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Behind the Music

Martin Walters, 26th August 2015
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photo of Wes JayHow often do we contemplate the rich personal lives behind some of the most popular voices and songwriters across the last 50 years of music?

Produced in the studios at Geelong’s The Pulse, Behind The Music is a new addition to the Community Radio Network that chronicles the people and personalities behind some of our favourite acts traversing rock, blues, pop, theatre, contemporary classical, and much more.

Host Wes Jay (who some CRN listeners may know as a recent temporary host of the National Rock ‘n’ Blues Show) has recently featured and interviewed such diverse acts as Grammy Award winning duo The Civil Wars, Billy Thorpe, AC/DC, Daddy Cool’s Ross Hannaford, Russell Morris’s best selling projects Sharkmouth and Van Diemen’s Land, leading lady of theatre Marina Prior, classical composer Peter Sculthorpe, and The Angels. However, this list only covers Wes’ recent accomplishments – a small (but still impressive!) fragment of a career spanning four decades on Australian radio airwaves.

We went to Wes to get the creator’s take on this show and his broadcasting career to date:

Can you tell us about your start in community radio? I notice that you were one of the first announcers at 2MBS!

In December 1974, 2MBS FM was presenting a 15W test transmission in Sydney ahead of its official start in February 1975. Inadvertently, I became one of the first voices on FM when I presented a five-hour shift on Christmas Day. For the next six years, I programmed and presented several programs. I also got involved with the Captain Midnight team on 2CBA FM (now Hope) and helped 2NBC FM during their test transmissions. I left to pursue a career in commercial radio in late '81, which I did successfully for more than ten years. Since that December day, there has only been a period of six months when I haven’t presented or produced regular radio programs.

And how and when did you get your start at Pulse?

I moved to Geelong around 18 months ago. After settling in, I became a subscriber and submitted a program proposal to the station. After an interview and audition, Behind The Music has aired weekly on The Pulse since 4 July 2014.

So what is Behind The Music?

Behind The Music is a weekly music and interview program that takes a peek into the lives of musicians from yesterday and today.

You have a very wide variety of artists of different styles on the program. How do you choose the acts that you profile?

Topicality, newsworthiness and availability. It has to be a good story. For example, I interviewed the late Peter Allen prior to his death in 1992. When Australian TV presents a two-part biopic on Allen in September, I’ll pull this archival interview out from the vault for listeners to coincide with the renewed interest in the life of this legend.

But how do I go from an interest in someone like Peter Allen to a band like AC/DC? Well, 2015 marks the 35th anniversary of their album Back In Black. It took eight years before any album from the group turned a profit, but this one has become the second biggest selling album of all time sitting just behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It’s an amazing achievement for an Aussie act to have outsold The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Elvis Presley in global record sales!

What do you think makes the program unique, and why should stations play the show?

Behind The Music is a quality program with a distinctive voice providing unique access to the stars from more than 40 years experience in music and media. This is an opportunity to give your members/subscribers/listeners another reason to support you, and for you get the kudos for airing such a quality program. Jan (a former commercial radio program director, 55) sums it up this way: “Few presenters can regularly access current hit makers, acts from yesterday - especially Aussies - and present them in such an insightful manner as Behind The Music does.”

CRN is distributed far and wide. Do you think the program will resonate with listeners across the country from different walks of life?

Absolutely! Behind The Music regularly receives positive feedback (phone, email and Facebook) from listeners to The Pulse indicating that they value the program. Most listen to The Pulse on FM, with a growing number of people listening online and on their phones through TuneIn.

Anne (a nurse, 52) writes that Behind the Music is a “relaxed up close and personal program that reveals the person behind the artist, with their struggles, desires and inspiration, sometimes in contrast to the public perception that can be held of successful performers”.

Andrew (a manager, 39) says he likes the show each week because it “digs a bit deeper”.  He says that he loves “hearing the story from ‘the horse’s mouth’ of how a song comes about. And what circumstances led to those lyrics being penned and the music being crafted.

The Pulse Manager Leo Renkin, a strong advocate for the program, adds that a good program like BTM “deserves good recognition and airplay all over Australia”.

Do you have a wish list of artists you would like to interview, and who is at the top of the list?

I receive regular offers and usually record one or two Aussie or international interviews every week -  some of which air immediately. Others wait for an opportunity to speak with me – so I don’t really have a list. However, I am hoping to chat with Rick Hall from Muscle Shoals about America’s FAME studios in the near future.

Do you keep an archive of your programs?

I have archived the BTM programs I have presented on The Pulse; and have a large library of interviews and selected programs I’ve recorded on reel, cassette, minidisk, and DAT over the past 40+ years. I’m gradually digitising them.

Do you have a favourite Australian artist of all time?

So many! Billy Thorpe. Midnight Oil. INXS. Cold Chisel. Bee Gees. Divinyls. Silverchair. Easybeats. Little River Band. Powderfinger. Paul Kelly and his many foils. Savage Garden. Dragon. Skyhooks. Icehouse. Daddy Cool. The Saints. The Triffids. Hunters And Collectors. Dingoes. Hoodoo Gurus. Air Supply. The Angels. The Reels. Masters Apprentices. Australian Crawl. Mondo Rock. The Seekers. Men At Work. The Models. Pseudo Echo. Mental as Anything. Choirboys. Screaming Jets. Mike Brady. Kate Ceberano. John Farnham. Marcia Hines. Colleen Hewett. Damien Leith. Kylie Minogue. Russell Morris. Doug Parkinson. Michael Paynter. Brian Cadd, James Reyne. Darryl Cotton. Swanee. John Paul Young. Ray Burgess, Marina Prior… I could go on!  They’re all part of Behind The Music.

For CRN subcribers:

  • Behind The Music is being broadcast/distributed by CRN on Playing Fridays from 4 September, from 18:04 to 19:00 EST, and will be available for DDN capture
  • Program Facebook page
  • For more information contact CRN staff on 02 9310 2999 or email crn@cbaa.org.au.

Not a CRN subscriber, but want to find out more about getting content like this for your station? Read more here.

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