t’s 2008, and it’s the most challenging year of my life. Radio in Brynmawr, DJ-ing in the Banc in Maindee, receiving an offer to play in a super-club, and two life-changing events. Please attach your seatbelts for a bumpy ride. It’s probably best to take this chronologically and one step at a time.
Six nations rugby had always been part of my life. I was still selling radio advertising and presenting my Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning shows at BRfm in Brynmawr. I developed a concept called ‘6 Nations Live at Your Local’. I would take the radio station to different pubs within the broadcast area to reflect the passion for the Welsh game. For the last match of the series there would be a twist: my radio life would meet my DJ life as I brought ten of my listeners to Newport. The ‘6 Nations Live at MY Local’ was born.
I’d always been honest with the team at BRfm. The plan was to set up a community radio station in my home town. I’d come a long way in recent years. I knew I had to build (or find) a team. I’d begun dipping into Urban Circle Radio. Based in a cyber café in Pill, it was streaming very effectively online and clearly had some radio production values. As mainly a Rap and Grime station I felt it could be grown to reflect my City. In April, I met the team behind Urban Circle and our ambitions matched. Urban Circle was about to move into the city centre in a building opposite the (now old) passport office to attract young people across Newport. Urban Circle was to be a safe space to meet in town where they could access IT or join one of the four themed projects. Urban Circle Radio was changed to Newport City Radio as I took on the role of project leader.
We’d set a deadline. Newport City Radio was to be broadcast on FM radio for the first time from the 16th July to lead up to the Urban Circle festival in the city centre at the end of that month. I finally got to use my degree as I signed the paperwork to allow us to run a legal radio station for sixteen days. I took the existing Urban Circle Radio team and put them through radio training. We created a schedule and had a version of the Myriad system (that we still use today) installed. It ran like a dream. I was on at breakfast, Matt Kirke was on at lunchtime, we had a university takeover show in the afternoon and Mike Larcombe and others sharing ‘drivetime’ duties. Rhys and Eggsy from Goldie Lookin Chain joined us for weekend breakfast and we had a great range of specialist music shows till 11pm. So much fun. I’m sure that it was at this time I learnt to cat nap, spending many hours a day in the building. My mate Dave Summerhill managed to get the music policy in place for us as most tracks supplied to us were not suitable for the audience we wanted to attract. Many twenty-hour shifts were put in before and during those sixteen days on air.
Amid all this excitement there came some bad news. Claire had decided that she wanted a divorce. I had not seen it coming and it was a huge shock. There were no arguments. We were planning a move to a new house and finally agreed to try for a baby. Was she ill? Was I spending too much time at Urban Circle? Apparently not. I knew one thing, if Claire made any decision then it was pretty much final. We agreed to continue living together in the short term and the only plan that we would continue with was the holiday to Mexico in September. This holiday was not to be a way to repair our marriage, so I took the opportunity to write the first business plan for Newport City Radio. Our break up, spilt and subsequent divorce was amicable, for which I was grateful.
That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t confused and incredibly upset. I’m not the best with my feelings and talking about myself. Step forward the ladies from the Greyhound. I was DJ-ing there on Thursday and Sunday and between Jill, Nic, Sy (also my first Newport City Radio breakfast show radio wifey), Loz, and Jade I got through it. It dawned on me that the DJ-ing was 100% my thing. Feeling out of control in my personal life, I felt completely in command of my DJ-ing. I accepted a gig in a new super-club. The old Ritzy’s/Voodoo/Clubnite was to be split into two distinct clubs… Fire & Ice. I was to be the DJ for Fire. More on that next time.
So what are my five big tunes that sum up 2008?
The Floorfiller: Not necessarily my favourite, but one that I’ve used (or seen used) to pack a dancefloor.
