TOWARD   THE   UNKNOWN   REGION

 

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GERONIMO


TOWARD THE UNKNOWN REGION

on Radio Seagull

online Friday & Saturday at midday UK time
and again at midnight
on various AM frequencies in the Netherlands & online

 



Click here for Chris B Radio Seagull Biography


MISSION STATEMENT
 

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

I noticed a Mission Statement on an office wall - Lots of grandiose verbiage about putting the customer first, caring for the staff and providing quality products. I’m sure many businesses have what amounts to a statement of intent. The cynical amongst us may consider a Mission Statement to be a prettily typed and elegantly framed pack of lies, so it is with some trepidation that I have decided the best way to describe my interest in broadcasting is to pompously and pretentiously treat it like a corporate entity, viz:
 

  • 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 occasionally play something we all know;
    • to not be bothered about being personally popular – the music is the message, the music is the priority. Ironically, neglecting the need for popularity, by reason of not playing safe songs, seems to have resulted in a loyal listenership. ‘They’ say that there’s no need to be so serious. Hmm, serious about the music, absolutely, but presentation style, I think not! I’m just pleased that my unquestioning 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 nearly 40 years;
    • 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’ (although I have spotted a few inaccuracies, perhaps that’s because although I was around in the 60’s I do actually remember it all. Being born in 1955 I was too young to be staggering around in a drug induced haze but old enough to be excited by Pirate Radio from the first day I was given my own transistor radio on Christmas Day 1966);
    • to make the music the centre of attraction. Quote about Radio Geronimo, 1970: “Not the pirate radio, the alternative. There are no ego-tripping DJs mixing their inanities with those of the banal music that they play."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teenage Kicks - Peel, Radio London, BBC Radio 1, Geronimo, Seagull & Caroline
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, hey, I was 12 and had just discovered pirate radio, and it was THE summer of Love. 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. With hindsight it is obvious that Peelie was solely responsible (in the nicest possible way) for endowing me with a willingness to embrace new music - resulting in a musical maturity way ahead of my teen-age. For that I am truly thankful. Otherwise I may well have missed out on hearing the first plays of all of the fabulous music around in the late 60's & early 70's - Tyrannosaurus Rex, Captain Beefheart, Boeing Duveen & The Beautiful Soup, Stackwaddy, Tractor, Incredible String Band...

I've previously commented on air that 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 latterly Radio 2, with programming from presenters such as Johnnie Walker, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie) Caroline was the intermittent soundtrack to much of my life but Geronimo was the catalyst that sparked the inspiration…droning voices, fantastic music – progressive rock, 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, embargoed promos supplied by Peel freely played on a station without the restrictions of the BBC. Of course such a radio station was doomed to failure, as wonderful things so often are, and Geronimo had but a short 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 gave us another opportunity of the Geronimo experience in the guise of Radio Seagull from the Mi Amigo. Geronimo stalwarts, Hugh Nolan & Barry Everitt were invited onboard complete with hashpipes and record collections ranging from BC (Bing Crosby) to CB (Captain Beefheart);

For those who have never heard the Chris B experience, here’s a typical selection of what passes for programme content: anything committed to vinyl or CD. That makes it truly BROADcasting as opposed to the NARROWcasting that passes for radio all too often. Plus, I suppose, the occasional anorak attack, with snippets from the past. But, that's where the problem arises - the anorak. Until recently it never occurred to me (naiive and innocent that I am) that there were two parallel alternative radio worlds. (We can instantly discount all of the UK commercial stations with their rotation of 200 songs chosen by focus groups). 1960s/1970's Pirate/Free radio enthusiasts seem to never be able to listen to any BBC station, forever blaming them for the demise of the North Sea pirate stations. They live in a musical prison that only allows them to listen to the music played by offshore radio stations and their subsequent online/satellite descendants. Those of us who embraced the actual music, rather than the radio station name (and the thought of listening to something that was upsetting the establishment), have been rewarded with a rich musical experience. Another alternate radio world - Late Junction on Radio 3 offers possibly the most diverse and eclectic mix of quality and adventurous music. 6 Music is now a major source for eclectic music - old and new. Even Radio 4 has the occasional music gem. Dandelion Radio  www.dandelionradio.com offers a 24/7 Peel inspired mix of false starts, informed comment and damn good music. Independent, Original, Uncompromising...

These ‘better music mixes’ are not for the uncommitted. It is probably for the more discerning listener, the serious listener, the music enthusiast, the collector, the seeker of music that challenges. This is why I have never sought peak time listening, although ironically, a private sponsor of ‘Toward The Unknown Region’ lived in Los Angeles, California, where the late night UK broadcast was heard mid afternoon - early evening. Now does that tell us something? Actually at KCRW Santa Monica there is a programme called ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’ which is even more varied. It airs every weekday from 9.00am – midday local time in L.A. Host, Nic Harcourt, has built a show around the unusual, the eclectic. In fact so good is the reputation of 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' that it has become 'appointment radio' for showbiz executives, ever in search of 'cutting edge' music for TV commercials and shows. Nic also finds himself being asked to select songs for film soundtracks. Take a listen at www.kcrw.com

Mind you, sticking to what you believe in can be difficult. Principles can be expensive. I believe you should remain true to yourself. Not always easy... and if you do deviate from the plan you may feel you have let yourself down and lost credibility in the eyes of others...

The show has been broadcast (legally) via satellite, internet and AM (medium wave). Occasional special broadcasts have been made via 100kilowatt Short Wave (ex cold war propaganda?) transmitters in Latvia, with reception reports from as far away as Japan and Australia. Sadly, the backers/owners/program directors of two of the radio stations that distributed the show have either marginalised the program or taken their radio station in a more mainstream direction. Comments such as "sorry, we can no longer have presenters playing their favourite music" or even, "follow our playlist or put the automation on and go home"...

