Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Radio Days: Satellite radio as a global jukebox

Radio Days: Satellite radio as a global jukebox
(first published in Satellite and Digital Choice (Sep/Oct 2004 issue)
by Chrissy Brand

There is a huge variety of different types of music to be found on Satellite radio. Most people stick to the tried and trusted radio stations, but why not get a little more adventurous and turn your satellite system into a global jukebox? As well as enjoying some great music, you will be able to impress your friends with your new-found knowledge on all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds. Here are some good European stations to take you off the beaten track.

Radio Caroline started as an offshore pirate radio station in 1964. Now celebrating its fortieth anniversary, it can be heard on Sky. Archive programmes from its 1960s heyday may now sound clichéd and dated, but they were innovative and radical at the time. It shouldn't be forgotten that the offshore pirates (what anoraks also call `watery wireless') led to much of today's music radio.

The term `anorak' in fact comes not from train-spotters but from the radio enthusiasts who would hang about on piers in the 1960s listening and looking at the radio pirates' offshore ships. Caroline now plays a format of rock, pop and even country. Try Stuart Cameron on Friday evenings from nine with Hot Country News.

Heat radio plays a variety of mostly contemporary dance and feel-good tunes, mixed in with some older soul and dance classics. Heat is on Sky EPG 929 and Freeview 84. There is a good chill-out programme early on Saturday evenings, and with a philosophy of no DJs and `Your Tunes at your rhythm' it's good as a pre-clubbing soundtrack or a quiet night in.

BBC World Service has a number of excellent daily music programmes spanning all genres. Music can be heard four times a day at 0230, 0930, 1630 and 1930 on Astra.

Charlie Gillett's excellent programme covers a lot of African music with infectious rhythms to perk you up. Have a listen on Wednesdays and you will hear sounds from Algeria, Benin, Malaysia, and beyond. You are likely to hear gems such as Cesaria Evora of the Cape Verde Islands or the Paris-based Congolese group Kekele. Check out their new CD Congo life, with its retro sound influenced by the west-central Africa of the 1960s.

Each Tuesday Music Review is a feature programme that can look at music anywhere in the world. Recent programmes had a French feel, with a broadcast from Lille, the European City of Culture 2004. Lille boasts a strong live musical pedigree with a Symphony Orchestra, concert hall and refurbished opera house. Currently in the main square there is an art installation in the form of a suspended forest, complete with birdsong and music. Another programme focused on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of France, featuring 1940s favourites like Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and songs of the French Resistance.

Whilst we are in France, there are several exciting stations that merit a mention. Jazzy Love (Hotbird 4) offers a great selection of laid-back grooves 24 hours a day. Bossa Nova, Brazilian soul, new age and mainstream artists such as Norah Jones and Diana Krall are all on offer. The station plays some great jingles too, often in English.

La Radio du Voyage on Astra 1H has an evocative playlist including artists such as Azul Azul, Clarence Fragman and Marisa Monte. Over on Astra Canal 67 radio Media Tropical give you France with an African beat with programmes such as Nuit Media Tropical and La Bouteille a la Mer.

Other music to create what could be seen as a typically French atmosphere include France Inter with accordion music, Gallic songs, and archive concerts. (Astra 1 H, Hot Bird 4 and Atlantic Bird 3).

France-Inter comes from Allouis in central France. They have a good variety of music programmes in the evenings, so you can tune into light classical on a Thursday, or jazz at the weekends presented by Julien Delli Fiori. Even their breakfast show makes a novel change, with 1930s orchestral led romantic songs popping up next to 1980s pop.

Over in Denmark there is a wide-ranging radio scene. Starting off with DR Klassisk which is a 24-hour classical music station that highlights the best of the Danish classical orchestras. There is an opera every Tuesday at 1900 and a live concert on Fridays and Sunday at the same time. Chamber music (small instrumental groups) is scattered all over their schedule, but at weekends is on Saturdays from lunchtime to the evenings and Sunday lunchtimes.

The other national Danish stations on the DR network are DR1, DR2, DR3
and DR4 which can be found on Intelsat 707, Thor 3 and Sirius 3. They cover rock, pop, jazz and all manner of chart music. Sky radio and Pop FM on Thor 2 in similar vein are two other great Danes worth listening to.

RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann) from Dublin does not only play traditional Irish music, although it has plenty of that on offer in programmes such as Ceili House and Mo Cheol. RTE 1 (Sky EPG 910) has a fine selection of other music programmes, such as Mystery Train, and Country Heartland (bluegrass, acoustic roots and country). Another RTE 1 regular is Rattlebag with Myles Dungan, a magazine programme covering all the arts and popular culture.

RTE Lyric FM broadcasts from Limerick, and this satellite relay of the FM station plays lesser known musical genres such as choral and film soundtracks. On Saturdays Ian Fox suggests music for a classical library, and experts in other fields pop in, to offer information on jazz, cabaret and world music. RTE can be found on Hot Bird 6, Astra 2B and Astra 2D as well as Sky
From flamenco to Euro-pop, classical guitar to disco divas, Spanish radio is always fun to dip into. The national network, RNE (Radio Nacional de España) can be heard on Hotbird. Spain serves Spanish expats well, with signals beamed across the globe on a number of satellites including Asiasat, Hispasat and Telstart.

RNE 1 plays the best radio from the Spanish regional stations, so can be a bit hit and miss, according to your taste. RNE 2 proffers classical music and cultural programmes in Spanish, whilst RNE 3 promotes itself as a young persons station.

Spains' international broadcaster REE, (Radio Exterior de España) broadcasts in various languages and has some interesting musical slots.

Finally, check out Canal Sur on Astra. It has an evocative mix of Spanish and Andalucian music, along with international pop and rock from its Seville headquarters. (Astra 2C, Hispasat).
So there you are, in no time at all your music tastes have been widened by employing your satellite set up as a global jukebox. Tune around and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you hear.

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