Friday 19 July 2013

Radio in Liverpool...

Info first published in my Radio Websites column in Radio User, July 2013 (extract)

I have been listening to a variety of online radio this past month, and some of it was inspired by a few visits to Liverpool- real visits in person rather than virtual, that is. For most people the landmarks of this city are the cathedrals and the Liver Building with its famous birds on the top. 

But for me it has always been the Radio City Tower that dominates the skyline and the centre of the city. It was opened in 1969 and Radio City broadcast from it on 96.7 MHz and online. 

They have a Twitter handle of @RadioCity967 and a YouTube channel at which has promotional videos and interesting offshoots such as acoustic sessions. It’s a station that successfully juggles local sports coverage with local music. And for a fiver you can even go up the tower itself. 

City Talk 105.9 covers all the bases too, with politics and sport sandwiched between news and phone-ins, which include Dr Mike’s City Surgery, offering health and welfare advice. Planet X investigates the paranormal while there is a smattering of mainstream music such as the Top 40 and oldies shows.

Juice 107.6 is another commercial station but one which concentrates on chart and contemporary music for the young at heart.

BBC Radio Merseyside offers the usual tried and tested BBC local radio fare of personalities spinning discs, and a range of sometimes offbeat phone-in topics.

Recent phone-ins have included memories of days at the seaside and how audio cassettes are making a comeback in Canada as bands prefer their vintage sound quality.

The city has a healthy history of lively free radio as well. Central Radio Liverpool is a pirate station, online at if you are out of its frequency range. The Scouse House Shout Out Show is one example of programming. Merseyside Alternative Radio at is a well-established FM and medium wave pirate and includes some welcome female pirates in the form of Jackie Frost and Kelley Collins, the latter is based in Philadelphia.

Liverpool stations that are also interest to me though are those based elsewhere in the world. County Community Radio is in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. The station started in 2008 and tries to suit all of its older listeners’ tastes by “playing music from the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, or 80's. Oldies, classic rock, big band, disco, old school R&B, country, and gospel are a few of the genres that share QCCR's airwaves. We take pride in being an eclectic station that serves the varied and discerning tastes of our Queens County audience.”

CKBW South Shore Radio on 94.5 also serves the area with a typical blend of modern pop and similar genres It also produces “That East Coast Show” which is an interesting podcast.

There are a handful of Liverpools in the USA too. Liverpool in Texas only has a population of 500 so is not large enough to sustain its own station. However, Liverpool in Illinois has about a dozen FM stations in its reach, see . These include Peoria Public Radio which has an array of interesting features and talk.

Suzanne Vega’s old song “In Liverpool” always pops into my head too- it’s a melancholic quiet Sunday wandering around deserted streets- she performed it well as part of a live set when I saw her many moons ago. The Daily Motion website includes it as does the official Suzanne Vega YouTube channel at

Wednesday 3 July 2013

On the road...

First published in my Broadcast Matters: Long, Medium and Shortwave column in Radio User, July 2013 (extract)

Over Easter I spent a fabulous family fortnight in the western USA, on a road trip.

Sightseeing quite rightly took up much of our time but I spent some late evenings and early mornings tuned to the radio. Surveying the USA radio scene is always fun. While FM offered many genres of music, in the cities at least, medium wave was more interesting to me.
This was partly because there were DX opportunities and I never quite knew what I’d hear next. I didn’t achieve any spectacular DX catches as it happens, but just listening to and identifying stations a few miles to a few hundred miles away was hugely enjoyable.

We started in Las Vegas and where I logged around 15 mw stations. Sports radio is big news in the States with KMZQ on 670kHz and KBAD Fox Sports on 920 kHz being two examples. On 1100kHz KWWN was a community sports station with live basketball commentaries. From North Las Vegas came station KXNS with plenty of sport along with other programmes. They were on a pledge drive with adverts urging listeners to donate unwanted vehicles to sell for charity. This is obviously something of a popular fund raiser at the moment as I heard a couple of National Public Radio FM stations do similar. 

Incidentally NPR was the best quality of programme content I heard anywhere in the USA: Interesting and entertaining, with quiz shows, comedy, features, news and often carrying BBC World Service overnight. I still haven’t got my head around all the variations of the regional and local NPR networks but they shine like a beacon on the US FM bands. 

KLAV on 1230 kept me up to date with hottest happenings of the Las Vegas nightlife, but you don’t need a radio to tell you about that. Simply head for the madness of the bars and casinos and see it for yourself in this 24/7 city.

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