Ghostly Beard interviewed the man behind the mic from Titus Radio Rewind; a radio presenter, voiceover & producer, drummer, writer, music nut, photographer & lover of life.
Q: Hi Titus, could you tell our readers about you and what you do?
A: Hello! I'm a mid-50s chap from the UK, I've worked in the music industry, telecoms, media sales, a bit of journalism and am now a part-time postman as well as working on our smallholding (homestead) here in South Wales. Aside from that I am an enthusiastic radio presenter/DJ and producer with a sideline in voiceover work (not that there's much of that around at the moment), have worked on some lyrics with different bands, played drums in the past (bit rusty these days) and done a load of other things which I probably should list but can't remember off the top of my head.
Q: When did you start The Experience show and what motivated you to do it?
A: Goodness, The Experience in its current form I started around 2005 although I've been using different variants on the name since 1990. I'm motivated purely by the desire to share music which grabs me and get it out to a wider audience – I always view my Experience show as being a place where I share music with friends, much as I would if they stopped by for a drink and to shoot the breeze. I suppose that, as I do these shows for the love of it rather than for a salary or to satisfy any advertisers, I am exceptionally fortunate because I don't have to cater to anyone else's requirements other than my own – which is to share DFM (Damn Fine Music) while, of course, observing various broadcasting regulations with regard to language, subject matter, etc.
Q: Did you have prior experience in radio before that?
A: I got my first radio gig – on hospital radio in London – before my voice had fully broken, so that was about 40 years ago. Since then I've worked on various stations - AM, FM, online, satellite - in a variety of formats, from news and speech through to classical and jazz, top forty pop through to the free choice sound I have now in The Titus Jennings Experience. I've done the graveyard shifts, breakfast shows, drive time, evening and late night...in fact I think I've pretty much broadcast round the clock back in my live days. I also do a lot of radio production, both for my own shows and others', and have written and produced commercials, jingles (they call it “imaging” these days but I'm old fashioned) and trails for assorted stations.
Q: What is your first radio-related memory?
A: Radio was always there – my family, especially my Mum, was much more radio-oriented than TV. I know we listened to a lot of the comedy shows on BBC radio, and I was a huge fan of Kenny Everett from the moment I first heard him. Radio was more than background for me, there was something that made me think “I could be good at that” even from a very young age.
Q: Do you do live shows, or do you pre-record?
A: These days, due to restrictions on time and also the fact that I'm on a rural broadband connection which can cut out without warning, I pre-record my shows. I have presented live many times and probably will again in the future if the conditions are right.
Q: Do you have live acts during your shows?
A: Not these days – I don't have the studio space for it – but I have done in the past.
Q: Do you do artists interviews?
A: Not on radio at the moment. Occasionally when Kafkadiva come and visit us and then I've sort of interviewed Louise on my partner Liz's vlog. I'm not a fan of doing interviews down the line, I prefer to interview in person and that isn't feasible here.
Q: Your show airs and is syndicated on many radios, do you also air on FM/AM? Where can we find you?
A: Some of the stations who take my shows are on FM and DAB. The schedule is fairly fluid in that different stations come and go and also schedules get changed quite a lot. The best way to find out where and when you can hear my shows – there's The Retro Album Chart Show as well as The Titus Jennings Experience – is to check out the pinned post on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TitusRadio/
You can also catch up with the box sets of archive editions of both shows which are free to stream at www.mixcloud.com/titusradiorewind/
Q: Are you alone running the show, or do you have people helping?
A: It's all me, I can't blame anyone else, much as I may try to.
Q: Is the show in a special studio or are you running it from home?
A: I run the show from a spare room in my home. With modern technology the days of needing a massive broadcast desk and banks of CD players, turntables, tape machines and minidisks are, fortunately for me, no longer necessary. It's all done with a computer, small mixer, decent quality microphone and headphones, one turntable and one blu-ray/DVD/CD player in case I don't have things already digitized.
Q: How much time do you spend preparing your shows?
A: Typically, a two-hour show takes about two hours to prepare, excluding time listening to music more generally although that obviously feeds into my show preparation, and then post-recording there'll be another hour or so of quality checks to make sure there are no glitches or technical issues. I also spend an hour or so every day working on promoting the broadcasts. No point in putting all the work in if nobody is listening.
Q: Do you play unsigned music only or also commercial music?
