Andrew Cartmel, Frank Griffith and Adam Sieff are three familiar names to LJN readers. All three have recently taken to the airwaves with their own jazz radio shows. Feature/ interviews by Izzy Blankfield.
“This was something I’d been dreaming about all my life,” writer, former Doctor Who script editor and lifelong jazz fan Andrew Cartmel tells me. Cartmel’s show The Jazz Lounge began in March with an exchange on Twitter: “Someone called Shea Coffey got in touch, who was just setting up a radio station called Medway Pride. She wanted to interview me, and afterwards she asked if I’d like to do my own show. I’d always wanted to have a jazz radio show! I’m tremendously grateful to Shea for making it happen.”
Frank Griffith is now on his twenty-eighth episode of Jazz Cavern with the online platform MyKindaMusic24 and records a monthly, community-orientated show on Liverpool Community Radio. A renowned musician, composer and educator, Griffith is enjoying communicating with a new kind of audience. “I do a lot of teaching on the radio! It comes naturally to me to say more than just ‘this was the track’ – I always give a date, and some context. And sometimes a listener just wants to hear the music, so I don’t want to drone on.”
Former Director of Jazz at Sony Music and currently board advisor at Gearbox Records, Adam Sieff recorded the first episode of his new radio show, Jazz on the Beach, last week: “It’s a chance to do something new and different and to have fun with it!” Sieff was persuaded to record a weekly show on local Kent radio station Deal Radio by a friend, Roger Brockbank, who does a world music show on the same platform. “Why not?” Sieff laughs, “It’s two hours of talking to myself!”
All three shows are something of a passion project, giving Sieff, Cartmel and Griffith the chance to share the music they love with listeners. Griffith’s show celebrates music by artists who don’t get a lot of airplay alongside well-known tunes – and he takes requests! “I pick a theme for the show – it might be a particular artist, a certain style of jazz or new releases. I get to share new tracks by people that I like, and I think I manage to get Miles Davis into most of my shows.”
The Jazz Lounge, with Cartmel, is all about forming unlikely connections. “I like to do a balance of instrumental and vocal jazz. With a two hour show, I can play two different versions of the same tune to contrast and compare. My favourite thing to do is to play a track and then play something from an utterly different sound world – to connect the people to the music and to connect one piece of music to another in ways that haven’t happened before. Like forming synapses in a big musical brain!”
The message of Jazz on the Beach is simple, according to Sieff: “It’s stuff that I like, that I think other people might like.” Through a mixture of classic jazz records and new tracks, Sieff’s show aims to welcome in new listeners from the local community. “I want to bring people in to listen who may not know much about jazz or even like jazz, and see if we can lead them into the good stuff! I’m trying to do something that’s very much an inclusive, local show. Deal is a very special place, and I’d like to get local people involved.”
Entering the radio game is not without its difficulties. As Griffith and Cartmel have discovered, the main challenge has been technology. “It’s a bit of a learning curve to learn how to use the software!” says Griffith, who prerecords his weekly MyKindaMusic24 show but broadcasts live on Liverpool Community Radio. “You can’t just sit there talking, there was a lot of trial and error with some friends helping me. Depending on the kind of show I put together, it can take 3 or 4 hours to record.”
Cartmel got to grips with his home recording studio thanks to a bit of tough love. “I’ve done 33 shows now, but the first 30 were technically abominable, because I was using such a poor quality mic,” he laughs. “A friend got in touch who had been working as a professional in local radio for decades and said: ‘Get rid of your microphone and get a proper one!’ He sent me a long email with all the things I was doing wrong, but the wonderful thing was that he clearly thought I was worth encouraging!”
Although Cartmel, Griffith and Sieff are at different stages in their radio journeys, they all agree that radio is a very special platform. “It’s mobile, it’s accessible – you can even listen to it in your car,” says Griffith, who has reached listeners in Russia and Japan with Jazz Cavern.
“You’re providing a link for people, and company,” says Cartmel. “You’re a friend they’ve never met and you’re playing music that they love. And it’s the background to their lives.” Sieff agrees that this personal level sets radio apart from other ways of listening: “In a world where people want things on demand, it’s sometimes nice to have a filter – to have some kind of curation or programming. Maybe I can direct people to where to start.”
Jazz on the Beach with Adam Sieff is on Wednesdays at 10pm on Deal Radio
The Jazz Lounge with Andrew Cartmel is on Sundays at 2pm on Medway Pride Radio, repeated Wednesdays at 4pm
Jazz Cavern with Frank Griffith is on Thursdays at 9pm on MyKindaMusic24, repeated Thursdays at midnight and Sundays at 6pm, and Fridays at 2pm, Saturdays at 4pm and Tuesdays at 4pm on Liverpool Community Radio 106.7FM