Interview with Tony Prince

Tony Prince when he was young


When hearing «radio pirate and businessman» you think of someone else – at least we do.

I almost had to postpone our appointment because I come from Ibiza and the plane was late…» – «Were you in Ibiza? My son lives there.» – «… to my knowledge you yourself are often there.» – «Yes, I was often busy there; It’s a good life when you can enable it to yourself.» – «Yes, yes. My impression, in general: Radio stations are in trouble, everywhere, disc jockeys are successful.» – «This is nicely expressed.» – «Do you agree?» – «Yes. The reason is that the music world is overpopulated. And music is so easy to get, you can download it and so on. I was in Los Angeles, met a friend and asked his 15-year-old daughter what radio stations she listens to. She said: ‹I don’t listen to the radio.› Unbelievable.» – «Is she listening to music then?» – «She listens a lot of music, and I asked: ‹Where do you find your music?› She answered, her friends find it, they know what music she likes. “

Tony Prince, born Thomas Whitehead in Oldham near Manchester, 69, is a radio disc jockey (to us: moderator) and businessman (Wikipedia). In the sixties and seventies of the last century, he could be heard on Radio Luxembourg and Caroline; Caroline was a so-called pirate radio that broadcasted from a ship in the Irish Sea. The film “Radio Rock Revolution” (by Richard Curtis, with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy) partly tells the story. He then founded the magazine Mixmag, the club culture Bible (self-advertisement); He later sold it to the British media group Emap International for then eight million pounds. This conversation took place when he was in Zurich for the International Radio Festival.

«DJs in nightclubs should stop talking after every song.» – Tony Prince

«What do you advise radio bosses to keep them in business?» – «Back to the start: DJ personalities are needed. Do you remember Radio Luxembourg? Every DJ was a personality. Today you can only hear this in the morning shows, but these DJs talk too much, I think. The future is, as it looks like, internet radio; The radio as a device, as we know it, is probably over soon, even in the car.» – «But you do believe in the DJ as a business model, don’t you?» – «Yes. Although today everyone’s a DJ, even kids make mixtapes in their room. But because there is so unbelievably much music on the internet, it takes professionals who find the music for you you want to listen to. And whose voice, attitude or humor you like. Or DJs that you like because they don’t talk – I was program director of Radio Luxembourg and got sent a tape, which was in 1981, on which the DJ did not speak. At first I thought: a nutjob. But then I hired him and we became mixing pioneers with DMC [Disco Mix Club, a show on Radio Luxembourg], and in my magazine Mixmag I preached, DJs in nightclubs should stop talking after every song, which was normal because they were imitating radio DJs. We got heaps of requests, all wanted DJs who didn’t butt in. Today this is normal, no club DJ talks anymore and everyone is also a producer. But I believe that even radio DJs can be kings again. “

Young Tony Prince and Cliff Richard

«Roger Schawinski?»

«Are there actually still pirate radio stations in London? For a time there were many such.» – «Yes, they still exist.» – «Why, today, is there anybody operating an illegal radio in a basement if he can spread it over the internet, which is allowed?» – «I don’t know, I think it’s a hobby, and I don’t know if anyone listens to these channels. It’s hard enough for legal radio stations to find listeners.» – «Have you ever heard the name Roger Schawinski?» – «No.» – «He invented, among other things, the pirate radio in Switzerland.» – «When was that?» – «About 1979.» – «Yeah, well, Radio Caroline began 1964. I must say, however, that the first pirate radio, as far as I know, was a Swedish one. Of which Ronan O’Rahilly [founder of Radio Caroline] had the idea.» – «‹I can’t listen to oldies anymore› was the headline of an interview with you [Newsnet], actually?» – «I think that was probably a mistranslation. What I said: I am not stuck in the past with my music taste… That’s something else. I still listen a lot to Elvis for example.» – «Can you tell from which artist you last bought an album or a single?» – «No, I can’t. I listen to a lot of new music on BBC Radio 6 Music.»

Tony Prince’s favourite restaurant

«‹The Cliff › [Derricks, St. James, Barbados, phone +1 246 432 1922], magic, magic. That was a simple question.» – «Many people find this the most difficult question.» – «Great interview, like as if you had questioned me in your living room.»

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