Broadcast media

Glass building with 'BBC Radio Merseyside' sign, with high tower in the background

BBC Radio Merseyside and Radio City tower
© National Museums Liverpool

Radio and television can encourage the emergence and development of scenes by providing programmes and presenters that specialise in particular music scenes and sounds. In this way they help to forge connections between interested individuals, groups and institutions.

The death metal scene of Denpasar, the capital city of Bali, emerged from a radio programme called 1921 which was broadcast on a local community radio station known as Radio Yudha. The programme started in the late 1980s as a heavy metal show but "gradually became dedicated to thrash metal, and following that death metal, before it was wound up in 1994" (Baulch, 2003: 196). According to the programme's announcer, Agus Yanky, the scene started when 1921 broadcast songs by thrash metal bands such as Megadeth, Kreator, Slayer and Metallica. Local fans of thrash metal not only listened to the programme but also visited the studio at the time of the broadcasts. As one fan put it;

"We all met at Yudha. That's what united us, 1921. At Radio Yudha, we would gather there. Talk about music, exchange tapes. Pretty soon, we had formed our own band." (cited in Baulch, 2005: 197)

In this way the radio programme united thrash metal fans who were listening in from different parts of the city, and it also operated as;

"... a call to prayer, sucking disparate enthusiasts from family compounds scattered all over Denspasar, and bringing them together in a space in which fixity was achieved through tape-swapping, information exchange, the production of self-designed black tee shirts and the kind of uniquely Balinese drinking rituals that serve to knit male solidarity." (Baulch, ibid)

In Britain pirate radio stations such as Radio Luxemburg were similarly important for the development of local rock or beat scenes in the 1960s, and programmes specialising in particular music scenes and sounds have also been a common feature of community, independent, public and commercial radio stations. On Merseyside, for example, the local country music scene has benefitted from two country music programmes that have been the region's longest running specialist music radio programmes. Both have been presented by musicians who are well-known figures within the scene, most notably Kenny Johnson ('Sounds Country' on BBC Radio Merseyside) and the late Joe Butler (the country show on Liverpool's Radio City).

The broadcast media therefore support and depend upon music scenes but they can also threaten or disrupt them.

MTV, for example, broadcasts music videos all over the world and has encouraged the development of local, national and international music scenes. But at the same time, like other forms of mass broadcasting, MTV has been regarded as a threat to local distinctiveness. The geographers John Connell and Chris Gibson illustrate this in relation to MTV Asia. When it was launched in 1992 MTV Asia promised to develop a pan-Asian youth culture, promote Asian singers and musicians outside their home markets, and avoid frequent broadcasting of Western videos such as those of Madonna. This vision had limited success. The VJs were from North America, for instance, and while providing some stimulus for local music scenes, MTV Asia "only achieved significant local success with performers of great visual appeal, and formulaic presentation modelled on American stars." (Connell and Gibson, 2003: 62)

In many countries there have been long-standing concerns about the intrusion of foreign and often Anglo-American music broadcasting and its negative impact on local music scenes. These concerns have provoked some governments to introduce legislation designed to protect and promote local music scenes, sounds and industries. Amongst other things this has commonly involved the imposition of radio quotas limiting the amount of foreign music that is allowed to be broadcast.