on air with
Toward The Unknown Region
Radio London was my first love in 1967 - a hot summer when my parents
worried that I was not running around outside with all the other kiddies.
But I had just discovered pirate radio...
John Peel, initially with Radio London, then amazingly with BBC
Radio 1 from 1967 until his untimely death in October 2004 was undoubtedly
a major influence on my young, impressionable and rebellious mind.
My brain is stuck
at age 16 - not in a boring 'living in the past' kind of way, but in a
'Wow, isn't this new one from Kate Tempest stunning'.
It's something John Peel was undoubtedly also afflicted with, but it
certainly broadens your musical outlook - and still lets you enjoy the
thrill of hearing NEW music for the first time. Teenage kicks indeed...
Radio 1, and briefly RNI (Radio North Sea International),
Caroline was the
intermittent soundtrack to much of my life but Radio
Geronimo, intriguingly via Monte Carlo from Harley Street, was the
catalyst that sparked the inspiration…droning voices, fantastic music –
progressive rock, world music, jazz & classical all in the same programme, facts about
the music, news of concerts, the use of earthy language of the street, the
counter culture vibe. Of course such a radio station was doomed to
failure and Geronimo had but a short
butterfly life of less than a year. But it was long enough to show how it could be
done. The adverts don’t have to interfere with the music, the presenter
can be knowledgeable, you can have the listener being treated as an equal
to the presenter. In 1973/74 Ronan O'Rahilly (founder of Radio Caroline) gave us another opportunity
of the Geronimo experience in the guise of Radio Seagull from the Mi
Amigo radio ship. Ronan purposely drafted in ex Geronimo presenters Hugh
Nolan and Barry Everitt.
a 16 year old Chris
In August 2003 Chris Bent, a.k.a. Chris B,
at that time based in Canada, was one of the voices to be heard on
the launch day for the new Radio Seagull. Chris writes: "Before
moving to Canada I'd spent a year with Radio Caroline via the Maidstone
Studio complex. In homage to
those great shows from Rob Leighton (Imagination) and Andy Tillitson
(Dance On A Volcano), I decided to give my show a grand title: 'Toward The
Unknown Region'. It's after a poem by Walt Whitman and it was also the
title of an album by The Torch Song, an early recording vehicle for
William Orbit. I am aware that it could appear all too serious so the show
is subtitled: ...where
know no bounds..."
B at Harlingen Harbour:
At Harlingen, home of the Radio Seagull
ship Jenni Baynton
Toward The Unknown Region -
'where pomposity and pretentiousness know no
The Chris B mission
to play lesser known tracks that
were overlooked when first issued, and liberally sprinkle in songs
from long established artists – but not necessarily songs with
which you may be familiar.
to play songs by new artists that
are otherwise ignored;
to take a chance, to act upon a
hunch, to play songs by unfashionable artists; to remember that
although it might be old, it could be the greatest song that a new
listener has heard for the first time.
to occasionally play something we
the music is the message, the music
is the priority. My faith in the music has been rewarded by
confirmation that others share a liking for the peripheral areas
of the music scene, both now and going back 50 years or so*;
to sound happy, to be kind, to
invite comment and ideas from listeners;
to offer the occasional informed
comment about the music founded on knowledge gleaned over many
years (wasted) reading about the trivia of popular culture – also
based on many hours of ‘professional radio listening’, would that
such a vocation existed! And of course, the blaggers guides,
‘Record Collector’ and ‘Tapestry Of Delights’;
to make the music the centre of
great song you just caught the end of but couldn’t quite make out who it
was by – names such as ‘Sufjan Stevens’ or ‘Five Horse Johnson’ can easily
slip by your ears at first mention so a playlist is a great idea. As far
as I know Bob Harris (BBC) was the first presenter to archive his
playlists. I’m never ashamed to use someone else’s idea so I’ve embraced
*Hours spent in Campkins Record
Shop, Peterborough, sifting through the ex-chart and failed singles. Just
knowing, having listened intently to the radio, that 'Fredereek Hernando'
by One In A Million was worth buying. (One record collector was amazed
that any copies of this ultra rare MGM single, featuring a young Jimmy
McCulloch, had been distributed outside of Scotland.) Just knowing that
the Earth and Fire LP on Nepentha records was a great album... and on
Dandelion records 'A Candle For Judith' by The Way We Live a.k.a. Tractor.
Early electronica like 'An Electric Storm' by The White Noise... and
buying the Columbia 45 'It Would Be So Nice/Julia Dream' which would
ultimately be disowned by the band that recorded it, Pink Floyd...
Meeting up with the original
'class of 73/74' Radio Seagull presenters:
with Barry Everitt at the Borderline Club, London. (Barry is still with
Radio Seagull, hosting 'House of Mercy')
with the late great Tony Allan at Queenborough
with Bob Noakes (author
of 'Last of the Pirates) at
Amsterdam Radio Day 2003
Tony Christian (also ex Radio Seagull) watches
checks out the Bridge studio on board the Jenni Baynton
Note the original Radio
Seagull T shirt - kindly printed in 2005 as a brand new 'one off'
by Elija Van Den Berg (1973 Radio Seagull crew) using her original Seagull T shirt
Many thanks to the much missed Elijah who passed away in 2016.