t’s 2009: Newport City Radio heads into its second year, I end up loving the gig I should have hated, social media becomes important, and I get emotional on a beach. This was a time of lots of fire and lots of ice!
After the buzz of broadcasting on FM radio from and to my hometown in July 2008 I had a bit of a challenge on my hands as I went into the second year of Newport City Radio. The equipment we had hired for our sixteen days on FM had been returned and we went back to basics. Stripping it back made our ‘studio’, a conservatory unit installed on the third floor at Dock Street, seem bare. The equipment we used for the radio project belonged to Urban Circle, who claimed it back whenever one of the other of the projects needed a sound system. This was frustrating for me as I was fighting to keep us consistently streaming online.
I’d added a few more volunteers to my team due to the success of FM. I now had to merge the original team with my new crop of (adult) team members. There were some strong personalities and I had to keep on top of a few flare-ups. To keep us all on task we (Urban Circle management at the time) decided to put us back on FM radio for the maximum of twenty-eight days in November.
I kinda left you on a cliff-hanger last week. I’d taken on the ‘Fire’ room in ‘Fire and Ice’. ‘Fire’ would be about bands, ‘Ice’ would be resident mix DJs and famous guest DJ’s like Tim Westwood and Judge Jules. With ‘Fire’ the DJ would play at the start, during the band's break, and after they left, with a mix of 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Initially this was designed for my mate, DJ Mad Andy, but he didn’t want to move from the Greyhound. As the ‘spare’ DJ at the Greyhound it was then offered to me. I didn’t like the thought of being second choice in the second-choice room, but what an easy gig! It was going to be like my mobile disco days. Now, it seems crazy there were two rooms in one club that you could not switch between unless you left the building via one exit to go into the entrance of the other. It was also crazy that you’d segregate over- and under-30’s so forcefully. ‘Fire’ was not on the normal route for the over-30’s, so numbers started low and this ultimately meant that the cost of the bands, on top of the cost of staff and DJ, started to hurt us. The bands were cut and I was asked to take the music policy wherever I felt it should go. Within a few weeks, ‘Fire’ was outperforming ‘Ice’ as I stuck to the Top 40 with a balance of commercial Dance, Reggae and RnB, which I’ve now become known for. ‘Fire’ started to become one of my favourites.
Everything that had happened since summer 2008 - the breakdown of my marriage, the excitement of Newport City Radio, the challenge of ‘Fire’, and two very respectable nights in the Greyhound - had taken it's toll in a minor way. I had a relationship at the end of 2008 but I wasn’t ready and it was short-lived. I started 2009 with a long-distance relationship with the girl I'd always wanted to be with. By the time I arrived back in Falmouth for a university reunion in March, I was unaware that I was a mixed bag of emotions. I stumbled across something that you may also have. I found myself in the perfect place (my beautiful Gyllyngvase beach), with the right song (Snow Patrol – Set the Fire to the Third Bar), at the right time (on my own), and suddenly there was water leaking from my eyes. I’d like to think that they weren’t sad tears, and I’d like to think that it was just a one-off release, but all I knew was that, in that moment, I didn’t want the tears to stop.
I’m gonna be honest with you. Up till now it’s been the music that’s revived my pretty poor memories of my DJ life. 2009 was the year that I became hooked on Facebook. It was a bit of a challenge for me as I’m not great at wanting to be in photos and even less so at taking them. I’m intending to use Facebook as a backup, but promise to still let the music guide me.
So what are my five big tunes that sum up 2009?
The Floorfiller: Not necessarily my favourite, but one that I’ve used (or seen used) to pack a dancefloor.
David Guetta feat. Akon – “Sexy Chick”.
Another thumper of a tune in my opinion. According to Wikipedia:
“...the production was helmed by Guetta, Sindres and Vee. Guetta, in an interview for MTV News, said the collaboration with Akon came after they met during a performance of "When Love Takes Over" with Kelly Rowland. Akon approached him, asking if they could work together. Guetta suggested that they should start immediately, so they rented a studio in London and made the song in one night”.