Basshunter – ‘Now You’re Gone’,
The music slogan for the radio was/is, 'Indie, Dance, Urban, and Everything In Between', and oh boy did we need an epic dance anthem. Heading to the rave side of the genre, according to Wikipedia:
“"Now You're Gone" peaked at number one in the United Kingdom in January 2008, having entered at number fourteen there on downloads alone. The single remained at the top spot for five weeks before being knocked off by Duffy's "Mercy".
Could have easily been: Rihanna – ‘Don’t Stop the Music’, T2 feat. Jodie Aysha – ‘Heartbroken’, Cascada – ‘What Hurts the Most’, Sam Sparro – ‘Black and Gold’, or Alphabeat – ‘Fascination’.
The Twister: This is a song from that year which I normally wouldn’t have fallen in love with, but I did.
Kaiser Chiefs – ‘Ruby’.
Somehow straddling two years, according to Wikipedia, it “was released in the United Kingdom on 5 February 2007 as the lead single from their second studio album, Yours Truly, Angry Mob. It became the band's first ever number-one single on 25 February 2007 and ended 2007 as the year's 10th biggest-selling single in the UK with total sales of 313,765”.
Could have easily been: Scouting For Girls – ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’ or Panic! at the Disco – ‘Nine in the afternoon’.
The Clubber: The one song that wanted to get me onto the dancefloor.
Ida Corr – ‘Let Me Think About It’.
Sometimes when writing these blogs it's best to let someone else do the description. According to Wikipedia (and Digital Spy):
“Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy gave the song four out of five stars, and wrote: ‘Fedde has teamed up with Ida Corr to produce another three minutes of thunderous dance-tastic frivolities. Let Me Think About It couldn't possibly be any more of an Ibiza TUNE. It's the sound of Pete Tong, Dave Pearce and Scott Mills stood screaming with a load of Club 18-30 reps, while some boozed-up bikini-clad temptress grinds up against you all soaked up into a CD package. Packed with parping horns, cascading synth beats and the sound of a fire alarm being played along to the theme from Shaft”
Could have easily been: H "Two" O featuring Platnum – ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ or Booty Luv – ‘Some Kinda Rush’.
The Coolest: This is the tune that I felt was the coolest yet mainstream song of the year.
Estelle feat. Kanye West – ‘American Boy’.
Just an effortless vocal from Estelle and a rap I actually like from Kanye! According to Wikipedia:
“"American Boy" is a breezy disco-funk song that lyrically describes a romance with an American suitor. The song's conception came after Legend, Estelle's mentor, suggested she write a song about meeting an American man”
Could have easily been: Soulja Boy Tellem - ‘Crank That (Soulja boy)’, Flo Rida feat. T-Pain – ‘Low’, Kelly Rowland – ‘Work’, Mary J Blige – ‘Just Fine’, Kanye West - ‘Homecoming’, or Jay Sean – ‘Ride It’.
The Radio Tune: The one that take me back to listening to the radio or playing it on my show wherever that has been.
Timberland feat. One Republic – ‘Apologize’.
Just a beautiful track. According to Wikipedia:
“Timbaland remixed the song for his second studio album, Shock Value. This version, also produced by Greg Wells, included an extra line of percussion, new backing vocals, and added sound samples, in addition to sound mixing and various other minor changes. The guitar solo after the second verse was omitted, completing its transformation to a more R&B style to fit with Shock Value”.
Could have easily been: Adele – ‘Chasing Pavements’, Nickleback – ‘Rockstar’, Leona Lewis – ‘Bleeding Love’, One Republic – ‘Stop and Stare’, Take That – ‘Rule the World’, Alicia Keys – ‘No One’ or Mika – ‘Relax, Take It Easy’.
That’s almost it from 2008. At the end of each blog I’d like to thank some people who made the year very special for me. Big love to my Greyhound girls and the team at Urban Circle who provided me with the biggest joy of my radio life.
I’d also like to thank the team at Atlantica Café Bar on Market Street for sponsoring this series of blogs. They’ve got Britain’s Got Talent star Philip Green as part of a Pride Cymru after party on Saturday 26th August.
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