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The Guardian
Tom Robinson's Radio Diary

Articles by TR for the Guardian newspaper:

1) Radio Diary 2003
2) Face The Music 2002
3) Letter to Tessa 2001
4) Call that fair ? 1999
5) Werner's Visit 1990

The Guardian G2
Radio page
23rd April 2003

For my nightly show on the BBC's digital 6 Music network I like to submit new releases to a kind of blindfold Pepsi Test. In my view artists who turn out great new work deserve to be heard. Those that don't, don't. The disk we're listening to definitely qualifies. "Whoever this lot are," I enthuse, "let's get 'em in for an interview". Alas 'this lot' turn out to be Radiohead: venerated by many as the single most significant band on the planet, with a legendary loathing for talking to anyone about anything. Get back in the queue, Robinson.

Music exclusives lie in the gift of number-hungry pluggers aiming to manipulate chart placings for their artists. Even though 6 Music's reach is now doubling every few months, with the best will in the world digital radio remains for now a minority medium.

The upside is a freedom to try things out, get things wrong and, occasionally, get them right. Just 12 months out of the starting gate, 6 Music is already up for two Sonys. Not in the same league as Colchester Car Wash Of the Year, but watch out Eddie - we're hot on your heels.

For myself I'm gradually getting the hang of live radio. The key is always knowing what comes next. An inner Alan Partridge lurks ready to burst into spluttering banalities the second one tears up the running order. Preparation is everything. It's a far cry from thrashing a bass guitar in the rough and ready days of punk rock, which is how I got started.

Back then an intense blond stranger walked up and told me I'd have to change my name. His was Tom Robertson and he was going to be famous. In the event "2-4-6-8 Motorway" made it just ahead of "The Golden Age Of Wireless" and it was as Thomas Dolby that he unleashed a series of peerless albums throughout the 80s.

Always one of the sharper tools in the box, Dolby spotted the internet's potential some ten years ahead of everyone else. He moved to California, invented a groundbreaking music technology called Beatnik and made his fortune. Wandering fondly through his back catalogue on air the other night I wondered aloud what Dolby/Robertson was currently up to. A listener suggested sending him an email via just on the offchance.

It not only got through, but TD turns out to be in London this week and prepared to drop into Broadcasting House (the place, not the programme) to chat about life, the universe and everything next Monday. Isn't the internet marvellous.

News just in from a baffled plugger at Parlophone. Radiohead's stubbornly reclusive Thom Yorke has requested an interview in June with "that musician guy who does the evening show on 6 Music".
Double result !


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