head sore and the other team Matthew and it's in the various controllers on eBay but I could do with that you know so and radio BBC Radio was always more difficult for me to get the break into the higher echelons of it was very much a SOB associated with just been a music by fine.
I'll go to Capital to prove that I can do it's control as though there for a couple of years.
We have a capital we got bigger numbers and they have now but it was a different kind light time and one of the interesting is about capital the weather at the time was the Renaissance itself.
It was looking too kind of like develop on from yeah, Chris Tarrant of breakfast and Steve penk in the mornings and kind of arrange a presenters who been there for quite a while it was opportunities.
Look where that was going to be brighter blood margherita.
Taylor there was cat needed we did in the afternoon and a whole range of new presenters which I think was the idea is to try and kind of rejuvenating a course now capital is pretty much rejuvenated.
I would say is a successful commercial radio station and network, did you enjoy the kind of extra responsibilities of being CEO at does go with with we've had quietly Germans the same I really enjoyed jealous and was made editor and then you end up having to do with HR and legal issues everything seems that yes, they can do but they have their heart's not in it that burden of leadership.
Did you enjoy it always there because the Innocence of taking you away from the universal music you love employer a Jeff that we have done.
Yeah, I think I think that was upset that was my voyage of discovery.
My voice is curry was actually learning that maybe a controller wasn't what I wanted to do and I'm since then.
I haven't really had that ambition.
You know I think I know what I'm good at I know what I can do.
I went off from Capital to Napster
And that was getting back into the music but in a new kind of startup environment but again it was with it.
I've always kind of been associated with massive brands.
I don't be Capital FM Oral-B radio 101 Radio 2 and actually Napster was a massive brand but it by she wasn't very big really because it was a start-up really that roxio with bought the name in America and he wanted to set for UK so was like 3 for 5 hours in the UK was a lovely small little start of time.
We could all fit in a little room like this and we just got on brilliantly and we were the first digital proper full on digital music service I have been Coca-Cola music before that but you know next to a cell before iTunes, and it was a great pleasure for me to actually be working with the industry again and kind of like bring them into this new world actually discovering for myself the whole things about you know quality assurance quality control QA QC wireframes all that sort of stuff for Hull plumbing new world and we were Napster to go to the first interpretation of something we called The Celestial jukebox the idea that you could pluck any track.
Sky I just listened to on your phone.
We were doing that in 2004/5 and we have R&D doing that in America in in the States and was all kind of movie long clearly the police wasn't fast enough and a course in the interim smartphones has started to arrive and then that whole idea with Wi-Fi and then Spotify API people like that and it kind of changed but it was really a kind of exciting time that said that the early days of the digital music and a ministry from you within themselves as a company that do you say music company toxic Huber for example? They would say there a tech company that just happens to deliver transportation Solutions didn't actually regard themselves as culturally as as a can of transportation culture like a taxi company.
They will show you know where tech company.
How did it work in terms of Culture because you were bringing out that that musical Sensibility the very thing that they needed to the platform you need to build a business on it was interesting.
Are looking to fill the role that I did they dressed it in there very american-style is there we're looking for a rock star programmer and I think that's that's at the end of it.
They liked somebody in there who could give the wrong with asking the wrong question exactly but it was good that they realised that they were anti-social question because I think at the end of it.
Yeah, they need is somebody to integrate them into the music industry and to be a working in the UK and we started doing gigs in pubs around the corner from our offices and we recorded them and turn them round as little sessions.
I remember one of the directors to America came over and saw that he said it was it was over the moon about this.
He just that was brilliant Very British pub in English sessions that she work with the guys at wisebuddah to deliver a sessions with Amy Winehouse indentation that so things are there a lot of radio style things we were doing for the first time in digital music which is not been done before we even created radio programs.
Would you could probably cold podcast now? Which was I got Steve Lamacq 2?
Present this site show called don't shoot me.
I'm only the MP3 player and the idea was it was a round table bases like he does no 16 and we sit around and talk about some of the music which was on our service and he'd chat with a few other people and you create a playlist so basically be a track a link with him a tracker linked with him and guess that track unit and he's a rule it out as a playlist in Spotify subsequently going to do that, but it was exciting time because you get it with that kind of like that you could see the synthesis of existing radio and its new digital music service.
I think to a certain extent services like Spotify and clearly clearly.
Are you now music's doing it with beats 1? This is still an element of that within it bloody suspect that they may be slightly moving away from that a little bit.
I try to be trying to be radio the realising that this maybe not a non-starter for them, but clearly they blur finding other ways to get into that area now, but yeah, I think you're right.
