Tony Marks – Programme Manager – Juice FM 107.2

What is your role at the station?
I am the Programme Manager for Juice, responsible for the output of the station, managing all the on-air output, overseeing news and music policy, and making sure everything keeps to a broadcast quality and the production standards of Juice. I also present the evening show (The Mixtape), four shows a week, 7-10pm. Been doing that for 4/5 years. I took over from Ace from Skunk Anansie!

What were you doing before that?
I’m from Buckinghamshire, and been in Brighton for about nine years now. I went to university in Birmingham where I studied media. And then I worked at a couple of radio stations in the West Midlands. I then got a job at Mercury FM, in Crawley. I left there before it got shut down, and got a job at Juice. I was banging on their door, saying ‘let me do an alternative show in the evening’ I started doing the sports show in afternoon, but I knew exactly what the station needed, an evening show that plays indie, rock, electronica, folk, and everything in-between.

Please describe the format of your show.
It’s called The Mixtape. When I first started doing the show it was called the New Music Show, three hours of nothing but new music. But I realised that I don’t just listen to new music, and most people don’t just listen to new music, so I started playing slightly older stuff that, if released today, would fit into the show. If you break my show down it’s 40% pre-release, 20% from the last six months to a year, 20% from a year to five years ago, and 20% from the mid-90s until the end of the naughties. But I won’t play the obvious Blur tune, I’ll play the less obvious one. There is no need to play Parklife! That is where my show works quite well. I think the show sits somewhere between Zane Lowe’s Radio One show, and what XFM and 6 Music do. It’s not about how big the band is, it’s about how good they are. So, I’ll play a new track from say, Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys. I have total carte blanche, never been told what I can and can’t play. I’ll also do a gig guide and some music news.
 
Since I’ve become Programme Manager there will be no one telling me what to do (laughs). Daytime shows are all playlisted. I also do the odd live session and interview, particularly when the Great Escape is on, where I’m holed up in the studio for three days, just recording sessions; it’s a rotating door. Sometimes artists will bump into other artists they know, and which they don’t normally get the chance to talk to, or hang out with, so it ends up being a bit of a social club. It’s then that you get a real insight into what they are like as people, which you don’t always get in interviews. I get a lot of phone interviews offered to me and I usually turn them down because you never get that moment when an artist arrives and you greet them, make them a cup of tea, and you get the chance to find out more about them, which is often useful for the actual interview. Then I’ll be out in the evenings!
 
 
You’re known as a champion of new talent, how important is that to you?
I always enjoy getting new artists in because they are usually excited, and chatty and into it. They aren’t worn out by the whole media circuit they have to do. With local talent, the way I look at it is if it’s good enough, I’ll play it. It’s quite difficult  because I get sent demos a lot, but I’m playing bands that are recorded really well, in good studios. If you get sent a demo and it doesn’t come up to the mark it sticks out like a sore thumb. Obviously, Royal Blood are a dream come true, an indie band from Brighton; their album I’ve had on repeat for weeks. They are the real deal. There is no doubt about it. When the States really gets hold of them…! But there are lot of good acts around at the moment, like Anushka and Iyes, a lot of good female artists. I won’t just put a band on just because they are from Brighton. We do have shows on Juice that are a bit more dedicated to the local scene, like the Totally Brighton show on Sunday evenings.

Any musical highlights this year?
This year, I’ve seen Prince again for about the ninth time; very time he just blows me away. I saw Jack White, he’s in a league of his own. Foo Fighters at Concorde 2 was a bit special. It’s always special to meet artists you love, such as Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip. They’ll be one of the artists I’ll talk to my grandkids about, whether or not they care! ‘Listen to this, they’ve got a message, and listen to those ridiculous electronic electronic beats in the background!. Having Mumford & Sons in the room, doing a session for me was great… and a few years later they are headlining Glastonbury! Carl Barat was another on… there’s a lot more!
 
How else does Juice and/or your show get involved with the wider culture of Brighton?
Boogaloo Stu does a Monday night show called Brighton Nights, interviews with comedians. musicians, anything that is related to performance. I used to run a monthly local band night, but I don’t do that any more. What we tend to do, what we think we are better at now, is giving our support to people who are putting on events, rather than us putting on events. It’s not our day job, our day job is radio. We’re official partners with loads of events, such as Great Escape, Paddle Around The Pier, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Sussex Cricket Club.

Are you or have even been a musician!?
Never been one! I often thought the reason I wanted to get into radio was because I have no musical talent of my own, and I could take some glory from other people (laughs). I’m a fan of music, and I always wanted to share the music that I found

How can people get their music heard on the station?
The recording needs to be of a certain standard, and it needs to be well presented. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve received a blank CD with the name of the band scrawled on it, shoved into an envelope. If it looks presentable it’ll get to the top of the pile quicker.
 
What is you first love, music wise?
When I was kid, it all started to fall into place when I first heard Prince, at the age of 13… From then I was finding out about all the funk artists who he was inspired by, such as Funkadelic, Parliament, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Stevie Wonder. Then I moved into hip hop – Public Enemy and De La Soul – and then only when I was in my early 20s did I start to really get into guitar music, people like Blur, Oasis and Pulp. Not an unusual step for a lot of people! Blur are my favourite band of all time. You can’t touch their back catalogue of the last 20 years.

You still buy music?
I’ve realised, like a lot of people, that CDs are dying, and I don’t want to listen to a streaming website where the sound quality is bad. If you really want to enjoy the music you are listening to, it’s not good enough for me. So, I now spend a lot of money on LPs and records! It’s weird that I’ve gone back to that… The only things I may be able to leave when I’m gone is my flat and my record collection. They aren’t going to want CDs! Records are great quality, and they look good in your house.  Because everything has moved towards MP3 and streaming, suddenly, and it’s almost by accident, the record industry has landed itself with a premium product again, where people are prepared to pay a lot for a piece of vinyl.

In terms of the Brighton musical landscape I imagine you’ve seen some changes over the years – what is your take on that?
You see venues close down, and you feel a pang. But then you get new ones like Green Door Store which is brilliant. We’re missing an Academy style venue though, it’s plainly obvious to me. Something in-between Concorde 2 and Dome is missing. Maybe 1000-1200 capacity. We’re screaming out for it! What about the Hippodrome? It’s been sitting there empty for years, is it going to be like that for another ten years… Saying that I would rather see a cinema there than an empty space.