Today (September 6) marks a brand new schedule at BBC Radio 1, including a big move for Clara Amfo from mornings to the evening Future Sounds slot.
Clara Amfo, who hosts the Music Week Awards next week (September 14), has already made her mark at Radio 1 with the Live Lounge - a key platform for the music industry.
Here, Radio 1 head of station Aled Haydn Jones reveals the strategy for the network and Amfo’s key role as a tastemaker and new custodian of the Hottest Record In The World...
What are your hopes for Clara Amfo as a new music champion and tastemaker?
“I'm very excited about it. When Clara and I had a chat about doing it, she was like, ‘Tell me more’. What was wonderful was that all the conditions that she wanted [in place], to be able to do the show, were absolutely the things that I was hoping she would be delivering. It was the best meeting of minds in a conversation that I've ever had. So the two of us are very excited.”
How will Future Sounds and Hottest Record In The World evolve?
“Hottest Record is going to have a daytime reflection. So we're really amping it up, we're looking at BBC Sounds, we're looking at it visually, we want that to be something the industry is able to use to propel a big artist and newer artists to the same broad audience. So Hottest Record is going to get even bigger from September.
“The big news around Future Sounds is that we’re ensuring that we’re using music artists in the same way that we're very good at doing creative projects in the entertainment space, like Hide & Seek and Who's Got Greg? I've been wanting to do creative projects with music performances, and that's what was great about Big Weekend. That was an opportunity to try it out and say, ‘Okay, what would happen if it was Coldplay and the BBC creatively working on performance together?’. The same goes for AJ Tracey, Jorja Smith, Royal Blood and Ed Sheeran. Those five landmark [Big Weekend] performances showed us that we can also approach music sessions in the same way we do our entertainment creative sessions. And the home for those is going to be Future Sounds.”
As long as the music industry works with us, we will be able to achieve a lot
Aled Haydn Jones
Annie Mac was well known for her affinity with electronic music. Does Clara Amfo have any particular genre focus?
“I've known Clara for a long time. I was her editor, then head of programmes and now head of station. Clara manages to appear cool for everyone while loving pop culture. Whether it’s daytime music, specialist music, she just loves music. When she sits in a multi-genre show like this, I don't think she brings with her a bias to any particular genre. Everyone will be open to hear her music selection. I got to see it firsthand, because when we were talking all the way back about whether she’d be interested in this show, she was depping for Annie over the last year. We were doing that so that she got to try out her music tastes, to see what it felt like bringing up her own playlist, how the shoes felt - and she loved it. So that's why she knew it was the right move for her, and I knew she was the right presenter for this.”
Has there been a positive reaction in the music industry to her move and the schedule changes?
“Yeah, there’s so much love for her. That's the overriding thing. I don't know what other people get when they do schedule changes, but to see Rickie, Melvin & Charlie - who are so loved from their Kiss Breakfast days and their specialist Radio 1 days - and the trust that the labels have in putting their biggest artists in front of them with the Live Lounge is wonderful. And there’s the love the industry has for Clara and what she had done with the Live lounge, and having her be a face of new music for the industry with her show.
“I have heard nothing negative about any schedule changes. We’re bringing forward Future Artists with Jack Saunders at 8pm. And then Danny Howard, the guy who has grown up through the ranks at Radio 1 dance from the day that he won the competition 10 years ago, is now going to be the face of launching your weekend. There are so many wonderful journeys finding their conclusion this September.”
Annie Mac championed new music on Future Sounds. How would you like to build on that with Clara Amfo?
“Annie has really put that show on the map. In the industry, it's well respected, and it's got a lot of kudos over the last couple of years. So it's a case of taking that baton and supersizing it. In Clara, we've got a presenter who, as I found out when I offered her the gig, wants to do that too. And, in me, she's got a head of station that is going to ensure that the resources are there. So I think the music industry is going to love her. As long as they work with us in the way that we want them to, we will be able to achieve a lot.”
Subscribers can click here to read our digital cover feature with Clara Amfo.