Steve Barker is a DJ with the BBC and has been playing underground music and sound since 1977 and took interviews with Adrian Sherwood, Lee Scratch Perry, Bono, and Morrissey, in Lancashire.
Barker, who turns 72 this year, is the host of On the Wire. The show has been on air for 37 years now and has reached more than 1,800 episodes.

It was a pleasure chatting with Mr. Barker about his longevity, what it takes to make a proper selection for a show, starting his show with reggae music, and the pleasure of doing a live radio transmission.

What was your drive to do the On the Wire show?

We started On the Wire in 1984. There was so much great music bursting out from all over the world, hip hop, electro, house, techno, experimental electronica, and sounds coming in from Africa, the Middle East, and Jamaica. The digital revolution was just kicking in. Little of this music was featured on the BBC or commercial radio, so we had “the field to ourselves.”

What do you consider the 5 top high points regarding online radio?

This is difficult. I just happen to believe there’s too much radio run by people who don’t actually love music but just want to be star DJs. Actual great curators are few and far between. On the other hand, the best thing is that we can share without borders and everyone has an opportunity to start a show.

Can you tell us which you consider the best show you ever did?

Perhaps not for me to say, but three come to mind: the first show with Lee Perry - live for three hours in 1984, our On the Wire tribute to Arthur Russell and the “last” On the Wire in 1991, when we thought it was the last show we would broadcast due to cuts, but then came back the following week!

Who was the first artist you ever played?

The Abyssinians, in 1978.

What special guest would you like to talk to on your radio show?

I’ve had lots of great guests, not so much anymore. I’d like to talk to John Coltrane, that would be really special.

What is the future of online radio?

Increasingly specialized and niche. It’s hard to imagine the possible changes. But hopefully easier access to the music you want to hear, the ability to discover new things with ease, more technical and audio improvements.

Steve Barker DJing at Yugung Yishan Beijing
Steve Barker DJing at Yugung Yishan Beijing
What do you believe is the secret of an enduring radio show?

Stay in love with the music.

What should one never do in a radio show?

Talk too much.

Is there any joke you consider the best you did on your radio show? Or one that comes to mind now?

I had my hair cut by the Minister of Noise.

Do you prefer live or pre-recorded shows?

Live, every time!