This week we move off in a slightly different direction – not so much Ken, and more towards some of the people that he worked with in the media. Ken worked with a huge number of people during his years in British Radio, many of whom went on to become extremely prominent. His last producer, Mike Shaw, tells the lovely story of how, when he took the Eater’s Digest radio programme down to a review board in London in the 80s, one after the other, the board members started to recall their connection to Ken during their early careers: one had ‘made Ken’s tea’ another ‘put on Ken’s records’. Johnny Beerling, for example, started out with Ken as a young studio manager and went on to become the legendary controller of Radio 1 in its heyday during the 80s. Kirsty Wark was apparently one of Ken’s researchers at BBC Scotland and BBC Breakfast’s Bill Turnbull, who started his career at Radio Clyde, was a fledgling journalist in Ken’s day. Mike Shaw, Ken’s last producer, was one of the most generous and insightful contributors to the film. Ken and Mike worked together for many years for BBC Scotland, producing series together such as Eater’s Digest, 12 Noon and Sykora’s Emporium. Mike described how working with Ken was a real education – setting up an ethic of hard work and the demand for the highest standards, from ones’ self. He described how Ken would deposit hours and hours of interview footage, through which Mike would have to plough in order to find that one gem of information that Ken would require to illustrate his point, just right. You can listen to some of Ken’s colleagues’ recollections on working with Ken on The Ken Sykora Radio Station now. In Ken’s archive, we found a reel titled ‘Argentinean Folk Music’. When we looked inside, we were intrigued to find a typed letter to Mike Shaw, dated May 11th 1978. The letter turned out to be from none other than Ken’s old friend, Dorita – of Dorita Y Pepe fame. They were a popular Spanish Folk Duo, with whom Ken had worked frequently over the years. Dorita had moved to Argentina in 1973 and with her passion for Latin-based folk music, had learned a great deal about its rich musical culture. The letter does not state if she continued to perform there, but she certainly got to know many of the prominent folk musicians of that period. She had returned to the UK in 1978, bringing back a great collection of records. In the letter to Mike, she outlines her suggested structure and a playlist for a programme on Argentinean Folk Music - its roots and strands: from the mixture of European and indigenous influence, to the traditions of the poetic guitar playing gouchos. Unfortunately we didn’t find a copy of the final programme, but we do have the music from it, which we will be playing on the Ken Sykora Radio Station on Sunday. If like us, you have very little knowledge of Argentinean Folk Music, do give yourself a lovely half hour break to listen to this special – the music is absolutely beautiful. Now, you may be wondering about the mysterious photo of Ken on television, wearing a somewhat dubious disguise. It’s one of 4 photos taken some time in the 60s by his family and are snaps taken of the TV with Ken on it. They have no idea what programme it was, and our research did not shed any light. According to his archive, Ken appeared quite frequently on TV – the BBC, Anglia TV and STV. Alas, the only copy of any show is one in the BBC archive from 1958, called Meeting Point, K S a folk programme introduced by Ken. So, if anyone has any recollections of seeing Ken on TV or any ideas about the programme in the photo, we’d love to hear from you. We’ve uploaded the other pics onto Flickr to help with the I.D!
See you next week, Linda and Marc
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© Five Feet Films Ltd 2012
Published on Nov 10, 2012
Weekly newsletter for the documentary The Man with the Jazz Guitar, a film about jazz guitarist and radio broadcaster Ken Sykora