The Interview

My favorite interviews

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, Media, Music, Uncategorized by rosalindbrabner on March 29, 2009

OK, so I haven’t exactly been frequently publishing lately, although I have been interviewing many different people for work from radio industry professionals to international students in many different parts of the world. Unfortunatley I am unable to publish them on my little portal here but I have put together my favorite television interviews of the last few years:

Simon Amstell Ruins The Kooks

Tyra confronts Naomi

Kerry loses it

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Bloody Queer

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, UK, Uncategorized by rosalindbrabner on February 24, 2009

blooddonor1This month reporter Rosalind Brabner looks at why even though ever since 1999 the rapid increase in HIV has been caused by heterosexually acquired infections, gay men are still denied the right to give blood.

I’m not completely sure Winchester was prepared for the conversation my four friends and I was about to have. Speaking in our usual loud cackles to one another about our recent indiscretions, my friend Rob mentioned his latest embarrassing moment.

ROB’S EXPERIENCE

He recalled how he was turned away from his local blood service unit because he was gay, “I was so upset, mainly because I felt embarrassed and like some diseased promiscuous homo”. What seemed to be a further kick in the teeth for Rob was the fact he only went because he was told by his Doctor that the AB rhesus positive blood type he had was very rare. And although it did give us fantastic material for the weekly piss takes, ‘So rob let me get this right, you’re a rare species of gay that’s unwanted?’ I thought it was an issue that deserved exploring.

NATIONAL BLOOD SERVICE

According to the National Blood Service the reason men who have sex with men are banned from giving blood is because they are considered the highest risk group despite the fact that since 1999 heterosexually acquired HIV became and has continued to be the main exposure category.

International HIV and AIDS charity, Advert state on their website that “the major component of the rapid increase in recent years has been heterosexually acquired infections… in 1999, for the first time, the rate of heterosexually acquired HIV diagnosis overtook the rate of diagnosis in men who have sex with men.”

TERRENCE HIGGINS TRUST

The UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust support the National Blood Service’s policy claiming that it is “a public health issue, rather than one of homophobic discrimination”.

Speaking to Rob about the situation over coffee a couple of weeks later he explained in a little more detail what he felt could be discriminatory about the circumstance, “I completely understand the implications of taking blood from a gay man however I am regularly tested and I have never had unprotected sex. Apart of me thinks the notion that HIV is a ‘gay disease’ drives this policy.”

The Terrence Higgins Trust insists “HIV has never been a gay disease as anyone can contract it”. However the Trust does put forward statistics which reflect how much more likely it is for men who have sex with men to contract HIV than other groups. “Around 1 in 10 gay men in London are now living with HIV and 1 in 25 gay men in the rest of the country”. These statistics certainly make the link between HIV and gay men hard to ignore.

The trust explains that even though it is true heterosexual acquired HIV is on the increase homosexual men are still the highest risk group. The trust claims that of the 54% of new HIV diagnoses were through heterosexual sex 85% of them were contracted outside of the UK. In contrast the 84% of men who have sex with men who were diagnosed in 2005 probably acquired the disease in the UK.

UNFAIR?

What Rob I and find it hard to get our head around is if you know you haven’t got it, absolutely sure, if you’ve been tested on a regular basis and partake in safe sex then why can’t you give blood? Rob even argues that the blood is always tested before use, “They test the blood anyway! I just find it unfair and another form of prejudice, I don’t usually care about any gay issues. Nothing ever offends me or upsets me but this does for some reason, probably because I think that blood donation is such an important issue”.

AN INTERNATIONAL EPEDEMIC

This isn’t just a British issue; due to the world health organization’s advice gay blood is globally unwanted. South African journalist Andrew Barnes had a similar experience to Rob.

Having circled ‘yes’ to the question asking, ‘have you ever had sex with another man?’ Barnes was immediately informed by the nurse his blood was ‘unwanted’. Telling the ‘Cape Argus News’ Barnes said, “I was shocked…homosexual men are not the highest risk group (in South Africa). I don’t think they should have a blanket ban on gay men giving blood”.

In response to this issue The South African blood service’s medical director Arthur Bird acknowledged, “I accept totally that with these types of questionnaires and safety margins we have do cast a net. We accept that we sometimes sweep in safe donors unnecessarily, but that’s the nature of the beast”.

