Sian Eleri presents The Chillest Show on BBC Radio 1. Here, the DJ reveals how she got into the station and talks opportunity, on-air lessons and the value of radio...
Are there enough opportunities for young DJs and presenters from all backgrounds in the UK?
“I feel there’s a real gear-shift at the moment. It’s a notoriously difficult industry to crack – it’s taken me six years to get my foot in the door! But I’ve got an inclusive scheme to thank for my job at Radio 1. It’s true that hearing people who sound like you, or come from a similar background, make you feel like you could belong in that world – so voices like Huw Stephens’ on a national station made me feel like being a presenter wasn’t completely out of reach, despite being from opposite ends of Wales. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing more accents, dialects and regional voices in the coming years, and having more broadcasters from marginalised communities can only be a good thing. A big shout-out to my wonderful colleague Jaguar, too, who’s created the free Future1000 scheme, promoting and educating young budding DJs from all corners of the country. Schemes like these are a positive force for change.”
How do you want to impact Radio 1?
“I count my lucky stars that I present what’s been my favourite Radio 1 show for several years [The Chillest Show]. In part, because it encourages looking after ourselves and looking out for each other. In September, I’ll be taking over from Annie Mac as the host of Power Down Playlist with a new timeslot, so having the opportunity to share more mellow music in a calm space with focus on wellbeing is so special. I’m also keen to support more music outside the English language.”
Why is radio still valuable to the music industry?
“Radio is intimate. Being someone’s friend on air is a privilege. There’s no other medium quite like it. It’s a pleasure to champion artists for the benefit of the listener but the creator too; from finding someone’s new favourite obsession, to playing unsigned emerging artists with the potential of it leading to fantastic opportunities for them. It’s a win-win. Also, as a massive radio fan, I’m desperate to know who some of my favourite DJs are listening to. I hung on to Zane Lowe’s every word as a teen because I wanted to be as cool as him!”
I feel really strongly about fairness and expanding opportunities for everyone
What’s the biggest on-air lesson you’ve learned so far?
“Honestly, not being so hard on myself! I’m still learning, but I definitely don’t get as rattled if I do a messy link. I met Nick Grimshaw before my first show, I was a bag of nerves and he said, ‘If you make a mistake, it’s charming!’ I’ll always love him for that.”
You’re running the music business for a day. What do you change?
“I feel really strongly about fairness and expanding opportunities for everyone. From artists getting fair pay, to womxn and non-binary musicians being fairly represented on festival line-ups and labels expanding horizons supporting artists from outside London.”
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