A radio stalwart for three decades and a reassuring voice for late-night listeners, DJ JANICE LONG reflects on the importance of keeping the independent spirit alive.
I started out in radio over 30 years ago. Coming into the world from a technical point of view, I first worked behind the scenes but was always really into my bands. I read countless magazines and always had my eye on presenting. After getting my first show, I’ve been hooked ever since.
What I love most about radio is its immediacy, which is something other formats don’t quite have. You’re able to interact with your audience throughout a show and develop a bond with them there and then, which makes it that bit more personal. You develop an audience who listen to you because of what you do, and this includes bands. When you have musicians as part of your audience, they’ll work towards the goal of trying to get themselves played on the show, and this makes for a kind of community. Radio has an identity quite unlike any other medium, and provides a space for people with things in common to come together in the moment and enjoy something together as a community, whether that be talk radio or music shows. It offers something for people who feel they may otherwise be alone, and that makes it very special.
Having recently finished my last ever regular BBC Radio 2 show, I think what I’ll miss most about it is the audience, that sense of community. Over the past seven years it’s become much harder to get things which are a bit more out there on Radio 2. First, they cut down on spoken word sessions, and then it was cutting the next thing, and the next. But I always tried to bring something slightly different to the audience, whether that be a bit of dance or a smaller, less well known band such as The Vryll Society. I wanted to bring something a little different to the station and I’ll miss being able to do so.
Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist, Stephen Bannon, called the media “the opposition party” in a briefing after taking office and this is something I find alarming. Of course, there has probably always been censorship of the media, and always will be, but for someone in such a position of power to say so proves worrying. The unbiased media outlets need to unite and stand against this message – and if Trump doesn’t like the real news being reported then he can step down. In an age where phrases such as ‘alternative facts’ have become common, it is the media’s role to report what is happening.
However, musically, radio is most important in expanding a knowledge of culture – and this can be done simply by playing a range of music that spans every genre. Most people’s musical tastes can’t be pinned down to one style and radio should embrace that and pass on a message. You don’t always want politics in music but it definitely has its place, especially with bands such as the Manics. People can often be apathetic politically, but they still hold a vote – so, if music can spark debate or interest then that’s great. And it’s not only music that’s a great source of this, independent media outlets are too. They offer an alternative to the mainstream media and offer up viewpoints that would otherwise go unheard, so I feel it’s important to have faith in it. As the saying goes, the public wants what the public gets.