Local radio raises profile of new music

Kelly Betts (Three Counties) and Alan Raw (Radio Leeds) brush up on their recording skills with engineer Armen Kanikanian Kelly Betts (Three Counties), Alan Raw (Radio Leeds) and Armen Kanikanian (BBC London 94.9) brush up on their recording skills

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BBC Introducing - the programme that helped bring the likes of Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Florence and the Machine to mainstream attention - will enjoy new prominence in 2013.

The relaunched music show will go out on Saturday evenings on every BBC local radio station in England and the Channel Islands starting this weekend.

The BBC Introducing presenters, steeped in local music knowledge, will offer a platform to many unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar musicians in their patch.

They do so with the support of the BBC Trust which recommended that BBC local radio 'reaffirmed' its commitment to BBC Introducing. This followed a review which showed that listeners of all ages valued the showcasing of local talent.

The presenters came together recently at a training session in Maida Vale studios.

Radio York presenter Jericho Keys tests out the Maida Vale mics Radio York presenter Jericho Keys tests out the Maida Vale mics

It was an opportunity to brush up on their recording skills and to share stories and tips with their fellow presenters.

Historic venue

Louise Brierley, producer and presenter of BBC WM's show, appreciated the historic setting: 'It was great to see the famous Maida Vale studios where some of the best musicians in the world have performed sessions for Radio 1, 2 and 6 Music,' she said.

She returned to Birmingham with some useful advice from the sound engineers on the best way to record acoustic sets.

'We were told about the best mics, the best direction of the mic, how far away to seat the musician... It will all come in handy for our next live session.'

For Sam Bonham, who produces and presents the BBC Bristol Introducing show, the Maida Vale experience was a chance to feel part of something bigger.

'As a BBC Introducing presenter, working for Introducing but essentially operating as part of a local BBC station, you can sometimes feel a bit cut off from the wider picture,' he said. 'But meeting some of the other brilliant presenters and producers, as well as putting questions to the Introducing team in London, really helped with this.

'Exciting plans'

'The Introducing brand is growing every year and it is really important to keep a grasp of this. I learnt a lot about the BBC's exciting plans for Introducing.'

Many of the presenters juggle full-time jobs with their broadcasting roles.

Like Dean Jackson, who teaches A level Biology and has also presented The Beat on Radio Nottingham for more than 20 years.

Radio Sheffield presenter Christian Carlisle at the controls Radio Sheffield presenter Christian Carlisle at the controls

His passion and commitment to the local music scene was recognised by Billy Bragg in his recent John Peel lecture at the Radio Festival in Salford. Bragg credited Dean with giving Jake Bugg - whose debut album went to the top of the charts in 2012 - his first break on radio.

'Presenting new, emerging artists is as exciting as it is rewarding,' considered Dean. 'To see musicians with whom we've worked prior to their fame now selling out massive tours, climbing the charts and getting mainstream airplay is a real thrill.'

Next small step

But it's not all about becoming superstars, he added. 'The BBC Introducing masterclasses have helped hundreds of artists take the next small step, offering them inspiration from top experts in all fields of musicianship, developing their musical skills as well as sparking creativity.'

All the shows will go out at 8pm, and there are plans to offer even more opportunities for the artists to get wider notice.

'Having all the programmes on at the same time means that we will be able to give the Introducing programmes on each of our 39 stations a higher profile which, in turn, will benefit the local acts,' said David Holdsworth, English Regions controller.

Already, the Introducing presenters recommend the best bands from their local scene to specialist and daytime DJs on Radio 1, 2, 1Xtra, 6 Music and Asian Network. Now it's hoped that more of them will be invited to Maida Vale studios to record sessions for wider broadcast.

Jason Carter, head of live music and events and BBC Introducing, believes BBC Introducing will become an 'appointment to listen' for music fans keen to keep up with the latest new music in their area.

'It's great to see these shows right at the heart of BBC Local Radio, continuing to build on the successful relationships with network radio, sharing new talent with Radio 1, Radio 2, 1Xtra, 6 Music and the Asian Network, and bringing them to a wider audience.'

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