A Lot Can Happen in a Year

On April 30th 2011 I left Newcastle and moved back in with my mum in Maidstone for a week.

It had been an intense couple of weeks. Having been placed on the doorstep of Amazing Radio like Fred in the opening credits of the Flintstones, I had been forced to leave everything I’d spent the past nine months establishing. There were certain people, however, who were quite happy to welcome me back to the South.

With their support, and the help from new friends and colleagues, I regained some confidence. I followed a six month stint at Channel 4 with a similar length of time at Sky (gotta love a fixed-term contract!), tried solo podcasting and tried to work out the capital’s music scene – something I can’t honestly say I’m on top of, (mostly due to a laziness since moving to North West London).

In two weeks time I’ll be leaving Sky and heading back into radio again, combining my love for the classic broadcasting medium with my experience in online by becoming BBC Radio’s Interactive Producer for their comedy output. I can’t wait. I’ve loved the online roles I’ve been performing over the last year, but I think this one is going to be the most exciting yet.

Being made redundant is tough. Even if you’re told it’s ‘not your fault’ and you’re given a glowing reference, it’s hard to switch your initial dismay into a positive outlook. There will be times when you’ll look back and wonder if you could have done something differently. It doesn’t matter if you have a new job, home, partner or entirely different life. Something drastic happened and even the greatest of efforts isn’t going to make it all disappear, but like attempting to get over the breakdown relationship, time and proactivity will always help. I’m just lucky that I didn’t just have to rely on time alone; I had previous colleagues who were happy to help me get back on my feet, and friends to get me on the right track. I guess that’s another lesson; never burn a bridge that doesn’t need burning! So thank you ‘Bridges’. Words can’t quite describe how you helped me.

But now there’s a new cause that needs help. In the past week Amazing Radio has lost its DAB licence over a dispute in terms for the Digital 1 licence required to keep its slot on the airwaves. No matter how we parted ways, that station gave a space for me to play the music I love by the bands I adore and discover more besides. I may no longer be associated with it, but I’d hate to deny anyone the same opportunity. Its got some dedicated listeners, and a steadily growing population of new fans who shouldn’t have to bear the disappointment of losing a station that’s yet to reach its full potential. If you feel the same, one of these dedicated listeners has set up a petition. I don’t know how it will impact on Digital 1’s terms (or even what they are) but at least we tried.

Sign the petition here.

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The all new Get Frank podcast!

I have just finished uploading my very first Get Frank podcast!

I may no longer be working for Amazing Radio, but I want to continue to support new and emerging artists, and I thought that producing and presenting my own podcast would be a good way of doing it.

I’m intending to produce a 30-40 minute episode every 2-4 weeks (depending on the response to the pilot episode). The idea of the podcast is that it will feature a mixture of acts that I have seen live (or am planning to) and will centre around a featured artist who will guest on the show by way of an interview.

The first episode features Wylam five-piece Vinyl Jacket who are currently promoting debut single Painting Stations. The single, which has been released by new Newcastle-based label The Calico Print, has found a home on many a radio station, including BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio, and should see the boys recruiting a strong fan base. The guys make fantastic interviewees, and I really couldn’t think of a band I’d rather have helping me out on my first episode.

Alongside Vinyl Jacket there’s also mentions for Pandas and People, Let’s Buy Happiness, Grandfather Birds and Pilots, plus plays for Craig Wosahlo, Baskin’s Wish, The Carpels, Toodar and Mammal Club (as remixed by Mr Blazey).

The real challenge I’m currently struggling with is the editing process. This isn’t because I’m inexperienced in using sound editing software, but because I don’t have a professional program intended for the task on my computer. (I miss Adobe Audition greatly!) Currently I’m editing interviews and preparing song extras (with fades/transitions) in Audacity, loading into iTunes and multi-tracking it all together in Garage Band. For the links themselves I’m recording with a Zoom H2 microphone straight into Garage Band. When I was editing the pilot I kept having to rerecord ins and outs because, unbeknownst to me, the clips kept cropping. Once I’m safely back in employment I’ll save up and invest in a copy of Logic Express, and then I can think more about audio imaging and the concept of the podcast itself.

If you have any comments, questions or would like to be featured on the next Get Frank podcast then drop me a line at frankiepromotes@gmail.com. Find out more about the podcast and how to subscribe here.

For listeners

As my Amazing Folk Roots show was due to be on Amazing Radio tonight, I thought I’d better write something to explain why it won’t be!

