I’m sad to be writing this because the radio programme has been part of my life for more than eight years, Down In The Grooves, the show I do for BBC Radio Leeds is to finish at the end of December, along with dozens of other disparate shows across the BBC local radio network, as part of the DQF savings. DQF (Delivering Quality First) is a typical management confection that was basically cooked up as another phrase for cuts, once ex-Director General Mark Thompson had decided that he didn’t want to stick up for the BBC and froze the licence fee for six years – a decision that has had consequences right across the BBC ever since.
For the uninitiated, Down In The Grooves played a mix of garage-punk, psychedelia, R&B, soul, funk, ska/rocksteady, music library, soundtracks – taken mainly from the years 1955-75 but featuring modern acts echoing those eras and their music. When I started the programme in September 2004, I invited all sorts of DJs, producers, artists to come on the show such as Ady Croasdell (Kent Records), John Schroeder, Gary Walker (Walker Bros), Preston Ritter (Electric Prunes), Andy Votel & Dom Thomas (Finders Keepers) and it was great to hear all their tales. All this helped pass the word around about the show.
I got emails from all round the world saying how glad they were to have found a show that played northern soul next to Hungarian psych next to ’50s rockabilly next to German garage beat. These emails arrived from glamorous and not-so-glamorous locations all over the world including a geologist working in the deserts of Yemen who was blasting my show out to some bewildered goats and their herdsmen!! Now, it’s not uncommon for internet radio shows to have playlists as esoteric as mine but I suppose what people appreciated was that there was a BBC show willing to go beyond the bland playlist. That’s what people told me anyway.
I guess I should have known the writing was on the wall when Mark Lamarr was considered persona non grata at Radio 2. The reasons I was given by my manager was money and apparently 6Music cover the same sort of territory (not the last time I looked) but I guess the same manager knows what she’s doing in keeping two hours of Brass Band music on air and a Big Band Show presented by someone who wasn’t invited to be part of a Radio Leeds Big Band event!!
All I can say is that it saddens me that in the current climate, anything a bit unusual is not going to cut the mustard but hopefully there are outlets for the weird and wonderful sounds of the ’50s/60s/70s out there somewhere. Luckily the show enabled me to DJ in places like Barcelona and Berlin, which were unforgettable nights but I’m just wondering who’s gonna turn the next generation of kids onto the wonders of a Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich B-side!!