Why I Can’t (and Sometimes Won’t) Play Your Music On Radio

Funny old thing, radio…

Before I started presenting the Gospel Breakfast Show on Premier Gospel, my relationship with – and impression of – radio was probably similar to yours.

I understood its existence and how potentially pervasive it could be, but – if I’m going to be honest (due in no small part to the fact I’ve been a digital publisher for years) – I was almost snobbish and largely ignorant about just how powerful it really is.

Fiercely Loyal

Despite the phenomenal explosion of easy-to-access and entirely customisable music (via personal and shareable playlists, legal – and illegal – downloads, music streaming services and such), good radio still attracts fiercely loyal audiences, a fact strongly impressed on me every weekday morning between 7 and 9 as I present my show.

Playing Your Music

So what has that got to do with me playing your music..?  Not a great deal in and of itself, to be honest.  But it’s a good piece of background information for you to be armed with. Keep it in mind.  It’ll be back in a minute.


First, a disclaimer: what I’m about to share is nothing to do with Premier Gospel.  I’m trying to shed light on processes and practices that will help you progress your music career, event or book promotion, or whatever.  As usual, I’m approaching it from a very specific (and narrow) ‘music promotion’ point of view.

In broad terms I’m guessing a lot of what I’m about to share will be fairly standard practice amongst radio station presenters, station managers, music controllers and the like.

Expert Opinion

Just as I was about to publish this, I had an idea: I know a few UK gospel radio presenters, so I thought I’d ask them if they’d also to like to share their ideas on the topic.

I don’t know what I expected by way of response, but getting replies back within minutes from respected personalities like journalist and broadcaster Mike Rimmer (UCB Radio, Cross Rhythms Radio), publisher and presenter Matt Brooks (MBrio Music and Bonnerfide Radio) and music producer and radio presenter Ibe Otah (Jamrock Radio) who between them broadcast locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, was a hugely encouraging sign.

That means the range of feedback, suggestions and ideas they have for this series should be very useful.  And there are also other names I’m expecting to hear back from soon.

‘Why I Can’t/Why I Won’t…’

The series starts shortly, answering questions around ‘Why I can’t play your songs…’ (it’s not nearly as antagonistic as it sounds – at least mine isn’t).

Then of course there’s the ‘Why I won’t…’ bit.  That’s more ‘tell it like it is’ than anything else.

Going back to the point I made earlier about arming you with background information: radio is excellent for breaking new and established music and artists, as well as getting listening audiences excited about new (and even old) songs.

In the past 2 years or so I’ve come to truly appreciate how powerful radio actually is: people take the music they hear on their favourite shows by their favourite personalities and stations seriously.  Having a radio hit actually improves the chances of your song doing well.

So why don’t more people take advantage of radio?  Why do you hear the same old songs on the radio? Why is it so difficult to get your song played?

Hopefully some or all of these questions will be answered over the course of these series.  If you have any questions, ask them now!

Like they say on the radio:

  •  ‘Up next: we find out what the DJs and presenters have to say…’

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2 thoughts on “Why I Can’t (and Sometimes Won’t) Play Your Music On Radio

  1. Premier radio in an indie station.

    Unlike the vast majority of other indies across the UK, which are obliged to major record labels which support their advertising revenue, and I would suspect in some cases those revue streams dictates what is aired on day time radio.

    Are the BBC exempt of such controlling constraints – I speak only of day time radio or is the agenda of requirements applicable to all of these stations including this huge corporate institution?

    On the Gospel Breakfast show Yinka, are you play listed in part, or do you have complete freedom to play the Gospel/Christian music of your sole choosing irrespective of advertisers?

    Having the capability to exercise choice is great and because of the station’s remit and policy you understand the boundaries of where you can go with programming for your show; you honor, respect and uphold its values which is what all DJ’s, presenters, broadcasters should do whom ever they are employed by, or representing.


    1. Hi Marcia!

      You raise some interesting points, some of which I can’t even answer because I don’t have the knowledge (or expertise) to.

      Here’s my attempt to reply the bits I (sort of) know:

      You’re right. As Premier Gospel (as opposed to Premier Radio, which is a different station entirely) is independent, it does enjoy some of the freedoms that other stations who depend heavily on major record labels don’t have.

      I could not even begin to speak for the BBC. I imagine (based on the daytime radio playlists I hear) that there must be some kind of major label involvement/relationship, though how much (or indeed how little) influence they have is waaay beyond the scope of my knowledge…

      I have pretty much a free rein on my show (The Gospel Breakfast Show) to play what I want. However the station has a Director of Music whose job it is to make sure that the music is up-to-date and relevant, so much of what I play comes from the station’s main playlist.

      And I’ll certainly be the first to admit that my position is a privileged one. On larger stations presenters and DJs either no or very little freedom in what they play – most people probably don’t know that too! LOL!

      Having said all of that I think most indie stations enjoy the same freedom. The advantage of being small also brings much more creative and musical freedom. You can quite literally choose what you want to play!

      Hope this helps.


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