Yesterday my contract was terminated by The Amazing Media Group, so my show has been cancelled with immediate effect.

I have been told that there is no shame in redundancy, so I hope to find work in media again sometime soon. What is sad is that everything was so instant, so sudden, that I didn’t get to do a final show – my show for tonight has already been broadcast once, but they didn’t want to broadcast it again tonight. If there is no shame in redundancy, then why has work been so swift to erase me?

I am no longer Producer Frankie on Amazing Afternoons and Kyle will be carrying on solo, which will be fine (so afternoon listeners please don’t worry!) Amazing Radio is a fantastic idea. I’ve worked with hundreds of bands, lots of talented music writers and bloggers and met some fantastic people. The team I have worked with have been brilliant. They are young, fresh and talented – and held together by the equally brilliant Operations Manager Kevin, who truly is the heart of Amazing Towers.

However I feel now, I know that I should look back and be proud of my time with Amazing. I recorded my first show for the station when I was 20, making me the youngest presenter on national radio. I put together The Afternoon Show (as it was originally called) before I graduated from university, recruiting Kyle to present and developing features that came and went before settling on ideas that I was happy with, such as Matchmaker and the New Music Tour. The show itself was deemed strong enough to be live, but I became a victim of this success as I have constructed the show in such a way that it can survive without me, and I really hope it does. There were many things I did for the company and I’m not sure what will happen, but I hope it grows without more people needing to lose their jobs.

There have been many people who have helped and supported me in the past few years that I’ve not really stopped. Waking up this morning, therefore, was a very surreal feeling, and one I didn’t like very much!

Now I need something to do, and all ideas and offers are much appreciated!

Frankie’s fish pie

I was recently sent this fish pie recipe by one of the listeners of my Amazing Radio show.

I decided to have a go at the recipe, (which was rather adventurous for my usually fish-adverse culinary habits), but gave it a bit of a twist by exchanging and/or omitting a few of the ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

500g white fish (I used pollock), 2 hardboiled eggs, couple handfuls of frozen peas (defrosted), sachet of cheese sauce (powder mix), couple cloves of garlic, couple of bay leaves, 300g milk (plus a dash more for mashing), 800g sweet potatoes, salt and pepper for seasoning.

Gently simmer chopped garlic, bay leaves, 300ml milk and the fish in a large pan for 15mins. Add a knob of butter if desired

Strain out the milk mixture and keep handy. Break fish into small pieces once cool enough to handle. Remove the bay leaves.

Mix the cheese sauce sachet with the milk mixture before adding in the fish, peas and chopped hardboiled eggs and pouring into a dish for baking. Season with salt and pepper

Peel, chop and boil sweet potatoes for 15 minutes before mashing with a dash of milk

Top the baking dish and mix with the sweet potato mash. Sprinkle on a little cheese if desired and season with salt and pepper

Bake in a preheated oven for 180 degrees for 40 minutes or until suitably golden

..And then Serve! (I’m rubbish at final serving pictures). I’d recommend serving with a side of steamed broccoli and spinach.

Thanks to Ade for the original recipe!


Must-hear viewing

“Must-hear you say? But these are videos I see below…”

Yes that is indeed correct, but they’re music videos so I hope you watch them to hear them… if that makes sense? Basically they’re videos that if you haven’t seen, you should, and if you have I heartily salute you with my well-bitten fingernails.

Firstly I present to you the wonderful Leeds-based solo artist James Owen Fender. I truly love this artist: Awesome voice, sensational tunes. Also check out his video for former single The Cloud.

Next, here’s lovely songwriter Martin Longstaff, performing live for Amazing Radio as The Lake Poets. This was recorded exclusively for the station at Newcastle’s Blank Studios. I wrote an article recently predicting big things for The Lake Poets in 2011, and Martin will be a guest on my Amazing Folk Roots Show this Sunday from 7pm.

Now I’ve been meaning to post this next video for far too long. It’s Newcastle four piece Grandfather Birds recording in The Amazing Sessions for Amazing Radio. This video was created by the lovely Paul Alton, who often attends local gigs armed with a video camera. (The song’s pretty sensational too).

I wasn’t too big a fan of previous effort Ungrateful, but I have a huge soft spot for this number, Hunger, by Wichita label act Frankie & the Heartstrings. It’s a fantastic video starring Robert Popper of BBC comedy Look Around You and features a particularly fine performance from keyboardist/guitarist/all-round-legend Mick Ross.

