Saturday, 19 December 2015

Favourite TV Advert, and favourite music.

Favourite TV adverts  

I took part in a radio discussion recently and was asked my favourite radio and TV commercials.   I thought that I might share this with you, as they are probably very unique and not ones that many would share with me!

Most haunting tune ever for me would be the Skol International beer commercial aired on Radio Veronica in 1968 and 69 (it may be what started me drinking - that was 1968!). I think not was also used on TV in several countries, maybe even the UK too.  

It was sung by the amazing Patricia Paay, who also coincidentally recorded several jingles for my favourite radio station then, Radio Veronica.  She later had great success in the Netherlands as a singer and made many hits, as well as becoming a well known TV presenter and pundit. 

I also confess to loving the TV jingle that most people find "cringing" for Johnsons 'Shake and Vac'. It starred an little known actress called Jenny Logan doing a manic dance around a suburban lounge with her vacuum cleaner. I'm still not sure if I find it erotic or the song is just a very clever earworm.  

For pure comedy the TV ad that really cracks me up is SMASH - the one where the aliens are sat around a space ship console laughing at the primitive way we cook our potatoes: "Then they smash them all to bits." Sheer Brilliance! 

Favourite Music 

For many years I kept a note of which my favourite music tracks were - its around 400. Tunes that just have a certain magic for me and which i could never be without. If I'm feeling a bit low I just pop on a few of these and they really are like medicine. Who needs drugs? 

Music can really make you feel so good. Many are landmark tracks from kye moments in my life, although strangely there are few from my first radio broadcasts (on Radio Caroline in 1973) although there are many that bring back memories of Radio Veronica, the leading Dutch station in the 60s and 70s.  

My favourites cover many genres, the whole spectrum of music almost and while there are a lot from 1966, a quick run down revelas I am still bvery much "into the music"  right through the 80s and 90s, even into this century. My children will be so surprised to see that!  

One of the most dominat rooms in our home for many years has been the Record library, the singles alone numbering tens of thousands.  One of the reasons we only moved house very rarely! 
Click here for a listing of Paul Rusling's favourite music tracks (mostly singles!) 

Nostalgia from Holland on

Nostalgia from Holland on


Last month the 192TV channel opened its new studios in Nijkerk in the Netherlands. Although run by a bunch of radio aficionados, (OK then - Anoraks!) this is not of such narrow appeal as you might expect. It is in fact a very widely watched channel.  The 192TV channel now has 2 MILLION subscribers in Holland alone where its available on a number of outlets. 

They are the same people who bring one of Internet Radio's most entertaining radio channels, Former Radio Veronica audio and programming guru, Ad Bouman and Rob Stellings, Rene Kroon from TMF, The Music Factory, and former record label executive Bert van Breda

Largely due to its programme content including chunks of old shows from Beat TV,  the BBC, KRO, NOS and many more. It is in fact like an all gold radio channel, but with rarely seen footage from days gone by.  I must confess I often wallow in the nostalgic programme material it offers. 

192TV takes the viewer back in time 24/7 with clips and TV shows of all kinds of artists from the  sixties and seventies, interspersed with original jingles from that time.  They also run stuff from the 80s, 90s and the noughts too  The most popular strips though seem to be the ones featuring the Beatles and they recently ran some exhibitions in the studio related to the band, and their visits to the Netherlands.   The Beatles Top 30 was also a popular programme event (Ive been trying to see it again, a pity that 192TV does not have a 'Watch it Again" feature. 


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Vinyl is booming


My first visit to a record pressing plant.

Vinyl records, they seem to evoke a certain magic in many of us music lovers, and I cant really work out quite WHY this is.

Ive been collecting records since the 1960s. AT first they were simply a tool, if you wanted to work as a Disc Jockey, you simply had to have a decent collection.  My first DJing was in clubs in early 1968, and I can well remember borrowing records from friends at school - William Rosenberg, and Steve Foster were my main sources. God Bless them, they had such impeccable taste. 