A: I play both signed and unsigned. I have found in the past that the best way to enthuse people to new music is to play it in a show format which mixes it with the more familiar, it gives the music a better context for people to relate to. At least that's the way it seems to me.
Q: What kind of music do you play? What kind of music do you like?
A: On the Experience I play music which I like – I don't care for labels/genres, I find it limiting to categorise music as being this or that and I am, I confess, as guilty as anyone else about being prejudiced against music which is labelled in certain ways e.g. “hardcore rap” would make me not even want to hear it. Yet there are tracks in pretty much every genre of music which I love, so I just stick to one genre overall: DFM...Damn Fine Music. Broadly it's rock-based, but you may hear a burst of classical, or jazz, or folk, or pop, or...
Q: How do you find the music you play?
A: I worked in the record industry – retail and sales – for about 15 years, so I have a large collection thanks to those years. I also still have some contacts in the industry who send me things which they think may interest me, or which they are promoting. Bands and artists also send me their material, friends and fellow broadcasters (most of whom are friends too) recommend things, and I hunt – I'm always on the look out for sounds which will interest me, either from established or new artists.
Q: Do you have sponsors? How is the show funded?
A: No sponsorship, no advertising, it's all out of my own pocket unfortunately. This does limit some of what I can do, but it also frees me to do what I like as I am not beholden to anyone else, so it has a positive side.
Q: What is your feeling about streaming platforms, like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc.?
A: They aren't ways in which I “consume” music (I believe that's the official term), although I will check out YouTube videos sometimes as a way of getting a flavour of someone's work before investigating and investing further. I don't use Spotify or any of these things which then try and push me down whichever road they think I ought to go down based on the last track I listened to. Not a fan of algorithms.
Q: How much presence do you have on social media? Do you think it's important to be there and what do you do to promote your radio?
A: I have Twitter and Facebook – https://twitter.com/TitusRadio and www.facebook.com/TitusRadio/ - but I don't have profiles on any other of the main social media really, there just isn't time! I think it's very important, though, to interact with people outside of one's own little bubble, and I've made some good contacts and online friends via Twitter and Facebook and have discovered some great music along the way.
I use both to promote my shows – tweets in the lead up to each broadcast, and daily posts on my Facebook page which are also shared with around 50 groups or so per day. Again, I would do more if I had the time but, alas, I don't.
Q: What advice would you give to unsigned artists who would like to submit to your show?
A: I am happy to hear music, but I would suggest that you listen to my show first to see whether or not what you are going to offer would fit. For example, if you're doing carbon-copy cover versions then there wouldn't be any point for me. Equally my show is not commercial mainstream radio, so something which is targeted at BBC Radio 1 or 2 is less likely to enthuse me. I also prefer to hear albums so I can select the cut(s) which fit, rather than being offered the same track which is being sent out to everyone. I like my show to be a bit different.
I will listen and try to respond with some comment to everything I hear, but please don't be offended if it takes awhile to get a response as some weeks, I will get over 100 tracks submitted to consider. Of course I only have a 2 hour slot each week, mix the unsigned with the more familiar, and only play music which grabs me, so if I reject your material it's just that it isn't for me, it wouldn't be a good fit for the show and I would be doing you a disservice by playing it if I couldn't honestly say to my listener “check this out, I think you may like it”.
Q: What advice would you give to unsigned artists for their career?
A: Persevere, be polite, take constructive criticism in the spirit with which it was delivered, please don't feel you have “a right” to be heard, and always check when you're sending material to anyone that it is a good fit for them AND for you.
Q: Do you think you get enough support from your listeners and the artists you play?
A: I'm always appreciative when the artists give the shows a plug and have had some interesting conversations and contacts as a result. I really do get great support from the listeners – not always huge in quantity but brilliant in quality – and the artists I feature.
Q: Any band/artist that has impressed you last year that you would like people to know about?
A: I couldn't pick just one, really, as there have been several who have made my ears prick up and pay attention over the past year as I hope there will be in the year ahead.
Q: Any plans for The Experience and Titus Jennings in 2019? Or beyond?
A: To keep The Experience going and growing, hopefully finding new stations who want to take the shows and keep sharing the music which I believe deserves to be heard. For me personally? To carry on enjoying what I do on air and off.
Links to Titus Jennings
Variety Radio Oldies: http://www.varietyoldiesmusic.co.uk/
Redrock Radio: https://www.redrockradio.eu