Another influence over the years has been Bob Harris, from his BBC Radio 1 programme through the Whistle Test years and on to his current Radio 2 shows. Now Bob often only plays a track once but fortunately he, or perhaps it was someone else, had the great idea to publish the playlist for each programme. Better still, all the playlists are there stretching back several years. That great song you just caught the end of but couldn’t quite make out who it was by – names such as ‘Dana Lyons’ or ‘Five Horse Johnson’ can easily slip by your ears at first mention so a playlist is a great idea. Now I’m never ashamed to use someone else’s idea so I’ve embraced this
PLAYLISTS idea, possibly not as comprehensively as our friend Bob – but he probably has a team of helpers, and let’s not forget that someone like Bob is also paid for his efforts.


Finally there are the inevitable websites.

I mentioned Radio Geronimo earlier in this diatribe and find that I have created an internet version of a scrapbook of Geronimo memorabilia, ephemera, and even some audio clips from programmes. www.radiogeronimo.com 

In conjunction with Mark Dezzani at Europa Productions in Italy we also have an Award winning film for a proposed television documentary about Radio Geronimo. It's an interesting story about the counter culture, jamming the BBC, hippies running a radio station from the opulent spendour of Harley Street West One London coupled with the even more opulent Monte Carlo and associated radio station...

Written and Produced by Chris Bent; Edited and Directed by Mark Dezzani
Winner of Best Short Documentary + Independent Spirit Award:


Barry & Hugh, from Geronimo, went on to present for Radio Seagull in 1973 from the radio ship Mi Amigo and you'll also find some historical notes about the Ronan O'Rahilly inspired Radio Seagull at www.radioseagull.co.uk which is the home of the original incarnation of Radio Seagull. The Seagull audio archive can also be found at that site - Barry Everitt presents music from artists as diverse  as Bing Crosby and the MC5. ..



Well, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably missed today's programme which is a pity because we would probably have heard Captain Beefheart, followed by I Monster, Kate Tempest, Left Banke, followed by LCD Sound System, the entire Dandelion back catalogue of Bridget St John, followed by the much vilified late period work of Albert Ayler - performed by Healing Force...

...and the latest ongoing project is to play each weeks New Singles (from 50 years ago), as published by Francis Antony Ltd, East Hill, St Austell, Cornwall. In November 2018 we started with those singles released on 1st November 1968 and will continue weekly until summer 2024... (when the cache of these lists runs out..)

I say 'we' because since October 2018 I have an assistant, a PA, a co-presenter; more than that - a friend from my childhood joining me each week in the studio. Marcelle was born a few weeks after me, no more than a quarter of a mile away, on the Dogsthorpe Estate in Peterborough. We hadn't even attended the same primary school and had last seen each other in summer 1966 when, as a group of children playing in the street, we were all about to start  secondary school. Boys only schools, Girls only schools, Secondary Modern and Grammar. It never occurred to any of us at the time but secondary education would conspire to split us up as we formed new friendships at separate schools. I must have cycled past Marcelle's house every school day for 5 years and yet we were leading completely separate lives. Little did we know that we had parallel interests in the music of the day - and not just a vague passing teenage interest in music. Move on 52 years to summer 2018 when I finally succumbed to social media and began searching for primary school friends. To find one of them (Tim) I needed some clues. I could remember playing in Tim's street with him and other children from his street. A girl lived opposite him and we played a street game which somehow included naming pop groups. I had a vivid recollection of The Troggs being associated with this girl. (Do you see a music connection even then?) Fortuitously still using her maiden name online I tentatively sent a message to a girl I hadn't spoken to since we were 11 years old. Success! I found Tim and as a bonus began a musical friendship with Marcelle that had hardly had a chance to start in 1966. We discovered that we both loved albums by the Zombies (Odessey & Oracle), King Crimson (In The Court Of The Crimson King), The Who (Sell Out) and many more. And a mutual appreciation of groups such as the Left Banke, obscure 'b' sides, and the back catalogue of Golden Earring/s. Neither of us had ended our musical likes in the 70's and we enthusiastically discuss the sounds of today and the past 50 years. For a few hours each week we are 13 once again, young teenagers playing the sounds of that day and with an open mind to the music of this day...

The next track will be the white vinyl only release of 'Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood' from Wild Birds and Peace Drums. Why? Because otherwise you may never hear it...


Me, I’m just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way I walk.


© Chris Bent, revised 22 January 2019
Click here for Chris B Radio Seagull Biography

email demo/promo samples to:

 

 

Comment, taken from the Radio Seagull Discussion Group

"Me, I'm just a lawnmower - you can tell me by the way I walk."

It was nice to hear that again on today's Unknown Region

It always seemed like a daft and meaningless line, until I read an
account of old country ways.

A machine to cut the grass was not invented until the 1830s. Prior to
this, the only way of keeping the grass trimmed at the country houses
of the landed gentry was by a man with a scythe; such a man was
called a lawnmower. So the name was applied to a person before it
ever became applied to a mechanical device.

Now the main occupation of a man with a scythe was to cut the hay in
the fields. If the field was large, a line of men would work their
way from one end to the other. It was a skilled job, and they had to
set off one at a time (think of the nursery rhyme 'One man went to
mow...'), so that the blade of one man's scythe did not get tangled
with the feet of the man next to him as it swung. But this was not
foolproof, and foot injuries were fairly common.

Thus I conclude that a 'lawnmower' may indeed be distinguished by his
gait.

It's all true, I tell ya. Next week, the entire works of Procol Harum

--
Stewart Hargrave.

 


 

Everything ripens at its time... and becomes fruit at its hour...