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I’ve done a lot of radio work over the years, starting on local radio in Surrey in the early 1980s, presenting various series for BBC Radio 2, Capital Radio and the original World Routes on Jazz FM, depped for Andy Kershaw on BBC Radio 1, had a 12 year stint on the BBC World Service and now present the Podwireless podcast on the web. Nearly all have been self-produced, self-driven and with content self-selected.
Actually, my first venture into making something for broadcast was a half hour TV show made on behalf of the EFDSS for BBC2 TV’s Open Door slot in 1982, to show what really went on in folk clubs rather than the public’s misconception. It was called The Not The Finger In The Ear Show. There’s a lo-fi copy on YouTube.
“The Not The Finger In The Ear Show.”
Click to listen
My first regular radio gig was presenting a weekly folk and roots music hour called Folk Roots on County Sound in Guildford for three years beginning in 1984. Although it built quite a strong following in the area, it attracted a certain amount of piss-taking from the mainstream presenters on the station until things happened like the Graceland album making music from Africa hip, and Billy Bragg coming in as my studio guest when he had a top 10 hit. Then they sat up and took notice (and started asking to borrow my records)!
IA with guest Champion Doug Veitch on County Sound 29-7-85 by Ian Anderson on Mixcloud
Here’s a programme from summer 1985 with the great Champion Doug Veitch as guest, just as the mid-’80s interest in roots music was starting to explode and shortly before he was involved in launching the DiscAfrique label and the UK career of the Bhundu Boys. Excuse the naff adverts …
I resigned from that show in 1987 and within a week I got called up first by Capital Radio to present a month’s series of folk shows and then by the BBC World Service where I then presented the weekly 15 minute show Folk Routes (that’s how they did specialist music programmes on the World Service!) for the next 12 years.
I used to get an amazing mailbag, mostly of the “what was that you played and where can I buy it?” variety. Here’s the penultimate programme from 1999 before the World Service axed all their specialist music shows to make more hours available for speech-based broadcasting, ending an era.
IA on BBC World Service ‘Folk Routes’ 15-3-99 by Ian Anderson on Mixcloud
IA’s World Routes on Jazz FM, 4-7-93 by Ian Anderson on Mixcloud
In 1992 I was called at short notice to sit in presenting Paul Jones’ live, 4 hour Saturday daytime blues programme on London’s Jazz FM. It was a pleasure. During each hour I played a world music track that was bluesy in feel – Amar Sundy, Cesaria Evora, Ali Farka Toure – and got great, instant response from the listeners. It was so well received that I got asked to do it again a few weeks later, and then used the success to pitch for a world music show of my own which they gave me in a dead hour on Sunday evenings up against the chart show on Radio 1.
I called it World Routes (long before Radio 3 nicked the name) and it ran through to summer 1993, apparently greatly increasing the listenership at that time of day. I loved doing that programme, alone in the building for most of it, lights down, taking phone calls, being a neighbourhood notice board, pretending I knew what the hell I was doing reading out Wimbledon results . . . it’s amongst the most favourite things I’ve ever done and I still miss that kind of live radio buzz these days.
I also got a call one day asking if I could sit in at very short notice on BBC Radio 1 for Andy Kershaw. Of course I was delighted. So here’s my single only claim to being a ‘Radio 1 DJ’, mixing up a bunch of favourites of the day. I was also immensely pleased to be able to do a live hand over to my old friend John Peel at the end, who’d given me my very first Radio 1 session as an artist on his Night Ride show in the summer of 1968. It almost made up for the CD deck that refused to play my Lenny Bruce track!
Sitting in for AK on Radio 1, 29-5-93 by Ian Anderson on Mixcloud
“Here’s my single claim to being a Radio 1 DJ.”
In 1994 I presented a world music series on BBC Radio 2 called Rooting About, and since the World Service gig came to an end I’ve contributed to all sorts of things from the obvious like Radio 3’s World Routes and 2003’s A Place Called England evening to being a pundit on Radio 4’s Kaleidoscope and even popping up on consumer programme You And Yours! On TV I’ve often been a talking head on BBC4 documentaries like Folk Britannia, How To Be A World Music Star and The Enigma Of Nic Jones.
But with cutbacks, caution and the dreaded ‘compliance’ issues in radio these days, there haven’t been any permanent vacancies for someone of my expertise in recent years. It seems that the days of my own hero broadcasters like Alexis Korner, John Peel and Charlie Gillett who were given free rein on the national airwaves to combine knowledge, enthusiasm and broadcasting skills to make the unfamiliar appeal to the many are long gone. It used to be called public service broadcasting. But I’d still like to be proved wrong!
Instead, I’ve embraced 21st century technology and since 2002 have been presenting the monthly internet podcast fRoots Radio, recently rebranded as Podwireless . . . Find the Podwireless Words blog with playlists and playlinks to recent programmes here:
To enquire about my availability for radio or TV presentation, please use the contact page.