James McOnie's new radio show is for the 'Locals Only'

Publish Date
Friday, 8 May 2020, 8:15AM
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This Sunday night the locals are taking over Radio Hauraki.

For two hours each week James McOnie from The Crowd Goes Wild and the ACC and Six60's bassist Chris Mac will take over the studio to host Local's Only: Sunday Sessions, a new music show that will fly the flag for New Zealand music.

"I pitched the idea to Radio Hauraki because I thought they should have a bigger presence during New Zealand Music Month," McOnie says, before revealing that the NZMM part was really just a Trojan horse with which he hopes to sneak more local music on to the airwaves. "I'm hoping the show will grow and carry on in perpetuity. For me, New Zealand music is important. It always has been."

The show, which will air from 6-8pm, will play exciting new music as well as comfy old favourites and will also interview bands and musicians about life as a muso in Aotearoa.

"It's about highlighting people that are doing cool stuff, getting awareness up and making sure you know the story about what people are doing," McOnie says.

Talking to McOnie, a former print music journo, his passion for the project and local music is obvious. But there's a big question; given that the show's on Hauraki, will it be about New Zealand music or, will it only be about New Zealand rock music?

McOnie doesn't hesitate in his answer, which is filled with all the rebel spirit that saw a bunch of rag-tag music fans start broadcasting forbidden music from a clanky old boat in the Hauraki gulf all those years ago.

"I don't know who the powers that be are but if they have a quibble about the music because they think it will divert from the regular playlist well I'll just say, 'too bad'. This is a good time for people to tune in and find out what's going on in New Zealand music. I always love finding out that an artist is from my home town or there's someone just down the road who's plugging away and doing great things. Let's bring it to the surface for a change."

So the music they play won't be dictated by the Hauraki playlist?

"No," he replies. Instead, he says he wants the show to loudly beat the drum for all local music and to give it a platform and a chance to be heard on one of our biggest radio stations.

"I don't expect all New Zealand artists want to be part of the mainstream, but I don't think they want to be stuck in the mud or left on the banks either," he says, wading into an extended metaphor. "So we have to provide some kind of creek for them. And maybe that's what this show is. You don't have to be wallowing in the mud or stuck in the mangroves. You can find this little place and have your own time and moment. I think there's too much of our music that's been forced to the margins."

The show furthers Hauraki's commitment to the music being made in our little country and complements their popular Local's Only podcast, which is now in its third season. Local's Only: Sunday Sessions shares some of the pod's DNA as producer Tom Harper is heavily involved in both.

McOnie says his 16-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is always bringing him new acts to listen to and will help shape the sound of the show.

"Ideally she'd run it," McOnie says. "But she's got school via Zoom. But she's helped me find music for the show because she's listening to New Zealand music all the time. She loves it and has a different taste and mindset from me."

And, what about his co-host, Six60's Chris Mac?

"Oh, he'll be trying to get his music on Radio Hauraki for the first time this year," he laughs.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission