Friday, September 21, 2007

Radio One More Time: Sound City

What a surprise when, emerging from Pilgrim Street in Liverpool, my path was crossed by John Peel, his son and a couple of their friends. That, in itself, wasn't so very strange, but four paces behind them was a bunch of starstruck Scousers, trailing along in mute admiration. Peel was in town as part of Sound City, one of those events where Radio One would just pitch up and take command of a town's music scene for a week. (There was also One Live, and the shorter lived Radio Comes To Town, where the other networks would also join in.)

When Sound City was in Liverpool, everyone wanted a piece of it. The faltering annual local music festival tried to cast itself as senior partner to the Radio One festivities; a Radio One sponsored seminar about music on the radio was effectively hijacked and turned into an attack on Crash FM's betrayal of its original supporters (the BBC had the bad luck to turn up just after Bernie Connor had been dumped from Crash for caring more about music than building a radio brand) and, for a few nights, the Liverpool Lomax's two-story L2 was at the height of its powers, as audiences crashed from the downstairs stage to the larger upstairs room for a continuous live broadcast.

(Arguably, of course, the L2's bigger claim to fame would have been the time it played a key role in the poorly-conceived denouement of the Brookside Musgrave rape storyline, but by that time watching Brookside had become such a parochial affair, it's unlikely anyone noticed.)

Even for a city that swaggers like Liverpool, the appearance of one of the national networks in your midst, broadcasting pretty much all of its evening output from the place, does make you feel special. We'll bet even during One Live In Nottingham, the city felt like it was at the very heart of the world of music.

There is, simply, is no better way to watch Marine Research than over the shoulder of John Peel.

And - unlike the time Any Questions was at Riverside College - nobody cut the cables connecting the event to the transmitters.

[Part of Radio One More Time]