Finally I’m not sure if this is an official video. but we’re loving Kyla La Grange at Amazing Towers right now. Her voice might be too sugary for some, but this song, Walk Through Walls, is epic.

So what do you think? Any new acts I should check out?

An open letter to BBC Introducing

Please note that the following is strictly of my own opinion, and not that of my employer, the Amazing Media Group (AMG).

Dear BBC,

I produce and present for Amazing Radio, a DAB digital radio station that only plays new and emerging music. Should this make us rivals? No, of course not. We want the same things… possibly.

I’ve become doubtful recently as BBC Introducing focuses on flashy ‘Masterclass’ and ‘In New Music We Trust’ events. These are valuable for artists supported by the Introducing brand, but it seems that sometimes this focus to publicly celebrate ‘the next big thing’ can forget the smaller artists recently being discovered by local BBC Introducing programmes.

Local BBC Introducing shows have to be commissioned by the Managing Editor of the regional centre and I understand this. There are different budgets, schedules to fit the shows into – which explains why some shows are just an hour, some three and others expand outside of the show with regional tours. What I don’t understand is why the BBC cannot invest a mere smidgeon of time in publishing the playlists from each show. It’s incredible that you cannot find programme information for the regional shows.

This might seem like a petty quibble, but I promise you it’s not. What do new, emerging and unsigned artists need most of all? Gigs! You can’t build a fan base (and test their dedication) without building up a loyal following that will support you and your music if you begin releasing. A label will be unlikely to sign a band without a considerable following. Public faith should not be underestimated. Promoters will be looking to BBC Introducing to provide new acts for local gigs – or at least they could be, if the BBC decided to do the simple thing of archiving a list of played acts (with links) from each show.

The BBC Birmingham Introducing website is a good example of what regional BBC Introducing sites should be starting with. The site used to house a comprehensive A-Z of local acts, but I can no longer locate it. There are, however, local artist news articles which is welcome relief from my fears that BBC Online is completely failing to provide us with the information that we pay our licence fees for.

At Amazing Radio our music programming policy is that we only play artists who have uploaded their tracks to amazingtunes.com. This means that our listeners can easily find what they hear on the radio, either by searching for the artists that they’ve heard us talk about on the radio, or by clicking on the hyper linked playlists that we provide on our show pages. We’re also on hand to answer any questions that site users or listeners may have. I occasionally receive emails that ask me about a song or artist, and I’m always happy to answer them,
(complete with a link to the artist’s profile page). Artists can write what they like on their profile pages too, so if they want to direct users to a Band Camp or Facebook fan page, we don’t mind at all!

So BBC, what would I like you do do? Well I’d like to see more effort put into the regional BBC Introducing sites – some shows don’t even have them – and I’d like to see published playlists for each show. Surely it can’t be that hard can it?

All the best,

Frankie Ward

Amazing Movie Making

I’ve been attempting to create some video content for Amazing Radio‘s You Tube channel recently.

We’ve recently become You Tube partners which I’m really excited about (my old channel isn’t, but it was always an aim). I announced upon my arrival at Amazing Towers in June that You Tube partnership was always a plan and in the end they approached us, which was nice!

Now we just need to start getting content, and finding an audience for it! I’ve started by making a simply Q & A video with Kyle Wilkinson, who I produce every week day on The Afternoon Show.

We might do more videos like this so if you have any questions for me (as the presenter of Amazing Folk Roots), for Kyle or for any of our presenters then feel free to ask away!

An Amazing article!

An exciting thing happened this morning!

The Guardian wrote about Amazing Radio!

Getting to know the boys from emerging act Mike Fantastic

Getting to know the boys from emerging act Mike Fantastic

It’s quite a big thing for us as we’re rather ‘underground’ in our music policy (and also because we don’t advertise.) We’re a commercial station that doesn’t play ads (save for the Christmas DAB trails) and we only play new and emerging artists (who have popped their stuff over at amazingtunes.com.)

I’ve written about my job in many a post on this blog, but if you’d like to go straight to the source you can check out our website, follow us on Twitter or even join our Facebook Group and join the ‘New Music Revolution.

A terrifying musical debut!

I’m playing my first gig as ‘Member No.11’ of The Union Choir tomorrow at The Star and Shadow Cinema with Brilliant Mind, O’Messy Life and John Egdell tomorrow… and I can hardly contain my excitement.

For this isn’t any old gig… this is a Halloween special!