The situation is also the same in the United States. Despite The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centre’s making an official statement which read that the ban “is medically and scientifically unwarranted” and that “it does not appear rational to broadly differentiate sexual transmission via male to male sexual activity from that via heterosexual activity on scientific grounds”, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) announced in 2007 that gay men will continue to be denied the right to give blood.

The overwhelming contradiction of all the information is one of the most frustrating aspects to this topic. Until all statistics concerning the link between homosexual sex and HIV correlate with each other the issue of whether men who have sex with men can give blood will never be changed.

A NEW CARELESS VIEW

Last month GT columnist, Paul Thorn shared his shock at how his ‘young admirer’ had such little knowledge of HIV. Paul’s impression is that because the HIV/AIDS issue is not as substantial as it was 10 years ago people aren’t as aware of it, “It is perhaps a side affect of pharmaceuticals allowing us to manage the virus that young people seem to be less informed these days about HIV, what is safe and what isn’t.” Perhaps what is the main issue here is re-vamping available information on HIV prevention.

By providing a constant stream of information so people are aware of the dangers of un-protected sex enables the amount of HIV contractions to decrease. I believe it will be then and only then that gay men will be given the right to give blood.

Squatting

Posted in Interviews, Journalism by rosalindbrabner on February 1, 2009

Written: March 08bcc 

THE MODERN SQUATTER

 

As the price of rent continues to increase by the annual 5% reporter Rosalind Brabner speaks to ex-‘professional’ squatter Andy Macdonald on how to cheat the rent.

 

It doesn’t have to be all crack dens and 70’s punk music. I mean it can be if you’re going for the authentic look but now for the 21st century squatter sky television is in and heroin needles are out. What you might not know about squatting is that it is still legal. By law squatters have the same rights as anyone else and you can’t even be evicted until the owner carries out the correct legal proceedings.

 

EX- squatter and writer Andy Macdonald* cheated rent payments for over 2 years, now a fully fledged rent paying citizen, (well a student) he recalls how he managed the scam the system for so long. 

 

 

I started squatting in the port city of Liverpool after a spell working for the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Collections Centre based in my home town of Birmingham. This experience, which coincided with the slow meltdown of a long term relationship, had nothing short of a devastating impact on my state of mind. I was left with a personality fragmented- I could not tell what was wrong or right, what was Stravinsky, Igor or Spears, Britney.”

 

Like most modern squatters Andy wasn’t breaking into an abandoned house, instead he found out about a vacated room and catered it. “The room proved comfortable for a number of months, if a tad perilous- it was dominated by an inconvenient fitted wardrobe. Thankfully this fitted wardrobe was chocca with an array of porn past on to me from the previous incumbent”.

 

Having moved back to the midlands and feeling dissatisfied with his parents new home in the suburbs of Birmingham, Andy’s second squatting experience was a room with a view. “I found myself a city centre pad located opposite the Birmingham City Council building I had recently gained employment within- as a data entry maestro for the ideologically sound Decent Homes team- dedicated to improving the living conditions of the City’s socially housed folk. So, essentially, it was all just a case of wonderful convenience.”    

 

But after saving “shit loads” of money Andy marks being found out as his low point in his squatting career, “One morning I was lying in bed in my first Birmingham squatting residence, wondering what time I should crawl into the office I could probably spit at, when a knock went at the door. I ignored it but soon became worried and frantically began packing the little amount of belongings I had. Soon after a meat headed meat head opened the door with his skeleton key and I was rumbled”.

 

The advisory service for squatters suggests that to increase longevity of your stay send a letter addressed to yourself in your new home. The police will accept this as sufficient proof that you live there. The advisory service also recommend leaving a radio on and to keep a copy of the squatter’s legal warning by the door, because the owners may come round and try to repossess the place by pretending that they thought there was no-one living there.

 

Currently sporting a disheveled Bob Geldolf do’ I ask Andy whether the beard is his last link to his squatting days? “I was actually planning on crafting it into a George Michael tribute but as it happens I am a strong believer in beards, traditional squatters grow them to keep the remainders of their breakfast safe for afternoon tea”. Any other traditional squatter habits? “Squatting gave me ample time to consider the history of pop music and, indeed, the point of sound. After much brain wrestling, one thing remained true- the mercurial magic of May and Mercury, RIP Freddie.”

