Belfast Telegraph

Axed: BBC radio show that gave new Northern Ireland's music talent a break

By Maureen Coleman

It has provided a vital platform for Northern Ireland's up-and-coming bands and artists and has helped promote world renowned acts from Therapy? to Two Door Cinema Club.

But after almost a decade of showcasing the local music scene, the BBC Introducing NI radio show, hosted by Rory McConnell, is to be scrapped as part of the corporation's restructuring plans.

The news has come as a massive blow to the hundreds of unsigned bands in Northern Ireland who had been relying on much-needed exposure on the show.

A campaign has been mounted to have the decision overturned and today up to 30 acts are expected to take part in a busk-a-thon at Cornmarket, and then later at the Oh Yeah Centre, to try and drum up support. The busk-a-thon will feature new bands like A Plastic Rose, Wonder Villains and Seven Summits. Already an online petition has been signed by almost 6,000 people and its organiser, Gerry Norman of A Plastic Rose, will travel to London to hand it in at BBC headquarters.

Describing the decision to axe the programme as “ill thought out”, Gerry said BBC Introducing NI had been “a monumental part of how we see the local scene today”.

He said: “If you are looking for a reason to save BBC Introducing then you won't have to look far in this city. Clubs and pubs most nights are brimming with the most wonderfully talented musicians and performers. Northern

Ireland bands such as Snow Patrol, who were recently joined on stage by Shauna Tohill of Silhouette, and Two Door Cinema Club are flying the flag all over the world, representing us on massive stages.

“Other bands like And So I Watch You From Afar, Space Dimension Controller, Fighting With Wire, LaFaro, In Case Of Fire, General Fiasco and Kowalski, are all touring the UK and Europe, showcasing this country's abilities and hearing themselves on daytime Radio One. BBC Introducing has helped or supported, in one way or another, all of these bands.”

Gerry also pointed out that through BBC Introducing many local acts had been invited to perform at Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury, including A Plastic Rose, Ed Zealous, Pocket Promise and Yes Cadets. And he said that the show also supported club nights such as Radar at Queen's as well as local festivals like Pigstock, Glasgowbury and Tennent's ViTal, which all featured BBC Introducing stages.

“If we lose BBC Introducing, we're not just losing a radio show, we're losing a direct link to London, financial support for bands, clubs and festivals, and, simply, a reason to record music,” he said.

“It's taking away a bit of the magic from the very special music scene we have here. Our campaign may come to nothing but shows like BBC 6 have been saved in the past.

“BBC Introducing supported us, now we have to support them.”

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