Tired of adverts and waffling presenters, two broadcasting buddies created the ultimate antidote
It was the early eighties when Adam and Rik - two best friends from the same North Manchester street - discovered their love for music and local radio, ‘pretty much Piccadilly Radio in those days.’
Pretend shows in Adam’s bedroom at ten and 11 led to a mobile disco show at 13 (admittedly more about attracting girls than anything else), teenage years weekending at local community clubs and finally their first broadcast, created by amplifying the signal of a Mr Microphone toy. Its one (but very appreciative listener) was their mate Bails, revising for his exams in around the corner, who would regularly ring up with song requests.
Studying TV and radio production at Salford University inspired more mischief, broadcasting killer tunes to both blocks of flats under the pseudonyms of Mc Chegs and DJ Sausage Fingers and urging fellow students to flash their bedroom lights on demand. Fittingly, their pirate station got busted live on air.
After that followed the ‘legit’ years, building careers in TV and radio at some of Manchester's biggest names: Granada, Sky, Manchester United, Piccadilly Radio, Sunset Radio, Key 103, Galaxy 102, Century, Real Radio, XFM and XS Manchester. Grubby function rooms and student dorms were replaced DJing at the likes of Sankeys, The Hacienda, Mansion and Ikon. It was North England’s hedonistic heyday and Adam and Rik were living it.
But then something went wrong - video killed the radio star.
‘Then it was cast aside by the internet and music streaming, before being finally wrung dry by commercial mismanagement,’ wrote Adam and Rik. ‘(Now) the music is safe, mediocre and painfully repetitive. The presenters talk too much. Way too much. And with mobile phones in our hands who needs the news, weather or travel reports? Then there are the adverts! God, those frickin adverts!!’
The duo were frustrated. They wanted a radio station like the old days; one that put the listener first and was inspired by the power of music and community. It was clear they’d have to create it themselves but daily demands made the task all but impossible.
Then lockdown hit. With many usual engagements cancelled and jobs on hold, they finally had the time to go for it. The Buzz MCR was founded in March and, after months of preparation, went live in August.
The station’s promise? To make you feel good within three songs - if it doesn’t do that, it probably isn’t for you. Needless to say there are no verbose ‘celebs,’ mind-numbing adverts or news bulletins you’ve already read/seen/heard elsewhere either. Aside from some quirky, it’s all about the music.
Designed to cut across genres and generations, The Buzz MCR’s playlist is already almost ten times the size of most other stations, with hundreds of new tunes added every week. Adam and Rik spent months sifting through albums and ‘asked ourselves - would we be happy to let anyone rifle through our vinyl collection? Are there any tracks in there that we would feel awkward about if people found it in there? If the answer was yes, then it got booted out. Simple as that.’ Every song added continues to be a carefully considered decision.
Decades span sixties to seventies, nineties to naughties and of course the eighties (“there isn’t a lot of music from the last decade but that’s what a lot of other stations do”) while genres are an eclectic mix. Think dance, hip hop, reggae, indie, pop, R&B, soul, funk and more besides; plus 13 weekend shows with specialist music and a roster of acclaimed DJs.
In a world of streamed content, Adam and Rik hope their station rekindles the joy ofand sharing music together, also pointing out that too much choice can be overwhelming: instead of choosing what show to binge or tune to add to your playlist, it can be freeing for someone else to do it. As they sum up: ‘A good radio station takes away that stress - plays you the songs you didn’t even know you wanted to hear and hopefully keeps surprising you.’
It seems to be working. The Buzz MCR has only been going three weeks but is already building a loyal following, with listener Dave Bradley saying: “You are the soundtrack to Manchester, the beating musical heart of the city. The inspiration for what is yet to come….You have brought us pure, unadulterated music….without any whistles and bells in between….that is continuously pushing us and yourselves forward.
“As it happens, you've come along at the right time, maybe not the best of times in general, but you are a much-needed and very welcome distraction from all that is going on at the moment….You have created something where people can come together online and through the app in a virtual but vital way.”
And Rik says he isn’t the only one: “We’ve had thousands writing in and telling us they love it, the response has been amazing.”
As its mission says, The Buzz MCR is about belonging - not just as an individual but as part of something bigger. A city, a community, a tribe. Great music aside, it’s perhaps this more than anything that is providing a tonic in these strange and isolating times. Go give it a listen…
The Buzz MCR is available to play online, via app and Alexa. Find out more on the