 

After saving himself an estimated £6000 worth of rent Andy now lives in rented accommodation in Mosely without a crack habit. “Do I miss squatting? Not really, do I miss the porn wardrobe? Absolutely!”

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THE ¡FORWARD RUSSIA! INTERVIEW

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, Music, Travel, UK, Uncategorized by rosalindbrabner on January 17, 2009

forwardrussia200820-20square20crop2SEEING THE UK THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WAY

 

Leeds band, ¡Forward Russia! cultivated murmurs of success in 2006 when the four piece released their first album, Give me a wall. Now in the middle of touring second album, Life Processes Rosalind Brabner caught up with lead singer, Tom Woodhead and Bassist Rob Canning to find out what life is really like on the road.

 

I was ten minutes early as usual. I always think there is a better chance of getting a cup of tea when you’re early. Turns out not so much this time, but I was greeted by an awkward guitar manager called Alan. I know his name was Alan because he told me. Twice. Alan and his beard walked me into what he called ‘the dressing room’ but what I knew to be the backroom of the Birmingham Barfly where people go to throw up on a club night. Once the band had finished their sound check Alan or his beard (I couldn’t tell) suggested it was best to find a quieter spot to do the interview so we walked up 3 flights of stairs only to find a room in the derelict club the Barfly adjoins which had seats and pigeon in it.

Rob: “This is possibly the only interview we’ve had with a pigeon in it”. At this point I knew I was on to a winner, Parkinson never had a pigeon.

 

Having toured their first album extensively around the UK, ¡Forward Russia! are no novices to the grueling traveling schedules, but Rob admits things have changed, “when we started off we had stars in our eyes and dreams that hadn’t been crushed, it was quite an exciting time really, we were quiet young and naïve to it all so it was just a sense of adventure and we’re a bit more boring this time round, the novelty wares off”. Tom adds, “We’ve been thrown by most things we could be have been thrown by so we feel like we’re pretty much prepared for anything to go wrong”. Literally, Tom really has had most things thrown at him on tour, “I got hit by an onion once, a whole onion, and it was one of those really big white ones”.

 

Unsurprisingly Tom reckons Leeds is the best place in the UK to play, “Leeds is always good, the northern gigs tend to be better although we’ve had a couple of good gigs in Brighton”, whereas Rob enjoys touring Scotland, “there is a certain atmosphere in Scotland that’s quiet unbeatable, you get a really, really good crowd in Scotland”. It seems to me that ¡Forward Russia! are just another northern band wary of southerners but Tom and Rob insist that “in general most bands will tell you the further north you go the crowd just loosens up a bit more, when you’ve been working down the mine all day you just need the escape of live music: being at a bank isn’t the same”, not a surprise that at this point my accent tales off into thicker estuary slurs.

                                                                                                                                                                                

“The worst thing about being on tour is that you get f**king ill, you get really rundown, I feel quite delicate today. It’s a total emotional rollercoaster, one minute you can feel really high and the next minute and can feel really, really low and down about stuff”. Emphasising this point with a sniffle, Rob didn’t do much to convince me that it’s not all just a case of the man flu but I’d thought I’d better give him the benefit of the doubt because he did just offer an alarming insight into the emotional stability of a bass guitarist.

 

Unfortunately but expectedly Tom and Rob admit they see more service stations than cities in the UK when they’re on tour, “It’s quite hard when you’re on a relatively tight schedule to look around, you arrive at the venue do your bits and bobs and then the sound check so its difficult to fit sight seeing in there, we have seen about a million and one travel lodges though, I could tell you loads about them”. It’s not until a day off comes along that they get to hangout in different places, Rob explains, “yeah when we’ve done a gig miles away, in Brighton or something we’ll stay down there but we haven’t had many days off on this tour”. With such a hardcore traveling programme and just one van for all four band members and Alan ( + beard)  I wondered if ¡Forward Russia!’s second tour was riddled with arguments, smelly feet and general misconduct especially as the other two band members Whiskers (guitar) and Katie (Drums) are siblings. “Everyone can be annoying at times, its like being with your family loads of pointless bickering, someone hates someone one day and then someone else the next, its that sort of thing” says Rob. Tom clarifies that touring with siblings “can be nightmare, it’s exactly what you imagine it would be”.

