Podcasts – it’s all gone Pete Tong!

In the latest edition of Computer Music (Feb 06) there’s an interesting interview with Pete Tong, the dance/Radio 1 DJ and A&R person.

According to the article he’s one of the people at the Beeb who are spearheading podcasting – the Essential Mix podcast is out there (Essential Mix is mostly commercial dance, but is on Friday at 6pm and is one of Radio 1’s most popular shows).

What I found so interesting was his comments (as a Radio DJ) about what podcasting can do:

“You could make a podcast identical to a radio show, apart from the fact it’s not live but I think it’s my job to make it as different as possible, so I very conciously want to cover new ground musically. Ultimately it gives you the ability to go deeper and more personal….The days of turning on the radio and hearing, for example, track 7 off a Kate Bush album are long gone unless you really dig deep, so I think podcasting should be an opportunity to take more risks.You don’t have the responsibility of having to hold down an audience of two million people…

At the start the more radical you are, the more likely you are to find your audience. You can’t just put together a podcast of the biggest dance hits around at the moment. You would get some downloads, but it’s not doing anybody any good. It would be nothing new.”

At last! Someone in the big bad old media who really gets what podcasting is about – not about replicating old formats but simultaneously forging new ground while reclaiming what was great about radio and the music industry before the big media mergers and takeovers. When people could add something of themselves into the playlist. *

It also doesn’t surprise me it’s someone from the commercial dance scene as they are used to niches and underground exposure.

The important thing is not to replicate what’s out there in radio-land, it’s to produce something you wouldn’t hear on the radio in a million years, either because it’s edgy, very new, obscure or non-commercial, unplayable or unfashionable, or just personal.

* For example: I was listening earlier to XFM (owned by Capital, big commercial radio group) and the woman presenting was playing a track off the Rough Trade 05: Counter Culture compilation (not a stretch for XFM to play that, it’s indie compilation on an supposedly indie station) that was obviously not playlist or in the usual genre – it was a great steel band cover of ‘Cars’ – and prefaced it so nervously and afterwards with comments about whether the management or the listenership would like it, that you really got a sense that she could lose her job if she as much as played the wrong track, or a track that went down badly.

And this is on an afternoon show on a Sunday?!? Scary…

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