Pressure at the controls
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
While last week's highly publicised tower climbing by aspiring artiste Ikon D Link may have shown desperation on his part, it also highlighted the constant struggle radio disc jocks and selectors face in trying to decide what songs to play on air.
ZJ Sparks says there is daily pressure.
"Yes, there is pressure, because ZIP FM is in the top two of the most popular radio stations in the island, and even overseas people listen to ZIP to see what is happening in Jamaica," she told The Gleaner.
Sparks explained that songs are submitted to the station's librarian, who vets them to ensure that they are of a required quality in terms of sound production and lyrics. She said the songs are then rated, according to guidelines set by the Broadcasting Commission.
"We are not forced to play songs, but given a pool of songs to choose from," Sparks said.
She added that there have been instances where a song is of a lower quality but is still played because of its popularity in the streets.
In the case of Ikon D Link, who claimed he would jump from ZIP FM's transmission tower if ZJ Liquid did not play his song, Sparks said the situation was unfortunate.
"What transpired the other day was unfortunate, and our colleague was forced to play that song," she said, reiterating ZJ Liquid's position that the song was poorly produced.
Sparks suggests that Ikon D Link spend time around established artistes and producers whom he can learn from and hone his craft.
Sparks said she has been approached on numerous occasions to play songs and was even injured by her car door when someone rushed to submit a CD.
DJ Smurf from IRIE FM said he receives at least 20 songs daily. The sorting process can be long and difficult, which involves him constantly checking his email.
"It's kind of stressful more time because of the amount of songs we have to choose from. It is really a big task to decide what to play and when to play," he told The Gleaner.
Luckily, Smurf said, he has never been seriously threatened by anyone to play their music.
However, veteran sound system selector Ricky Trooper says threats usually come into play "when you take people money".
"I never ever take people money. Mi play music from my heart. Nobody never yet threaten mi," he added. Nonetheless, he said payola is very much present in the music industry.
"The payola thing a mash up the thing. You have producers and artistes weh a mek some good music and fi dem song nah get play at all," he said.
For Ricky Trooper, deciding which song to play is not a difficult process.
"We done know seh a nuh everybody can mek it inna music. One time, you had to be really good for a producer to voice you. Now, everybody have a studio inna dem house, so dat mek the standard drop," he said.
"Me listen the songs before me play dem. A lot of songs aren't mastered properly or off-key. The bottom line is that everybody cannot make in the music and we haffi have a standard. The music reach a stage where everybody feel seh I can be a deejay or I can be a singer. No disrespect to anybody, but 80 per cent of the music weh a mek now a rubbish," Trooper said.