GMG Radio has announced the first of its programmes since launching a £1m fund to commission independent productions for the group.
Programmes to begin broadcasting in June include a six part documentary exploring the musical heritage along the route of the Mississippi river to an audio portrait of the realities of war in the 21st Century as told by serving soldiers in Afghanistan.
Group Programme Director John Simons and his commissioning panel, which included former BBC Radio 2 Controller Jim Moir, spent several months selecting programmes following 300 submissions from independent production companies.
“This first raft of programmes will give listeners a feel for things to come and prove that creative and diverse programming can be just as at home on commercial radio as it is on the BBC,” said Simons.
The productions commissioned are:
[b]Rolling River of Rock (6 Episodes) – Smooth Operations[/b]
[i]The Mississippi is the longest river in North America at 2,320 miles from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. Following its route The Rolling River of Rock, presented by Mark Cohn, explores the Mississippi’s musical heritage. This part-travelogue part history seven programme series will broadcast on Saturday afternoons on the Smooth Radio network from June.[/i]
[b]Blogs From The Bunkers (2 Episodes) – Smooth Operations[/b]
[i]Blogs From The Bunkers takes the listener on a trip to Afghanistan where online diaries from serving soldiers tell very personal stories of the realities of being at war with an unseen enemy. This two-parter will broadcast across GMG Radio’s network of 13 stations to mark Remembrance Sunday.[/i]
[b]1968: The Year that Rocked the World (4 Episodes) – UBC Media[/b]
For the baby boomer generation 1968 is a year indelibly etched on their minds. Many iconic and symbolic events took place that year and this programme asks what caused them to happen in such a short space of time? What linked them and ultimately what was their legacy to the world we live in today? Using the highest profile interviewees, the best archive & clips this stimulating and entertaining series will take listeners back to the year that most embodies the ethos of the 1960s.[/i]
[b]Rock in the Dock (4 Episodes) – Smooth Operations [/b]
A four-part series that explores the history of rock’s exciting, controversial and puzzling appearances in court. Featuring such artists as The Beach Boys, Kenny Rogers, Robbie Williams and Bruce Springsteen will ensure the music played is second-to-none. [/i]
[b]Banned in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s (6 Episodes) – Somethin’ Else [/b]
[b]Where Did All the Money Go? (3 Episodes) – Wise Buddah[/b]
[i]Presented by Alexei Sayle, this series explores the court cases, the mis-management and bust-ups that led to large sums of hard earned rock-star cash going astray. Investigating the extravagant lives of stars who found fame and fortune and the paths that led to their destitution. [/i]
[b]Heroes Heroes (6 Episodes) – Wise Buddah[/b]
[i]Hero’s Heroes will see some of the world’s biggest entertainers share their personal admiration for each other’s work in one-to-one conversational style programmes. The hour-long shows will be broadcast on Smooth Radio in the autumn.[/i]
John Quinn, chief operating officer at UBC Media Group is naturally pleased: "This is really great news for the Group and I am very pleased with the success that our production companies have had in this first round of commissions by GMG.
"With these commissions GMG has demonstrated its belief in the independent production business and a clear determination to compete with the BBC, not only in terms of music programming, but in highly-researched, quality documentaries."