Radio Seagull: Chris B on air with Toward The Unknown Region

PLAYLISTS

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...

Along with 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 B

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 pomposity and pretentiousness know no bounds..."

Chris B at Harlingen Harbour:

At Harlingen, home of the Radio Seagull ship Jenni Baynton

Toward The Unknown Region - 'where pomposity and pretentiousness know no bounds...'

  • The Chris B mission is…

    • 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 all know;
    • 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 attraction
       

      Finally, that 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 this PLAYLISTS idea.
       
      *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:


Chris B 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

Chris 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 printer.
Many thanks to the much missed Elijah who passed away in 2016.