Kirk Owers presents the Warp Factor show on Channel 1 Music Radio and gives an insight into the life of a working DJ.

First things first, I read your bio, says you started at 10 with salvaged radio Caroline equipment, so, is it really true, are you really a pirate?

Ha ha, as much as I would like to reply with Ahoy mateys, sadly no, I'm not a pirate, although it is true that I did first cut my teeth with ex-radio Caroline equipment couertousy of a friend. Whether that classifies me as an early radio pirate or not is up to you, but with a nickname of Captain all my life, there's many avenues here...

Did you decide then you wanted to be a DJ?

I can't say I decided then, but it certainly instilled an instinct within me and I was hooked on music and got involved in many gigs in my late teens.

Did you go down the "I want to be a musician" route first?

No, although I certainly had that thought in my mind, I didn't actually have the dedication to learning an instrument, so I hooked on to the music industry through friends bands and (one for you guys) started working part-time in a record store.

You've just gone up in our estimation, what was the store called?

Before we continue I have to point out that in the late 80's, 1986-1990 I lived in Washington DC, which is where I really got involved in music rubbing shoulders with early Dave Growl band, Dain Bramage and experiencing Green Day at the 9:30 Club in DC. Dave Grohl was in a band then called "Dain Bramage" before Nirvana... he lived in Virginia where I was and frequented the same club 9:30. And to answer your question the Aptly named store was called Record Works. I was 17 in 86.

What a great name & a truly exciting time in music, that cusp just before grunge and britpop really became mainstream.

Britpop never really took off in America, any reasons do you think?

I think it was too British for them and at that time they were more into a shift towards RnB as in R Kelly.

Strange, America really embraced 60s Britain music and fashion but not 90s Britpop.

Yes, I think it was purely a timing thing with Britpop, we were worlds apart with the USA at that time.

Why did you move to America?

Usual reasons, friends and family took me out there.

Must of been great whilst it lasted, why did you decide to come back?

Unfortunately my Dad was unwell, so my Brother and I returned to help take care of him (he's going strong still now). And we just fell back into the UK way of life and (late 80’s) was a fantastic time, aged 17-20, living a bachelors life and mixing with some great artists.

image1So, what was your first DJ job when you came back?

I was working with a guy who volunteered at Great Ormond Street Hospital and was running their radio. He kept saying to me I should go in with him and eventually I did and got hooked by simply having the ability to entertain and play great music I did that a couple of times with him but couldn't spare the time to do it regularly.

Before you mentioned great artists, anyone we might know?

Did I? Hahahaha... ok, so a few stories here I guess... A DJ friend in Washington DC had been a roommate when he lived in California of a member of Fishbone (Ska/Punk/Funk), who are still going strong. Every time they were in town (DC) we would see them and believe it or not, they were the headline at a club called The Bayou (no longer exists) and were supported by none other than The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. As the token Brits, my Brother and I, we were always kind of pushed forward to chat with guys and we ended up taking members from both bands to an after party at a club called 'Poseurs' which is probably no longer there either....and carnage pursued.

So we rubbed shoulders with these guys quite literally early doors. We knew a number of young upcoming ska/punk/mod influenced bands as well and I used to Film these guys in action (sadly all the VHS tapes have since been lost to someones collection somewhere).I can remember gigs with Toots & The Maytals headlining and being supported by young ska bands, Bim Skala Bim, The Toasters and others.

One of the band members from our friends band was even taken on stage to play keyboards for Bad Manners and had his head shaved bald to fit in.

Music dominated my time in the states and we were very fortunate to see many great artists and like I say hang out with a younger crowd

So Great Ormond Street, how long were you there for?

I only did two or three shows at Great Ormond Street, putting on voices of film characters (Buzz from Toy Story, Shrek etc) to entertain the kids in support of my mates shows. I didn't have the time, at that time to pursue any more than that.

Noble cause, so afterwards what was your first "full time" gig?

Fast forward to about 5 years ago and this same friend started a show on Meridian FM based out of East Grinstead. He again kept asking me to come on his show. Which eventually I did and got the bug of being on the radio, friends were tuning in from different places and I suddenly thought, I think I could do something here.

Did they offer you a show?

So in early 2016 I did some looking around for stations near to me (I'm in Kent) and by unbelievable coincidence found that a former work colleague was hosting a show on Channel Radio. I contacted him and he gave me the person to speak with at Channel.

kirk owers logo

You regularly present “The Warp Factor” on Chanel One Radio, how did that come about?

I chatted through with Paul at Channel and said I would share with him the concept of a show over email, which I did and was then invited down to their studios to meet the other bosses. They then offered me a trial show the following week and I have not looked back since then - that was Feb 2016.

Is this your full time job now?

No, this is a hobby if you like. Much as I'd love it to be a full-time thing. Still have a normal boring day job, I work in Telecoms.

Got to pay the bills somehow right. Back to the station, what has been your strangest on-air interview?

Hmmm, I have been fairly lucky, but I struggled to get into the psych of a young American band once, trying to find something to relate too and they went all Dungeons and Dragons on me and lost me, ha ha. I am fortunate enough that most have been ok.

You're not alone, I wouldn't have known anything about that either. You’re well known for promoting new music on your show, anyone really stand out for you?

Well, this is where I find that there are many amazing bands out there (and lots of weird ones too). There are a few that I think are likely to fly.There's a young girl pop-punk band from Texas called "Not Ur Girlfrenz" who I believe will make it big. They are already part way there and have got the backing of "Bowling For Soup", recently touring the UK (Dec) and now about to be on the Warped Tour in July. That will catapult them.

Cheers for the tip, we’ll have a listen to them.

Have you ever played vinyl on the radio?

Alas were not currently geared up for Vinyl, but it is something were looking at doing. The studio and kit has the capability and our tech guy is pricing the options. Other DJs at Channel that "remote connect" play vinyl from their personal set-up. I prefer actually travelling to the studio and broadcasting from there. So, Vinyl is coming!

Remote connect? Can you explain?

Yes sure, some of the DJs have their own set-ups at home and can connect though the internet to the studio and broadcast that way.

I think people will be surprised to know that, myself for one!

What advice would you give anybody to get into radio?

First of all think beyond one show. Think of what message or style you are looking for, what your goal is in terms of who are you doing it for and will it attract an audience beyond yourself.

We all love our own music, but in my mind if you are on the radio, you are trying to cover many peoples interests. My taste is hugely varied and I don't like the idea of pigeon-holing into one Genre. There are so many new artists looking for a break and there is genuinely some great new stuff out there. Plus there is of course a huge raft of music that we can uncover from years gone by, stuff that we have all missed, I am constantly unearthing tracks from bands that I've long forgotten.

Can you play anything, within reason, that you want?

Yes I can, I have control over what I play as long as its not explicit (and occasionally one slips the net).

I will leave it there, we may have to dig into some other stuff, like seeing Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) naked at that party with Fishbone…


For another time...


Tune in to Kirk's show Warp Factor on Channel One Music Radio on:

Monday: 12:00 pm 3:00 pm,
Tuesday:  4:00 am 7:00 am,
Friday: 3:00 am 6:00 am 4:00 pm 7:00 pm,
Saturday: 3:00 am 6:00 am.