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How it all started

RETAIL FOOTNOTE (one) John Beecher used to be general manager at Ambassador Music until one day, he decided that being his own boss was pre- ferable. So he invested in a cafe. In New Maiden, Surrey, right by the railway tracks. About a year and a whole lot of work later, Smokey Joe's Cafe isjust one part of his little empire which includes Asterick Music (sec Darts LPs), John Beecher Records & Books, Rol- lercoaster Records and The Jook Joint, for the selling, buying and servicing of juke boxes and pin tables. Smokey Joe's is probably the only cafe in the world where you can safely order a hamburger and Buddy Holly LP—rockabilly and chips, like their advertising says. Rol- lercoaster Records boasts an EP and 45 release to date, with a rockabilly album in the can, release imminent, and have just become the exclusive importers on a Bill Haley LP of pre-Essex 1949 record- ings (see reviews), on the Grass Roots label, ofAustralian origin. Every day's a busy day at Smokey Joe's and John doesn't regret for one minute giving up his regular, plush job, even though he works harder and longer. Proof enough that specialising can work? Record Bussiness 1978.


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TEDDY WARRICK is I's longestserving Executive Producer and also
carries responsibility for jazz output
on all the BBC networks. As a
producer and then programme
organiser in the Gramophone
Department he was associated with
Pete Murray. John Jackson and
many other popular BBC djs.
STUART COLMAN and Geoff
Barker present a weekly rock 'n' roll
show on Radio One between
5.30pm-6.30pm Saturday nights for
four months of the year.
They were given the spot
following a march on Broadcasting
House by rock 'n' roll fanatics
demanding more airtime for their
kind of music. Colman and Barker
presented the marchers' petition to
Teddy Warrick, deputy head of
Radio-1, and also took the
opportunity to slip him a
demonstration tape of the kind of
programme they would present for
Radio 1.
The double pay-off resulted. Not
only did the Teddy Boys and their
assorted cohorts get the programme
they wanted — something of the sort
had been mooted for months prior
to the demo, says Warrick — but
Colman and Barker landed the prize
as presenters.
"One of the few demonstrations
through the streets of London that
has been effective," is how Warrick
describes it, But it goes deeper than
that because Barker and Colman are
the exceptions to the rule when it
comes to finding new faces — or
voices — for the Radio 1 dj line-up.
Taking as examples two other
recent new additions to the rosier,
Kid Jensen and Paul Burnett — both
well established broadcasters and so
hardly 'new talent' — it becomes
plain just how difficult it is for
unknowns to break into the muchpilloried but still professionally
attractive world dominated for so
long by the likes of Blackburn,
Looking for the best djs
Edmonds and DLT.
The Saturday evening spot is there
as a showcase for specialist areas
and the rock V roll show currently
alternated its fourth-month seasons
with an Alexis Korncr blues and
soul show and a Robbie Vincent
disco hour.
So it's plainly not risking loo
much to try out a couple of
inexperienced newcomers in a spot
which is certainly not expected to
attract audiences in the millions
required of daily strip shows. The
specialist shows arc, in Warrick's
words, "another world", a world
where personality isn't all and the
music takes precedence over the
presenter.
It is in the daily world of the twoand three-hour strip shows that the
personality cult takes over and this is
where the new talent becomes
exceptionally difficult to find.
Just as with Record company a&r
men, Warrick and his colleagues
Derek Chinnery, Doreen Davies and
Johnny Beerling, have a regular
influx of tapes from young hopefuls.
"There's a steady trickle which
becomes a flood if word goes out
that one of our djs is thinking of
leaving," says Warrick.
Obviously with the established djs
firmly ensconced in their daily shows
there's little to offer the auditioning
dj except encouragement and
possibly, for the outstanding ones,
some time in the BBC studios with a
producer followed by — rarest of all — a spell as holiday relief.
But as in all spheres of
entertainment the talent is thin on
the ground and for the most pan the
budding dj has borrowed his
personality from one or more of the
people whose place he hopes to lake.
V • -
"They miss the point that the most
successful djs have their own
individual styles," notes Warrick.
"Only a very small percentage are
trying to do anything different, less
than five percent I'd say. It's not so
much what a dj does as the
personality he projects and that's
what would make us all sit up, if we
felt that the personality was fresh."
But lack of personality or
individuality are obviously not the
only stumbling blocks for total
newcomers. Warrick understates
the case dramatically when he says
that the most recent acquisitions for
Radio One had "some radio
experience".
Both Paul Burnett and Kid Jensen
were well established personalities
with Radio Luxembourg which has
some reasonable claims to being a
national station. Simon Bates came
through via the usual thorough BBC
grounding.
Indeed, in the case of Burnett and
Jensen, the acquisition by Radio 1
looked like a carefully contrived
commercial move designed to bring
not only fresh faces to the station
but also their not inconsiderable
audiences with them, Warrick disagrees. The
commercial aspect of the moves was
certainly not uppermost in the minds
of BBC decision makers, he claims.
"The main consideration is that of
all the tapes one has and the
knowledge one has of the people
available.
"If that decision then equals
improved listening figures, fine.
"We're certainly not looking to
steal the audience he already has
because we're likely to be taking him
out of a regional situation and
putting him in front of a national
audience which will make his current
audience look minute."
The BBC can afford not to be
worrying about competition in the
accepted commercial sense. If a dj
on one of the commercial stations
was pulling in every listener in his
region by virtue of outrage, offence
and a generally off-the-wall
presentation his programme would
naturally be packed tighter-thantight with commercials. He would be
his station's most valuable
commodity and a*target for most
otherstations.
The BBC, however, could choose
to ignore him if, according to
Warrick, his style and personality
were not considered in keeping with
what is required for Radio 1. Luxury
indeed, as witness the case of Kenny
Everett, fired from his first stint
with his beloved 'Beeb' for
commenting on the news and
thereby upsetting various high-ups.
But despite his audience and his
being the most critically acclaimed
dj at the time, the BBC could afford
to slap his wrists and send him on his
way, only re-hiring him later when it
was fell he had learnt his lesson.
It could be that this kind of
treatment of anyone who steps out
of line is a discouragement to
anyone who might want to try
something different, particularly in
a satirical vein, and could account
for the majority of tapes imitating
the safer long-established djs.
Nevertheless, Radio One remains
the zenith of achievement for a dj,
and if Top Of The Pops is anything
to go by, producer Robin Nash
certainly thinks the station has the
best djs available.
Some people see his exclusive use
of the Radio One stars as merely a
BBC perk. They feel that in purely
visual terms there are mobile djs up
and down the country who would
knock spots off the regular TOTP
presenters.
Teddy Warrick sees it in a
different light, "I think Robin Nash
would be most upset at the
suggestion that we told him which
djs to use for his programme.
"I would hope that in using our

djs Robin is merely confirming our
belief that we have the best
available

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1981

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