(Eventually I built up my own great collection which was either soul, or out and out rock music - always on singles.  We had to have a special room for my collection which went to "several tens of thousands" items, mostly singles. I rarely got chance to play any and got tired of getting offers for individual items, so last year I sadly sold the lot.  But my interest in the things seems to have grown even stronger if anything!)

I was never interested in the actual vinyl itself though - after all, it was just a disc of plastic stuff, i didn't even understand how it was made and remember my excitement at seeing the first pressing plant I encountered in London in late 1969.  But records were not really that attractive - the EMI and Decca group ones had very uninspiring labels. EMI's labels were mostly black, and they often had scant information on them - in fact they printed more nonsense about the "recording rights being protected" than they did about the song or the artiste.  In the UK in those days there were only very occasionally a unique picture cover, unlike our friends in the USA where they tried hard to market the records in shops by enfolding them in a nice colourful jacket (sleeve) often with a picture of the artiste.  Made it worth paying the Dollar and 50 cents.

Prices of Singles

The price of singles in the UK for most of the 1960s was 6/8d, or three for a pound!  I think it was about 1970 that the price began edging up - 7/3d, and 7/6 I remember. or if you were prepared to wait until the record had dropped out of the chart, you would find the hits of the day were often available from market stalls for about 2/6d. They got their supplied from Juke Box operators, who seemed to believe that once out of the Top 40 chart, no one would want to pl;ay a record any more. How wrong they were on that count!
Venus SHOCKING BLUE, picture sleeve

By the 1980s the UK record companies had caught on to the picture sleeve idea and about half of releases were issued in one, though often it was only the initial batch of about a thousand or two.  Suddenly someone hit on the crazy idea of several different picture sleeves for records. Same record, just a different sleeve. the avid fans of certain artistes would order a copy of each one, which gave a good sales push and resulted in the record entering the chart in a high position. Then it escalated into having slightly different pressings of a song, and thing up to 6 different versions of a song might be issued. The fans had to shell out more and more. Different format too became much in vogue, coloured, vinyl, an extended mix on a 12 inch disc, and even the artiste's image pressed into the vinyl.  Different shaped discs; it worked for vinyl (but a nuisance to store them) but not for cassettes. They 
still made up about 15% of single releases as late as the late 1980s.

Advent of the Compact Disc

When CDs came in (1983) record companies were able to sell their entire back catalog again,  with alleged better sound, no scratches, longer playing times and in a smaller, more practical format. The public fell for it and consigned their precious record collections to the skip. Literally millions ended up being off loaded at boot fairs. The cost of a CD was about 14p , compared to a 45 which was nearer 50p. The record companies couldn't believe their luck! 

The CD soon replaced the cassette releases, and for a while the pundits claimed that the 7inch vinyl single would die out too. Around 2000 it looked like it might, as the record business struggled to come to terms with the concept of downloads.  They soon realised that they had to "sink or swim" though and embraced the download MP3 idea, which brought down the cost of music to the consumer. After all, there was no tangible product to press or manufacture, much less distribute.  thats what caused the wholesale demise of record shops. Well, almost.

In 2009 the demand for decent vinyl pressings bagel to rise and was soon over a million pieces a year. Not matching the peak enjoyed by the Beatles and others - in the early 1960s you needed to sell a couple of Million to have a number one hit, more recently its been around 30,000 downloads in a week. The biggest CD and DVD producer are Optimal Media in Germany. They recently installed new presses but still cannot cope with the demand from their customers.  They work three shifts a day and all weekend, but still cannot keep up with the demand.

Problems with Pressings    

"The real problem is not in the pressing – the bottleneck is in the electroplating," explains Silke Maurer of Handle with Care Records. Electroplating is the process of coating the master lacquer in a metal layer to produce stampers. It is time-intensive and requires highly trained personnel.

As well as the lawyers only being produced by two companies, the actual stylus that cuts the record is made by only one company, Apollo in the USA. 

A trip to a pressing plant really opened your eyes.  Many machines look like they are from a museum.  They spit out a records that are either automatically placed in a sleeve or put on a spindle so they can be sleeved by hand.  Its the lacquers that are the big problem now, only two companies in  the world are still making them. 

