Exploring the relationship between radio and heavy rock and metal music

LJMU researcher and lecturer, Dr Nedim Hassan, organised the inaugural Heavy Metal on the Airwaves symposium which he hosted on campus earlier this month.

Bringing together international scholars and practitioners from the world of radio and podcasting, the event explored the relationship between radio and the heavy rock and metal music genres.

With major national stations like Planet Rock and Kerrang! undergoing a renaissance in recent years, radio has continued to be a crucial means for new and established artists alike to reach mass audiences.

Keynote speaker at the event, Loz Guest, the Head of Music at Planet Rock and Kerrang! spoke about how in an era where there is an abundance of ways for artists to provide exposure to their music (including popular streaming services like Spotify) radio remains ‘more important than ever’ for enabling musicians to gain a following and establish a career.

At the same time, other speakers at the event, most notably award winning Kerrang! DJ, Hope Lynes, highlighted challenges for contemporary rock radio formats to keep fostering diversity and to move beyond the status quo that has for too long seen heavy rock music as a predominantly male-dominated sector.

Symposium organiser Nedim, who is a senior lecturer in media and cultural studies at LJMU, also made clear in his paper that there remain several hidden histories in relation to rock radio. His ongoing research into the much-missed Liverpool-based Radio City rock show, The Great Easton Express, revealed how such independent local radio rock shows were crucial for nurturing heavy rock and metal scenes during the 1970s and early 80s.

As an event that has emerged from Nedim’s broader research project, Metal on Merseyside, which has already seen both the publication of a book of the same name and the establishment of a broader collaborative project with stakeholders from local metal music industries, Heavy Metal on the Airwaves is the latest example of work that engages communities at local, national, and international levels.

Metal artist Conan singing at a microphone and playing a guitar

To bolster the networking that occurred as part of the event and raise awareness of the Liverpool metal music scene, Heavy Metal on the Airwaves was accompanied by a companion evening concert event. ‘Show No Mersey’ featured a showcase of local acts from Merseyside’s alternative and metal music scene, which was headlined by internationally renowned metal act, Conan.

As a member of the editorial team for Metal Music Studies journal, Nedim is currently exploring ways to build on the scholarly networks established at Heavy Metal on the Airwaves and maintain the examination of what remains a crucial, if sometimes underappreciated, medium for rock and heavy metal music.

Image credit: Conan in concert photographed by Phil Vidamour


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