There'll be all these companies still now really are tech companies first and music company II soon as sense.
You've got much more value to add to them really than then because cos you can learn the did like you say wireframes and their technical replace years experience of music yeah.
Yeah, I did not start stage.
That's the thing and I think that's why we seem quite a lot of people kind of moving to those services from within the BBC because obviously people who do have musical experience and often they have in the last 20 years ago been brought up through radio.
That's why did moved in that direction.
I think I did I see you again though.
I see a sense were that's changing a little bit as well.
Is that a lot of those services like Spotify bringing in more marketing people and more data programming people are saying things.
I think some of them see maybe Spotify now.
I can become a little bit more algorithmic based and you can kind of understand that because of his either the cost of bringing in lots of skilled people is expensive and again.
It's another unique that positioning point for radio and particularly the BBC that we still do invest in old people who know about music and I'll creatives to tell us.
How did he
Come to move on from Napster many cents come full circle back here to the BBC now.
Show was there till 2007 and I know that I've been keeping in contact with Lesley Douglas here controller at the time and we often talk about whether I would come to Radio 2 at some point and I have to admit we talked about the past and for me all my years has been designed to get me to Radio 1 that when I was a kid, that's what I thought I would be even when I wasn't ready at 1.
I never thought I'd be a radio too.
I didn't think it was the sort of station for me.
We used to be cool ways now.
It is actually amenities Lesley and Jim back in those days were the Architects of that moved to that kind of like newer generation.
Just can a rediscovering an audience.
Would you have to do every now and again with the radio station is really important to do we doing that again now a little bit but I think it's really important that that that that time kind light happened because
It was 2007 Napster again like we talked about with tech companies was making changes again and I thought the probably wasn't room for me anymore, but luckily enough this job came up, Martin left it been here for about 15 years ago that head head head departed always departing and so I was talk to about coming to it to be head of music which I loved the idea and I particularly love the idea of bringing some of my detail experience from Napster to it and I think that went down pretty well when we had the conversations about stuff, but also to get a bit more involved in six music than had been done previously so I had a very good conversation and I came in and that was 10 years ago.
We took tell you about what a typical week was know what can I top of you to do list in the medium to long term where you what kind of changes do you want to make over the next few years as a commuting in on your on your foldable bicycle imagine if having watch w1a, that's what all you bbclaurak.
Do you think wistfully think it's ready to begin a few years.
Where you can take it well as a city before both of Radio 2 and 6 the challenges are with younger audiences and of items of attracting and retaining them all absolutely it's it's under 45s where we're spending an awful.
Lot of time and thinking about how we might appeal to them not just with are stations here but also across the BBC and particularly in terms of BBC Radio 4 rejuvenating it make sure there are young audiences come through and I'll see with with with with tights on BBC sounds, but the way Radio 2 and 6 can do that is clearly within the music policy and that's something obviously I can have a major Factor answer a lot of time is talking about can we develop of new and unique properties and opportunities that might attract that younger audience visualisation is an area which is always interested me and it's kind of a guy called Jill Harland working here who developing all those Concepts and brilliantly has he has done with things like Live Lounge but we've kind of created piano room at Radio 2 which exists within Ken Bruce's show which is Visualized and content will appear within the BBC but also maybe a track.
Enter YouTube whatever simile here at six music we have the live room which is just around the corner from the Studio with speaking at the moment and within that will having a range of artists from the Pixies at one end to over your brand new Asus have beach house or the somebody even do at the other end.
It's it's really important that we have those new ways of reaching out to audiences which are sometimes a little bit beyond just audio and sounds but actually are visualisation and something that people can see because we know how younger audiences consume content so it's really important alongside.
How are presenters relate to the audience? It's really important that the music relates to the audience and we reinvent him and I go back to what it something.
I said earlier about Radio 2 playing the best of the best new music it means that with an r.
Play Listen a weekly playlist we play a number of tracks which you might also hearing Radio 1 you might also here and commercial radio stations.
You won't hear them for as long as I'm commercial radio and read it will hear them, but you.
Still hear them and I have no worry about doing that.
I think it's a really responsible thing for us to do we must support great new music wherever it comes from and sometimes there will be some duplication but actually that's all for the good of Music and the music industry a thing as we're developing of parties because I know that every year as station for instance like Radio 2, please 10000 different songs in daytime.
Where is a commercial average commercialization might get to 1000 you know so we paid 10 times the number of different songs against any of our other competitor radio station, so even if every one of those 25 songs and I'll playlist with the same as was being played on commercial radio station the rest of it is so distinctive not just a music but they speak in between it.