Shedules are very difficult to predict, and this too is forcing up the value of vinyl discs to unheard of levels. The older material too on original labels is regarded as much superior to new releases. They command silly prices when they are sold, which I will talk about next time. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Who listens to radio?

Who listens to radio?

The radio industry is forever trying to convince us that digital radio is taking over the world and now accounts for most listening. Well, official figures released today by the UK Governments med agency, OFCOM, says quite clearly that this is not only untrue, but that its far wide or short of the claim.

The key points are:

1.  that radio listening is still a major part of 9 of ten people's lives:
  • On average, nine in ten adults (89.5%) tuned into the radio in 2014 and spent just over three hours listening each day (3 hours and 3 minutes). This is down by six minutes per week on average year on year.

2. Digital radio listening makes up less than half of radio listening in general in the UK,
This is hardly the huge success that the industry claims and nowhere near their own perceptions:
  • Digital listening accounts for 39.6% of all radio listening, up by 2.8 percentage points year on year.

3. There are only 8 national radio stations in the UK. 
Many more stations CLAIM to be national, but this is pure marketing hype, either to win more advertising or to calm their own investors, or maybe promotional statements.  The claims are certainly not as honest as one might expect of this senior medium. 
  • 332 local radio stations, 227 community radio stations and 8 UK-wide radio stations were broadcasting on analogue in May 2015. There were 25 UK-wide stations on DAB.

4. Streaming hasn't become the main choice of listeners, not yet anyway.
Just as many listeners in the 16-24 years age group use regular radio for music as listen to one of the streaming services:
  • Among regular music listeners aged 16-24, streaming services are as popular as radio stations. Around two fifths (39%) of this age group use streaming services to listen to music, similar to the proportion who listen to music on the radio.

What does it all mean?  Sure, radio is changing, it is becoming easier to listen digitally, but traditional radio still holds sway over much of the UK.  Full details of OFCOMs survey can be found via this link: 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Radio Luxembourg abandons historic radio transmitter site

 Luxembourg to leave historical site

A piece of Europe's broadcasting history is due to be erased later this year when Radio Luxembourg gives up its main transmission site at Marnach.

Radio Luxembourg's transmission company, BCE, is looking for a new site for its operations to continue operating on 1440 KHz (208 metres MW). The parent CLT company is giving up 5 acres of the transmission site at Marnach according to the Luxembourgaise magazine "L'essential" and all broadcasting activity there will close down at the end of 2015.

The owning company, CLT, operates several radio and TV stations, but its services for Germany and France are the most profitable. The legendary English service probably the best known, although its over twenty years since that closed. 

Famous in its day for being the first radio station in Europe to play Elvis and the Beatles, the station also made Jimmy Savile a huge star and gave many more DJs their first big radio break, including Mike Read and Kid Jensen. For many years Radio Luxembourg prerecorded most of its shows at a small studio in Mayfair and flew the tapes out to the radio station in the Grand Duchy for transmission. 

There have been many attempts to restart the English service of Radio Luxembourg, by having it on satellite, using the new DRM digital mode of modulation, and as an all country music station, but these have all come to nought.  The one megawatt transmitter on 208 metres medium wave which millions of European kids have gone to sleep with at night "tranny under the pillow" is now used for relaying Radio China to Europe. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

BBC Trust to be scrapped?

 BBC Trust to be scrapped?

The days of the BBC many be numbered, if the proposals in a Report by the Select committee  of the Government's DCMS  come to fruition.  The 166 page report suggests that the Licence Fee would be dropped in favour of a household tax  which gets spent on public service programming from a variety of sources. 

“We recommend that a new Public Service Broadcasting Commission (PSBC) be established with the role of scrutinising the BBC’s strategic plan, assessing the BBC’s overall performance, and determining the level of public funding allocated to the BBC and to others,” say MPs in the Report. 

Further debate and investigations will continue in a wide reaching consultation of how the BBC might best be organised. 

