The BBC’s John Peel has died and people miss him dearly; meanwhile, the BBC still intends to post much of its archive material online for U.K. licenseholders to use through the Creative Archive.
Shall we mix and match?
Why not post John Peel’s radio shows, and other broadcasts for which the BBC has the necessary rights, and encourage listeners to remix the legendary DJ? If the disc jockey’s raw material is the song, then the PeelJ’s raw material is the John Peel broadcast. Rather like Gibson’s licensed Madonna avatars in Idoru, listeners can create replacement virtual Peels at will.
- Take Peel’s song intros and remix them with different songs. Or with the same song. Or with nothing but your own band’s songs.
- Splice in his intros with the first 30 seconds of a 45 single of “Teenage Kicks” played at the wrong speed.
- Indeed, simply replace every song on a broadcast with “Teenage Kicks.”
- Mash up a Plunderphonics-esque remix consisting solely of Peel’s voice, or of nothing but the insane techno/happy-hardcore singles he played. (Or the other genres, including deathmetal. But please! No compilations of nothing but Pig’s Big 78s.)
- Record nothing but Peel’s readings of the many E-mails he received (and whose requests he almost never played – in fact, it would be an amusing archival project to compile only the requests he did play).
- Dub Peel onto Peel: His uncommon television appearances could be striped with unrelated radio intros or extros. (One hesitates to mention anything related to video and the Creative Archive, as our dear friends at the BBC have shown no evidence they understand the mammoth accessibility issues involved. Nonetheless, homegrown video projects are another story.)
- Create your own online radio show using Peel’s selections, played in strict order of appearance on a specific episode, but with your own “foreground” speech.
- Inevitably, a streaming audio service consisting of nothing but Peel shall be required. It’s technically simple even for the Beeb to do.
Now, what about rights? When he was alive, you couldn’t listen to more than two weeks’ Peel radio shows online; I assume that has nothing to do with contracts and everything to do with forcing the listenership to stay current. Of course there will be rights issues, but don’t just toss out the word “rights” as though it were a convincing reason not to do it. (Broadcasting executives like to hide behind single-word rejections, as if they were somehow convincing. “Cost” is another one, but here the listeners are doing all the work.) Do what is possible within the available rights, which would surely permit at least some of the remixing envisioned here.
And in a few more years, Johnny Mnemonic–style, we can all hoist a pint (of cranberry juice, shurely?!) when John Peel’s avatars are finally granted Swiss citizenship.