On March 28 I received a press release from online music station Bang Radio 103.6 FM , announcing the exciting news that they were about to officially launch Riddim Radio FM across London and online via www.weareriddim.com, becoming the ‘first legal reggae and dancehall music station in the capital’. (Click here to read the entire press release).
The press release also stated that the news was embargoed until Monday March 31. I posted the news on Monday morning and within an hour the post attracted hundreds of readers from around the world, many of whom were genuinely excited at the prospect of London’s first ever legal reggae and dancehall music station hitting the airwaves.
Then on the following evening this ridiculously confusing press release from Bang popped up in my inbox:
Yesterday, 1st April 2014, BANG Radio broadcasted as Riddim Radio on 103.6FM in London. We can now confirm this was an April Fools prank but, used to highlight an important message; reggae and dancehall can no longer be ignored or pigeon-holed to past eras by British radio.
The team behind leading British music and youth culture brand, BANG Radio pulled off the 18 hour on-air prank by completely changing their imaging, schedule and website to become sister station Riddim Radio, supported by renowned label VP Records and leading reggae and dancehall talents including English Fire, Silver Star, Jamie Rodigan. Not only fooling the industry into reporting about the significant Ofcom license change, but also keeping the joke from BANG presenters who only found out live on air!
Jennifer Ogole (founder and CEO of BANG Radio) and Zak Esau founded online radio station Riddim Radio in April 2013. Operating from three locations in London, Trinidad and Jamaica, Riddim Radio broadcasts across the globe 24 hours a day, bringing roots, culture, reggae and dancehall to the masses!
The sister stations collaborated to make noise about both BANG Radio and Riddim Radio; specifically, to bring to the media and listeners’ attention that reggae and dancehall can no longer be ignored or pigeon-holed to past eras, as the rising popularity of young reggae talent including Chronixx and Stylo G confirm.
“Although it may appear that changing BANG Radio to Riddim Radio was an April Fools prank, there is a serious statement behind BANG’s actions yesterday. It is both tragic and unacceptable that Caribbean music and culture, which is a massive contributor and influencer of urban and mainstream culture, has no significant presence on legal radio in the UK.
The culture is not given the due recognition, platforms or support to make the industry viable and sustainable.
BANG will increase its exposure of this genre by making reggae the cultural focus of the organisation. This will result in more reggae and dancehall on BANG Radio channels, both FM and online.
Riddim Radio exists and was created to offer a platform completely dedicated to Caribbean music and culture with the focus being reggae music.
We are calling on the UK public and relevant companies to support us and those who are championing Caribbean culture; by listening, interacting, attending events and buying products such as music.”
– Jennifer Ogole
What peaked my interest in the first press release (announced the DAY BEFORE April Fool’s day) was the claim that Riddim Radio was going to become ‘the first legal reggae and dancehall music station in the capital’and that broadcast regulator OFCOM had amended their remit to champion reggae and dancehall .
Since the shock rebranding of the once black owned Choice FM (now Capital Xtra) in October 2013 and the shelving of their reggae programming, I have been saying that the focus should be on moving forward by creating and nurturing our OWN platforms. That way protests outside of major media corporations (that the original owners SOLD out to over ten years ago), can be avoided in future.
When I read that Bang Radio founder/CEO Jennifer Ogole, a black business woman, was about to launch London’s first legal reggae station I was excited and stood up and applauded her for this major power move. That however was short-lived.
When the second press release popped up in my inbox announcing that it was all a joke a feeling of utter disappointment washed over me. What a let down.
Who the hell came up with this idea?
I have a sense of humour and love a good April Fool prank but this ‘prank’ rattled me to the core. As far as I am concerned the current state of play when it comes to the business of black music in this country is no laughing matter. This prank FAILED in its mission to raise a smile and FAILED to highlight reggae’s current situation on legal radio. Who will take our concerns on this subject matter seriously now?
I cannot quite figure out what this ‘HA HA April Fools!!!!’ moment was supposed to achieve. I am still confused by it all.
Bang succeeded in fooling many with this prank including Radio Today and generated a day’s publicity for themselves. Okay… so now what?
Perhaps it would now be a good idea to work towards turning what was an ill-conceived ‘prank’ in to a reality, and actually launch London’s first legal reggae and dancehall music station.