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It’s A Blast: A short chat with Wave Community Radio presenter Gary Hopkins

Written by on 20th November 2020

I remember the 1980s as being, at least initially, characterised by ‘New Romantic’ music, for example The Human League and some Duran Duran tracks being possible exceptions. However, the 1980s was about far more than New Romanticism. It was the era in which 70s disco and funk gave way to an explosion of jazz funk and soul, which inspires my own show on Wave (“Just The Way You Like It”), featuring classic artists such as Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, Alexander O Neal and lots more. It was also the decade in which heavy rock morphed into the absolutely phenomenal ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’, featuring powerful and visually stunning acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Def Leppard, Motorhead, Girlschool, Rock Goddess, Tygers of Pan Tang and more.

So there was plenty of alternative music  styles to choose from. Furthermore, towards the end of the 1980s, even the New Romantics began to change, into a harsher new wave style which would then help to promote the rise of indie-punk in the 1990s.

I mention this primarily because when I first encountered my Wave Community Radio colleague Gary Hopkins, I was under the impression that he presented just one show – “Blast from the 80s” – but actually, as it happens, he does far more than that.

Gary has been presenting on Wave since July 2018, which means he is one of its original presenters who started broadcasting shortly after the community radio station was first established. In total, he presents four shows – Blast from the past, Blast from the 80s, blast from the 90s plus a Sunday Funday.

I asked him what kind of music he plays on those shows and what kind of atmosphere he tries to convey when he’s playing it.

“Blast from the past is about Old UK/US charts and specials, playing some of those tunes in the charts that don’t get played mainly as they weren’t Top 5 hits but equally as good” he says. “Blast from the 90s and blast from the 90s is about the music from the decades with tunes that don’t get played much on air plus also features the reverse song and listener features too which receive a lot of comments from listeners globally. Sunday Funday with my 7yr old is about having fun, but also bring up serious issues, as well as guests, sing alongs and a wide range of music from all decades”.

Of all the different eras he covers on his shows, Gary says that his favourite is the 80s, especially when synthesized music is involved. However, he very definitely likes all the various musical genres and has nearly 500 gigabytes of music in his music collection.

I remember the first record I ever bought – actually my Mother bought it for me – was “Mississippi” by Pussycat. For Gary though it was Shaking Stevens “This Ole House” in 1981. 

What about live performances? “What was the best live performance you’ve been to?” I ask him.

“Strangely only been to 2 or 3 in my time so an intimate concert featuring just Sugababes, there was only around 100 people there and they sang completely live stuff”

And finally, I ask…

Scones – cream first or jam first, and do you like red or brown sauce on a bacon butty?

“Don’t like scones so neither” Gary answers. “Bacon butties I’d probably put in both, lol”