After 11 years, I bow out from Phantom [2011]

Feeling relaxed in the Phantom studio on a Sunday afternoon

(March 17th 2011)

After 11 very happy and eventful years with the Dublin Indie-rock station Phantom, I presented my last show on St. Patricks Day.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Phantom, but increasing time pressures from my other activities mean that I have had to make some choices about what to focus my energies on.

(edit: see the “On-Air” tab on this site for details of where to find me on the radio these days)

I have very many happy memories from my 11 years with Phantom, and I will post some of them here over the next little while.

For now I’d like to thank everyone from all of the eras of Phantom, pirate to temporary to commercial, for making me so welcome, and to wish the great team charged with taking the station into the future all the success in the world.

I’ll leave you with a little memory from my early days with the station, when we broadcast from a secret base above Whelans of Wexford Street, and an “unexpected splash of colour” on the breakfast show:

Phantom Breakfast – Aug 2001 (click to play – format: mp3)

In Phantom’s old studio, in the pirate days.

Those were the days my friend . . .

Steve


Does it Matter If They Sank Without A Trace?

It’s just after sunset on a weekday evening sometime in the late summer of 2001. I’m in the front room of a suburban house somewhere just off the Rock Road in Dublin, within a stones throw of the sea. I can’t remember exactly where, now, but I do remember the excitement of all involved, especially myself.

I was in a house I’d never been to before, facing four lads I didn’t know, who were about to give me a wonderful gift – their dreams, inspiration and pespiration, all wrapped up in that little package of hope that is called a demo CD. They gave it to me, freshly burned and unlabelled, and I was out the door promising them that yes, I would listen to it, and yes, I would give it a spin on the breakfast show on Phantom (this was back in the pirate days when we were glouriously un-corporate and unbranded ourselves).

I was the breakfast DJ on Phantom FM back in those days, and had developed something of a reputation amongst newly formed bands for my willingness to put new material straight on the air, without letting my own opinions moderate, and without any vetting process other than making sure that the contents were not obscene. I was always willing to give a new band their first play, and indeed later developed a feature or “hook” on my show whereby I would ask people to send me in their demos, and I would open the package, and put it straight on, live on air, giving a running commentary of what it looked like and anything else in the envelope. The music wasn’t always outstanding, but it often showed promise and sometimes greatness, and best of all it made for wonderful live radio.

There were unintended comic interludes too, like the time that a then unknown band called Ham Sandwich left me a CD, and to pique my interest, they included a Ham Sandwich in the package. Sadly I was away for a couple of days, so when I did open the package on air, it was to a quite noxious smell . . .

Better still was my dumbfounded silence and quick switch to music one morning when the package I opened during a live link, expecting a musical treat, turned out not to be a demo from some new band, but an ex-girlfriend returning some belongings to me c/o the station a few weeks after we split up!

But to go back to the lads in the house somewhere off the Rock Road, I did indeed play their music, and liked it so much that I still have the CD some ten years later. There were two epic tracks and one very passable 4 minute single-candidate on their, with a depth of lyrics that matched the passion I had seen on their faces during our brief encounter.

Nothing ever came of this band, indeed I never heard of them again, and as far as I can make out, they must have split up and gone their different ways many years ago without even the faintest glimmer of the success that I felt they deserved. I can find no trace of them now, and an internet search only reveals a new, and seemingly unrelated Dublin poprock band who have taken the same name – “Milk“.

Now, by any defination of those involved in mainstream radio, my demo tracks from the original 2001-era Milk band are unknown, unplayable, in effect worthless. But I ask myself – why?

Does it matter that these people had no rise to fame, no chart success, no record deal? If I like what I hear when I play the CD, does it matter that no one knows them? If a piece of music deserves to be heard for the passion put into it, why should it be discounted just because it is unknown?

For me, music, once committed from the soul of its creator to the medium of storage, is a valid choice forever, even if it is the tree falling in the forest that nobody is there to hear.

I still seek out and play brand new music on my shows on Radios Seagull and Caroline to this day, alongside the better known material, and i still dig out and play, from time to time, the songs of the forgotten bands who came and went unknown despite their talent.

Join me, this Saturday (5th March 2011) for my regular weekly show on Radio Seagull, for two hours of music worth hearing, old, new, successful and unknown alike, including a track of that 2001 demo from a forgotten band called “Milk” (no apparent relation to the current Dublin band of the same name).

