Today, acclaimed reggae DJ, radio broadcaster, sound clash winner and ambassador David Rodigan MBE announced he is to leave Kiss FM. Whilst admitting they've had a good relationship over the past 22 years, the relationship has terminated since the 12am-1am slot he previously resided was given to Craig David. Remember him? Exactly. "Due to their continued marginalisation of reggae music into the twilight zone of radio scheduling, it has left me no option but to make a stand for my passion and the music I love so dearly," stated Sir Rodigan [Source].
Words can't express how overjoyed I am that someone has finally taken the step to stand against a commercial radio stations. Not only for reggae in this case, but every single genre which has been marginalised by Kiss FM in recent times for more playlist shows. An example of this is Logan Sama, who for the longest time has been grime only DJ on a commercial station saw his show cut from 11pm-1am on Monday night, to a one-hour show (12am-1am), then moved to 1am-2am. One of the most important homegrown genres, one that produces chart-topping MC's (albeit on grime-less tracks), achieves top 10 trending topics in the UK most weeks, yet 1am-2am on a Monday slot?
I think every specialist show on that station has the 12am-2am slots because most of the stations schedule consists of playlist shows. You know, top 40 radio format with the same old 25 songs on loop? Yeah that. From 6am to 11pm at night. Except Kisstory of course. While I do think the "marginalisation of reggae" card is valid, I'm personally not sure if this is an attack on just reggae as most specialist shows face the same problem.
For those internationally, Kiss FM is a pop music station on the various forms of house music side of life, so I don't really expect a great deal from them in terms of reggae. Let it be known though, that reggae appeals to that demographic, as displayed through the demand of David Rodigan + other sound systems (Jah Shakka, Aba Shanti, Channel One, The Heatwave etc.) at bass music nights/festivals.
Reggae music is being embraced more and more in the mainstream by non-Jamaican artists yet less avenues than ever for genuine reggae shows in the UK. A place that has always been receptive to reggae. And I do agree that generally there's a marginalisation of reggae music in commercial radio. Admittedly, the business side of the music isn't the greatest, but there is still a demand for reggae. More than its representation on radio.
I've heard from a few people that Robbo Ranx's show on 1Xtra is the most listened to specialist show (10pm-2am slot). Not sure if that's still the case.
2012 saw David Rodigan awarded an MBE for his services to music by reggae fan, Prince Charles. That's a massive deal, especially for bun babylon, bun the Queen music. (p.s. "bun" is Jamaican pronunciation for "burn".) He plays many big festivals including hosting his own tents and nights, Ram Jam, nationwide. He won a sound clash on Kiss FM against fellow specialist DJs earlier this year as voted for by the listeners in addition to a grassroots reggae world cup clash in New York. And lastly, a Gold radio award for his show on BBC Radio 2 for best specialist show. Many would argue that this has been one of the most productive years in his career and has been put in a position where he quits? That makes sense?
Shall I keep the fire burning? Time to throw in another station? Oh, go on then.
Now this isn't just an attack on Kiss Fm. Let's moving on to the other popular London-based station. Choice FM. Once the best and a respectable commercial station to hear the best in black music. Once upon a time a.k.a. before Global bought them, Daddy Ernie hosted a week day reggae show between 7-10pm. Can't even remember the evolution, if it was sudden or gradual (because I stopped listening), he now plays to night bus drivers and people going to their office cleaning jobs while ravers go home after an enjoyable night out. Grand time of 1am-3am on a Sunday morning.
To be fair, the quality of his show declined as he didn't move with the times and played soul music during his show, but why move the whole genre because a DJ's not good? Oh, that's right, because they wanted to make more time to play the same 20 songs each day. How many time do they think we want to hear Trey Songz, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Maxwell "Pretty Wings" on loop?
This disappoints me more than Kiss FM as Kiss haven't been that station in my lifetime. Choice were relevant. And as for urb*n blogs? MOBO Awards? And all these other things that are supposed to be here for our music, but cover hip hop and r&b much more? Same thing
This isn't just a save reggae music on commercial radio post, this is a SAVE SPECIALIST SHOWS ON COMMERCIAL RADIO A.K.A. BUN YOUR REPEAT THE SAME SONGS SHOWS.
Then Radio 1? Not representing at all. UK Hip Hop has been around 2 minutes in comparison to reggae and even grime, yet UK hip hop has a show, the others don't. Sound of the revolution or the side of life which isn't playing into their hands gets no love. Big up Westwood playing some dancehall though. I see Rodigan going to BBC Radio 2 full-time.
As always, that troublesome, rebellious genre, reggae is the one taking a stand against the system for what they stand for. Gift and a curse, because the commercials hate that attitude, but bun them! We're here for the people!
I'll leave you with this final quote from radio father Rodigan. “As Bob Marley famously said ‘the stone that the builder refused will be the head corner stone.’ Reggae was originally played on the streets, not on radio, and Kiss's refusal to schedule the only reggae show on their network to a socially accessible time has resulted in this decision. Reggae is worthy of more respect and so are the fans and lovers of this music.”
And in the words of Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up. Stand up for your rights... Don't give up the fight." Hopefully a few other DJ's make a stand too.