 

Katie caused a bit of a stir recently after rating how good the different crowds were on the Scottish leg of their tour, “we told her not to do that but she still did it” they both tell me, Rob adds, “Katie’s quite naïve in some ways, she doesn’t realise someone might offended if you call them a shit crowd”. Tom reckons that a good crowd is much more than how much noise they make, “sometimes you can tell when crowds aren’t even moving that they are really into it; it’s all about the atmosphere”. And the best thing about being a British band at the moment?, “it’s really hard to say, we are totally out of any scene at the moment, I guess the touring is much better, in America you have to travel miles and miles to the next venue- that would be hard”. ■

 

THE LOFTCUBE INTERVIEW

Posted in Interviews, Journalism by rosalindbrabner on January 12, 2009

loftcube

In 2007 I interviewed innovative designer, Werner Aisslinger about his striking Loftcube creation for Kudos Magazine.

A VIEW FROM ABOVE

German design has reached an all time high, Rosalind Brabner reports on the new mobile living space which can be attached to your very own roof.

Seductively luxurious and utterly modern the Loftcube is only for people living the high life. A four hundred and twenty foot see through retreat designed to be tucked away upon roof tops is not only unashamedly cool but can boast a similar frame to a London studio.

THE MODERN DAY TREE HOUSE

Designed by German architect Werner Aisslinger, the Loftcube’s unique design was originally intended to fill the spaces of the flat roof tops of the post war high rises in East Berlin. Providing the perfect space for a modern day tree house Aisslinger’s aesthetic and minimalist designs are strictly grown up.

CHARACTER, ASCETICS AND VERSATILITY

Another attractive prospect about the design is its versatility. The customer can be given creative input on the visual aspects of the interior. “The unique, modular system with its flexible components allows us to incorporate the ideas of our clients. Each of the four facades gives the Loftcube an individual aesthetic and functional character. Transparent, translucent coloured panes of glass or closed panels and different shading devices enable the desired amount of light entry and air circulation”. The mobile unit which can be delivered directly to the rooftop by helicopter or dismantled then reassembled was originally only compatible with flat roofs but its popularity has since encouraged award winning designer Aisslinger and his team to work with some very different landscapes from beaches to riverbeds.

MAKING IT FLOAT

One of the design’s biggest achievements is its adaptation into a floating home. Attached to a pontoon on a Lake in Canada, Aisslinger and his building team managed to get round the forest authorities’s disagreement for planning permission by attaching the frame to a floating foundation.

ONLY THE BEST MATERIALS

To achieve such quality in exterior and interior design Aisslinger uses only the best materials, “we value the quality and exclusivity provided by experience partners as well as the use of high quality materials. We have established exclusive partnerships with renowned brands such as Berker, Bulthaup, Dupont and Vitra”. It is not only the quality of the framework that concerns Aisslinger extra efforts are made to create a feeling of total relaxation. The designer pin points a combination of four factors which create the desired affect “spectacular views, light-flooded spaces, cosy warmth and innovative technology”.

HARD GRAFT

Unfortunately the process to accomplish total relaxation involves a lot of hard work. For the Loftcube to be fully functioning with plumbing and heating it must be connected to the building’s utility lines the team has to check the rooftop’s ability to accommodate the extra weight and the cube’s ability to withstand ferocious winds. It’s a very technical process that can take up to four days but considering the Loftcube can last a lifetime it’s worth every second.

A VIEW FROM ABOVE

Ascetically striking and culturally innovative, the Loftcube is an exciting project look set to dominate the flat roof tops of our cities. In the Loftcube Aisslinger has firstly provided a space to work and play, but with the help of the 360 degrees windows it is also the perfect place for the city goer to sit back, relax and appreciate the birds eye view of the manic world beneath them and not to mention to indulge in the romantic spender usually only captured on a balcony in a five star hotel.

DAVID SHUKMAN

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, Travel, UK by rosalindbrabner on January 12, 2009

david_shukmanLast year I caught up with BBC correspondent David Shukman at a travel conference in Birmingham:

 

 

MY FAVOURITE PLACE

David Shukman

The Isle of Eigg

 

As BBC News Science and Environment Correspondent, David Shukman has travelled all over the world but one of his favourite places is one of the UK’s best kept secrets, The Isle of Eigg in the inner Scottish Hebrides.

