Here’s a fact. There’s nobody on the planet who does event radio better than Zane Lowe. For over a decade he dominated the western world’s music agenda from his BBC Radio 1 show - turning his Hottest Record into an institution that had fans scrambling for the retweet over their evening meal.
When he left our shores, they retooled his show. Hottest Record remained. His trademark ‘two plays’ transferred to new host Annie Mac - a brilliant broadcaster in her own right. They gambled on their established platform being the key. That the format brought the magic, not the specific talent itself.
But with a worldwide platform - even one only just emerging into the light - Lowe has already blown that one out of the water. Within minutes he’s singing over records again, unable to contain that enthusiasm for music. He opens with Spring King - a new British band that will be completely fresh to most outside the UK. Within half an hour, he’s unveiling his ‘World Record’ (a track that will tellingly also take Radio 1’s Hottest Record slot a few hours later). And he plays it twice. It’s Zane’s show, and already anything else feels like a pale imitation.
“Within minutes he’s singing over records again, unable to contain that enthusiasm for music”
Bully, Gallant, Shamir, Courtney Barnett - just within the first hour, his commitment to highlighting new artists is as strong as ever. But he’s also dropping Jamie xx, Hudson Mohawke, AC/DC - all tied together by those two words. Event radio.
This time, though, the stage feels bigger. Sure, an established national broadcaster may technically have more ears than even Apple’s new toy within its first hour, but from the US to Japan, Canada to Germany - broadcast over 100 countries, the agenda feels even more all encompassing. When other shows are trailed - St Vincent’s Mixtape Delivery Service, for example - they feel like proper connections with artists you genuinely care about. TIDAL may have given it the big one, but by utilising radio, Apple have managed to create something that feels intimate and personal, yet able to drive conversation. Sometimes, the old tricks are the best.