Guest blog star: Dave Hammond - Radio Presenter

We are pleased to say we’ve been chatting to another friend of the band Dave Hammond. Dave is one of the most passionate, enthusiastic music fans we’ve ever met and he also happens to be a DJ on Cambridge 105 FM with his show ‘Davey Hammond’s Smelly Flowerpot’. We had a little chat with Dave about his love for music and how he got started in the glitzy world of Disc Jockeying! 

It’s clear that you’re very passionate about music and discovering new music, what was the first band or record that was the catalyst for your love affair with music? 

Being as old as I am, the memory isn’t as sharp as it was on what might have been the first band or record that really fired me up. My Mam and Dad were hardly passionate music lovers, though Mam was partial to Elvis Presley. Probably more for his quiff than his music to be honest. Having said that, an old valve radio, complete with a dial full of exotic names like Hilversum, Berlin and Luxemburg, was always playing in the kitchen so I reckon that’s where it all began. After getting in from school, I’d hang around the kitchen waiting for sausage, egg and chips to be rustled up while sitting on a stool, ear cocked towards the wireless set. I do remember arguing with a neighbour of a similar age about the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘59th Bridge Street Song’, so I guess that was the first real show of passion about a song. 

How did you get your first break as a radio DJ and can you remember the first track you played on air? 

Ha, there’s a sausage theme developing here! In 2010 I went to a colleague’s leaving do at a bangers and mash restaurant in Bury St Edmunds. I ended up chatting to another colleague who (it must have been the drink) invited me on to his show at Radio Thetford, a community radio station uncomfortably close to Alan Partridge territory, geographically speaking. Following my guest appearance on his excellent show, I was offered my own show by the station manager. On that first show I did a really foolish thing- I played David Bowie’s 'Heroes’ as my very first song. I mean, really- after that things can only go down hill. Thankfully, only my Auntie Madge listened to that first show and I’ve managed to carry on for another seven years despite regular gaffs, dead air and dodgy links. 

What advice would you give to bands who are looking to get their music on the radio? How can they best present themselves to a DJ or station? 

From my point of view, a personal email will usually get my attention in front of something from a PR company, though that’s possibly because I’m more receptive to lower level artists finding their way than heavily promoted acts. Having said that there are a small number of PR companies and labels I will always take notice of. The key is research. If self promoting, look into the radio presenters and shows you’re sending music to- a well targeted email will have more success than a blanket email. If looking to engage a PR company, check the other artists on their roster and any recommendations or testimonials. There’s not a lot of point signing up to an agency that tends to promote urban music  if you’re a folk band for example. 

Louder than War mentioned you and Cambridge 105FM in an article about the new wave of radio stations giving support to independent artists. It must feel good to get some recognition for the sterling work you do supporting new music. Is there a particular band or song that you heard and thought “I can’t wait to play this on my show”? 

It’s always most welcome when you get some press, even if it’s not positive- at least you’re getting noticed, or more importantly the music you’re playing is! I have to say, I get excited on a fortnightly basis (that’s how often the show is) about music I hear and want to play on the show. To pluck a few from the air, acts I’d never heard before doing the show, I would cite Tom Skelly, Dos Floris, The Seven Twenty, The Granite Shore and a little known band called The Magic Es as getting a middle aged presenter a little more excited than he perhaps should be. 

If anyone reading is interested in becoming a DJ what words of advice would you bestow upon them 

The thing is, I didn’t really want to be a DJ, I just wanted to share some music I loved with like minded people- presenting just happened to be a great way to do it! So, my advice is…be yourself and follow what you love. Don’t follow trends and fashions as, by definition, that’s what lots of other people are doing and therefore you’d be competing in a crowded market place. Instead, research and play lots of the kind of stuff you like yourself, become knowledgeable in that area. In being yourself and sharing what you love, the passion for the subject is more likely to come through and naturally make you more engaging to the listener. And persevere- it takes time to build a base of regular listeners. To my mind, quality of listener is better than quantity- give me one avid music fan who’s likely to comment on what he’s heard (or buy it) than 10 casual listeners who just want something in the background.