I'm not gonna do that by the way, but we could you let me because I think we can be that you know a distinctive whip whip without that I mean Radio 2 and 6 acres is run by the BBC's a public service broadcaster only by the licence fee and I know we've spoken a few times.
Did the visit of saying absence of commercial pressure in terms of having to play certain songs for certain length of time but but it is there more of a pressure because you're a public service broadcaster in terms of light.
How do you respond to calls for more diversity on Radio 2 you no more female art in black multi ethnic artist.
Do you feel that you have a duty to be to be more inclusive in a way that it if you're a commercial station is just well.
We just played the records of people listen to the number one.
I think it's all about the quality of the songs that we play that's got to be declared starting point for anything in particular the a public service broadcaster, whenever I think it's really important that we have that is the driving kind of thought about it, but absolutely I think it's really important in a modern world and we talked about younger audiences that sort of thing the modern world and modern audiences are very aware of diversity and diversity is a really important thing for us to represent is the BBC what is DLR station at Radio 2 6 Music Lauren telly whatever I mean.
I thinking there will be here for the director-general is very much that and it absolutely believe that I think that's absolutely right diversity.
Is this what makes this country tick now so we Farm
Music on the Wii play and I'll presenters don't come to represent that that's not right so we must get to there and it's just a gradual process to get their interns what we doing musical.ly play this week's track it that you know we track certainly amount of female to male kind of artist we don't particularly look in terms of but I know that when we do support artists like to his reasoning with Neil and we've got the Deva Mahal on their place the moment champion Gregory Porter's great many years back very late Shaun escoffery Android triana.
You know I mention these answers but ultimately what makes them great is the songs that they create this is just great music you know and music comes from a great diversity of artists which is brilliant.
Then we should continue to celebrate their and I think we'll find in the UK they will find more artists from all sorts of backgrounds and when I was really tough when it was a bit of a surprise.
I think a lot of people who put stormzy on the a list on Radio 2, but it was such a gospel inflicted and lovely track that.
Hero and other stuff because his mum was chuffed about it and I know he tweeted about everything that but I was really pleased that we could do that and you know I want to do better do more of that and I don't want to feel that was shackled by some kind of like box take to do this item.
We just do it because we feel the music straight sometimes they might get played on Radio 1 sometimes.
They might get played on heart but neither of those stations will sound like Radio 2 doing this and neither of us stations will bring 15.4 many listeners to the party as well, so I think it's really important that we carry on doing that last couple of questions in one of the frustrations with the job.
I mean you're a hardcore music.
I really am auntie fingertips imagine that you just want to come and just do the music but having watched 3 seasons of w1a, do you can I get called into loads of endless BBC management meetings that you don't really need to be in your one of the things that you that you'd like to come over move on from I think one of the station to meet generally about me is that is that is that is that being kind of this music by radius of it because I think that also I've got a lot of ideas and other places and I find.
BBC can be quite restricted in can of pop in you in a little kind of like stereotype.
So you just do the music on Radio 2 or 6 Music on house was old radio one that sort of thing and I think I'm really pleased that increasingly less few years people like me and an increase of radio one that's all they are being used more broadly across it so but I thought he that does mean occasion or meeting but I think they're very few kind of like boring meetings a great thing about here is most meetings.
I'm involved in any way are quite creative so I don't find that such a big thing but never personally for me.
I kind of think that you know where it goes.
He's a bit more is more that busy also side of things everything seems really exciting about and also I want to tell more stories about music and I don't you can tell great stories about music on radio and I love radio obviously but I think more and more as I consume things myself like Netflix etc.
I realise there is some great stories to be told of music in television and that's a real opportunity for people like me to kind of break out into and work with and develop ideas.
Gilead if you saw it the the Dre and the Jimmy Iovine defiant ones documentary which I thought was a real benchmarking how to tell a great story about music and story arcs every thought that I would love to do things like that.
I think it would be a great development for me.
I think I can do things like that because I have that history of music within me and also the awareness of the Broad world around it that some great stories to be told to hopefully I can break out slightly of my stereotype.
Is this music and Radio guide and cannot go into a broader world.
I will say it's not a stereotype.
You've got a clearly defined proposition in the marketplace question is sensors that you know what what's the thing that you've done when you look back over the last few decades the other of which you most proud couple of things really I think I'm really proud of creating Live Lounge on radio one because I was heading music at radio one of those days and we literally had a studio setup like we have it here at Wogan house or they do now across the road, but what we had is we had a
This horny set up at Yalding house, which was Studios all around the central area and the centre there was basically just had a computer in and peoples.
