It is said that all things must come to an end and this may be true of everything but council tax, water and power bills. I have to declare some major changes taking place in my life. But first, a history lesson:
On January 7 2003, I sat nervously in front of a 'Live' microphone for the first time ever to begin transmission of the first Blues Show on GTFM 107.9 (or, indeed, 106.9 as it then was before inflation). I introduced myself, then my co-host for that show did the same (the idea was that if the show proved to have legs I would have a different co-presenter for each show). We'd had a jingle prepared declaring this to be 'Bob's Blues Show.' My co-host for the first show was a chap called Norman Griffiths who I had met briefly at a short familiarisation course a few weeks earlier.
I pressed the button to get the first song under way. It was Big Bill Broonzy's 'Key To The Highway' and it proved to be the start of an exciting journey with unimaginable stops and meetings on the way. That first show was an hour long and just to test the waters. I remember getting home and excitedly asking my wife how it had sounded then listening to the tape she had made. I had no expectations apart from maybe building a local presence and furthering the interest in Blues music; who could have predicted meeting John Mayall?
chatting with Johnny Winter in his Winnebago...
...chewing the fat with Elvin Bishop in California...
...getting access to Joe Bonamassa on his tenth anniversary tour of the UK.
Lots more of these and other interviews to come in forthcoming blogs.
The following day, saw two events: Having given a potted history of Blues music to a colleague and mentioning Muddy Waters the day before, I arrived at work to find banners strewn over the doors declaring 'Murky Williams - Star of Blues Radio.' The second event was a phone call from the Studio Controller. He was very suspicious that I had got some family members or friends to call the studio enthusing over the new Blues Show. Whilst denying any knowledge of this I confess to being delighted that anyone had taken the time to make their views known - especially when the views had been so positive. Apparently, this was unprecedented. So, it seemed, the show might have legs.
Three weeks later, I returned to the studio for the second Blues Show with the expectation of having a different co-host who I had never met. I don't recall his name and it's unimportant as he didn't turn up so I aired the show alone. For the third show, I was asked if I'd be okay with the guy called Norm who I'd done the first show with as we'd seemed to gel on air. I agreed and there began a partnership which has outlasted any relationship I've ever had (apart from my wife and children) as Norm has been my co-host ever since.
After we'd done about four or five Blues Shows, I was invited to the studio for a chat. Being totally inexperienced in the ways of the radio world, I half expected to be told that the show with legs had stumbled. Au contraire, Rodney. I was asked if I would consider extending the show to two hours? I agreed. Oh! And would we do it every week...? I, of course, agreed and that's how it's been for some thirteen years. The only change had been that we moved from the ten to midnight slot to prime time eight till ten a few years back when the slot became available.
Being young and enthusiastic back then (just a boy in my early fifties), I was bursting with ideas for the extended Blues Show. I'd noted how lots of Blues music had sexual references buried in their lyrics - well, often not 'buried', generally far more overt with single entendres. So I proposed a feature called 'After the Watershed' which allowed us to air these songs in a fun way. Anything too explicit was avoided. There were also many songs, considered standards, which had been recorded by different people down the generations and this allowed us to track the evolution of the tunes noting the electrification of Blues and the stylistic and interpretive differences... We called this feature 'Track the Track' and it's been a pivotal feature of the Blues Show for twelve years now.
After watching an episode of the Simpsons featuring Side Show Bob, I decided to create my persona of Blues Show Bob - my cunning plan being that people would think they'd already heard of me.
I also made much of me and Norm as the 'Ant & Dec of the Saga Set.' Since then we have met many stars of the Blues music genre, introduced many at festivals throughout the UK, visited the USA at the invitation of a Blues record company and generally had a superb time charting the development of the Blues genre.
Three years ago, I approached Kansas City Online Radio to ask if they'd be interested in picking up the show. They agreed and have aired an edited version twice weekly since. A few weeks later, I was approached by The Wall Rock Radio who had heard the Blues Show on KCOR asking if they could also air the show too and, more recently, we have also aired with Firebrand Roxx. It has been an adventure for thirteen years and I genuinely could not have imagined how far the little show could go. It is, in fact, one of the longest running dedicated Blues shows in the United Kingdom and we have made many, many friends throughout the Blues world over that time.
But. Things change.
My wife and I (and our new dog) have just moved home to the beautiful Pembrokeshire National Park where we now live in a cottage in the countryside just a ten minute stroll from some beautiful beaches. Life is good as I get some of my donations to successive governments back after all these years in the form of my pension. There is sadly, one major fly in the idyllic ointment. Our new home is a 180 mile round trip from the GTFM studio and continuing to broadcast the live show which I created, presented and produced for all these years is no longer possible. So, my final live Blues Show will take place tomorrow at 8.00 pm - although it is probable that I will pre-record a special show for the following week which is Easter Monday. After that, the GTFM Blues Show will be entirely in Norm's hands. (Regular listeners will know he is very experienced in airing the show in my absence because of my regular trips to France in recent years). So, I wish you all well and thank you for your indulgence over the years. I hope you will agree that we've had some fine times together.
My intention for the future is that I will be recording a weekly Blues Show from my home studio and this will be aired on Kansas City Online Radio, The Wall Rock Radio and Firebrand Roxx. I am also currently in negotiations with another US based internet station which has expressed an interest and already has some fine Blues presenters on board. If I can find any FM station nearer to home that might be interested in a dedicated Blues show, I'm their man. Who knows what's ahead? I've just been amazed to see my old friend, Steve Jones, who I used to chat with in my local pub is the new presenter of the Formula One TV programme now coverage has moved to Channel Four. What a dream job! (In fact, Steve, could you mention to your agent that your old mate, Bob, is ready, willing and able?)
Details of my journey further on down the road (including broadcast times) and tales of past adventures will be published here.