Miskatonic University Press

BBC Radio 6 Music

music radio

Another weekend, another batch of great listening on BBC Radio 6 Music (see also its schedule). These shows are two hours unless otherwise.

  • Freak Zone Playlist (Thursday 0000, one hour): “Hand-crafted playlists from creators of underground and experimental music.” Huge variation and always interesting.
  • The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show (Saturday 1800, three hours): Live show, with a fantastic selection of funk, soul, R&B and disco; classics and new releases merge together perfectly. The half-hour guest-DJed Trunk of Funk is usually an incredible mix. It’s followed immediately by …
  • Don Letts’ Culture Clash Radio (Saturday 2100): It’s a treat to hear this voice I know from Big Audio Dynamite records. Letts plays a bass-heavy mix with a lot of dub and reggae, but mixes it up and you could hear King Tubby followed by Nancy Sinatra.
  • Iggy Confidential (Sunday 1600): Iggy Pop hosts this with a voice like a bucket in a coal mine, giving anecdotes and opinion (“I hate arena rock”) amidst a wildly varied selection: in one show you might hear some sixties garage rock followed by rhythmic noise, then Devo, then Zamrock from Chrissy “Zebby” Tengo, and Coleman Hawkins to cool things down.
  • Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone (Sunday 2000): Underground, left-field, experimental music, with a lot of prog and psych folk, plus modern classical, Black Sabbath, the Residents, Peruvian funk, Valentina Magaletti, The Caretaker, Vietnamese disco, film scores, Sheffield industrial, and much more. I first heard “Go Dig My Grave” by Lankum here (video); it’s a traditional folk song that turns into a surging, yawing drone. (A couple of years ago I was delighted to hear Maconie reading a letter I sent.)

I also follow Radio 1’s Essential Mix, which every weekend does a new two-hour DJ mix, usually house music, and plays a classic from its thirty-year archive. Great DJs from all over the world doing some unbelievable sets of unstoppable dance music.

The secret of all the shows is that they have great DJs who pick music they want to play. Every host is drawing on enormous musical knowledge to put together sets that blend perfectly from start to finish, taking you through moods and themes and genres, slowing you down or getting you moving. They are the opposite of “Afternoon Focus” or “Late Night Chill” that are made so corporations can profit by renting forgettable music to people not paying attention.

A shelf full of bound volumes of Soviet Literature
A shelf full of bound volumes of Soviet Literature

The BBC shows are available for streaming for a few weeks after broadcast. It’s also possible to use get_iplayer to download them, if you know your way around the command line. My setup has this in ~/.get_iplayer/options:

outputradio /usr/local/media/audio/

And this in ~/.get_iplayer/presets/music:

type radio
search (freak zone|essential mix|craig charles funk and soul|culture clash radio|iggy pop)

I run this to download the shows, which go (as .m4a files) to the directory I configured.

get_iplayer --preset=music --get

And if you’re handy at the command line you might also try my own Whip Radio, which lets you tune in to 6 Music and other BBC Radio streams.