Don't want to be great if we could put music on their critical Maida Vale everything and so we thought yeah, but we need a name for it and I spent hours looking I went on to what the early days of something like a Google I think it must have been leaves.
It might have been very multivista.
Yes, we are some over in America and they think all star Lounge that's a good name, but I don't like that star station, so I thought Live Lounge will call them.
So it was a slot within I think initially in Simon Mayo show with and ultimately got taken on board and made famous by Jo Whiley so you were the person who ultimately see the face of the BBC's Maida Vale Studios Maida Vale studio probably know if I did a lot of support them, but that kind of like the idea to create a facility whereby we could.
Try our own kind of content which was right in front of the presents are writing for the DJ and that interaction and it was Joe Hawarden to Broughton the idea that she doing the cover into that we just throw the whole game up, but I came over the original concept am really proud of that and establishing that simile with another thing you could call me up on really anyway was getting rid of the record show I was pretty much an architect im getting really really once you're done loads of great Wantage I was really proud of but it got to the point in 1999.
Will you and it was obvious time I used to love that anyway.
Just losing everybody said that younger generation.
We talk about what we doing smiley Miley we still were giving away.
You know t-shirts and it wasn't of the time.
I mean I know but it when it was of its time.
It was amazing for your friends with Peter Bowles actually used to read the news and gone there gone there and there I was having dinner with him a few months ago.
He's getting his phone out showings of the old pictures of Radio 1 Roadshow it was just a blast and it was great to listen to never mind but you were so close down.
Obviously that I wasn't control inside the final season party did ultimately but it was me who recommended it to because I get my idea was why don't we get rid of all those roadshows and just create some bespoke 203 festivals are hereby and my ideas with bus to people into all those different parts of the UK from Worthing theatres.
I was a lot of people in Great Yarmouth sorting could necessarily get to Norwich whatever we do in the Shadows from but that didn't work out the way it worked out to about five six in the end of it, but we experimented it in 1999.
I think already or live in Heaton Park in Manchester when we got Robbie Williams to do the number one record live aftermarket the top 1473 of the back of Ant and there was a real proud moment when and describe the idea 2nd I'd worked with a kind of couple of promoters and we kind of came up with the concept of having these marquees and it's like that and it's giant in production of the world's biggest Europe's biggest undercover festival is it wasn't the time and we created first?
Live and then the year after it became one big Sunday and that was a great thing to be able to do because it we were reinventing it at this is what I think this will really good at it.
It's nice to be able to see what we can do the BBC use reinvent ourselves every now and again and that's very much something that will that we did back then voice.
Would you give to someone listening to this is maybe just left University aspires to be the next Jeff Smith I think it'd be great.
If somebody was actually do people do anymore.
That's part of my problem with the last of the project Smiths obviously of the but if they were I was so excited and it's a brilliant because I think you know we need more people who are passionate about music in in all its Wade I was thinking now if I was me now coming out of university.
Would I do this I think so but I think there are all sorts of other things you can do now and I think I will see digital music services are there.
I think music supervisor roles are brilliant rolls.
I I think I would have done something like that.
That been 21:22 now A&R I think is more interesting than ever before in a way and the way the people can of like they're working all sorts of areas.
You could get it on which I would have probably not see myself back in those days because radio just stood in front of me and you saw said you gonna get me out of here because for me that's what drove me, but I think I would also say to them you know if somebody was trying to get into doing what I do is just answer belief as well.
It just keeping the dream alive.
You know if you really kind of want to do it honestly believe you can and I would say that I've done it but and then a lot of little you know there is where you go off into a little cul-de-sac and it won't work out but you know you got to have a bit of luck on the way definitely however skill do you think you are I have a good you are what you do.
There's always got to be a break here and there so but you just got to hang in there and if you if you've Got That Dream and that's what you really want to do things just go for it and I'm more than happy to chat to a lot of people who are young people who do want to do this or that role and more than happy to encourage them.
And that's why I try and encourage my music team to be in a toucan light do what I've done or do this sort of like role for the future because I think finding heads of music in radio that is tougher than ever before I think they're answer many people coming through because people don't necessarily see it as a as a future role when the young maybe there's possibly part of the fact that me radio isn't quite as it used to be when we were kids when it was just everywhere and radio was the only way and it was very exciting wasn't gonna Jefferies podcast isn't the BBC's or not bound by rules of BBC impartiality enforced in powershell to say I think you're a legend we discussed in are you coming on months ago? I've been looking forward to it is certainly not disappointed.
Thank you ever so much for your time.
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