As predicted the commercial radio industry have welcome the report:  “The RadioCentre welcomes the findings of the new Culture, Media and Sport Committee report that the BBC does not need to provide ‘something for everyone’, particularly in areas that are already well-served," said Siobhan Kenny, the CEO of the RadioCentre. 

The report envisages opening up the BBC to more  independent production companies and putting an end to the 'in house' guarantees that keep much of broadcasting a closed shop to BBC staff employees.  

The Radio Independents Group  welcomed the move -  “The committee has taken a balanced and informed view in many areas. We welcome such aspects as: general support for competition in programme making; support for a continuation of the Licence Fee, including its possible use for wider industry training; and greater transparency including in-house production costs."

“We also welcome the committee’s statement that the BBC ‘must develop a more equitable commissioning and business strategy that fosters cultural variety and spreads its activity, as far as possible, across the country’. To achieve this the BBC needs to introduce much more competition for ideas in radio so that audio indies, large and small, around the UK have a greater chance to compete to make radio programmes”.

Any changes are envisaged at the next charter renewal, in 2016.  

The Report of the Select committee can be read here:

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Whats next for radio?

What's next for radio?

As the UK lumbers along with its early 1990s technology, DAB, there may be one solitary development. An applicant for the next chain of national DAB franchises has promised that PART of the peace will be used for the much newer DAB+.  Thats the method of transmitting radio stations that the rest of the world uses - you get better quality and more stations, but even that seems about to be replaced by newer technology.

There have been suggestions that all terrestrial radio is obsolete, and that satellite delivery will be the future source. Well, they have been saying that since the 1980s, but so far no satellite-only radio service has ever looked like breaking through in Europe.
Image result for sirius satellite radioIn the USA they have SIRIUS, which is a bouquet of satellite channels. It worked in many of the far open spaces where you couldn't get many regular radio stations. Sirius offers 80 or 140 channels, but at a price. Its a new radio and either $15 or $20 a month. A rival network (XM) was readily absorbed into Sirius and they now have 21 million paying subscribers.  It wouldn't work in Europe, especially the UK, as most of the US is a lot further south meaning it gets a stronger signal from the satellites. The UK is too far north to get reliable signals from geostationary satellites in cars.

Web Radio
Some have suggested that we might get all radio in future via the internet. Here the sheer capacity, or rather lack of it, of the UK networks is the big obstacle.  In the rest of the world the word 'Superfast broadband' now means 25MB or faster, but in the UK the IPs sell us a 12 MB service and call it 'superfast', which it isn't!

If you take the entire UK broadband networks and use them for radio, the amount needed wouldn't cope at the off-peak times of day, and at peak radio listening time (generally around 8am) it would be overloaded by a factor of 7. Thats just for those listening at home - in cars there is some limited (and in most places, VERY limited) internet capacity  available.  The radio stations doing well on satellite currently will agree that at times internet capacity can barely cope, so the idea to move radio across to that as a medium re just being unrealistic.

Radio on mobiles
4G is barely readable in city centres, and very hit and miss in the suburbs. In the countryside its just non-existent. I live on the edge of a 500,000 population urban sprawl (called Hull) and can't get a sniff of the 4G, which is less than 5 miles from me - I can see it if I stand on the roof! My 3G service (from O2, which I would suggest avoiding at all costs) is not much better - intermittent upstairs, and barely seen on the ground floor - and I'm 140 feet asl. I would dread having to rely on our solitary monopolistic internet provider for my radio services - my service drops to a crawl of about 1MB for hours around this time of day, although they have tantalisingly been promising us fibre for the last three or four years.

Apple launched iTunes Radio over a year ago but it still hasn't made it to the UK. I keep hearing whispers they are planning to make it even bigger by having SPEECh content, that goes with the music.  This may well be so as in the last few days Zane Lowe has left Radio 1 to join them.  One of the best New Zealand broadcasters we ever got in the uK, maybe he will steer them to huge success with iTunes Radio?