 

“You’ll probably get sea sick trying to get there, and you’ll most definitely get rained on but if you get the weather it is just fantastic!”

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The remote Island which only has 82 inhabitants was introduced to 24 hour power thanks to renewable energy in February. The island which previously ran on diesel generators for only a few hours of the day now has a system which uses a mix of solar, hydro and wind power. Maggie Fyffe, the islands heritage trust sectary explains “the new system has been totally valuable; it’s made a whole world of difference. From everyone relying on their own diesel generators which weren’t at all environmentally friendly to this really has made a huge difference”.

 

For more information about the Isle of Eigg visit http://www.isleofeigg.org/

THE GO! TEAM INTERVIEW

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, Music by rosalindbrabner on January 12, 2009

keyshia_cole_the_go_teamA few months ago I caught up with Ian from THE GO! TEAM to ask him a few questions about the band’s busy year in America for WUW magazine.

 

DIY band, The Go! Team are back! Fresh from their American tour with CSS and a summer of festival gigs the Brighton six piece have returned to the UK ready to make more mish mash music for the masses.

 

Having had a wave of success with the first two albums Thunder, Lightning and Strike and Proof of Youth, -Infact if you haven’t heard the single Ladyflash you were probably living 2005 in a cave! The band hopes to follow up this success by continuing to experiment with more “cut ‘n’ paste” sampling on their third album which is being mashed, squeezed and purated this very second.

 

Roz Brabner caught up with team leader, Ian for a lovely chat about the Venga Boys, Grandma’s in kitchens and being second best to Mary J Blige. Bitch.

 

ROZ: You’ve just comeback from a summer of festivals how was that then?

 

IAN: Yeah – it was a regular world tour – we’re talking Korea, Japan, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, US, Argentina – hopefully we’ll get to do Guildfest next year.

 

ROZ: You also co-headlined a tour of the US and Canada with CSS…

 

IAN: It was a good tour and a good match.  I subconsciously saw it as a showdown – some nights we beat em, some nights they beat us. But they’re a hot band – a real unit.

 

ROZ: Proof of Youth was released too much critical acclaim, The Observer branded you with the term `genius´- do you think the third album can live up to this success and what should fans expect with your next instalment?

 

IAN: there was a bit of anticipation for the 2nd one but I feel like the heat is completely off for the 3rd record – there is a lot of freedom to go in any direction.  I want the next stuff to be even more cut n paste – like your switching the channels on a radio or something – schizo but still melodic. I don’t think anyone has really explored the idea of songs that sound like they’re stitched together from 10 different songs.

 

ROZ: I read somewhere you have a passion for car chase horn music…

 

IAN: Things like blaxploitation films, David Axelrod, even the Rocky theme have been an influence – I kinda think of music in images and I always imagine stuff like motorbikes and girl gangs.  For me brass can be the worst sound – a la Kenny G – or the most exciting sound with major force and I always thought it would be interesting to combine that with distorting drums and noisy guitars.

 

ROZ: You’ve received some really positive press from US magazines such as Rolling Stone does this mean your big business state side?

 

IAN: I guess you´d call us a cult band over there – like we are everywhere – when we first played there 3 years ago we had sell out shows thanks to Pitchfork bigging us up.  America is a funny old place – we literally go from playing to 50 people one night in Indianapolis to 30,000 in Lollapolooza the next. We were due to do the Letterman show but got bumped for Mary J Blige  the day before.  We were gonna have that Paul Shafer prick playing along with us. Fuck em.

 

ROZ: I read Thunder Lightning Strike was recorded in your parent’s kitchen; did this cause any practical cooking problems?

 

IAN: My Grandma would occasionally come in to make a cup of tea and I’d have to do the take over again. I’m a big fan of home recording – I think the feel comes through on the recording somehow – I like the idea of recording in garages and gymnasiums and hate the idea of posh studios.  I think the `homemade´ feeling is something that carries through everything go team – artwork, videos, and all that.

 

ROZ: What is your take on the whole download malarkey? What was the reason for releasing Milk Crisis as a free download in July?

