I started on radio many moons ago on a station called University Radio Essex (URE) some time in the late 1970’s. Reggae was then as it remains til now my main pre-occupation and musical passion. I kept my first and last URE shows, in order to hear how I had progressed over 5 years on air. Nowadays I continue flying the red, gold and green, on a show called ‘OuterNational’ which I started as a podcast a few years ago. Having worked on several stations in Cyprus I had become  disillusioned with the overall lack of understanding. For many Greek speaking stations everything is very ‘us’ and ‘them’. There’s ‘Greek’ music programming and ‘Xena’ or the ill-termed ‘Foreign’ music. I had always been puzzled by this after all most Greek pop music has become bloated with all kinds of sounds from mainstream pop which are not remotely Greek. Overall the effect is ‘Muzak’ that non-genre defining tasteless sound. Just think about it, most songs by Greek pop stars outside of Greece are unmarketable.

Now many people may be saying, yes, HM is just stating the obvious after all the songs are in Greek. But language has nothing to do with it. Everything has to do with genre and sub-genre. So being on radio-land back then felt like being in the wrong place. Trying to fit demographically was awkward. How could a specialised reggae show ‘fit’ on schmultzy Muzak stations?

So I discovered podcasting. This was around 2004 and I think my ‘OuterNational’ podcast was probably the first to ever be made in Cyprus. I dug deep in the cassette vaults, finding old interviews with Burning Spear and Cutty Ranks, as well as hot revival selections juggled on different themes. It was so different from being on radio as a found podcasting was a great way of reaching far beyond Cyprus. So one particular podcast was downloaded over 1,000 times over 3 days in China. Not sure how that happened but it certainly brought a smile to my face.

Time passed, I was content with ‘OuterNational’ being a podcast until one day I heard one of the most ridiculous bastard style mash up mixes. ‘Get Up Stand Up’ by Bob meets ‘Lets Go To Hawaii’ by Protopsalti. Knowing the manager of the station I phoned up to complain about what was being done on the airwaves in the name of Jah music. This led to my first stint on Astra Radio, where OuterNational came to the airwaves on Monday’s 9-11pm. It was good to be back on air and soon the show, with the advent of the net, had picked up a good listener base outside Cyprus, mainly in the USA. This led the show to coming to the attention of BigUp Radio, the most popular reggae station in the net. It’s good to be doing radio again but on different terms from before. The show was also featured on Radio Napa  and is now also hosted on Inspiration FM in Northampton, UK.

Artist featured recently as guests include  Grammy Winner Tippa Irie, Junior Toots and the legendary MC Cutty Ranks.

All of this makes me very happy as the aim of the show is to promote reggae as a music that transcends conventional borders and national identities. Who would have thought that this music from Jamaica in  the 1960’s would evolve into such a world-wide force, making it the island’s biggest cultural asset and a crucial economic export.

Reggae is just as much a genre these days as rock and it has been that way for several decades. Like any music, it will always evolve, develop and move on. I am proud to play a very small part in this expanding world-wide reggae community, as an artist and reggae broadcaster.

Outernationally Yours

Haji Mike

tune in http://bigupradio.com/radio/radio-shows/outernational

Haji Mike Outernational airs every Friday on BigUpRadio…

Sunday the original slot on Astra Radio 11-midnight 92.8 FM http://www.astra.com.cy

Monday around midnight on Inspiration FM UK   107.8FM  http://www.inspirationfm.co.uk/  

Also available as a Podcast each week