Interview by Stephen Pennell ©
As someone who needs to keep his ear to the Lower Trinity Street ground and his finger on the throbbing pulse of the Birmingham music scene, there are three local radio shows that are essential listening for me - Pete Steel’s Second City Sounds and the A-List Show (both on Brum Radio), and Alex Noble and Tim Senna’s BBC WM Introducing on... erm...BBC WM. They’re all great so don’t ask me to pick a favourite. This terrific trio of shows has now become a Fab Four, ever since Adrian Goldberg began broadcasting Adventures In Music, another Brum Radio winner. The playlist is not entirely locally-sourced but when he does spin a Brummie platter it stands proudly on its own two feet against the best of the rest in a gloriously eclectic soundtrack to, as the title suggests, the host’s adventures in music. I spoke to the Birmingham-born broadcaster and journalist about his new show.
Congratulations on a great show, what would its mission statement be?
My aim is pretty simple - to have a good time sharing the great music I love. After the Mrs and kids of course, the two things that have given me the greatest pleasure in life are music and football, and as a Baggies fan, only occasionally with the footy. I started going to gigs when I was about 12 when I saw the Four Tops at Birmingham Odeon with my sister and I've never stopped since. It's a tale which involves begging punk bands like Chelsea and the Adverts to let me help them in with their gear around the back of Barbarellas because I was too young and poor to gain admission, playing in my own bands, and absorbing as many new sounds as I can. I love old school punk, soul music, grime - anything with passion and a social conscience - and I hate the way music radio segments audiences by age and musical taste so I'm here to bust boundaries with a show that I hope will be intergenerational and unite people with open minds and open ears.
Can you give us a potted history of your personal story so far?
Nah, boring. I’ll just say I’m Birmingham born - Harborne's now demolished Lordswood Hospital, and grew up on the Ley Hill Estate in Northfield, also now demolished. Is there a theme developing?
Stewart Lee, Michael Cumming and Nick Kent were fantastic guests.
We can't bullshit people that they'll have millions of listeners to my show on Brum Radio. What they will have is an audience that really really gives a damn about music and is seeking out stuff that's a little bit different to the mainstream. So when people like Stewart Lee and Michael Cumming come on, they know it won't be patronising nostalgia about the King Kong statue - it will be all be about Robert Lloyd and his music because that's what they're interested in and what I'm interested in, so we connect as fans. In their case, they agreed to a 20 minute chat and stayed for an hour and a half because if you're fan nothing beats talking about the thing you love with another fan. Nick Kent was gettable because he has a novel out - The Unstable Boys - it's excellent - but we connected because we both love the music. Over my years working for the BBC I've obviously built up a few contacts and hopefully Brum Radio listeners can enjoy the benefits of that over the coming weeks with more great guests, but really I "sell" the idea of the show on my enthusiasm to talk to them and share their love of music too. This also means I don't have to talk to anybody I don't want to. This will be a Genesis-free zone.
Speaking more generally, I can't see a future for music radio where the sounds are generated by focus groups and algorithms. You can always pick a better playlist for yourself from Spotify than what the industry wants to feed you on the radio What you can't replicate on a streaming service is warm, intelligent conversation, and shows which respond organically to the moment. On Brum Radio, there's no news, no travel jingle, no "furniture" as they call it in the trade. And when Stewart Lee mentions a Joe Crow track we can fish it out and play it even if it was never in the plan. That's an amazing freedom compared to both commercial and BBC radio.
Are there any guests coming up you want to preview?
We’ve got Richard Balls who is writing the biography of Shane McGowan, we'll be joined by Vic Godard of Subway Sect, the legendary music journo John Robb, Stephen Duffy of the Lilac Time, and the brilliant Matthew Edwards, a massively under-rated Birmingham artist. But we're forward looking too - there'll be much more conversation with current artists too..
Thanks a million for having me on. You handled my tech-based idiocy seamlessly. Have you had any other nightmarish experiences with technophobes?
I hate to be sexist about this, but the number of middle aged blokes who get their missus to handle the tech is laughable. Come on chaps... the tech is actually very straightforward, but people always struggle with what they don't know. I've had to get to grips with it as a broadcaster and podcaster because lockdown made it much more difficult to get about. Just don't ask me to change a light bulb!
I love the playlist, what kind of criteria applies/thoughts do you put into it?
The music selection is personal so it either has to be a sound that I connect with emotionally, or where there's a story to tell...life's too short to play shit records. The show is always rooted in classic punk because that's when I came of age as a music fan, but punk was never about safety pins or mohican haircuts or conformity - it was about passion, expressing yourself, a Do It Yourself Attitude, not following leaders, and there's loads of music that encapsulates those qualities, some of it which sounds "punky" some of which doesn't. The guiding light is John Peel's comment when he was asked "what's your favourite song?" He would always say "the next one I haven't heard yet".
I’m at work at the live broadcast time every other week, so thank God for ‘listen again’ facilities.
Listen again is brilliant but we do want more people joining in live as well, so the show is moving to a Saturday morning from February 27th.
So there you have it. Still on Fridays for now and moving to a new Saturday morning slot at the end of this month. It’s essential listening, but don’t take my word for it, click on the links below. Both absolutely unmissable.
Stewart Lee episode:
Nick Kent episode:
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