So. I’m going to ramble about the radio I like to listen to. There’s going to be a lot of rambling. You might want to skip this one.
I love listening to the radio. I really do. The only thing I don’t like, is that it doesn’t scrobble to my last.fm profile, but that’s mostly because I’m a huge nerd.
When I was little, from about the age of 8 or 9, I used to listen to Capital FM. I don’t think it was a national station back then, just a London one, and I used to listen to it on a radio that was older than I was with a really big aerial. I listened to Dr Fox and Margherita Taylor and…I didn’t like listening to Steve Penk. He was kind of annoying. I do like pop music and maybe it’s nostalgia or the mists of time obscuring my memory, but I don’t remember the playlist being quite so small or the same songs getting played so often. Times have changed of course, so I don’t listen to Capital anymore unless I’m flicking away from a competition where someone could lose on whatever station I am listening to (yeah, I don’t like to hear people lose competitions, it’s a bit of a downer).
The best thing I remember about Capital was that they played Ben Folds Five and Ben Folds a total of 4 times that I heard over the time I was listening. I don’t know how I got into Ben Folds Five though. It might have been because I heard them played just the one time on Capital and thanks to my good memory for this sort of thing, I remembered liking the song several months later when it was played again. I probably managed to catch the band name and it spiralled from there. I know I was dead excited when “Army” got into the top 40 and they were then on Top of the Pops.
I suppose that Capital FM was responsible for me getting into indie, rock, punk and other alternative music. It’s kind of boggling to think about like that. My Dad liked rock music, sure. He really liked The Doors – to the extent that I think it got overplayed in the car and I really can’t listen to them for any length of time without getting a headache My Dad’s taste in music didn’t rub off on me then. My Mum likes…classical music and Abba and Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey and yeah, I like all of these things. I don’t often listen to them or deliberately search them out, but my liking for these things does come from her.
From Ben Folds Five, I found that I liked Silverchair (they were both on the Godzilla soundtrack) and then that I liked Placebo and Suede and the Manics and Feeder and…lots of not-strictly-pop bands that sometimes featured in Smash Hits. When Smash Hits started to fail me on the music news front I switched to Melody Maker and my friends at secondary school let me know about XFM. Then it was onto Q and Select and NME and Rocksound and so on.
It was Rocksound that got me into AFI thanks to one of their songs appearing on a free CD that was attached to the front. I still love AFI now and yeah, it’s probably AFI till I die.
Back to radio though. By this time, I had a new stereo in my room with the same sort of massive aerial and I listened to XFM. And occasionally the radio on the train that goes past my house would but that went away during my A-Levels. I think the DJ I miss most from back then was Natasha. I never knew what her surname was, but I remember that she thought Gavin Rossdale was hot. That and the music she played and her interesting/funny chatter made her probably my favourite DJ from back then.
Then… I went to Birmingham to go to university and those were the dark days of my radio listening. Living in university accommodation, I drifted away from radio and onto endless mp3 playlists and CDs through my laptop. Those were also the days of when the powers that be at XFM thought it would be a good idea to ditch all the daytime radios and put a robot in charge of the music. I’m kind of glad that I missed all that. Even now, the whole idea actually makes my heart hurt. I love XFM because of the music AND the DJs. If I just want music with no interesting talky bits then… I will use last.fm or listen to mp3s or listen to CDs.
I started listening again in my last year at uni, when I was living in a house with 4 boys and not in a university flat with 4 girls who were freshers. I’m not sure how relevant that last part is to my music listening habits. Anyway, I was back on to listening to XFM even though it was through their website not from my actual radio.
It probably helped that totally randomly I won tickets to the première for V For Vendetta from them in that year. I heard a question while listening, hopped over to the website to put my answer in and a few days later, while in the car with the boys on the way to the cinema, I got a random call telling me that hey I had won and to do this and that and so on. It was kind of mind-blowing. Of course, since I hadn’t expected to win anything, I hadn’t really thought about going to some event in London while I was in Birmingham. In the end I blew off that afternoon’s lectures and went down on the train, dropping off my stuff at home on the way. It was exciting and I was mere feet away from Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman and the film was great and… yeah. A bit of bribery secured my return to listening to XFM I suppose.
Since then… I somehow got tickets to see Maximo Park from Dave Berry on the Morning Show and have managed to win tickets to THREE Evening Withs from Steve Harris (who is totally adorable and my favourite DJ (I might have a bit of a crush)) even though in the end I could only go to two of them due to life happening.
So yeah. XFM. I love it. The DJs are all so lovely and friendly sounding. The website is nice to look at and the radio player is well-integrated. Thanks to Eddy Temple-Morris I managed to get a discount on my custom earplugs – so not only has my favourite radio station enabled my listening habit, it’s also protected my little ears from more permanent damage.