Could have easily been: Lady Gaga – “Just Dance” and “Bad Romance”, Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”, Tinchy Stryder – “Number 1”, Beyonce – “Single Ladies”, or Cascada – “Evacuate the Dancefloor”.
The Twister: This is a song from that year with which I normally wouldn’t have fallen in love, but I did.
Kid Cudi vs Crookers – “Day 'n' Nite”.
A pure ‘Fire’ tune. Not all collaborations run smooth. According to Wikipedia:
“A video was released for this version of the song, that Cudi expressed displeasure with and it was released without his permission. He issued an explanation on his blog and asked that all bloggers remove the video from their blogs”.
Could have easily been: Metro Station – “Shake It”, La Roux – “Bulletproof”, Noisettes – “Don’t Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go), Kasabian - “Fire”, or The Killers – “Human”.
The Clubber: The one song that wanted to get me onto the dancefloor.
David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowland – “When Love Takes Over”.
I’m a sucker for an epic string- or piano-based dance track with a quality vocal, and this, for me, nailed it. According to Wikipedia:
“The song was conceived when Guetta played the instrumental version during one of his DJ sets in summer 2008; American recording artist Kelly Rowland, who fell in love with the track, convinced Guetta to allow her to take it so that she could write and record vocals for it. It was co-written by Nervo.”
Could have easily been: Dizzee Rascal – “Bonkers”, Pitbull – “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” or “Hotel Room Service”.
The Coolest: This is the tune that I felt was the coolest yet mainstream song of the year.
Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”.
Okay, this and Alicia’s stripped-down version are epic, but let’s get serious. We had a mini war break out from all directions. There was an unofficial version, and of course Goldie Lookin’ Chains reply. According to Wikipedia:
“In the Welsh language Ymerodraeth means "empire". "Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)" was directed by British filmmaker M-J Delaney and featured London-based actors Alex Warren and Terema Wainwright, rapping and singing respectively. Days after its release Delaney said: "I hope Jay-Z and Alicia get to see the video as long as their publishing people don't force us to take it offline. It's only tongue in cheek. Its participants were invited to appear on national television news and their work was reported in national newspapers. Their work was also so well received in Wales that they were invited to the reopening of the Newport Transporter Bridge. It achieved viral video status when it reached nearly a million hits in 3 days and, by August 2010, nearly 2.5 million people had watched it on YouTube. In July both Warren and Wainwright met with Universal Records (the music publishers) to discuss releasing the track as a single, with some of the proceeds going to the mental health charity Newport Mind. But the seven co-writers of Empire State of Mind refused to give permission for the Newport single, a situation which led to the video being removed from YouTube on August 10”.
Could have easily been: Black Eyed Peas – “Boom Boom Pow”, Keri Hilson feat. Kanye West and Ne-yo – “Knock You Down”, Flo Rida feat. Ke$ha – “Right Round” or Jay Z feat. Rihanna and Kanye West – “Run This Town”.
The Radio Tune: The one that take me back to listening to the radio or playing it on my show wherever that has been.
Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”.
According to Wikipedia:
“in an interview with Robbie, Marieke and the Doctor on Australian radio station Triple J, Nathan Followill explained that the band never intended the song to be named "Sex on Fire", and that it was not intended to be about sexuality. They were totally different lyrics. Depending on whether a song starts with a melody or starts with lyrics, you know if it starts with a melody you just keep playing the melody over and over until you get it down and just throw in any lyrics that fit the verbal flow. It was actually going to be Set Us on Fire, but one of the sound mixers in the studio walked in as we were playing and said, Sex on Fire, huh? And it just kind of became a running joke, and we stuck with it”.
Could have easily been: Kings of Leon – “Use Somebody”, James Morrison and Nelly Furtado – “Broken Strings”, Lily Allen – “Not Fair”, A R Rahman feat. Pussycat Dolls – “Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)”, Agnes – “Release Me” or Cheryl Cole – “Fight For This Love”.
That’s almost it from 2009. 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 original Famouth uni friends (as we held our reunion this year) and to Joe and Josh Sullivan for convincing me to use Facebook to build a different type of audience for Newport City Radio.
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.
See all 125 videos on our You Tube Channel: