I learned to love BBC radio when I lived in the UK last century; the shows covered every kind of music, and every week I would discover some new (or old) musical treasure. Now that I’m back on the other side of the world, I still listen in most days, thanks to their Radio On Demand — you can listen to any show up to seven days after it goes to air. Here I’ve put together notes and links to the shows that I listen to regularly.
Normally you’re supposed to use the built-in player on the BBC website to listen, but with a bit of poking around, you can get the RSTP URLs and listen using RealPlayer. This is much more convenient, since you can easily rewind, fast forward, and bookmark shows partway through. I have done the requisite poking around, and included the RSTP URLs in the notes below.
This experimental music show is my favourite show on the radio. The music covers electronica, rock, modern classical, improv, and even quirky pop music. Every program has something to delight, confound or offend — sometimes all three in one piece.
Mark and Robert, the presenters, are both knowledgeable and very droll in an understated English sort of way. So very BBC.
Bebop to Hip Hop
“If you think you don’t like jazz, you’re not listening!”
The name says it all; but I’m going to say a bit more regardless. This show from BBC Radio Scotland plays everything from the greats of jazz to the funky end of modern jazz and jazz-tinged dance. The DJ Stuart makes the show hard to dislike and easy to love.
“From the loudspeaker they suddenly heard a wild and possible mistake in jazz.”
The Blue Room
Rob da Bank and Chris Coco used to do one show a week of their lightly funky, chilled out beats. They must be doing something right, because they now have one show each. (Either that or they couldn’t stand working together.)
Of the two, Chris tends to mix it up a bit more, with some folk and rock spicing up the mix. He also has a very soothing voice and manner — he sounds like a psychologist or new age guru of some sort. The overall effect is both relaxing and stimulating. A bit like a martini. Or a very hot bath. I could just go on.
6 Music Chart
The 6 Music Chart lists the top 40 albums by artists that have never been in the “real” top 40. A brilliant idea — all the worst excesses of vapid pop are filtered out, and you’re left with a goldmine of new music.
This show counts down the chart from 40 to number one. They play tracks from about half the albums, plus a few other random picks. Every week I make one or two new discoveries.
Hear and Now
Live performances and sessions of contemporary classical music. Some of the selections are pretty left-field — don’t expect easy listening every time.
Music luminaries listen to and discuss some new tracks. Kind of like reading Q magazine, except you get to hear the people and more importantly, the records. Far more talk than music though.