The digital age of music is now fully upon us, with CDs being a thing of the past and vinyl a collector’s item. In this day and age, music has never been easier to access, allowing billions of people all around the world to bask in the enjoyment of sound. Yet, where would we be without the local radio stations of yonder? The, once upon a time, only platforms for people to attain their music fix. Radio stations are arguably a dying breed, with more and more shows being cancelled each year. However, there are radio stations that stand the test of time, kicking back with a ferocious passion for music that has ensured their survival. With pop music thriving, stations such as Radio One will most likely never come under threat. However, radio stations belonging to the alternative genre have been fighting an uphill battle since day dot. Yet, not all is lost, with stations like Planet Rock prevailing in the face of cancellation and laying the way for the continuation of iconic and classic tunes.
Planet Rock is a radio station close to my heart as it has always been the soundtrack to my family home but even I wasn’t aware of how close it came to being forgotten. The show promotes the slogan ‘where rock lives’ and truer words have never been spoken. The channel is a writhing mosh pit of classic rock thrashing to the beat of nostalgia. It embodies everything the old school rock genre brought into the music world and has proven in it’s history to be a station loved by many. However, as previously mentioned, all this nearly never was.
The classic rock radio station began back in 1999, under the company Global Radio (then known as GCap Media), and was to be the only classic rock station during this time. Despite the station performing well for a few years, it was announced in February 2008 that Planet Rock would see it’s final day on March 31st. It was since been cited by former presenter Derek William Dick (most known as Fish) that this was not due to the station itself but the financial state of Global Radio as a whole. Other radio stations such as theJazz began falling down around Planet Rock causing the station to reach out to listeners in a desperate effort to survive. It was made known to the public that the station would be cancelled if a buyer was not found, asking anyone who would listen to help support them in any way they could. Planet Rock was in the hands of the public, relying on listener loyalty to save them in their time of need. Just when all hope seemed lost, a plethora of support swept down upon the station in the form of a campaign that expressed an interest from a number of buyers. Helped along by a consortium headed by Queen guitarist, Brian May, later led to a swarm of star studded DJs and fans of the show.
Since the show was saved on June 4th 2008 by being sold to another consortium, this time led by Malcom Bluemel as well as Black Sabbath’s Tommy Iommi and former presenter Fish. Guest DJs began to include Joe Elliott from Def Leopard since 2010, Alice Cooper since 2011 and blues rock guitarist and singer Joe Bonamassa until 2013. Even The Hairy Bikers have had their own place among the Planet Rock family since 2015 with The Hairy Rock Show every Sunday at 10am. The station has since won Digital Radio Station of the Year at the Sony Awards twice, released it’s own magazine and is available all across the UK from England through the Midlands all the way up to Scotland.
Planet Rock now stands as a reminder of the importance of fans as well as how listeners of music can have just as much influence as musicians or distributers of it. Although music can now be accessed across a growing variety of platforms, the connection and listener inclusion provided by radio stations is something that can only be experienced through one platform.
With this support from listeners, Planet Rock now sees over one million people tuning in each week however this does not always mean complete security in the future. So, this blog post acts as a reminder to keep supporting your local stations and not allow radio silence to ever beat music.
Website (including a ‘Listen Live’ button): https://planetradio.co.uk/planet-rock/consortium
By Skye W. Winwood