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Pete Townshend to give John Peel Lecture

Rock music legend Pete Townshend is to give the inaugural John Peel Lecture at this year’s Radio Festival later this month.

The Who guitarist’s keynote speech in Salford will look at the current state of music media and will be broadcast live on digital station BBC 6 Music.

We’re told the event – named after legendary Radio 1 broadcaster John Peel – aims to ‘discuss and create insight into music and music-related media from the past, present or future’ and will take place annually. Peel was part of the Radio 1 schedule from its launch in 1967 and still did a regular show up until his death in 2004.

The lecture will be introduced by Peel’s son Tom Ravenscroft alongside his 6 Music colleagues Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie on the evening of Monday 31 October. Pete’s speech will be followed by a Q&A session with attendees.

In an age of free downloads and a disposable attitude to music, Pete will explore whether creative people can earn a living, and without radio how the ‘unpolished’ music that John Peel championed can find an audience.

Pete Townshend says: “I am honoured to be invited to deliver Radio 6 Music’s John Peel Lecture. Through John’s shows I first heard artists like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Undertones, The Proclaimers before they had record contracts. John didn’t just listen to music, he played it on air and let his audience decide. He was a listener first, and an activist second, and I am happy to have a chance to honour him and examine how his legacy might extend into the future.”

Tom Ravenscroft says: “We have in the past few years had trains, housing estates and a restaurant named after dad and so I think he’d have been both bemused and delighted to see he now has a lecture and that Pete Townshend will be delivering the first of them. I’m really happy that 6 Music are honouring him in this way and that the people who kindly agree to participate will help ensure that his legacy will continue into the future.”

Bob Shennan, Controller, BBC Radio 2 and Radio 6 Music says: “John Peel was one of the radio industry’s original free thinkers, breaking down the barriers of music to present his take on the musical world. His eclectic ear for a good tune made him a favourite with his millions of listeners, musicians, and the industry alike, and I’m delighted that BBC Radio 6 Music is building on John’s legacy to inspire further free thinking about music and the music-related media.”

John Myers, Chief Executive of The Radio Academy, who produces The Radio Festival, added: “We are absolutely thrilled that one of the icons of British rock music has agreed to deliver this important lecture. The radio industry in the UK relies on high quality music. John Peel was at the forefront of introducing new talent to the listening public and Pete Townshend and The Who were among the first artists John promoted at the start of his formidable and influential radio career.”

Find out more about the Radio Festival 2011 on the Radio Academy website.

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