Wig by Smiffy's, jacket by Religion, top by H&M and faux leather trousers, £38 by Topshop

I was going to go as a convict before realising that I should probably have some kind of matching stripy hat. I’d already ordered the handcuffs for less than a pound from Amazon so I invested another pound in a bandit mask. I don’t think I’ll wear the mask over my eyes much because it covers my nose and is a bit too wide for my face! I decided to keep the handcuffs for my costume by pretending that I’m a robber that has been ‘picked up and put in a police van in cuffs, but escaped en route to the cells.’ My amazing manager Kev at Amazing Radio found the wig in a cupboard and said I could have it so I’m wearing it to ‘up the bad girl status’.

If there’s any night of the year that you can go ultra vampy with deep, dark lips and messy black eyes it’s Halloween so I’m preparing to go all out with my crayons!

The Union Choir are playing last and I’ll only be practicing with the some of the band for the first time on the afternoon before the gig so personally, it’s going to be nerve wracking stuff! I’ve also been known for writing and interviewing bands for the radio so to suddenly make my Newcastle stage debut in front of a lot of them will be quite terrifying.

Me and Anna, the cellist from The Union Choir will be carving a couple of pumpkins before practice tomorrow so I’ll pop some photos of them on shortly. Apparently South Shields (where many band members are based) is all out of pumpkins so we may be a few jack o’lanterns down!

The doors for the gig open tomorrow at 7.30pm so I hope to see you there! And don’t forget to leave a comment telling me what you’re dressing up as!

Stone Roses

The other day I received a parcel…

 

The welcoming label!

 

I don’t really get many parcels so I was rather excited… particularly when I opened it and found a note handwritten on luxury paper just for me!

 

How pretty!?

 

I was sent the mystery package by Stone Bridge, a Kent based luxury hair accessories company that had spotted my curly tresses and thought that they could do them justice!

I lived in Kent for about eleven years so hearing that an international company was successfully flourishing not far from where I grew up was something to feel proud of. Kent isn’t really known for much other than hops and livestock, so it’s nice to see something slightly more… well… fashionable!

The company was set up by entrepreneur Melissa Hill. In 2006 she spotted a gap in the market for couture hair accessories and set about commissioning wearable works of art from around the world as well as ordering pieces from highly skilled designers from America, France and Italy (and further afield.) Due to the handcrafting processes that go into each piece, each design is of limited quantity which means I’m rather unlikely to turn up wearing the same head gear as someone else!

 

Almost real: Rose Silk Alice Band by Stone Bridge

 

Now I have to apologise for the following pics… I have finally spent some pennies on a nice compact camera, but I’m awaiting the delivery of a tripod so I can finally start posing proper. What I’ll be doing in the near future is assembling potential outfits to match one certain item, such as this alice band or other hair bands and barrettes.

My approach to fancy headgear is a bit like shoes – why own something if you can’t wear it more than once? The white colour of this headband makes many think of formal occasions such as weddings and christenings but I think it’s got potential for far more outings. I’ve often worn dramatic feathery headbands and fascinators to Get Frank gigs in the past so I’m definitely looking forward to having fun with this white beauty.

 

Lipfinity Lasting Lip Tint in #06 by Max Factor, £6.99

 

 

Click on the pic to check out more Rose Silk Alice Band colours.

 

I also like to post outfits for occasions so my next challenge is to compile something to wear for my first gig with The Union Choir on Friday. It’s at Plugged Inn in Sunderland (yup, no idea where it is exactly) and I’m going to have to head straight to the venue after work at Amazing Radio. I’m thinking that this head band is absolutely perfect for the gig because even if I’m stuck wearing my casual work clothes, this head band will provide a slice of instant glam to proceedings!

Another lovely thing about this head band is that it’s ultra comfy – some alice bands I’ve owned in the past have been too tight or snagged my hair upon removal – causing headaches in both senses of the word! Also I don’t face the problems I had with my headband in this post, where the head band kept slipping so much I’ll probably never wear it out of the house again.

My super talented friend Ruth Kilpatrick took a couple of photos of me wearing the head band at an Amazing Radio session interview I did with Charly Coombes and the New Breed for this Wednesday’s Afternoon Show so hopefully I’ll post those soon with a potential Friday gig outfit and a bit more about Stone Bridge themselves – let’s get supporting independents eh?

Where do you think I should wear the Rose Silk Alice Band? Comments and suggestions much appreciated!