The Alternative 9: Guest Interviews

Stevie Connor, Blues & Roots Radio

Stevie Connor

A man whose life has been forged by and remained in music, founder of the Blues & Roots Radio, as well as The Sound Café online music magazine – Stevie Connor, based in Ontario.

 

Stevie was interviewed by Angie Lemon PR (https://www.facebook.com/angielemonpr)

 

What were some of the deciding factors in your decision to promote music?


As an independent artist, I knew how hard it was to get traction and airplay on radio and in magazines, we decided to set up a platform specifically for independent artists around the world to be heard by as big an audience as possible. 


The 'we' are my wife Anne, our business partner in Melbourne, Neil Mitchell, and myself. We all bought the URL, sourced the best streaming platforms to use and built the website, we set up our company in Canada, Australia and the UK originally, but now the HQ is in Canada, with Neil as a partner out of his studio in Australia. 


The early shows on Blues Roots Radio were The Eastern Passage ( Craig Mills, Canada), Under The Radar (my show, which used to be called Wee Dan's Hoose, Canada ) The Scaussie Music Show (Neil Mitchell, Australia ) and added Roots and Fusion ( Rick Stuart, England) shortly after starting broadcasting.

 
What was your vision in starting Blues Roots & Radio and what is its scope now please?


Initially we started the station with 3 shows from Ontario, and played mostly rotational playlists, but, I wanted to have listeners learn more about the artists they were listening to, the best way to do that was to have people who knew the artists, had seen them live or were knowledgeable about their releases, so we set out to build a schedule of shows that encompassed that. We started to look for radio hosts in various Countries who would create shows that were specifically produced for the station, shows that would not be found on any other platform, this increased the listenership and we replaced shows that were going out on multiple platforms with our own. It took a bit of convincing the others that this was the way to go, but we have built a very unique platform with shows that you will not find anywhere else. 

We also re-broadcast some shows that are community based and go out on their local dial, giving the artists a wider audience.

 
We now carry fifty radio shows from many Countries, there are many different scenes for instance here in Canada, the music of the Maritimes is completely different to say Montreal’s music scene, and Toronto has one of the most diverse and eclectic scenes I have been exposed to, there are so many cultural influences here it’s pretty unique and sometimes overwhelming. You can go right across Canada and each city has it’s own ‘scenes’, with a hub in Melbourne, Australia, we knew it was similar there, so the idea was to expose listeners to the many scenes from Countries around the world through knowledgeable hosts based in each country, The Sound Café is an extension of the radio work we do, we receive many emails daily containing submissions of new music, we can’t cover everything on the station, so I decided to launch the magazine with the intention of covering many more artists and genres.

[https://www.bluesandrootsradio.com/ + https://www.thesoundcafe.com]

 
How many presenters in different countries do you have?


Blues & Roots Radio at one time had over 60 shows on two channels, but, we've scaled that back to just under 50 on one channel to better manage scheduling. We have 12 shows from across Canada that cover Blues, Roots, Contemporary Folk, East Coast Singer, Songwriters, Celtic music and Americana, there are a further 6 that come out of various cities in the USA, there are 16 spread out across various Countries in the UK, 3 in Ireland, one in Belgium, one show from Italy and 5 from Australia. We also have a couple of weekly feature shows that are produced here in Canada.
Simulcast Shows from Rome, England…


We have the capability to do live shows, we do a simulcast from Rome, Italy every week in collaboration with Radio Kaos and we have a fabulous live show from England. We also do live broadcasts from festivals, for instance, we were invited to Lorient to cover the Interceltique Festival du Lorient as part of the year of Australia, our business partner in Melbourne set this up, we all flew in and covered the festival in Europe, We also flew down to Australia at the invitation of The Port Fairy Folk Festival a couple of years ago and broadcast live shows from the event, our team in Australia covers this every year, we also cover many festivals and events here in Canada.


We have created The Sound Cafe magazine to further expand in the future the scope of what we do and can offer artists. With many contributors we can deliver up to date news on new releases or interesting stories, with our monthly feature pages it also will give us the opportunity to showcase artists that readers might never have been exposed to, it's proving to be an extension of what the station offers.


Between Blues & Roots Radio and The Sound Cafe we have around 80 people contributing globally on a monthly basis to the platforms, we will continue to expand, evolve and maintain the highest standards of artistic content in the future.

 

Blues & Roots Radio has won 4 awards nominated for another, please see below....

  • Star of Mississauga Award for Home Based Excellence - Nominated 2013
    Awarded by The City Of Mississauga Board Of Trade / Business Association

  • Star of Mississauga Award for Home Based Excellence – Winner 2014
    Awarded by The City Of Mississauga Board Of Trade / Business Association

  • Star of Mississauga Award for Home Based Excellence – Winner 2017
    Awarded by The City Of Mississauga Board Of Trade / Business Association

  • Laurel Canyon Music UK - Best Radio Station Award 2017
    Laurel Canyon Music UK – Best Radio Station Award 2018  

We've had a few TV appearances a few years back as we were on the cutting edge of online radio ten years ago, and we still push the boundaries


How has your career been affected during Pandemic and what ways have you found to get through?


It was a scary prospect when the pandemic hit, we, like most people in the industry, had no idea how hard it was going to be for artists, ours is an online business, and since last March our listenership has gone through the roof, more listeners are tuning in and more artists are finding us to help promote their music. Had we not been online we would never have survived, there are so many community stations closing through lack of funding and advertising, it’s very sad. Fortunately, with more people working from home they are able to tune in to the station more often than they would from a workplace.


What message do you have for artists during this time?


Hopefully these unprecedented times have given some time for self-reflection and introspection through creativity, there have been many fantastic releases of albums and EP’s during the lockdown, stay strong and take this opportunity to keep your creations flowing.


What are your fav genres and why?


I have a soft spot for contemporary and traditional Celtic music due to my upbringing and involvement playing in that genre, but, since moving to Canada, my eyes (and ears) have been opened to many fabulous artists in varying styles, I like Americana/Roots, there is a beautiful earthiness to a lot of the music and influences contained within that style appeal to me, I’m a big fan of Keb’ Mo’ and here in Canada, I like listening to an artist called Dione Taylor, she is based in Ontario,

originally from Saskatchewan, she describes her style as ‘Prairie Blues’, a mixture of Blues, Soul, Gospel, Roots and Americana.