The Aftershow: Jo Whiley

Whiley commended: Jo Whiley

From booking bands on The Word to presenting on BBC Radio 1 and her current home, BBC Radio 2, Jo Whiley has been in the biz for 25 years. As she prepares to host this week’s Music Week Awards, she shares what she’s learned along the way…

Radio is changing because…

“It has woken up to the fact that there’s a lot of competition. There’s so much for people to go off and enjoy, whether it’s streaming services, podcasts or different radio stations. Radio has woken up and gone, ‘Hang on a minute, we need to change and evolve and reflect what’s going on in people’s lives so that we don’t lose those audiences’. There are so many available options, but radio is more important than ever.”

Guitar bands aren’t dead…

“It’s just not the trend. There’s so much great urban and pop music coming through that’s been so dominant. My eldest daughter fell in love with music when it was Arctic Monkeys and Maximo Park and it seemed like that was all around. But for my 10-year-old, it’s all Anne-Marie and Ariana Grande, not stuff I would naturally love at all. But, as an onlooker, it’s fascinating to see how much that music means to her. I don’t know what it’s going to take to find the next Arctic Monkeys, I really don’t. I just hope they’re out there!”

My favourite Glastonbury moment was…

“When Beyoncé played [in 2011]. I climbed up a speaker stack to watch with John Grant. I was doing the TV show for the BBC, he’d just done an acoustic thing and we both had some time off. I didn’t know John at all but I said, ‘I’m just going to watch Beyoncé’ and he said, ‘Can I come with you?’ So we walked out and climbed up a speaker stack and John Bishop was up there as well. That was a good moment, watching Beyoncé with the two Johns!”

The biggest change I’ve seen in the music industry is…

“The internet and the way that bands can reach out to audiences on their own. It’s taken away some of the power of the music industry and indeed radio and TV stations. It does make our job harder, because we have to siphon through all the music that’s out here. In the beginning, when we were doing the Evening Session, there were just a few trusted pluggers that you relied upon to tell you about new music. They’d say, ‘There’s this band called Nirvana – listen to this record’. Or Alan McGee would send you a bit of vinyl and it would be Columbia by this band called Oasis. Now, there’s so much to listen to. But it’s good that people are able to do things on their own instead of relying on big corporations.”

There will never be another TV show with the impact of The Word because…

“Those appointments to view just don’t happen anymore. On The Word, you just knew that, at 11pm on a Friday night, so many people involved in youth culture would be clustered around the TV waiting to see what people were doing. It was live TV so L7 could take off their pants and flash and the Manics could not do the song they’d rehearsed all day and just sing ‘Fuck Queen and country’ [from Repeat] instead. I do feel sad that those opportunities are not there for people anymore. They were such exciting times.”

I’d never be tempted to leave the BBC for a streaming service because…

“The BBC is my home and I always want it to be. I believe in the value of the BBC. Whenever I’ve gone outside of the UK, you mention the BBC’s name and you get such a level of respect from other people. That’s so, so precious. I’m more than happy to stay loyal to the BBC. I haven’t been tempted and I don’t want to be! I want to have a career that endures on the BBC like Terry Wogan, John Peel, Annie Nightingale. I’d be very glad to have half the career they’ve had!”

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