Steve Barker’s On the Wire has been broadcasting from Lancashire to the rest of the world weekly since 1984, until recently via BBC Radio Lancashire.
OTW is the longest running, and best, underground music radio show, carving its own furrow and doing its bit to make Lancashire the well-known centre of the universe. Originally, in the days of AM/FM radio, OTW only sneaked over the Pennines and south of Manchester in fine weather or dubbed onto C90 cassettes, but in the last 20 years the show has consolidated its global reach with each edition being made accessible everywhere via the worldwide web.
The outlier music featured on OTW has evolved over the years, although dub and roots reggae have been a constant feature, often from Adrian Sherwood’s On U Sound label, who also provided the OTW theme tune, Dub Syndicate’s instantly recognisable Ravi Shankar No 1. Early on Steve mixed this with a lot of hip hop, underground rock, jazz, blues and R’n’B. More recently he’s concentrated on contemplative sounds; atmospheric electronic music, and primitive guitar instrumentals, plus interventions from regular contributor Michael Fenton and once a month funkology from Pete Haigh and Andy Madhatter. Steve always puts the music first and you might be half an hour or more into an episode of OTW before he appears, as the Guardian put it “back-announcing eight or more records in a row with occasional gnomic comments.”
OTW disappeared from the Radio Lancashire schedules in March 2020 as part of the reorganisation of BBC local radio programming which happened during the COVID outbreak. Since then, whilst being ‘rested ‘ by the BBC, Steve and the rest of the On the Wire team have continued to post editions of the show to Mixcloud, with links being posted weekly via the OTW webpage https://otwradio.blogspot.com. It is still unclear what the future will be for specialist local radio, but what is certain is that On the Wire will carry on whatever happens.
The Continental and Tuff Life Boogie are delighted to be involved in organising this gig to celebrate some of the great music that Steve has been championing recently on the show and help to persuade the BBC to think again and return one of Lancashire’s finest exports back to its rightful place in the broadcasting schedules.
Afternoon session – Concrète Tapes and Them There Records showcase (Free Entry)