It seems that we had better stick to regular ether airwaves for now. Some say the FM band is closing in 2015, but these are the same guys who produced that satellite would take over all radio about 30 years ago.

I will bet anyone that we shall still be listening to FM radio stations on the same FM radios in at least 2020, probably much further beyond.  Short Wave and Medium Wave will still be there too, so don't be panicked into buying whatever the industry pundits try and force on you.

When you know what makes a radio tick, you'll buy a Bulova! 

Friday, 6 February 2015

BBC ends coverage in Eastern Mediterranean

BBC ends MW coverage

 in Eastern Mediterranean

The BBC World Service English is to end medium wave radio services to the Eastern Mediterranean area on 1323AM. The service is widely heard across the Middle east, Turkey and North Africa.

Director of BBC World Service, Fran Unsworth, says: “Our English language service will still be available via satellite and on the internet – which is increasingly how our audiences tune in. However, we cannot identify a financially viable method by which to continue the medium wave radio service. It is for this reason that we have decided to end these transmissions.“

The 1323 AM service has been the 'Voice of Britain' since the 1950s, when it was built by the 'Diplomatic Wireless Service' to broadcast the UK's point of view after the BBC rejected UK Government statements as propaganda.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Latest UK Radio listening figures

The latest radio listening figures for the UK for the last 3 months of 2014 show that 89% of the population are regular radio listeners, tuning in for an average of over 21 hours a week. BBC Radio 6 has over 2 m listeners, putting it above BBC Radio 3. 

Radio 1 lost listeners again; total BBC Radio reach is 35million, or about 53% of all listening. Radio 2 attracts over 15m listeners and Radio 4 10.75m.  BBC Radio 5, without any FM outlet, is still reading over 5.5 million listeners each week, while the BBC;s top Breakfast shows are Chris Evans (9.6m) and Radio 4's TODAY programme (6.7m) 

The top private station in London is now Kiss FM, ahead of the long time leader Capital, which is now networked around the UK.  
BBC Local radio now reaches just a shade under 9 million, considerably down on its peak of 9.3m reached last year. 

Meanwhile the BBC Trust has begun its latest review, looking at the speech radio stations provided by the BBC. The review will mainly look at Radio 4 and Radio 5. Its part of a rolling programme whereby each BBC service is reviewed at least once every five years.

The weekly record chart show

The Weekly Chart Show - still relevant?

I never expected to be still checking the weekly music charts. While its become fashionable for guys my age to knock current music, I find that my music taste still cover a wide gamut of genres, though mainly funk ad rock, anything energetic and well produced actually!

Until recently I used to excitedly sit and listen to the countdown of the new singles chart each Sunday teatime. The decline in presentation standards has spolied that period of radio for me, but I still grab a copy of the new chart around 7pm each Sunday, to see who is doing what.

The album charts have never interested me much - for many years in the 60s it seemed like the Sound of Music was No 1 forever, so I became more interested in the singles chart. I never really found 40 minutes to listen to an album in its entirety, three minutes is quite long enough for some tunes!

If YOU have fallen out of syn with today's music charts, but still like to have a very quick glimpse of the what's new, we will let you know what's No 1 in singles and albums, what's storiming up the charts, and what's new and expected to be a big hit soon.

Are you still interested in music, or has much of it lost its attraction for you? Do you still buy music, as CDs or downloads?   I'm very interested to hear.  Drop me a line HERE and let me know.

Until next Monday

            Click any song title to access the number in iTunes
1. Changing,       by SIGMA 
     f  Paloma Faith
 This has toppled last week's number 1 (Blame by Calvin Harris) by storming up the charts 115 places

Professor Green is at number 4 with Lullaby. Pharrell Williams single Happy has moved one nich higher this week; its 44 weeks in the Top 40 now, thats just six weeks off a year stay. Totally Amazing!

1. No sound without silence  SCRIPT
  First week in the chart, but close behind is  Barbara Streisand's new album 'Partners'    while the new CHRIS BROWN album is just a couple of places behind her.

Paul's Blog is published Mondays,