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STEVE JAMES KEEPS REAL ROCKERS ALIVE ON JAMAICAN RADIO!

 Steve James—

KINGSTON, Jamaica –

He may host one of Jamaican radio’s most respected reggae shows, but Steve James is not a household name a la Barry ‘Barry G’ Gordon or Richard ‘Richie B’ Burgess.

On Bess FM’s weekly Real Rock programme (Thursdays from 7–10 pm) James offers artistes whose music is rarely played on mainstream radio a chance to be heard.

“The airwaves are currently dominated by dancehall and most radio stations are rotating the same songs constantly. My philosophy is that as long as the song sounds good, and the lyrics are clean it should get airplay,” James reasoned. “It does not matter who the singer is, if the singer is well known then that is just a plus.”

In recent weeks, James has interviewed deejay Macka B and singer Empress Ayeola. Both are British acts promoting new albums which are not heard much on mainstream radio.

Macka B

Macka B

James, who has followed the British reggae scene for over 30 years, believes artists in the United Kingdom are overlooked in Jamaica. It was a different tune in the early 1980’s when the likes of Aswad, Steel Pulse and Maxi Priest were heard regularly on Radio Jamaica and the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.A determined James is out to change that.

“There is so much good music that is being made, but some of these artistes are being stifled and struggle to get their voices heard in Jamaica. Macka B, Empress Ayeola, Bitty Mclean and Vivian Jones are just some of the artists who fall into this category,” he said. “They all appear on major festivals in the UK; some of their tracks are made by Jamaican musicians but they struggle to get airplay and bookings here in Jamaica.”

But for a short break, James has hosted Real Rock since its inception in 2008. While its listenership is nowhere near that of Bess FM’s more established rivals, he says his refusal to limit his playlist to dancehall music attracts a wide fan base.

Steve James of Bess FM

Steve James of Bess FM

“In the eight years that Real Rock has been on air the listenership has grown tremendously. Our online listenership has quadrupled,” he noted. “Bess FM has all-island coverage and our dedicated online listeners have increased in London, Toronto, the Caribbean and various parts of the United States. We constantly get calls from overseas from artists who want to be a special guest on the Real Rock because of the international audience that we enjoy.”

In addition to interviews and music, Real Rock’s regular features include Live In Concert, Hospitality Lounge and Real Rock E-news.

James is banking on this mix to expand his audience even more in 2016.

“This year, we are looking to increase our video and audio online listenership and  unearth more exclusive interviews. We are also currently in discussions about rebroadcasting the Real Rock on radio stations in London, Brazil and Singapore,” he said.

By Howard Campbell

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