6 Music is the BBC’s "alternative/indie" station. It’s only available on Satellite radio or online but it’s definitely one of the best professional channels out there. Somehow they’ve managed to wrangle a lot of top talent as their "presenters" (DJs), people who genuinely love music and know what they’re talking about. Sometimes, when regular presenters go on vacation, they get musicians or other notables to fill in for them — Blur’s Alex James (who could totally have a career in radio), former Elastica frontperson Justine Frischman, Factory records founder Tony Wilson are some of the ones I remember distinctly. Former punks Marc Riley and Tom Robinson have regular gigs. There is a playlist, but the DJs are also given a lot of freedom within it too. It’s how radio should be. A lot of now well-known bands were played on 6 Music before almost anywhere else, and I wouldn’t have been at Franz Ferdinand’s first US show at Pianos if it hadn’t been for them.
My favorite show on the station is Roundtable, the ‘Beeb’s version of Jukebox Jury. Each week, veteran scenester Steve Lemacq (who reffers to himself "Lammo" on occasion) has three "celebrity" guests listen to and rate six notable new releases — usually a mix of debut singles, new stuff by established artists, and a couple songs of the week’s biggest new album. The guests are a mix of musicians, music journalists (NME editor Connor Nicholas is on a lot), TV personalities, and occasionally actors (The Office’s Martin Freeman has been on a couple of times). One of the slots is usually filled by an old cranky guy who hates everything but is really funny, like Paul Morley, the guy who created Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s brilliant publicity campaign back in 1984.
Roundable airs Friday afternoons at 1PM EST (actually 6PM in England) on BBC 6 Music, and the show is archived for a week to listen to at your leisure from the show’s webpage. This week’s guests are oining Steve this week are Arab Strap‘s Aidan Moffatt, Hotel (aka Jamie Hilton) of The Kills, and Eamon Hamilton of Brakes. And they’ll be listening to…
The National – "Lit Up"
Skin (former Skunk Anansie singer) – "Alone In My Room"
Athlete – "24 Hours"
Madonna – "Hung Up"
The White Stripes – "The Denial Twist"
L’il Kim – "Lighters Up"
The Paddingtons – tracks from First Comes First (album)