 

IAN: You’ll never beat vinyl – downloading always feels a bit sanitised to me but  ya know you’ve gotta get down with da kids.  We figured it would be a nice thing to give milk crisis away for free – good karma and all that – and people nick music now anyway. 

 

ROZ: Do you think it is physically possible for audiences to sit down during one of your sets?

 

IAN: I hope not.  We measure a gig by how much movements going on in the crowd.  I always want chaos from a gig so I prefer sweaty little venues than festivals any day.  I think we jump around so much to make the crowd feel guilty about standing still. Normally by the last song we get ‘em. People call us a party band but that always reminds me of the Venga Boys or something. 

 

ROZ: What bands are you listening to at the moment?

 

IAN: Deerhoof, Camera Obscura, Blackmoth super rainbow, Venga Boys

 

ROZ: Musical highlight this year?

 

IAN: Seeing the My Bloody Valentine warm up at the ICA.  On the Go Team front maybe Lollapolooza in Chicago

 

RO: Your often referred to as the band leader, does this mean you bark orders at the rest of the team?

 

IAN: I try not to be too James Brown about it.  So far I’ve written the songs and the go team sound started off as all my favourite stuff jammed together and I just wanted other folks to take it to the stage with.  So it’s kinda my project. Maybe its like challenge Anneka and I’m Anneka. 

 

ROZ: How did you stay trim whilst touring the country of big portions?

 

IAN: Thrashing around on stage is the nearest I’ve ever come to a workout – I’ve never been to a gym in my life and don’t think I ever will.  I used to run away from the ball in PE. When we come off stage the whole band looks absolutely chimped.  Maybe I should start taking steroids.

 

ROZ: Finally… WHAT YOU WANT?

 

IAN: Musically to do something sonically kickass, plus have a holiday in New England and watch trees change colour.

 

The Nicholas Crane Interview

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, Travel, UK by rosalindbrabner on January 12, 2009

538820_l1

Last year I interviewed the BBC’s Nicholas Crane about all things British:

 

MR UK

 

Adventurer, author and television presenter Nicholas Crane has trekked across Europe, cycled through Asia and has even slept in a tent on the top of the Alps but still regards the UK as one of the most interesting travelling destinations.

 

I haven’t flown recreationally for ten years. I’ve not taken holiday flights, and I’ve stopped writing about places that will encourage people to fly airplanes but I have for work. As it happens I’ve not been on a plane for two years.

 

Ten years ago is somebody said to me can you come to a meeting in Glasgow I’d have flown, well I went to Glasgow on Wednesday, I got up at five in the morning did five hours work on the train got back on the train at four thirty in the afternoon did another five hours work. Train is you can do it is a much more efficient way of travelling than airplane. It’s four hours of completely wasted work time and it costs the nation a fortune.

 

No one is going to tell me that flying internally is a better use of work time, it’s a complete hoax put out by the airline companies. I don’t know how modern companies trying to make money can possibly think that it’s efficient to fly employees internally in Britain.

 

By taking flying out of the equation you become much more inventive and the travelling becomes part of the holiday, part of the fun. The actual business of moving from A to B is fun; nobody can convince me flying is fun.

 

One of the joys of travelling in Britain is the pubs. Modern pubs are absolutely brilliant, you can get great food, if you’re into beer and I am then its great.

 

I feel very strongly that pubs are a national institution worth supporting because they are closing very, very fast. We are loosing hundreds a year.

 

My favourite place in Britain really depends on my mood. There are some really beautiful places to visit along the coast.

KATE LAWLER AND TIM SHAW

Posted in Interviews, Journalism, Media, Radio, Uncategorized by rosalindbrabner on December 29, 2008

Kate and TimBack in November 2007 I was comissioned by channel 4’s 4talent to investigate the celebrity obsessed radio industry. I interviewed Kerrang! (West Midlands) radio’s breakfast presenters Kate Lawler and Tim Shaw to find out whether they thought radio presenting’s future is in the hands of reality tv stars and d-list celebrities.

Please note this interview took place before Tim Shaw decided to hammer the final nail in his already vunerable radio DJ career by fixing the shows comeptitions for mates.