And I may even throw in some Ham Sandwich too, though without any noxious smells!

Saturday 6-8am (repeated 6-8pm) Irish time (or 7-9  CET)

via www.radioseagull.com

or 1602Khz AM in the Northern Netherlands

 

Steve

 


10 years ago on Phantom breakfast

It’s now 10 years since, arriving back in Dublin after years living abroad, I discovered a darn good pirate radio station broadcasting rock and indie music on 91.6fm – Phantom FM (as it was known in those days).

Within a few weeks I had approached the station and become involved myself, my two years on the weekday breakfast show kicking off a very happy 10 years involvement with the station through it’s various phases as a full-time pirate (till May 03), temporary licenced station (twice in 2003/4), web only (while waiting for licence and legal results 2004-2006) and the current incarnation as the fully legit commercial station Phantom 105.2 from October 2006 to the current day.

I’ve had the best of times during these 10 years, and even though I finally had to cease doing regular weekly shows earlier this year due to other commitments, I still can’t tear myself away entirely, and crop up from time to time filling in for other presenters who are away.

I’m going to be doing a series of posts over the next few weeks looking back at my fondest memories from the last 10 years.

To start off, here is a look at the music and ads being played on Phantom back in my earliest days on the breakfast show.

I’ve transcribed this from a recording I hold of a complete shoe from 18th December 200010 years ago today.

News & Weather was written and produced by myself as was travel, in addition to presenting the show itself.

In my first months back in Ireland I did not have a car, and there was no bus which would get me in to Phantom in time for the start of the breakfast show, so I would arrive in as live programmes were ending at 11pm the night before, and spend the night in the studio, sleeping on the floor with a cushion for a pillow, a coat over me for warmth, huddled up against a little heater.When the show ended at 9am, I took a bus across town to a fulltime job in the IT industry, worked till 7pm, got home by 9, and had an hour to relax before getting the bus back in to Phantom for another night on the floor.

Ah, those were the days . .

In the dead of night, nothing is stirring in the old Phantom 91.6 studio except the needles on the mixer, as a night-time mix went out on auto. Qite a cosy pleace to sleep for the night, if a little cramped, and it was impossible to be late for the breakfast show.

The show below would be absolutely typical of the music played by me at the time. The tracks with an asterix * are A-List tracks, everything else being my own free choice. For the A-lists there were about 30-35 in the studio, refreshed regularly, split between new Irish and new International.

18 December 2000

(7am – news & weather)

*Marvin – No Good At Maths

(link)

Damien Dempsey – Chillin

Turn – Antisocial

Whistler – Faith In The Morning

(link + travel)

(ad – Phantasm)

*The Yo Yos – Home From Home

Offspring – Self Esteem

(link)

(7.30 news headlines)

*P J Harvey – Good Fortune

(link)

Therapy – Screamager

At The Drive In – Cosmonaut

Limp Biscuit –No Sex

(link + travel)

(ad – Wild Eagle tattoo studio)

(ad – Temple Bar Music Centre)

*The Crocketts – 1939 Returning

The Pixies – Here Comes Your Man

(link)

Pedestrienne – Soundwaves

The The – Infected

(link)

(ad – Whelans)

(ad – MCD Finlay Quayle & Primal Scream)

(8.02am – news & weather)

*The Walls – Some Kind Of A Girl

(link)

Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket

*Green Day – Minority

(link)

Bell X1 – Offshore

(link + travel)

(ad – Wild Eagle tattoo studio)

(ad – Temple Bar Music Centre)

(ad – Phantasm)

(link – competition for NPB tickets)

*Amen – The Price Of Reality

(link – winner of tickets to NPB)

Rush – Spirit of Radio

(link + 8.30 news headlines)

The Frames – Rent Day Blues

Liz Phair – Ride

(link + travel)

(ad – Wild Eagle tattoo studio)

(ad – Temple Bar Music Centre)

*Juliet Turner – Dr Fell

Eels – Novocaine For The Soul

(final link)

Candice – Maybe I

*JJ72 – Snow

Ash – Shining Light

(ad – Whelans)

(ad – MCD Finlay Quayle & Primal Scream)


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