Melodic Distraction - shut down

Melodic Distraction Radio shuts down

As many of you who have been listening to my shows likely already know, last week the beloved Liverpool community radio station Melodic Distraction shut down. Suddenly, and without any prior knowledge by any of its resident hosts, myself included, nor apparently, any of the station’s team or producers.

It was, is, a shock. Felt not only by those of us who played on the station, but those who listened. As it goes, the first I heard about it was from my neighbour, a regular listener to my Mornings With show that I had started broadcasting regularly, every other Thursday, back in August.

Whilst at Manchester airport waiting to board a flight to France for a music festival I received a message on Instagram, followed by a different listener on WhatsApp. It was then I read the statement on Melodic’s Insta. And, was left dumbfounded. Seemingly out of nowhere. It didn’t help that I was physically moving away from the city and station at the same time as this news was unravelling.

Citing rising costs, and lack of funding as the cause, the radio station, and its community hub the Melodic Bar, shut with immediate effect. The shutters were down, and were staying down. Over the course of Friday daytime, the core team broadcast a series of final shows, before co-founder Josh Aitman stepped up early in the evening to host the last broadcast.

It’s taken me a few days to process this information. And indeed it was a strange weekend of beautiful weather, company, and music, having this harsh and fast closure looming in the back of my mind.

As I write I haven’t yet spoken to anyone from the station’s management directly, beyond a few exchanges of heartfelt emotion on socials to some of the producers. Despite being on air for just over a year, and a resident for nearly as long, I know as much as we all do from Friday’s post on Instagram.

I can’t help but feel there was more that could have been done…

*caveat: having since spoken to both of the station’s founders, the options available to them had been exhausted. Fundraising had been tried on more than one occasion. This was prior to my joining the roster. It had given a lifeline at the time, but was stressful to manage, and was felt not to be a viable way to continue running the station. I understand that now. There is still a lot of hurt felt by all involved around this. From the community of hosts, listeners, in which I include myself. And those running the station who tried for so long to keep things going. No easy task.

… in part because Melodic was a wonderful, friendly place. Full of music loving oddballs, myself graciously included. I was always made to feel welcome and included. I had been doing some mental gymnastics when I first joined, feeling out of place and not part of what I had perceived would be more inclusive. But this was quickly quelled speaking to the team, in particular Toby, Josh, and Beth. And was more indicative of my mental health at the time, outside of the station. I am an outsider, playing outsider music, and having only recently moved to the city with my partner I was feeling excluded. The cold miserable weather wasn’t helping.

Melodic were very supportive of me and my eclectic and often very heavy taste in music. The first time I played some metalcore on air, or some of the more gnarled dungeon tech I have a habit of dipping into, they rolled with it. They enjoyed expanding their musical horizons to places they’d not gone before. Honestly, they were a fantastic team. I’ll miss our chats in the studio before and during.

And that’s why it hurts. Arriving back into Liverpool on Monday, I reflected that evening on what was happening, what had happened. And there is frustration. As I’m sure you have too.

For a station with community at its core, and very much one of the musical hearts of this wonderful city – the news that it was shutting with no warning is a hard pill to swallow. Funding problems are not an overnight issue, and this will have been happening for a period of time, maybe even a year or longer. A period of time that we as a community might have tried to fund raise for. We may well have not hit whatever target was needed, but we would have been able to have fought to keep our beloved station. Of which I was feeling I had my place in. Especially since my Mornings With residency was resonating with listeners, the station, and myself. I felt at home.

I hope to soon be able to speak to those who know at the station, and to try and pick up whatever pieces there might still be. However, from the little I have gathered from those DMs on Friday, that’s it. There is no recovery from this. And the fact that there was no notice, that it was an immediate shutdown, with no time to say goodbye, says that the funding issue was done.

Whatever was tried in the background, wasn’t enough. Had there been more transparency about the lack of funding, or rising costs, maybe those of us as hosts, and those of you as listeners could have, somehow, managed a lifeline to keep Melodic on air. I’m sad, I’m frustrated, but I’m also deeply happy, and full of warmth and love for having been a small part of the station with my label show and breakfast broadcasts. I know I will be doing more music projects with many of the producers and some of the hosts in the future.

Melodic is dead. Long live Melodic.

One final thing, and something I want to put down for me.

Last week, the day before the shutdown, I was hosting what would turn out to be my final show. Being under the weather with some kind of cold/flu thing, preparing my show on the Wednesday was exhausting. But, I managed to get it together and had a rough plan of what to play sorted. I went to bed, early, with the satisfaction and excitement of knowing I’d be back on air in the morning. I love radio. I’ve been broadcasting since the mid 2000s and I am not going to stop. Over the last few months I had begun to find regular listeners and I was looking forward to sharing new discoveries with them all.

So it goes.

I get up, still feeling rough, and head to the station with a good 15/20mins of time to relax and to speak to the team already at the station. Then. And for the first time in 20 years of DJing, I realise with horror that in my ill state, had forgotten to bring any music with me. Huge props to Beth, that day’s producer, together with Hannah, who had just finished the early slot, for keeping me together enough to compose myself, jump in a taxi, do a round trip, and be back, and on air, some 35 minutes later. With the music I had intended to bring. Usually I bring backups. Yea, I was more ill than I realised, it now transpires.

Other than me telling you on air that morning what had happened, you’d never have known. Maybe. As it goes some of my regular listeners were already messaging me about what tracks they were enjoying as I was racing back and forth in the taxi, unaware that Beth had stepped in and was airing an old show, covering for my situation. Huge love out to her. This little story holds a special place for me, as she was my first show producer back in September, and its fitting how at the end she was there too.

The biggest of love to all of the team, the hosts, producers, supporters, and listeners of the station. I don’t know what is coming next but I’m going to be along for the ride.

If you’re a listener of Melodic and want to reach out, feel free.



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