FAMOUS VOICES

More and more reality TV stars and d-list celebrities are turning to radio to resuscitate their media careers. Rosalind Brabner talks to the top dogs at Birmingham’s Kerrang! radio to find out whether this industry trend is damaging the chances of young radio hopefuls.

Celebrity Obsessed?

Like most aspects of the media industry the radio world is a highly desirable career path. Thousands of students graduate from radio specialist degrees each year in the UK, but thanks to our current celebrity-obsessed media is it possible that this talent is wasted in favour of a recognisable ‘name’?

Kelly Osborne, Goldie Lookin’ Chain and even z-listers like Richard and Leah from Big Brother are just a handful of examples that have used their fame to rule the airwaves. That’s not to say that there aren’t examples of new talent coming through in the industry: Radio One recently plucked UEA graduate, Greg James straight from the clutches of student radio, but is this just a unique case or is there room in the industry for more home grown talent?

Communicating Chemistry

“We looked at a lot of different options but the chemistry was so strong”

Midlands radio station Kerrang! made column inches recently when former Big Brother winner Kate Lawler was announced as the new co-presenter of the prime time breakfast slot along with controversial radio DJ Tim Shaw back in October.

Gordon Davidson, Programme Director of the rock music station admits “having a name is of interest” but stresses that it is the content that is paramount. “We looked at a lot of different options but the chemistry was so strong, they get on with each other and enjoy working together.”

Big bother?

“Big Brother did open a lot of doors, and I don’t think all the things would have happened otherwise”

Having dabbled in a number of media projects after her success on Big Brother, such as TV presenting and modelling, 27 year old Kate is certainly thankful: “Big Brother did open a lot of doors, and I don’t think all the things would have happened otherwise – I wouldn’t have tried to get into this industry”. But Kate explains her background as a reality television star hasn’t always helped her career. “There were a lot of times where people said ‘I can’t really employ her because of Big Brother’- but on the whole I’ve had really nice response.”

Kate’s co-host, 32 year old Tim Shaw believes that there is definitely room in the industry for new talent: “English radio is on its fookin’ arse big time, nobody is doing anything new”. Ranked third most controversial radio DJ of all time by an American broadcaster’s website, the father of two has been sacked or suspended from every station he has ever worked at, and says, “We need brighter people in commercial radio: it’s full of idiots”. With a first class degree himself from Ravensvourne in Kent, Tim believes there is a need for graduates in radio: “it just moves you forward- I think that it will weed out all the twaddle, and it shows you’re serious about it.”

Hard graft

“You need to really demonstrate your skills and professionalism to get noticed”

Like all careers in the media, success within the radio industry is at least partly determined by the amount of experience that you gain. Birmingham City University student Jay Dormer juggles his radio degree with working part time for Chrysilis radio at Heart 100.7 and Galaxy 102.2, believing “you need to really demonstrate your skills and professionalism to get noticed because there really is a lot of competition always on your back.”

Despite lacking notoriety as yet, Jay has a positive outlook for the future of his radio career: “There are loads of opportunities out there; I wouldn’t say I’ve so far found it really difficult to get into the industry.” And is he worried about the increase of known names in radio? “Going to university has given me skills that I can use to make a difference, a Z-list celebrity is more likely to turn up, squeeze their big head through the door and do a simple mindless job.”

Ego trip

“Some of the world’s best DJs are up their own arses”

Never short on opinions, Tim Shaw thinks “some of the world’s best DJs are up their own arses,” while Gordon Davidson on the other hand believes it’s important to “learn from those who’ve been around before” but stresses it can simply boil down to “a lot of luck.”

“Radio is full of dreadfully insecure people”, Tim says, and his best advice for people considering a career in the industry is therefore to “go away and ask yourself every day for a year if you really want to be in radio.” And if after that year they still want the same career? “Then hands on experience is better than anything.”

The reality

“Radio is full of dreadfully insecure people”

Having a ‘name’ is a clear headstart in any media career but it’s pretty obvious you need more than that to sustain yourself in the business.

Kate’s clearly one of the lucky ones – which is not to say she doesn’t have talent – but she admits doors have certainly opened for her due to her celebrity. But for every Kate Lawler there’s a Tim Shaw, and thanks to the likes of DAB radio and internet stations it’s getting easier for the next radio savior to have an impact on the airwaves.